settling in to retirement, life is good

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Lose 30 pounds (read all 30 entries…)
The time has come

I can’t put this off any longer. Losing 30 pounds is just the first step. There will be more to lose after that. But I’ve got a good start … dropped seven pounds in the past month since my last visit to the doctor. Hope to drop six more before next month’s visit.

Collect and make 43 vegetarian recipes. (read all 9 entries…)
9. Vegetable Stock

Many vegetarian recipes call for vegetable stock. Most of what’s available off the shelf is high in sodium and relatively expensive. I decided to make up a big batch of it to freeze so that I’m ready whenever it is called for in a recipe.

Collect and make 43 vegetarian recipes. (read all 9 entries…)
8. Banana-Oatmeal Treats

This vegan snack was reportedly developed by Perez Hilton, but who’s to know? It certainly sounded good and it’s easy to make. My first time cooking with almond milk.

Collect and make 43 vegetarian recipes. (read all 9 entries…)
7. Deep South Sour Cream Hash Brown Casserole

This is another dish that comes in many versions, but apparently every southerner likely has this one in their recipe box with some variation. The main changes I made were to substitute cream of celery soup for chicken to make it vegetarian and to add broccoli to make it a main dish instead of a side.

file my 2013 taxes
So glad

to be done with this, even if it is costing me. Damn self-empoyment tax gets me every year.

go to bed earlier (read all 3 entries…)
The retirement of Jay Leno

on late night TV removed one of the main reasons I would stay up past midnight. Now I go to bed after the 11pm news on week nights, so I am officially retiring this goal.

Celebrate my 8 year anniversary on 43T!
Looking back

on a few superlative 43T experiences:

  • The 43T meet-up in Las Vegas in April 2007
  • The global Barossa wine tasting in October 2007
  • The warm response to the launch of my poetry book in 2009
  • Visits from 43Ters like TG, Adar, catattack, Tiger, Sipes23, Tikini and Stacey

It has been a marvelous eight years, and I hope the next eight are just as productive in terms of goals achieved and as much fun.

take advantage of being a senior citizen as often ass possible (read all 28 entries…)
Stirring up trouble

is easy in your teens and 20s. During middle age, you settle down and become more docile. But after 60, it’s time to rekindle the passionate fires of creative troublemaking, backed by the wisdom gained of experience.

Case in point: I just spent a half hour on the phone with an Amazon.com customer service rep to blow the whistle on their financial partner, GE Capital. GE issues the storecard for Amazon (and Walmart and lots of other retailers). But GE is terrible at communicating with cutomers. Without going into detail, they cancelled my Amazon storecard (which has no expiration date) due to “inactivity.” The trouble is that they never bothered to inform me. I only found out after it was declined when I tried to make a recent purchase on Amazon.

After I spoke to GE customer service, I called Amazon to let them know how their partner’s poor business practices were causing them to lose potential sales. The rep I spoke to said that there have been problems with GE in the past and was very appreciative of my feedback. I love Amazon. I think Jeff Bezos is a marketing genius. But unless customers speak up about bad experiences, it’s hard for things to improve.

Felt good being the bad news bearer this morning. Now I wonder what other trouble I can stir up?

ride the High Roller at the Linq (read all 4 entries…)
It's open!

This morning the observation wheel was officially opened for business, along with a champagne bottle christening ceremony and a line-up of showgirls. Sometime later this month, I’ll pick a day to take my first ride. Really looking forward to it.

Celebrate MOON AVATAR WEEK with Moon Avatars for the week of March 23 - 29 (read all 2 entries…)
Also from Japan

another lovely moon … Sailor Moon.

Collect and make 43 vegetarian recipes. (read all 9 entries…)
6. Zesty Potato Wedges

I’ve made steak fries before, but when I did a bit of research, I was surprised to learn how many variations there are. Oven temperatures range from 400ºF to 450ºF. Most recipes call for turning the wedges halfway through the cooking time, but I found one that suggested baking them skin side down. A wide variety of seasonings are recommended.

Celebrate MOON AVATAR WEEK with Moon Avatars for the week of March 23 - 29 (read all 2 entries…)
The Moon Rabbit

Japanese mythology tells of a rabbit in the moon who pounds steamed rice into mochi (rice cakes). My sign in the Asian zodiac just happens to be the rabbit, and what critter better exemplifies Spring?

give 15,000 cheers
It went to

Wundergrl21 who is trying to stop drinking soda – a worthy goal.

Collect and make 43 vegetarian recipes. (read all 9 entries…)
5. Skillet Bulgur and Vegetables with Shredded Basil

One more recipe from Jeanne Lemlin’s Simply Satisfying, this time making bulgur the main component. I followed the instructions exactly.

Get new glasses (read all 3 entries…)
The new pair arrived

and they seem just fine. I am happy with the online ordering experience overall and would recommend it to others, especially when a discount code is available.

