Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Fall is officially here

Fall  is officially here.  Colts Football, a trip to the orchard and beautiful trees.  What more could you ask for?

Oh yes, and there's our upcoming Halloween party too which means shopping at Goodwill Stores for costume parts and getting the Halloween decorations out of the attic.  We decided to recycle old costumes this year.  Last year Mike worked months on his Iron Man costume; this year we built a porch instead.  The party is Saturday night, so more to come next week...

I moved all the houseplants (too many) back into the house, and I cut the beautiful hydrangea blossoms in anticipation of a frost warning for tonight.  I love the crisp weather but am slightly dreading the long winter ahead!

Hydrangea blossoms drying
I've re-opened my studio after it sat idle for much of the summer while we were busy on the porch.  Somehow I have a sewing bug these days, but of course I need to combine several hobbies with sewing.  Namely painting fabric, sewing on beads and then sewing into pillows.  Here's my first attempt, which is a DIY version of a pillow I saw in a Pottery Barn catalog.

My own version of a Peace Pillow

Mike canned habanero peppers last week in anticipation of salsa making this winter.  And he's been busy with his part time professor job.  Seems that four groups of lab students increases the work load much more than the usual three groups.  He's always busy grading papers, putting together information for the students and checking in on their progress.  I have a new respect for all the work that goes into a teacher's job!
Habaneros anyone?

Here's a quick glimpse of a beautiful drive near Shades State Park last weekend.  It was a cloudy, quiet day, and we had the road to ourselves.  A stanza from the Robert Frost poem, "Stopping by the woods on a snowy evening",  came to mind...

The woods are lovely, dark, and deep,
But I have promises to keep,
And miles to go before I sleep,
And miles to go before I sleep.

We enjoyed the sweet revenge of the Indianapolis Colts beating the Cincinnati Bengals 27-0 at Lucas Oil Stadium.  Yes, we yelled until we were hoarse (finally got my voice back today).   One of the reasons this game was so enjoyable is that last December we saw the Colts play the Bengals in Cincinnati in a freezing blizzard.  Let's just say that the Colts lost, and the Bengals fans were a slight bit obnoxious about it.  So this time the Bengals fans sitting behind us at the game quieted down considerably, and they left early to boot.  Go figure!

And I only have one question:  When did I become a football fan anyway?  After a lifetime of saying "football is a brutal sport", I'm yelling "sack him" like the rest of the fans.  What is the world coming to?  Could I blame this on retirement? That's my excuse for sure.
Pre-game festivities

Before the game

Game in motion.  Photo by Mike

Hope you are having a good week.  I'll end here with a cute puppy picture.  Ginger (Kevin and Kathy's new dog)  found her new home in my shoes...
Ginger.  About the size of my shoe...

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

DIY: Rebuilding a screen porch, part 2

 It's done!  And we couldn't be happier that our screen porch is finished, and it looks great!  We are proud of our little porch, and as Mike says, it's one of the most satisfying home projects he has worked on.

Not sure I'm quite ready to make that statement. Let's just say I'm SO HAPPY it's over.

You can see DIY: Rebuilding a screen porch, part 1 here: http://anewchapter-diane.blogspot.com/2014/08/diy-rebuilding-screen-porch.html

As I promised, here is part 2 of rebuilding a screen porch:

1.  Mike built inside corner pieces for the cats.  Hey, they want to look outside too!

Blue Belle enjoying it!

Cat perch

2. We painted all the exposed wood with a product called Woodlife Classic.  It is a clear coat that helps protect the wood from rain, snow, etc.

3.  We (meaning Mike) put a 10 degree angle on all the horizontal wood between the posts.  Watching the rain roll off this wood the past few days have been a good confirmation of this step.
If you look closely, you can see the angle in the middle of the wood

4.  We replaced all screens with black aluminum screen.  Mike ordered it online because we needed a huge roll (50 feet by 72 inches).  Working with this screen was challenging.  We measured every opening twice, and my job was to hold the screen while Mike stapled it into place.

Grass and cardboard made a good cutting surface

Cutting screen with heavy duty scissors

5.  Next step was the outside trim that went over the screens.  Mike carefully cut these pieces and screwed them in place.  He borrowed a mitre saw for the outside corners of the porch.  These corners turned out great!

Outside trim

Trim over the door

Mitered corner
6. Mike put a thin layer of caulking on the outside trim.  It's just one more way to repel water...

7.  The final step was building end caps for the wood around the door.  This was a finishing step to cover the place where several pieces of wood were joined.

End cap is backwards L-shaped piece

Is this beautiful, or what?

And as you might imagine, I'm already scheming on the next project.  But could we really build a new deck before the snow flies???


Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Retirement: What I learned about myself since retiring 3 years ago

Who could resist these beautiful leaves?

Today is the 3 year anniversary of when I retired.  Wow!  It's really hard to believe that 3 years have elapsed since I left the work force.

Here are some things I've learned about myself as a retired person:

Living in the moment comes easier now. I don't have to think about work problems, and that allows me to focus on on the moment and the people I'm with.

I am learning how to procrastinate.  Bad thing when you manage projects, but an ok thing in retirement.         I don't have to do everything today.  Sometimes it can wait until the next day.  I haven't yet reached "I put the pro in procrastination" status which is how Mike defines himself, but I certainly cut myself more slack.

