Libraries

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National Library Week is April 9 through April 15.

I love libraries.

I started hanging out in libraries when I was a kid. I knew my way around the Card Catalog and had the Dewey Decimal system memorized by age 11.

If you are not familiar with your library, I urge you to visit especially during National Library Week. I promise that you won’t be shhhhh’d by a severe-looking matron who’s got her hair up in a bun and is wearing horn-rimmed glasses. Libraries have morphed into fun and welcoming hangouts. They have become places that encourage not only speaking to others, but laughing with them as well.

When we moved to Eugene two years ago, the first thing I did was go to my local library to get my new Eugene library card. I did this before attempting to go to the DMV for my new driver’s license.

Turns out that getting that revered library card was dependent on having that driver’s license. Off I go to the DMV. Being without a library card and a library for just a few weeks was easily one of the more stressful parts of the move for me. My library card provides me almost unlimited access to books, movies and music. I felt that I did not need a driver’s license to actually drive a car, but I did need a library card to get a book.

Yes, I could have just ordered up digital books if I wanted to. I find, however, that reading a book on a digital device just leaves me cold. My first choice is to read a real book. It seems that the touch and feel of a book is important to my eyeballs. I totally get that reading digitally can be more efficient, more robust and friendlier to the environment. But I spend way too much time in front of a screen already, so reading a book-book gives me a break from that. Also, reading a physical book curbs my urge to multi-task while reading.

Reading books changed my life. At one particularly dark time in my life, when I had screwed up just about every pathway I had ventured on to, I remember spending a lot of alone time at my home “library”. I had recently moved and I had no furniture except my king-sized waterbed (ugh why did I ever buy that?). My waterbed soon became my home library. The headboard of this bed was a bookcase. It was my first bookcase. The library books kept company with my other books and magazines that were strewn all over the bed. This piling of books left very little room for me and my little dog. This was happiness. This was bliss.

During this very dark time I started to read about gardening and owning land. I dreamed about “5 Acres and Independence”. I fantasized about living off the grid. I wanted chickens. Organic Gardening Magazine spoke a language to me I had never heard before. Words like vermiculture, compost and seed-saving danced in my head.

Even though I had no land, and no space for growing a garden, those books instilled in me the urge to grow things. So I did. Since I didn’t have any furniture in my new place (I wasn’t making that up), I put up some garage shelving with fluorescent lights in what should have been the dining room and grew 250 tomato plants from seed. I printed up a gardening newsletter, and passed one out to all of my friends at work. I sold every one of those little tomato starts. I would have given them all away as selling wasn’t even the point of what I was doing. I had found an activity that I loved. Thank you, thank you library!

A year later I was living out in the country on 2 acres. Not exactly off the grid, but it was perfect for me and the pooch. I ended up spending 15 years out there. Far from the city, I was happily herding chickens, guinea hens, turkeys and a couple of horses. And of course, I was growing a garden. Life was good. Because of the library.

I tell my friends I often have the experience of books “jumping into my arms” when I’m at the library. This may be a stretch, but many times my eyes are drawn to a certain bookcase where a book grabs my attention for whatever reason. This happened with Natalie Goldberg’s book, “The True Secret of Writing”. A couple of weeks before our move to Eugene, her book leapt into my arms. I enjoyed reading it so much I bought it. I read and re-read this one book during our drive here. I continued re-reading it well after our landing in Eugene. Because of this book, I am now writing. For better or worse.

I encourage you to explore your local library. Do you know that you can create an account, search or browse for books, music and movies online, put your requests on hold and then be notified by text or email when they are ready to be picked up?

You will discover that libraries aren’t just about books. Below is a small list of some of the things you can do or borrow from your library in addition to books:

Music CD’s

Movies DVD’s

Digital books

Magazines

Use of computers and printers

Free Wifi

Use of digitizing equipment to digitize photographs or movies

Many libraries offer classes, book clubs and author presentations

At my old library in Colorado you can borrow backpacks that come with a pass to a Colorado State Park.

Non-traditional items such as sewing machines, looms and spinning wheels.

Most libraries offer story time and music time for the kids.