Collect and make 43 vegetarian recipes. (read all 9 entries…)
4. Black Bean and Cream Cheese Enchiladas

This “stick-to-the-ribs” baked dish also comes from Jeanne Lemlin’s Simply Satisfying cookbook, p. 162-63. Once again, I substituted some low-sodium equivalents such as corn tortillas in place of wheat ones and “no salt added” diced tomatoes. I also considered halving the recipe because my freezer is getting full of leftovers, but since I had all the ingredients in quantity I decided to go for the whole enchilada, so to speak. :)

ride the High Roller at the Linq (read all 4 entries…)
Still "Coming Soon"

I’ve watched the awesome testing of lights on the High Roller and seen it make its slow rotation counterclockwise when viewed from the east, but there’s still no official word on the opening date. Some are saying a “soft launch” in April and maybe not full-fledged ticket sales till May. In the meantime, the souvenir shop at its base has opened, just in time for St. Paddy’s Day.

enjoy retirement
It would help

to be healthy and wealthy in order to fully enjoy retirement, but those are relative conditions. I’m okay with being well and able to live within my means. I’ve already completed most of my bucket list. What remains is either less important or more fantasy than something truly desired. Throughout my life, if I have ever really wanted something, I almost invariably got it … for better or worse.

So for me, enjoying retirement takes on a somewhat different meaning than fulfilling postponed dreams. I’ve slowed the pace of living greatly and unburdened myself of numerous responsibilities. Although I’ve only been in this new phase a couple of months, I am rediscovering some things long ignored. I am looking over my list of goals with a fresh eye.

In the past few weeks, I have renewed my interest in cooking. I have always liked to cook, but pre-retirement I really didn’t have the time required to do it well. After a full day of straining my brain, the last thing I wanted was to embark on planning and preparing a meal. Now, I can enjoy seeking out new recipes and ingredients, learning techniques and exploring different cuisines. This is certainly going to be one of the key ways in which I enjoy retirement.

I’m gradually getting over the guilty feeling that I typically had when I slept in late. Pre-retirement, it seemed like time wasted. Now, there is no such thing as time wasted … only time enjoyed or not. If sleeping in is enjoyable, I’ll do it without regret. If I feel I am letting daylight slip by, I’ll just get up. It’s no big deal. Every day is the weekend now.

I’m removing some restrictions I placed on myself. For example, I stopped drinking hard alcohol more than a decade ago, but now I am going to allow myself an occasional snifter of brandy, a tequila shot with a friend or mixed drink during the cocktail hour. I’m cutting down on beer at the same time and won’t be drinking it just because it’s the only alcohol I consume other than wine. Enjoying retirement will mean being more balanced in my slection of beverages and savoring the freedom of choice.

Oddly, I have not filled the free time gained from “not working” with my long-postponed personal writing projects. That would be like continuing to work. I need a nice long break from sitting in front of a computer screen banging out paragraphs. I’ll come back to creative writing at some point. It’s in my blood. But I want to enjoy it, not feel like it is something I have to do “before it’s too late.” Having lived with deadlines most of my adult life, I want to feel how it is to just flow for a while. No rush. No pressure. No time constraints.

On occasion over the past several weeks, a long forgotten feeling from childhood has emerged. While sitting on a bench at a bus stop, enjoying the warm sun and light breeze, I recalled lazy summer afternoons when there was no place special I had to be … just enjoying the moment. Maybe others have this feeling frequently, but relaxation has not come easy to me for many years. Neither has ennui, but perhaps enjoying retirement will mean being bored now and then. Not being busy, having nothing to do, doesn’t have to be a bad thing.

I know that I want to add some exercise and meditation to my new retirement routines, but not until I distance myself emotionally a bit further from my old workday routines. Again, trading one set of scheduled actions for another is not my idea of how to enjoy retirement. I’d rather discover a new way of showing up in the world gradually. I want it to be an adventure, not a regimen.

In terms of money, I am making the transition from week-to-week to monthly budgeting. I’m just beginning to get an inkling of what financial security feels like. I’m finding that a fixed income has several advantages over a variable income. The main one is its predictability. I removes the uncertainly factor from the equation. The tradeoff, of course, is that there are no more big paydays to look forward to, but the stability seems to be worth it so far.

New learnings will be a constant part of this stage of my life, some planned and others not so much. For instance, I like the idea of taking a course in photography, but I’m not quite ready to set it as a “goal.” I would rather the opportunity find me when the time is ripe. No hurry. I like the idea that I can take advantage of educational opportunities as they pop up. Whether I actually avail myself of them remains to be seen, but the constraints of “prior commitments” are no longer a deciding factor.

It is fun to reflect on what “enjoy retirement” means to me. It will probably be something I experience a day at a time, rather than part of a grand plan, and that’s just fine with me right now. Namaste.

Collect and make 43 vegetarian recipes. (read all 9 entries…)
3. Vegetarian Chili

Another page from “Simply Satisfying” by Jeanne Lemlin, this recipe calls for bulgur, a grain I’ve never cooked with before. I made a few phone calls and located it at a store specializing in Persian food products. It comes in four versions, based on how coarse the grain is. I’ve done a bit more research since then and discovered it can be used in a lot of dishes I’d like to try, so I’m loading up on it.

Collect and make 43 vegetarian recipes. (read all 9 entries…)
2. Curried Mung Beans with Cauliflower

I was looking for a recipe to use with some green mung beans I already had and I came across this Bengali dish posted online by Lail Hossain, a blogger who was born and raised in Bangladesh. The only spice I was missing was cardamom, but when I discovered the price was $14~$16 per small bottle, I decided to just leave that ingredient out.

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