Wednesday, May 28, 2014

We're a click away...

I began blogging to think aloud.
And to discover the bigger world around me.

We moved from a big city, Los Angeles, where neighbors hardly saw or spoke to each other, to a small hamlet on the Oregon Coast where neighbors know each other, where walks on the beach means meeting tourists as well as locals; where a stop at the post office to pick up mail is an opportunity to catch up with the town's gossip wheel.

Somehow, though I don't receive mail anymore from friends or relatives (excluding special occasions) I marvel at how much I know about them through the social media outlets we subscribe to. Facebook lets me keep in touch almost instantaneously, drop a congratulatory note or ramble about my hobby horse without interruptions, and at the end of the day, when I see that a friend from work I have not seen for decades likes my post, I feel re-connected to my old self.

What is even more remarkable is the connection across time and space that none of us would have predicted. Recently, I met a young student from England, researching her grandfather's life. She saw a name on my Memoir blog she recognized from a signature on a portrait her grandfather had left for her painted in India during WWII. 

She emailed me, wanting to know if that artist was the relative I had talked about in my memoir.  

Serious research may have to go different routes; more scholarly routes are available through university and government institutions. But common folks with common curiosity can certainly feed such curiosity with just a click away.

We can live anywhere in world; purchase goods from anywhere in the world; work in the privacy of our living space; and on a day when we want to talk/skype or connect in real time with a loved one we can phone, text, leave messages here and there and in no time we are back together.

It sure beats sending a note in a bottle, or mailing a flimsy air-mail letter that might take months to get across the ocean.

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Men retire; women re-direct.

( Portland, on the Willamette River, @ 2010, early morning cruising. No, this is not our boat.)

I don't have to convince any women my age that retirement for women is different than it is for men. Men and women may be in the same boat, but they focus on their surroundings differently.

Men talking to women:
1. Let's do nothing today.
2. Better yet, let's just go down river...

1. I have laundry to do.
2. Were you not going to clean the garage today?

Saturday, May 17, 2014

Dreaming of Retirement?

If you have a lot of money and want to retire, you don't need to do anything, at all.

You  never have to plan for the time when you can no longer make a living. You have only to decide how and where you spend your money. Not, if you can survive without that paycheck.

People with money have more confidence, fewer anxieties, more luck. People with money make money work for them. If they work for an employer that matches their retirement savings in their 401K, they have found the golden key to retirement.
The more they save, the more they are gifted
Their money will make money as long as they don't spend it all.

It turns out that if you are one of those people with money, you are also healthier, and seeing doctors and dentists regularly will guarantee you remain healthier. Your resources will allow you to have more choices in life than those people who must work and scrimp every minute of their lives.

People with money most likely received a free-paid by their parents-education, a free wedding, free loans or low interest loans to get started in a business. They married better partners; they left the marriage that had not worked out; they moved on to careers that were more rewarding.

People with money have always had more choices.

What about the rest of us? 

Since the last recession took a bit bite out of their investments, if they had investments, the average family is not equipped to pay for their children college education. Settling the younger generation with substantial debt before they have their full career ahead of them is bound to complicate things for these children for decades.

Should the parents become incapacitated and in need of help, their children will not be able to take them in, offer assistance, pay for the extra help to maintain a minimum of amenities and lifestyle. At all stages of life, the average family does not have sufficient resources to achieve the American dream.

If you feel comfortable in your present lifestyle, and are planning to retire soon, do a bit of research before you quit that job.
If you can, continue to work part-time, see if you can live on half as much.
If you are young enough to start somewhere else where you will be happier and fulfilled, make that move. Retirement may be postponed. Retirement is not all that it is cracked up to be.

Most people enjoy working and contributing to society.
Most people do not have enough hobbies or money for hobbies. And even if they did, how much fishing is too much; or golfing; or needlepoint?

Ask yourself if you are prepared financially first and foremost:

1.What can you cut back on? Your retirement funds may have to last you thirty years...
2. Things will break down and will need to be replaced: cars, roofs, teeth...
3. Prices will go up for your basic needs such as food, medicine, transportation...
4. Traveling and hobbies will take a big bite of scarce resources.
5. Your medical costs, even if you have always been in good health will no longer be paid by your employer, or subsidized by your company. Even with Medicare's coverage, you are looking at increased medical costs. Plus, as you get older your body needs to be checked more often, at the very least. You will see more specialists, take more drugs, require glasses more often.