Free access to Lynda with just your library card. Lynda has over 5000 courses in Business, Technology and Creative Skills taught by industry experts. Link to Lynda.

I rarely buy a book anymore. My first “go-to” is the library. Honestly, there is no way that I can afford to buy the amount of books I read. And I don’t own enough bookcases to house all those books! So I’m happy to let the library do that. That’s what they do best.

If you haven’t been to a library lately, check one out!

Happy Library Week!

 

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Zen and the Art of Multi-tasking

Cooking.

Hanging out in the kitchen is not my idea of a good time, but my therapist believes that playing with food can in fact be therapeutic. She is on a quest to introduce me to living mindfully. This is not something I’ve had much experience with. But I agree to give it a shot because, well, who wouldn’t want to live mindfully?

I promise to stop at the organic supermarket on the way home to pick up some lovely locally grown, organic, gluten-free, dairy-free and soy-free veggies. Happily, I find some hiding next to the sustainably farmed 85% dark chocolate bars.

Today’s technology allows for optimum efficiency in the kitchen. And it works well for this old gal who no longer owns a cookbook. Got a squash that needs baking? “Hey SIRI – find a recipe for baked squash.” SIRI completes the search and presents a multitude of recipes. There is now a good chance there will be baked squash for dinner.

After Siri and I decide what we are cooking for dinner, we select a Podcast to listen to and start a texting session with one or two friends. If we’re feeling especially energetic, we’ll get some music going as well. Sometimes we are successful at a dinner of sorts actually being cooked. Other times we send a text to Pizza Hut.

My therapist is less than impressed with how I carried out her plan. While she is happy that I have taken her advice to spend quality time in the kitchen, she seems a little dismayed by my approach.

She gently points out “Where’s the mindfulness?”

She explains that the intention is to spend some introspective and quiet time being at one with food. My “bad habit” of multi-tasking while cooking detracts from the zen-ness of it all.

Bad habit? It took me years to cultivate my multi-tasking “bad habit”. Multi-tasking served me well during my work years, thankyouverymuch. And it’s good for an old brain to keep up with technology by multi-tasking with it. Right? I know it will keep my brain in tip-top shape!

She strongly believes that this activity of mine may in fact be an addictive behavior.

She suggests that I give meditation a try.

Meditation and I are not strangers. We are not best friends either. I used to meditate in college a few years back. OK the truth is I didn’t meditate. I had good intentions. I read all the books. I hung with other students who also read all the books. None of us meditated.

I agree to start meditating. Again. Mindfully, I promise.

In order to inspire the older, wiser me to stick with my new meditation practice, I dig out an old Alan Watts book on meditation that I’ve been dragging around since the mid-70’s. Every 10 years or so I dust off this little book, read it and put it back. It always brings me joy and it never inspires me to take up a meditation practice. But it is Alan Watts and it brings back all kinds of great memories from the 70’s. None of which have anything to do with meditation.

Alan suggests that adding a little mantra of OM will help settle the brain and body during meditation. Isn’t that like multi-tasking? I wonder. But I let it go. On You Tube, I find that OM is pronounced “ahhhhhhhuuuuuuuummmmm”. So I practice that for a while.

I’ve set the alarm on my phone to chime every day at 2 in the afternoon. This is the time of day when I feel most lost. I feel that I should be in a meeting somewhere. When I hear the chimes it is my reminder to sit my butt down on my little meditation mat and OM for a while.

I took my “ahhhhhhhuuuuuuuummmmm” for a spin this afternoon. And it worked! I was able to sit for a while. (quite mindfully, I thought). When I lost patience with the sitting, I reached over and grabbed my phone to enter all of the to-do’s that had come up during this 3 minute sit. I loved that I was able to create this list so quickly! Meditation seems to free up my mind so that I can think of my to-do’s. Since it works so well, I decide to take my new friend OM with me everywhere.

When the cop pulled me over for going under the speed limit out on the Interstate, I tried to explain that it was because I had gotten lost in my OM’ing. I OM’d for her to demonstrate this. She was not impressed. She wouldn’t even try it. I’m thinking that if I had been driving at 20mph with the turn signal on, she would have understood. She would have smiled knowingly. The other drivers would have nodded their heads and understood that it was just another “gray hair” not able to hear the turn signal blinking for 10 miles down the road. An un-noticed blinker story is more common and more believable than an ‘OM’ing Oldster’ story.

