Source: 2016

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August Books

It has been a slow month for books but I have read a few.

Boys in the Boat by Daniel James Brown:  I reread this book because I was responsible for leading a discussion at my Book Club.  It was just as great the 2nd time around.  For anyone who enjoys this “narrative” or “creative” style of non-fiction, it is one of the finest of it’s genre.  It joins “Seasbiscuit” and “Unbroken” as a wonderful depiction of life in America during the 1930s.   It is the compelling story of  a group of boys who came from no means in the depression ravaged Pacific Northwest to win the Gold Medal in rowing at the 1936 Olympics.  Amazing story, amazing writing and a tale of “heart”, perseverance, teamwork and all that made this generation of Americans so great.  *****

Longbourn by Jo Baker:  This should be renamed “Long and Boring”.  If you are a lover of Pride and Prejudice than what could be better than a new book about the Bennett’s, right?  Even if it is about the “downstairs” staff?  It is only the love of the Bennetts that will get you through this book.  It isn’t horrible but my time could have been better spent.  ** 1/2

You by Carolyn Kepnes:  This was supposed to be a hot new thriller from a new author which would be a great beach read.  NOT.  The characters were so creepy that I just wanted to get away from them as soon as possible.  I watch plenty of TV shows with male stalkers/murders of young females so it isn’t like I don’t appreciate a well done show or book with this theme.  For me, these characters had no redeeming characteristics, I didn’t care what happened to them and there wasn’t anything else happening in the book that grabbed my attention and made it worthwhile.  How it ended up on anyone’s summer must read list is beyond me.  *1/2

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Not a Critic

Ok…I’m going to change focus here. I’ve been in AZ for almost 3 years and I find myself doing a lot of what I love most – reading, movies and watching TV. These are activities that I didn’t do a lot of while I was working and raising kids so I’ve been making up for it now. So, while I’m not a critic – nor do I write like one – I do know what I like and why. My tastes are broad – I tend to like things across genres if they are good. So I’ll keep you posted on what I’m reading, what movies I am seeing and the best TV shows around (or at least the best TV shows that appear on my Cox, Netflix, Amazon and Hulu.

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Retired in Arizona

After several crazy months of getting our Virginia home ready for sale, putting it on the market and moving to Arizona, I am ready to start blogging again. It has been an adventure. So what is life like as a retired person in Arizona? I’m finding it a bit of a struggle to be quite honest. The weather is very nice but we don’t know anyone here. It is very difficult to pick up and leave a place where you feel comfortable, are familiar with everything and have friends. So the biggest challenge is how do we meet people in a town where we absolutely know no one. It’s a challenge. To complicate matters, we are in transition as we plan to move to a different town once we sell our VA house and the towns here aren’t really close together so meeting a lot of people in our current town probably won’t help us in the long run.

The traditional ways of meeting people are through work, children’s school and activities and church. Since we are retired, have no young kids and don’t belong to any church, we will have to look at other avenues. I suspect it involves joining organizations where we meet people so we will have to find some. We went to one meeting the other night in Scottsdale where we might move but I’m not sure we met anyone that we can have a friendship with. I have been going to the Y every day but have only met my 30 something personal trainer. Guess I could try a class but again, this probably won’t be the town we ultimately live in.

If anyone has any ideas on good ways for a couple of introverts to meet people, I would love advice.

Now that the unpacking is over, we have to find things to do outside the house. We go to the Y every day and run errands and we are going to start doing day trips on Wednesdays. Last week we went to a really neat Olive Farm and got to see how olive oil is made and of course bought some great oil. We have hiked locally (they have mountains and parks inside the Phoenix city limits) the last two weekends. Interesting hikes but there are a lot of people there on the weekends so I’m thinking that we should go during the week. Next Saturday we are headed to some desert wilderness survival training somewhere in the mountains. Clearly my husband’s idea!

AJ is getting cabin fever…me less so. He has finished his little projects like a couple of small patios with plantings in the back along with taking out all the grass and “0-scaping” the back yard. Now he wants to walk or hike every day…not sure I’m up for that.

So, we are at a crossroads trying to find something meaningful to do in a new city and looking for ways to meet people. I’ll keep you posted on our progress!

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It’s been awhile…..

I know that I have been remiss about blogging but the past few weeks have been very busy.  I can see now why people I have talked to say that the first few months or retirement, it just seems like you are on vacation although it sure hasn’t seemed like a vacation.  My primary focus has been the disposition of the Condo in NJ.  We are scheduled to close May 15th and I am up there now cleaning it out.  We were also up last weekend to sign papers and take two carloads home.  So far this week, I have had Habitat for Humanity pick up some of the really nice furniture that we don’t want to keep and College Hunks Hauling junk taking away appliances and furniture not good enough to donate.  Tomorrow the movers come for the few things we are taking to VA and then the cleaners on Friday and hopefully I’m out of NJ forever after that!

When I’m at home in VA, I have been doing doctor’s appointments and clearing out stuff that we don’t want to take Arizona.  I have been keeping up my daily trips to the gym and that all fills the days.  So far, there has been a lot of stress and just getting through the tasks at hand has been the focus of each day.  I look forward to getting settled somewhere and into a routine.  I know that I need to do something worthwhile with my life and I’m anxious to figure out what that is going to be.  I also really want to go back to school and take courses in things I’m interested in.  All that needs to wait though until we are moved and settled.  I wonder when that will be?

