Thursday, July 24, 2014

A day in the life of a retiree

I thought I understood busy when I was working 50-plus hour weeks as a Program Manager  in an international  insurance company.  Long hours at work, chores in the evenings and hundreds of miles of weekend driving to see my husband who lived in another state. Now that was busy.

But much to my surprise, life seems equally busy in retirement. And my retired friends all say the same thing.  They still don't have enough time to do everything they want. 

Like most, I wasn't sure what to expect in retirement.  How would I spend my days when I didn't awaken at 5:45 a.m. each day, spend countless hours in project meetings, eat lunch at my desk and leave work around 6:00 p.m.?   Surely I would much more time available once I left the work rat race.

I dreamed of a retirement where I would relax, read books, take leisurely walks and bike rides with my sweetie, spend time with friends and family, travel and write a book. In my dreams retirement would be an idyllic, calm environment where I could stretch my creative wings.  Sounds wonderful, doesn't it?

But here's the reality.  My retirement is crazy busy!   And as I talk to retired friends about how busy they are, I decided this might be a good blog topic.

At the risk of boring you to death, here's a summer day in the life of this retiree.  Not glamorous but certainly action packed...

  • Get up around 7:30 a.m. without an alarm
  • Enjoy a leisurely breakfast in Mike's sunny study, drinking tea and catching up with news, emails and blogs on my iPad.
  • Clean the kitchen, and as much as I hate to admit it, this sometimes includes washing dishes leftover from the previous night's meal.
  • Shower and get dressed in my usual attire of shorts and a t-shirt.  I absolutely love this carefree style of dressing compared to that of the financial services industry. 
  • Do laundry. Repeat. 
  • Work on the day's projects.  Fortunately we don't need a lot of meetings, but similar to work  there are always more projects than time or money.
  • Here is a quick list of our summer projects: 

    • Clean and paint antique cast iron chairs I bought at a garage sale

      Removing chipped paint with wire brush

      Painted with rust-converting primer
    • Help Mike re-build the screen porch 
      Buying red cedar posts at an amazingly large lumber yard

      Mike cutting an existing beam (don't worry, the porch is held up by floor jacks)

    • Create a new flower bed
    • You just can't have too many flower beds
    • Remove ornamental grasses from the yard, till the soil, add peat and plant grass seed 
      Mike tilling "away the moments that make up a dull day" (to quote a Pink Floyd song...)
    • Paint the music room
      No longer a boring white color
    • Dig weeds taller than me and remove a tree stump the side yard
    • And when I really need a chance to relax I escape to my study for some creative projects like jewelry making, sewing purses or denim tablecloths.

Oops, perhaps I got carried away with projects.  Here's the rest of the day...

  • Head out to lunch with Mike at one of our favorite restaurants where we leisurely enjoy lunch with iPads and lots of iced tea.  
  • Run errands on our way home including necessary project stops at Menard's, Lowe's, Target, Joanne's, Michael's, and yes of course, Goodwill.  
  • Spend the next 4-5 hours working on projects.
  • Exercise if we have time.  I know. I know.  Excuses still exist when you retire.
  • Start fixing dinner around 7:00 p.m.
  • Eat dinner on the screened porch around at 8:00 p.m.
  • Finish the evening on the porch with a glass of wine or Mike's recent drink concoction of a "light" raspberry/pomegranate martini.
  • Watch the evening news.
  • Call it a day and crash for some of the best sleep I've had my entire life.
And I want to mention the great times with family and friends staying overnight at our home, which we've lovingly named The Red Bird Inn bed and breakfast.  This summer has been especially busy with guests starting with Kevin and Kathy and Gretchen and Craig during the Indy 500 weekend and continuing with:

  • My mom's visit in late June

Eagle Creek pontoon boat ride with mom

Lunch with mom in Broadripple

  • Gretchen and Craig stopping by on their return from a wedding in New York

Great visit with Gretchen and Craig

  • A visit this week with my friend Ruth from Des Moines

Lunch with Ruth after biking the Cultural Trail in downtown Indy

And we continue to enjoy time with our friends in the Indy area.  We spent a cool July evening with our friends Atanas and Elena and their sons.
A lovely evening with Elena and Atanas
Martin and Alex enjoying musical instruments 

  • For the July 4th weekend, we traveled to south eastern Indiana with friends for a George Thorogood concert followed by a day of wine-tasting.
George Thorogood Concert

Lunch with Chris and Garth, Terri and Darwin and Terri and Scott at Huber Winery
Ok, I admit it.  I'm tired just thinking about all of this activity.  But really this is a path of our own choosing.  We love this life, even though it's busy.  We recognize that we have a lot of interests and projects and are fortunate to have great people in our lives.  And maybe it's just our personalities, or the busy 21st century, but we still have too many things to do in not enough hours.  Just like when we were working, but a key difference now is that we have the luxury of choice.  We can decide how to spend our waking hours.

Just like working days, I still collapse into bed each night.  But now I fall asleep smiling about a fun visit with friends or accomplishing a task I'm excited about instead of agonizing over a work-related problem.  Not dull, this retirement life, but definitely a new definition of busy...