I found several meditation apps that help you to easily integrate ‘OM’ into your daily life.

My favorite is an app that keeps track of all of your meditative breaths as you go about your daily tasks. It emits a calming gong sound when it senses you need a reminder to come back to the present. There’s even a wristband version that you can slip on next to your Fit Bit, for meditation on the run.

Meditation has changed in the last 40 years.

The next suggestion from my now-frustrated therapist is that I try doing Tai Chi. Tai Chi is a moving meditation that might suit me since I have a hard time sitting for more than 3 minutes.

I agree to Tai Chi.

I discover that Tai Chi goes well with my new meditation app.

This afternoon I took the app and the OM for a spin. I was listening to an old Leonard Cohen song. (Wouldn’t he have loved to know that someone Tai Chi’d to “Hallelujah”?) The meditation app was gonging in all the right places. Mindfulness was happening all over the house.

There I am singing and OM’ing with Leonard, when I hear a voice that is not Leonard’s or mine. The voice is coming from my phone. “What can I help you with?” the voice says. I start to laugh and wonder, Is it legal to laugh while you are Tai Chi’ing? It’s SIRI! I ask SIRI if she wants to meditate with me. She tells me “I have everything I need already. I am well.” Of course she is. I ask her if she would sing with me and she replies, “This is about you, not me.”   We continue by having a lovely conversation about the benefits of meditation, had she ever tried Tai Chi, and what had she been doing in the 60’s.

Please don’t tell my therapist.

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Chicken on the Grill!

 

My Hubby was pointing out our kitchen window. We both laughed as we watched our neighbor’s hen parading around the top of his barbecue grill. This hen was oblivious to the irony of her choices as well as the early morning entertainment she was providing us.

We are always happy to see and hear our neighbor’s chickens. When the weather permits, we sit on our deck and listen to them make their little clucky chicken noises. They chat to each other as they get their day started. As the morning wears on, their conversation style seems to change. Their casual cluck-chat turns into a rhythmic, repeating, almost operatic noise that ends on a final high-note, not unlike that of an opera diva. Perhaps it is a warning? Perhaps they letting the other ladies know that they are into some serious egg laying and please could they have a little privacy? Or are they merely letting the others know that there is a freshly laid egg in the coop and would they please mind their steps?

The only time we get to see our neighbor Mike’s hens is when they decide to jump up on his barbecue grill. This is because there is a 6 foot fence that runs along the back of our community that separates his backyard from ours. And although this fence aids tremendously in keeping chickens, dogs and children where they should be, it wreaks havoc on neighbors who would just like to chat over the fence on occasion. As neighbors do. There is also a 60 foot green space that starts at the back of our house and runs all the way to that wall. I mean the fence. So there is no reason for us to be near it. We stand at our kitchen window hoping to catch a glimpse of a “chicken on the grill”, or we sit on our deck and make up stories about them. This is more entertainment than Netflix.

Yes, I know. “Good fences make good neighbors”. Probably it’s true. And we have a good fence. But that fence is too damned high for any kind of meet and greet or neighborly chit chat. At least, that’s what I thought.

Our neighbor, Mike, decided to take the first step towards neighborliness, despite the fence. Prior to that, there had been no dialog between us.

One evening last summer, as I was out puttering in my backyard garden, I heard “Hey!” then “Hey Neighbor!” I looked around and saw Mike’s arms waving wildly, followed by his head bobbing up and down over the fence. When I realized he was “Hey neighboring” me, I put down my garden scissors and walked across the green space. Once I got to the fence, I had to crane my neck to look up at him. He had thought ahead and brought a Home Depot bucket to stand on, which he quickly fell off of. When he got back on the bucket, he lowered a shopping bag down to me. The bag contained a couple dozen of eggs from his girls. I almost cried! As it was a logistical challenge to chat in our positions, he asked me to wait, he’d be right back. I waited. He disappeared. When he came back, he started sawing. I watched the blade going back and forth as he cut through the top of one of the fence planks.