The other thing that is not quite settled is the finances.  Lots of work in rolling 401(k)s etc into an IRA and setting up accounts.  We both worry that we won’t have enough money but it is what it is.  It will be better when I have a sense of what the budget is and how to live within it.

The next thing to focus on is our trip.  We have a two week Alaskan cruise that leaves Memorial Day weekend. It is a very small ship and we will be doing a lot of kayaking etc and I have to ensure I have the right clothes and equipment etc.  We are taking off a week before the trip and visiting family up and down the West Coast.  I haven’t thought about or planned for the trip so, as I said, it’s day by day focusing on the task of the moment.

More to come!


So, in short, this has been a busy and stressful time.  I don’t think that the fact that I’m in retirement has really sunk in and there is just so much to do.  I look forward to having this all behind me and wonder what the future holds.



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Closing down Week 2

Wow….the first two weeks have gone by quickly.  I haven’t been able to establish a routine as of yet as this week has been a bit crazy.  We had to put our 9 year old yellow lab Toby to sleep on Monday night so we spent the last day with him trying to make him as happy as possible by doing his favorite things. The vet came over at 6 pm and Toby passed away quietly.  It was very difficult on us all.  Also made me realize how tough it must have been on AJ having to put Cooper to sleep 18 months ago when neither Alex or I were in town.  This time all three of us were here.  It was very hard.

The best laid plans were blown up on Tuesday when some major water valve in the basement sprung a leak and sprayed water all over.  Between getting the plumber over, the water company over to find the turn-off mechanism (which AJ had inconveniently buried in a flower bed!) and getting everything working again, it took up most of the day.  I at least got out to the gym – the only thing on my list I seem to be able to get to regardless of everything else going on.  While all of this was going on, I did get the life story of the plumber and why he doesn’t get married again.  Also, continued with the mass clean-up of the bedroom and getting rid of all those work clothes and duplicate clothes I needed in NJ.  So far I have 6 trash bags full and have made one trip to Goodwill with another coming up tomorrow.  Seeing all this stuff leave the house makes me feel great.  A tangible accomplishment but I’m waiting for the fun part of retirement!

Yesterday, AJ had hand surgery so I was at the surgical center most of the day and then once I got him home, getting his prescriptions filled etc.  I did find time to buy a mega millions ticket in my travels however!  So basically yesterday was shot except for a 1 hour walk.

Today, more patient care and a trip to Wegmans which is about 30 minutes away.  I stocked up on some items we can’t get at our regular grocery store.  I really look forward to doing some occasional shopping at Wegmans and Costco.  I will make a trip to the gym today but other than that, I’m not feeling like doing a whole lot so of course I get guilty about that!

The sale of the condo in NJ continues to take up time.  This week they found a small amount of radon so  I’m trying to figure out what to do about that.  Also lining up fire inspections etc and have to arrange moving out.  

To sum up the first two weeks, I’d say that it still feels like I’m on vacation with the feeling that it will be over soon.  I always feel like there is something hanging over my head – worse than when I was working I think.  Between the sale of the condo, medical stuff I need to care for, starting the major cleanup of the house and the whole thing with the dog it has been tough.  I look forward to the time where there is a little less stress and a little more routine but I don’t think that is going to come in the next few weeks.  In the meantime, maybe I’ll try and look forward to the trip we are taking at the end of May.  More about that in another post.



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Week 1

Ok…it’s Saturday.  It feels like the weekend.  I wonder when the time will come where the weekdays are indistinguishable from the weekends?  I’m sure that happens but for now, it still feels like I’m on vacation and the weekends are my time to relax from the hectic pace of the week.  I’m getting great advice from many of my retired friends and it is reinforcing some of my gut reactions to all of this.  Namely:

  • It is going to take time to figure out what works – maybe even up to a year
  • A flexible schedule seems to be helpful to many
  • Got to get over the guilt of doing things that are just fun to do
  • Find something meaningful

So, how did I do relative to my overall goals?  Ok…not great.  I think I need to set some specific goals each week which will keep me focused.  The structure I initially set up for each day was too much and just winging it the first week didn’t quite get me there.  I did keep up with the exercise but had some other activities take my focus away.  Specifically, we got through Attorney Review and am working through Home Inspection on the selling of my NJ condo.  I have some other issues that I need to take care of at the beginning of the week but this created a fair amount of pressure and stress and lots of paperwork to be reviewed.  In addition, my father is quite ill again and in the hospital so I have to be prepared for an unplanned trip to Oregon.  Finally, our blind and crippled dog Toby has taken a major turn for the worse and seems to be unable to walk which means that we are going to have to put him down soon.  He has been such a fighter over the past couple of years and it is going to be really tough.

On the plus side, I had a long lunch with a couple of retired friends and I saw the Hunger Games with my daughter in the middle of the day.  I did a few hours of closet organizing etc but not as much as I would like.  So – my bottom line for next week is to:

  • Set some very specific goals to accomplish – I think they will be in the areas of:
  1. Household tasks
  2. NJ Real Estate Closing Activities
  3. Exercise schedule
  4. Reading

I’m hoping that this will work out better than having a daily schedule in which I try to allocate specific hours to specific duties.  We’ll see how it goes.  Keep your ideas coming.  They are really helpful!


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