Tuesday, July 8, 2014

House Makeover: Re-purposing Rooms

If you are like me, you have at least one room in your house that you don't use much.  Possibly it became a storage room or junk room over the years. That's when  I take a hard look at the room.  And the wheels start turning...Could I use the room differently?  Could I re-purpose the room to meet my family's hobbies, interests or lifestyle?

Very comfortable study
When I first moved into this house,  formerly "Mike's house", and now "our home",  I wanted a room of my own for reading, writing and hobbies.

One of our upstairs bedrooms was a storage room for Mike's memorabilia from his family, college days and career.  We agreed this was the best room for my study, and so I got to work packing up the memorabilia in plastic bins to be stored in the basement.

Pottery Barn table as a desk

Wanting a bright, cheery room, I selected a Sherwin Williams Tangerine(SW6640) for three walls and Outgoing Orange(SW6641) for the accent wall.  After I finished painting, we moved in two chairs and a desk from my house.  I added sheer curtains and some favorite art, and voila, I had a newly re-purposed room.

Today I use this room for writing, reading, napping and watching television with my sweetie on cold winter nights.  Mike and I both love hanging out in my study.  It's a cozy oasis!


And as I got settled into our home and retired life, I found time for long-neglected hobbies.  I wanted a space where I could spread out my beads or sewing project.  And if I didn't finish the project for several days, and provided the cats didn't disturb it, it would be waiting for me exactly as I left it.

There was a Jack 'n Jill bathroom adjoining my study and another bedroom.  It was a huge room with two sinks and mirrors and a separate room with toilet and shower.  Basically it was intended to be a shared bath between two bedrooms.

I imagined the early morning light through the huge arch window illuminating my studio, and Mike and I agreed this was the perfect place for hobbies!

I painted the room Sherwin Williams Compatible Cream(6387) which has a soft yellow hue(unfortunately the picture doesn't accurately reflect that). We added honeycomb blinds and drawer storage units from The Container Store.  This is where I store beads, sewing and painting supplies. And the final touch was re purposing my parent's 1960 vintage kitchen table to serve as my work surface.

So now I have a wonderful little alcove for my jewelry, sewing and painting hobbies.  And yes, I've already heard all the jokes about the convenience of having a toilet nearby...

Formal dining room with brass chandelier
And then there was the formal dining room.  It housed Mike's grandmother's beautiful antique dining room set.  A wonderful drop leaf table, 8 chairs, buffet and mirror graced this room.

But our dining and entertaining style is more casual, and we always use the antique oak dining table in the kitchen.  In the past several years, we've only used the formal dining room two or three times.  And as you can tell from this picture, it had become  a storage room for guitars, glassware and even a bread machine.  

One day our friend Melanie saw the guitars in the room and suggested that we re-purpose the room into a music room.  Melanie is an interior designer, and she has a great eye for functionality and design.  She recommended we set up a coffee table and comfy chairs for playing guitar.  She thought that hanging guitars on the wall would serve as artwork.  Mike and I loved the idea!

So this Spring I packed up the glassware and items that were being stored in the buffet.  We then moved the antique dining room set into storage, to be sold later.

New modern light fixture in the music room
First on the list was replacing the horrible brass light fixture.  We found a beautiful modern light fixture on sale at Lowe's, and Mike promptly hung it.  We then donated the brass light fixture to Habitat for Humanity's Re-Store.

We retrieved my square metal and glass coffee table from our storage unit, and it became the centerpiece of the room.

Fabric for our new chairs

We started shopping for chairs for this room.  Our criteria was a comfy chair with low arms so we could easily play guitar.  We wanted small chairs that would not overpower the room, and of course we wanted a reasonable price.

After a lot of shopping, we found the perfect chair.  And we were happy to discover that the chairs were made locally by Best Furniture Company in Indiana.  We picked a fun fabric and placed the order for the chairs.

Sample paint colors with new chair

The chairs arrived about four weeks later, and we set them up in the dining room and began to search for paint colors.  Melanie suggested a darker color on the bottom and lighter color on the top to take advantage of the existing chair rail.

We bought sample paint at the Sherwin Williams store, and tried it out on the walls.  We decided on Sierra Redwood(SW7598)  for the bottom and Interactive Cream(SW6113) for the top.

New music room

And we ABSOLUTELY LOVE how this room turned out.  The only thing left to finish is hanging the guitars on the wall once we purchase hangers.

Mike and I find it so convenient now to pick up a guitar, sit down in a chair and play a few tunes.  If only this new music room would automatically improve my guitar skills...

So, if a room isn't working out for you, or you are tired of all that junk, don't be afraid to change it.    We are quite happy to be making this house our own, with rooms that reflect our personality and hobbies!

Hmm...I wonder what room is next???


Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Beauty of summer

Sunset over the neighbor's house
I can't help but marvel at the beauty of summer.

Brilliant colors and amazing clouds surround me and remind me to slow down and soak it all in.

I hope you enjoy a few pictures from the past couple of weeks...

Florescent pink geranium

Bright yellow lily

Hmm...has there been a  rabbit munching on this lily?

Purple spikes

Yellow day lily

Clouds over Eagle Creek Reservoir 

Don't forget to stop and smell the roses this summer in the middle of a busy time of picnics, vacations, baseball games and concerts.  Oops, guess I forgot to take pictures of roses...

Have a great week!