When he finished, we stood across from one another and were able to see each other’s faces through this six-inch portal.

We chatted a while, then his wife came over. He stepped back to let her into the space so that she and I could talk. Next, my Hubby walked over to the fence.

We continued to play this bizarre rotation as all four of us chatted, laughed and got to know each other. It was an enjoyable, if not awkward, first meeting.

I asked how much he wanted for those farm fresh, local, organic, free-range eggs. “Nothing” he said. Just please return the cartons. He said that the eggs were payment for us having to put up with his noisy chickens. Hah! He continued to supply me with eggs all summer. And since the wall is so high, he came up with a way to signal to me when he was making an egg drop. He put a pink flag up when he’d tied a bag to the fence. Whenever I passed by my kitchen window, I would hope to see the pink flag.

I took to rummaging through the neighbors recycle bins practically at dawn on garbage pickup day to retrieve any stray egg cartons. My goal was to build up Mike’s stash. I felt it was the least I could do to repay him for the supply of eggs in my refrigerator. Some days were slim pickins’ for the cartons, but on some mornings, I’d hit the jackpot and find more than an armful of them. You never know, do you, what will make you smile in the wee hours of a Monday morning?

I was waddling home one Monday and got caught. One of my neighbors who lives in my community – inside the fence – saw me with my arms full of egg cartons and asked what was I doing? So I told her. She is a kind and caring person, but she couldn’t hide her surprise that I had become friends with someone on the other side of the wall. I realized then how much that fence defines us. We are different. We are different because of the fence. The fence defines us insiders as “over 55”, obedient to rules of our community, and happy in our over-landscaped Eden. And we can’t have chickens as they don’t go with the landscaping.

When I told her that I frequently had dozens of extra eggs, I asked her would she like some. Yes! She answered excitedly. The word got around about Mike’s fresh eggs. And more of our neighbors wanted some. They asked me how much Mike charged. They were all willing to pay, but Mike kept insisting that all he wanted was his cartons back. Soon my neighbors who lived inside the fence were dropping off empty egg cartons on my front porch. We were all having a great time with this new activity.

Many of my neighbors have asked if Mike would be supplying eggs again this summer. I don’t have an answer for them yet. Mike and I haven’t seen each other since this nasty winter weather moved in.  I’ve been thinking about how his kindness last summer supplied many of us with great food. I believe that despite his objections, he should take some sort of payment for those eggs. In a past life, I raised my own chickens and I know that chicken feed isn’t cheap!

I think that for next summer we’ve got to come to some kind of fair trade agreement for Mike. I’m working on a draft of this agreement now. I’ve decided to name it NEFTEA, or the North Eugene Free Trade Egg Agreement! The purpose of the agreement will be to specify how the eggs should be paid for, whether in cold cash or with chicken feed. Additionally, it will specify what should be done if any chicken crosses the wall, as one did last summer.

I saw her in our green space one morning when I was on our deck drinking tea. I didn’t quite know what to do. So I kept an eye on her all day until Mike came home. He quickly did a beak count, and told me that she wasn’t his! Now what? I’d been watching her run around the greenbelt most of the day, happily being a chicken, eating bugs, snails and worms, and not being eaten by any predators. (Thanks to me) But I couldn’t catch her. Not even with the fishing net Mike threw over the wall for me. I provided great entertainment to Mike, my Hubby and the chicken, chasing her around the green space, but she would not be caught. Turns out she belonged to a neighbor of Mike’s, who I couldn’t see due to the fence. Mike let me know that his neighbor let him know that his hen made it home safely that night.

Next summer, if egg production continues to be as prolific as it was last summer, and Mike gets paid fairly per the trade agreement, he could add more hens to his flock. And he’d have the cash to build a bigger coop! I’m already envisioning a hen-cam! I could spend the day writing and keeping an eye on his girls!

I need to get a job.

That saying of “Good fences make good neighbors” may be right. But with or without fences I’d like to add that good neighbors make good neighbors.

We are now at the beginning of the Year of the Rooster according to the Chinese Zodiac. I must opine about that, just a little.