I am still way too analytical.  Somehow I can't seem to turn off that part of my brain.  I analyze the heck out of everything.  Sometimes that's ok, especially when it prevents an error.  But other times it's just a pain!

I am learning to breathe in nature.  Whether it be flowers or trees or clouds, I can easily get lost in the moment.

I am finding my own routine as a retired person.  I love the freedom to relax in the morning with a cup of tea and the news. This is such a delight after decade of racing off to work.

I enjoy variety.  Too much of the same bores me.  Not much has changed here since work days.  If things are the same too long, I'll change them.  I think that's why I have a variety of interests, and I focus on one for awhile and move onto the next.

I am still a type A personality, but I've softened a bit.  I smile and laugh more, and I'm generally a happy person.  But as Mike can tell you, sometimes "the old Diane" kicks in and pushes too much.

I love creativity, and I'm so happy to apply that now to art, photography and writing instead of solving work problems.  My happiest days are ones where I've created something new.

I can sleep now.  I am able to remember my dreams, and they are no longer dreams about people chasing me and wanting to harm me.  If I wake up now, I fall asleep quickly.  And no alarm clock.  It's a dream come true.

I am learning my way around Indy. I thought it would never happen, but I can now find my way to major destinations here.  Still direction impaired, I'm thankful for the "Maps" application on my phone and iPad.

I am comfortable in "our house" now.  I was so afraid this would always feel like Mike's house, but by merging "stuff" and tastes, we are creating our own place.  And it feels great!

I am paying more attention to my health.  Ok, that doesn't yet mean I'm exercising more, but if a problem comes up, I'm pretty quick to get it checked out.  In the past, I was always too busy to leave work, but now I can schedule a doctor appointment quickly as needed.

I don't spend money like I used to.  Mike told me tonight that I'm thinking like a "true retiree".  I really evaluate whether I need that new sweater or pair of boots, where in the past I would have spent money without much question.

I enjoy traveling, but I love my life at home.  We've been to some great places since I retired, but  I no longer NEED to get away like I did while working.  Now it's more a matter of places Mike and I want to visit.

I love the ability to spend time with family and friends.  With Mike and I being in the same city, we are able to plan and have impromptu visits with family and friends.  It's a priority for both of us.

I am learning some carpentry skills by being an apprentice to Mike.  We've worked on building a bike rack and rebuilt the porch this summer.  I am getting a better understanding of how things go together, but I am still not comfortable operating power tools that have blades.  Probably for the best!

I am still a klutz.  Falling on a hickory nut and breaking my arm while walking through the neighborhood last Fall tells me that grace and agility do NOT come automatically with retirement.

I do not miss work.  At all.  I am starting to think about a next activity, but I'm pretty sure it will not be project management.

I am grateful.  I thank God every day for all the blessings in my life.

Here's a look at the last 3 years:

Mardi Gras parade in Ensenada

Hiking at Beehive Basin in Montana

Cabra Castle in Ireland

Caribbean cruise with friends

Indianapolis Indians game
Family visit


Volunteering at Lucas Oil Stadium before Indy's Super Bowl
Iron Man and Black Widow
Woodstock Party
Painting the bike rack
Cleaning old cast iron chairs
Creating our new music room
Sewing coin purses

Rebuilding the porch
Enjoying the moment!

Thursday, October 2, 2014

Hula hoop, anyone?

Still got the moves!

And why not I say?  Who cares that I can't do it well...

At least I tried it (along with the other kids last weekend at the Rocky Ripple Art Fair).

Hey, you've got to stay young.  Maybe even at the expense of sore hips the next day...

We are enjoying this beautiful time of year.  Brilliant blue skies, puffy cotton-candy clouds, orange trees and HUGE pumpkins.  Gotta love Fall!

Backyard tree 

Our park bench collecting leaves

Those clouds are something!

We had fun camping with our friends Gretchen and Craig in their RV at Bellevue State Park next to the Mississippi River in Iowa.  We enjoyed some great meals thanks to Craig's cooking, and we spent evenings by the fire roasting marshmallows and drinking wine.  And then there was a wee bit of Irish whiskey and watching several episodes of the Big Bang Theory during a horrendous rainstorm...

Where's the food?
I forget how beautiful Iowa is.  I know all the jokes about cornfields, but Iowa's rolling hills and magnificent vistas are amazing!  For the first time since I moved to Indiana two years ago, I felt homesick for Iowa.  It really caught me off guard.  I guess Iowa just kind of gets in your blood...

Iowa countryside

The mighty Mississippi

Bellevue, Iowa and the Mississippi River

Mike and I are HUGE FANS of The American Pickers television show that airs on the History Channel.  The show features two guys, Frank and Mike, who travel around the country in their van buying antiques for their Antique Archeology stores in Le Claire, Iowa and Nashville, Tennessee.

And we just so happened to drive by Le Claire on our way to the camping weekend.  We were in heaven wandering through the store,  looking at antiques that had been featured on the show.

Mike in the American Pickers store

The Antique Archeology car

And you are surely expecting a few Fall flowers in my blog!

Newly planted hydrangea in my backyard

Amazing multi-color mum

Zinnias in Galena
And of course you also expect a few of my favorite signs...
Dust control?
Never really occurred to me...

And remember to pick up that hula hoop and shake it whenever you have the chance!