Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Six Months to Go

Today is November 30, and by my calendar that means we have six months until I officially retire.
In the months since we made the decision to retire, we’ve
       1.       Remodeled my “room.”  (Go to Your Room, June 17, 2011) The room has been painted; furniture bought and moved in, curtains and some decorations done. 
       2.       Investigated Health Insurance – both before and after the company’s shift to account-based health care.  (Health Insurance 101, June 10, 2011, and Health Insurance 102, September 30, 2011)
       3.       Bought a fifth wheel (November 20, 2011) and got our first camp hosting job (November 16, 2011).
What’s left to do?
1.            Finish my room.  I hate it when a project stalls, but this particular project has indeed stalled.  I need to move the sewing machine into my room (and Paul’s exercise bike out), and make the valence for the window.  I need to frame the scrapbook pages I made for the walls. 
2.            Look – again – at health insurance options.  My mother told me that she and Dad have a Medicare supplement that cost much less than the $350+ per month my retiree insurance plan quoted.  She gave me the name and contact information for her insurance agent.  And since – no surprise here – the cost of the medical plan for me actually increased, even with the transition to an account based approach, I may want to ask Dan the insurance man if I can do better on the open market.

3.            Buy a laptop.  Once a nerd, always a nerd.  I can’t be too far away from technology. 
4.            This is the biggie – I still need to tell my manager and my co-workers and begin the transition of fourteen years of work to the younger (and hopefully smarter) generation that will follow.  According to the retirement team, I have to officially announce no later than March 3, 2012. 

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Proud Owner of a Fifth Wheel

Paul bought a fifth wheel the first week of November.  He wasn’t planning on buying one this soon, but he found this one searching Craigslist – “just to see what’s out there” – and it intrigued him.  The price was right.  The fifth wheel was a little longer than we had planned, but not unreasonably longer.  So he made the phone call.

The current owners, Ray and Patsy, live in a small town called Hinckley.  They had lovingly used “the Coach” for ten years, but for health reasons they decided it was time to sell.  When Paul visited Ray and Patsy the first time, he felt an instant connection with them – like this was both a sale and a relationship that was meant to be.  He arranged to pay half now and half next spring when we pick it up.  Ray and Patsy had already winterized it and were happy to store it for the winter – free of charge.
Yesterday Paul and I drove to Hinckley to have the hitch installed in the truck bed, and I got a change to tour my fifth-wheel.  It’s a 2000 Avion Savanna by Fleetwood. It is really MY fifth-wheel – the model I’ve always wanted, with the big picture window in the back. 

While we waited for the hitch to be installed by a country mechanic in a large garage that Paul lusted over, we visited with Ray and Patsy.  They opened their home to us and even took us out to lunch.  I took a photo of their dog, Bandito – the only Chihuahua I have ever met that actually liked me. 
Paul had been right; I too felt an instant connection with these wonderful people.  I’ve added them to my Christmas card list and look forward to seeing them again next spring.  The sale – and the relationship – was meant to be.  They call it "The Coach."  So will we.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

We're Hired!

This morning, over coffee, Paul and I filled in the online application to work for American Land and Leisure as camp hosts.  

I have to admit I was somewhat unnerved by the prospect of a job application.  I haven’t applied for a job in over 14 years – and Paul’s gone even longer than that.  And of course, all the paragraphs and buzzwords, certificates and certifications I’ve collected over the years had absolutely no relevance to the job of camp host.  Can I paint? Yes.  Can I clean?  Yes.  Can I work with people?  Yes. 
The most difficult part of filling out the application was deciding on our top three choices of campground.  We had already decided that for the first year we’d like to stay within 3 hours of home – just to make sure that the arrangements we make for the care and feeding of a house and yard go as planned.  So we picked three lakeside campgrounds that we both liked.

I went to work.  I arrived home to the smell of dinner cooking and to a husband that couldn’t stop smiling.  He had gotten a call from Gary at AL&L, and pending background check, we’re hired!  AND – we got our first choice of campground.  How cool is this!
Wow – this is really going to happen!

Sunday, November 13, 2011

The Lyric Goes to the Casino

I wrote several weeks ago about my husband’s purchase of a Lyric Personal Transportation Vehicle to help him get around places where lots of walking is involved.  He has Multiple Sclerosis, and while he can walk, walking long distances is difficult.  But his balance is still quite good.  He ordered his Lyric with a seat, but after about a week he removed the seat because it was “in the way.”  He stands to ride the Lyric.

We celebrated my father’s 80th birthday last weekend at a casino just across the border.  All my brothers were there – along with many friends and even a few of the grandchildren. My parents rented a suite for the celebration.  Unfortunately, the hotel was quite full last weekend, and our rooms were on the other side of the casino.  This was about a quarter-mile walk.  Enter the Lyric – literally.  Paul decided to take his chances riding the Lyric inside the hotel and casino. 
Of course, Security was on it immediately.  Lots of cameras in casinos – imagine that.  We were stopped by no less than five security employees.  After asking him everything except, “can I take a test ride,” they told him to be careful and he wasn’t stopped again - at least, not by Security.  Several casino patrons commented on how cool the Lyric was – both parked and in motion. 

I am encouraged by the acceptance of this not-handicapped-looking device in venues where traditional scooters and wheelchairs have been accepted.  But we’ll wait until after the holidays to take it to a shopping mall.

Monday, November 7, 2011

Sing a new Song

A very close friend asked me to sing “Amazing Grace” at her mother’s memorial service.  Of course, I was honored to have been asked and wanted to do my very best.  I searched my music library (I use the term loosely – it’s pretty much a large pile in the cupboard near the piano) until I found a version that was in a low enough key.  News flash – I’m not a soprano any more.

I’d like to believe that the loss of the high notes is more due to lack of practice than advanced age.  I’ve seen anecdotal evidence both ways – an 80-year old member of the church choir I used to sing in still has all her top notes, yet a much younger woman from the same choir has shifted to alto.  In my own case, I’m finding that my range really hasn’t decreased – it’s just shifted lower.
I miss singing.  From the time I was in Jr. High School I’ve been in some form of choral performance group – school choirs, madrigal groups, community choirs, church choirs - up until about five years ago.  The church we currently attend does not have a choir, and as much as I say I miss singing, I haven’t given up anything of my other activities to make room for singing. 

In my retired life I’m hoping this will change.  I’ve been researching local opportunities for being a member of a choir – for when I have more free time to practice and to perform.  The downside, of course, is that many of these choirs rehearse and perform year-round, so they might not take kindly to my requesting every summer off.  Perhaps I can find a choir performing Handel’s Messiah in December 2012 – one needing a good alto.