The ROOSTER? Seriously? Not the Hen? Not even the generic Chicken?

Visions of Roosters dance in my head.

Apparently, I’m not the only one.

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Wicked winter humor. SAD!

gray rain
freezing rain
winter rain
Oregon rain

Instead of listening to Joni Mitchell, Leonard Cohen or Neil Young this morning, I am listening to the pittering of rain on the window. The sound is irritating, like an old toilet that needs its handle jiggled. Persistent, relentless and annoying.

One of my new friends, a native of Oregon, writes that the rain can be a comforting sound, much like the in and out gentle roar of the ocean. Her description is more positive and poetic than mine, as I’ve not yet embraced the rain poetic.

My new morning routine starts with making the rounds of the house to open the blinds and to turn on the grow-lights for the house plants. There is not enough quality daylight in winter to keep a plant alive, or a human either. I’ve recently added another light to my morning routine, a SAD (Seasonal Affective Disorder) light. The SAD light is for me.

The SAD light was recommended to me by just about every one of my new neighbors who were also transplants to Oregon. “Be sure to get one before winter sets in”, they advised. I asked my therapist about this, and she agreed. But she preferred to call it a “Happy Light”. She also told me that the rain isn’t a real problem, but a perceived one. Perceived? As I sat there on her couch, in my rain-wet hair, I felt a drip of water roll down my neck heading for my back. “No, it’s real,” I thought.

If you’ve not heard of SAD lights (I hadn’t – as we didn’t need them in sunny Colorado), they are light therapy lamps that can relieve depression and winter blahs for people who have Seasonal Affective Disorder. I didn’t know SAD existed either, until we moved here. Now I have it. No worries, this little SAD light is guaranteed to help me. It said so on Amazon.

When I was talking to my best friend from Colorado last week, I told him about my SAD light. He laughed at me and said, “Remember how you would get all wacko crazy depressed if it rained just one day here?” Oh yeah. Why didn’t he remind me of that before I moved to Oregon?

My new little SAD light is portable and lightweight. She sits with me at the dining room table for morning tea. She joins me later at my computer, keeping me company as I think about writing. Occasionally, she oversees my morning Yoga routine, sometimes joining me in an enthusiastic Warrior Stance. She’s the perfect morning companion and my new best friend. She’s not fooling me one bit, however, she is not the sun.

I have been tempted to take her with me on my afternoon walks in the rain. I envision her as a “Sun-in-Training” perched on my shoulder under my umbrella. She might not be the real thing, but she’s what I got.

In addition to needing light, I need color. I am craving color. I’ve never thought much about color one way or another. I’ve certainly never craved it. My work clothes were always variations on the colors black and white, with the occasional gray thrown in. Black, white and gray all play well together in a corporate environment, and are perfect when you are getting dressed in the dark in the early morning and have given yourself exactly 23 minutes to get up and get out of the house. No matter what you grab, it works. Throw in the occasional purple scarf, and you are good to go.

I understand why people dye their hair those wild colors. I totally get that now. There is a story going around the neighborhood about some ladies “of a certain age” who used Magic Markers to add some color to their hair. On one of those particularly soggy gray days, going on a week with no sunshine, we…. (I mean they) were bored, having run out of tea and chocolate. What else was there to do? Someone grabbed a pink Magic Marker from the stash belonging to the coloring class and began streaking her friend’s hair. Soon they were all grabbing for the greens, reds and purples! There was color everywhere, and the ladies were laughing and taking selfies. But don’t try this at home, kids. Especially if you care about how your hair looks for the next week. Magic Marker doesn’t wash out quickly or easily. So I’ve heard.

Our local rec center offered a class last summer that caught my eye. The title was “Paint Your Car With Color!” Or something like that. The class was geared toward teaching people to “colorize” their car. Since this is Eugene, there are a lot of cars that have been “colorized”, hippie-style. This class was aimed at teaching you how to do the “hippie-style” car-painting thing right! I realize that there may be an argument here about hippie-style car-painting ever being “right”, but just let that go. I doubt that my hubby would appreciate me unleashing my inner-creative anywhere near our new car. Did he think that I could really paint those bright green, yellow, purple and red rainbows, flowers, bugs and birds all over our brand new gray car that we….. (I mean I) really wanted the red one but since that would take a special order and not be available for a month, we took the gray one? We bought that Pacific Northwest Gray car that so perfectly matches my gray colorless hair. I know that car is craving some color too.