Last, but most important, why are you retiring? If your job is fulfilling and rewarding, keep working, but take as many vacations as you can, check out places and activities you might want to pursue to remain active and happy in your later years.

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Home is all about the neighbors.

This small incline at the top of the picture brings me joy every time I see it. Notice the houses. You can't really see them. Mine is the fourth on the left, at the stone column marker. If I hadn't told you you couldn't even guess that houses hide behind those trees.

Most are vacation cottages, occupied for a few weeks every summer or holiday. Out of the eight that would be in this pictures if trees didn't hide them, only three are occupied year round.
Ours is one of them.

This is the view you'd get if you walked up from the street to my residence, a long gravel road and a concrete pad in front of the house. We have houses on the side of house that are barely visible; and one straight ahead at the other side of the street, usually unoccupied all year long, surrounded by trees and water. My cat has this view early in the morning, when I open a window and let her out. She jumps out and down to the pavers and on to the gravel until she finds a smell she likes.

She doesn't like meandering toward the lake on her own; she waits for me to go down toward the lake garden before she attempts to get close. Then, she sits and waits quietly until I retreat back to the house. She scurries fast and furious to get into the front door before I close it.

When I walk out my driveway for the short walk toward the beach, my cat stays behind. She has no idea what fun I have on the white sand.
She and I enjoy the solitude this place provides, rain or shine, though deer, herons and beavers may think we are overcrowded.

Sunday, May 11, 2014

Motherhood is a voyage...

Happy Mother's Day!
The only day when everyone around you feels guilty that you are up before them....

Monday, May 5, 2014

Closing the distance

I'm lost and found here
among trees, fog,
occasional sun rays,
and mostly rain.
What I have become is
enough for now; a breadth
to get me over the bed posts
of each morning.

You have to drag me out screaming some mornings as
I sit here behind the lacy curtains of this windowed world
listening to the blue jays screaming out at my cat-
"We can't help it!" I shout back
"Go on-go-squawking elsewhere
while I go down to the
vegetable garden and demand respect from the slugs.

Thursday, May 1, 2014

When old people rant...

There is us, and the structures we build to keep things and people in place. There is nature too, reminding us that we are vulnerable at every season, even if our mortgage is paid, and our utilities are up to date, and the life we are constructing feels as good as we can afford to make it. We used to consult our priests, our neighborhood banker, our parents. Now, we believe what we can glean the truth by doing "research" on the internet, reading the first article in the top listing that comes straight from the admirably-cheating-enabler Wikipedia.

In my days, (I know, pre-historical) we had no insurance, no mortgages, and no credit cards. What we had was the food we grew; and the ability to trade our extra food for clothes and other necessities. Life was laid out simply and visibly all the time.

Yet, with all the modern conveniences and automatic searches for knowledge I have had a deep feeling that truth is hidden deeper than it ever was. And I, in my little corner of the world, have had no impact whatsoever in creating more transparency.

I have never been able to put my finger on the status of my soul until just now, after a lifetime of work, after burying a son, after facing challenges I didn't expect to face,  trained and prepared as a model mother, worker, wife, citizen...

I have begun to rant.

But how could I have been any braver when  all day long, decades after decades, all I heard were a litany of lies from individuals and from institutions. Even simple exchanges are manufactured cliches, all empty shells:  "How is your day?" "Terrific!"

In most encounters, when we need to sign on the bottom line because we need that mortgage, that loan, that job, our lives are not our own.  Someone else is inventing ways to take advantage of the situation and rigging up the exchange so they, not you, are protected in that encounter.

We realize early in life that lying, painting a rosy picture works to bring us more joy or satisfaction. Our wounds might be festering; our souls raped and assaulted by our work place back stabbing, but our attitude is stellar, satisfying the needs of all around us.

So, late in life we begin to see the whole scheme we tacitly engulfed ourselves in. Heavy debts like student loans were never portrayed in their ramifications; they were displayed as a pittance in the big scheme of things, the big money we were going to make once that degree got us into the door.

The trouble at this time is that nobody out there wants to hear the bad news.
Nobody out there wants to consider the consequences of a life without many choices.
Nobody out there wants to listen to old people ranting.

Remember those old seers in ancient times telling Achilles or Priam the truth?
They were classified as crazy old people ranting to the wind...