Anyone out there gotten a retirement “rite-of-passage” tattoo yet? Anyone have great stories to share about it? I’ve been noticing a lot of wild and colorful tattoos these days, and not just among the younger crowd. These “tatts” seem to be popular among the old fart crowd too.

Tatts have never much appealed to me, as I’m not into pain. I’ve never thought it was a great idea to put poison into your skin with needles. But lately, no doubt due to my growing color addiction, I’m noticing how beautiful they can be. I figure that since I’m past middle age, and I’ve made it this far, any damage a tattoo could inflict would be offset by whatever other kind of damage has already been done by my eating badly, drinking too much, working too hard and by just plain living. But if I were to get a tattoo, it would have to be a bright old yellow sun. But where to put it? Why stop with just one? Why not get a sunrise on my east side, and a sunset on my west side. Now THAT ought to get me through the winter. Oh, please would somebody just find that ON switch for the sun before I actually do this?

As you can tell, it’s going to take me some time to adjust to the winter here. Even with my mornings filled with SAD (I mean Happy) light, and my afternoons filled with walks followed by gallons of hot tea followed by pounds of dark dark chocolate, it’s gonna take time.

I remember that during my hectic work years, I would dream of having days of down time. Time that could provide me a chance to explore creative endeavors, rather than robotically writing business requirements, or weekly status reports for the boss. I’m pretty sure those dreams didn’t include quite so much rain.

It’s now 4pm, time for sunset. There are not many sunsets that can be seen here in the winter. They happen, but they are shy about announcing it, due to constant cloud cover. But last week, just at sunset time, a miracle happened. The sun’s captor clouds parted for just a few minutes to reveal some blue in the western sky. The clouds stayed parted just long enough to allow the sun to call to me as she was leaving. I flew outside to let her know that I was still here for her. “I’m here!” I cried. And then, she was gone. And then, it was dark.

Oregon has a wicked winter sense of humor.

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The Big Retirement Move (Part 2)

Below are some of the points that resonated with me from the articles about moving in retirement that I should stop reading:

 

Spend some time in your chosen destination in advance, talk to locals and walk the neighborhoods. Look for clubs and causes that interest you.

Isn’t that what Google and Google Earth are for?

Google the crap out of your chosen town to find volunteer opportunities, local weekly rags, rec center information, wineries and eateries.

Other online resources include local Facebook groups, Nextdoor.com, as well as Meetup and local webcams.

 

Understand the life you are leaving behind.

OK, this is a biggy. Google won’t help with this one.

I miss the mountains. Those drop dead gorgeous 14-ers, Colorado’s tallest mountains. They were always there for me indicating which way was west. Without that, I can no longer visually navigate.

I miss the Colorado sunshine like I miss a major body part.

I miss the snow more than I thought I would.

I miss our friends so much it hurts. We are so thankful for FaceTime, but there are times we just need some HugTime.

There are two additional things I hadn’t considered quite as in depth as I could have.

The rain in Eugene during winter.

In Colorado we had snow in winter. Yes, it was a pain to shovel. That’s why we used a snowblower. But at least it usually stopped after a few hours or after a few days. And then the sun came out, and I was happy. Here in Oregon, it rains in the winter. All winter. No, we don’t have to shovel it, but it doesn’t stop. It doesn’t take a breath. It leaves everything wet and mossy and yucky. I did see in my research that Eugene got 51” of rain in a years time, compared to 18.78” in Colorado. This meant nothing to me. It was more than I could count on my fingers so I ignored it. Or I went in to denial.

Cascadia, the earthquake.

On or about our third day here we experienced our first earthquake tremor. Since my hubby had lived in the Bay Area for 16 years prior to our getting married, he didn’t think a thing about it. But this was a surprise to me and something we’d never even discussed. Somehow, it never showed up on my criteria spreadsheet. Yikes. The PNW is just waiting for this next biggie to hit, and, according to news reports is totally unprepared for it, as am I. I naively thought that earthquakes were contained to California. There are Tsunami Evacuation route signs everywhere out on Highway 101. All along the coast. The coast is the big reason we moved here. Perhaps we shouldn’t have donated our camping gear, aka emergency preparedness kit quite so quickly.

 

Are we happy with our new town? Yes, mostly. And are we happy we made this move? Not sure. We are now deeply into our second Oregon winter. It’s been an extremely rough winter so far with rain that started on the first of October, followed by a devastating ice storm that brought down trees and left people without power for a week. So I can’t answer that yet. Shortly after our move, both of us were sure we would never ever move again. Just last week, however, hubby offered that since I was so miserable perhaps we ought to start talking about another move. We’ll let you know.

My advice, for what it’s worth, is go ahead and do your research. If you have the time and money do a lot of visiting in all seasons do that. Take that time time to talk with locals. Do whatever makes you comfortable. And then after you’ve exhausted all your research know-how, trust your gut. And know that you may have to regroup and reconsider.

I’ve been told by other Eugene transplants that I should give it 3 years. This seemed like a long time to me. But then my friend who is still living in Colorado told me that it took her 25 years to adjust to that state after moving from the east coast. 25 years??? Yikes and a half. I don’t have 25 years to do that now do I? Let’s see, in 25 years, I’ll be –uh- DEAD!!!

There is one last little story about my new hometown. I really meant to stop reading all the little titillating “click bait” stories that show up in my inbox or on Facebook, but I clicked through and read this one. It was entitled “The 10 of the Best American Cities to Live Comfortably on $40,000 a Year”. 10 best These are cities in the U.S. where life is “robust and affordable”. Maybe I was looking for a new place to move.

Guess what? Eugene is on the list. I didn’t expect this. Not because Eugene isn’t affordable for retirees, it is. I didn’t expect to see Eugene here because the list did not contain either the word “hippie” or the word “weird.”

Articles about moving in retirement:

Want to Relocate? Consider Downshifting to a Smaller City Downshift

How to Make Sure Your Retirement Location is Right for You Right Location

8 Important Questions To Ask Yourself Before Moving In Retirement 8 Questions

7 Reasons Not to Move in Retirement 7 Reasons

The Big Retirement Move (Part 1)

Should moving be a part of retirement? Was moving part of your retirement?

Moving was part of ours, but since I’m in denial about even being retired, I’m not sure if it counts.

I’ve found quite a few online articles about moving in retirement. I read none of them prior to our move, and it’s probably not a good thing to be reading them post-move either. I mean, what’s the point. However, the few I did read messed with my head a little, and I’m going to share some of our story.

As you may have guessed, our move was not planned. Oh, there was this niggling little idea that popped up occasionally. But since we were still working, work kept getting in the way of making a change. So, when work went away something needed to fill that void.

I was sitting at our dining room table one day, all unemployed and everything, looking for a job, yet not looking for a job. Papers were scattered all over the table, the floor and the dog. Mostly I was getting in my hubby’s way. I was interrupting the house routine. I was having a hard time being at home at 2 in the afternoon. Wasn’t there a meeting somewhere I should be in? My hubby had done this retirement thing a few years earlier and was lovingly taking care of me, our pooch and all things household related. I was happy to let him continue, but what was I supposed to do with all that free time?

I think that the map of the Pacific NW that was hanging on our wall actually started coming alive and making sounds of waves crashing every time we walked by it. Or maybe it was that mid-winter Colorado snowstorm that dumped over a foot of snow on us that grabbed our attention. All of a sudden we were sitting there talking about moving.

Since I wasn’t seriously looking for a job, I started researching places in the PNW. The criteria for a potential new place were:

  • Our retirement travel budget was basically “not very much”, so our new town had to be within driving distance the Pacific Coast.
  • Our new town had to have some culture and be big enough to host musical events (like opera, jazz and rock concerts).
  • Our new town had to be affordable for us.

After countless hours of research time we nervously decided that Eugene, OR was the place. Neither of us had ever been to Eugene, but with the help of the internet and Google Earth we learned enough about it that we decided to go and check out the housing market here.

This all started the last week in February, just 3 months after my big RIF. By the end of May, barely 3 months later we pulled into the driveway of our new home in Eugene. Getting this move to happen involved an actual visit to Eugene, making an offer on a house, selling our house in Colorado, finding a mover for household goods and a car, packing, tossing, donating, visiting friends, crying, and driving across 4 states. Followed by unpacking, tossing, donating, crying and feeling a little lost.

We may not be planners, but we are decisive to a fault. I haven’t figured out yet if that is a good thing.

Eugene is a college town and that is a huge plus. Eugene is liberal-leaning which is another plus. That Eugene has an incredible number of “aging hippies” appealed to our need to perhaps experience a bit of the 60’s, which we missed on the first go around.

We have discovered only a couple of minuses. It’s yet to be determined if those minuses are deal breakers.

To be continued……..

RIF’d

I knew what was happening the minute the IT Manager poked his head into the conference room, and said “Deanna, I need to see you.” I had heard rumblings just the day before about the possibility of a “reduction in force”, or RIF, and I knew immediately that I was about to be RIF’d.

I followed him as slowly as I could to the elevator. I don’t like elevators much, especially the ones that are taking me to my RIF ‘ing. When the doors closed I nervously attempted some idle chit chat about the weather. As he was visibly more nervous than I was, it was a long quiet ride.

When we stepped out of the elevator, I considered turning and running to the ladies room to hide for the rest of my life.

fullsizeoutput_2c8That was two years ago. I wasn’t prepared to lose my much-loved job at the age of 64. With retrospect on my side, I realize that I would never have been prepared. Yeah, I’m one of those people who wanted to work forever. I had done no planning for life after work. My retirement was unplanned emotionally, financially and locationally. There are so many ways a person could NOT plan for retirement. I did them all. On a positive note, I’m still standing and I’m not living in the ladies room.

And although I am totally in awe of anyone who was smart enough to figure out how to retire early, all I have to say is “Get off my lawn!”.

Retired

I don’t like that word. Boomers aren’t retirers. According to AARP, we are hip words like “reimagined”, “encored”, and “next acted”. Oh please. Those words don’t look any better on a health care form for Current Occupation than “retired” does. What nosy database really needs to know that anyway?

To me, that word “retired” conjures up old and rusty. Was it Neil Young who sang “It’s better to burn out, than it is to rust”? Well, I think that was my plan, or rather my non-plan. No way was I going to be old. No way did I want to dodder. To totter. To put old-people things in my house. Or to rust. I can accept dead. I cannot accept old. Old is slow. Old is droopy. Old is funky. Old is smelly. Hmmm, I may already be 2 out of 4 of those.

I’ve been spending the last two years reading about how to prepare for retirement. Better late than never, right? There are plenty of books and online resources. Too many. I haven’t found any books or essays entitled “So Now Whatcha Gonna Do, Little Miss I-grew-up-in-the-60’s-and-was-way-too-busy-being-free?” Commune anyone?

Yeah, and perhaps I was having way too much fun in my 30’s when I was totally into living in the present. But isn’t that what we are supposed to do? Live in the present? Isn’t that what our therapists and Zen masters encourage us to do? I did that! I was so busy living in the present back there in the past, that now it is my future and, well, I don’t think I’m ready for it.

These last two years have been adventure-filled, tear-soaked, fear-based and future-shocked. Full of that change thing that I’m not so good at anymore. My therapist assures me that my new meditation practice will help. She says that over time and with lots of practice I will re-learn how to live in the present. I can only hope that it makes me look and feel 30 again.

I am no longer employed as a full time left-brained, data-mucking IT “professional”. All of my dearest IT buds are still working, and we stay in touch. I got the text below recently from one of my millennial buds:

Are you now writing a blog, listening to old music, and drinking tea? How hipster of you.

Hipster.

So I poured another cup, and turned up the music. Neil Young still sounds good to me.

CURRENT OCCUPATION: Predictable Hipster

Yeah, that works.

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