Halloweenie Day

Ronnie as Fu Manchu and Mimi as a lizard…..Mimi thought the whole thing was hillarious…..Dusty as a lion, a sweet one….Gypsy was a ladybug….Fancy was a bumblebee

And the last day of October 2012.  This is the last day of my insurance from my previous employment and the day before the paperwork at my financial institution says I’m retired.  And here I sit in my nightgown trying to find some energy to get out the dogs’ Halloween costumes.  Candy is bought, dogs are medicated and fed…and back to sleep just like human babies would be.  It’s cool in the house so they’re all snuggled up together (2 little ones in my lap, 2 on a blanket at my feet) and scattered throughout the house.  I’m still only letting Maximus and Bandit out one at a time, but they don’t care.  The only one awake is Bandit staring out the front window in our home office.  I don’t know what he’s watching but he’s in full-alert mode.  Today is not trash day, the school bus has long-since run and it’s not time for the mail lady to come by.  There shouldn’t be anything to look at, but then he’s a dog so he sees and hears things I don’t.

We got the new iPhone last night and got them switched out.  Went to Little Daddy’s Gumbo Bar (http://www.littledaddysgumbobar.com/) for dinner.  They have good gumbo, the only one comparable to what I make and we always enjoy it.  It’s just a little hole-in-the-wall place but there’s always a crowd.  Today I’m making burritos at home but have to make a trip to the store first.  I was really tired yesterday and had been getting up fairly early (for a retired person) so decided to sleep in this morning and just have a peaceful day.  Tomorrow will be busier and probably more emotional so I’m going to try to enjoy just being alive today.  I’ll post later and add some pics.

Update: the day went well, a little stressful because I had so much to do to get ready for Halloween night and so little time to do it all, but I made it and we all had a wonderful evening together.  We had a million kids to dole out candy to, saw some really neat and imaginative costumes, and took a bunch of pictures of the dogs in various costumes.  Not one bit us either, though Jolie did growl and made me believe she was going to take off a finger or two before I got her dressed. Dinner (homemade burritos) was good (Ronnie had seconds!) and we had candy left over (by design: we turned out the porch light).  For two old folks we truly enjoy Halloween the most of any other holiday of the year.  In the past I wasn’t always off for it but now I’ll be able to plan for it, maybe even work on new costumes for next year for both of us and the big dogs.  We kept Maximus and Bandit crated the whole time and they hated it.  They wanted out to see what was going on outside and what all the noise and smells were but we kept them safe from the kids and the kids safe from them.  It was a shame that they didn’t have costumes to have their pictures made wearing.  I may go to Petco tomorrow and see what they have on sale in their sizes.  Otherwise I’ll just make sure I buy for them next year.  We have plenty of costumes for the Chihuahuas but have never bought any for the big boys.  I’ll see what I can come up with for them next.

And Now…

I am retired.  The entire exit interview lasted about 5 minutes.  I turned in my badge and car pass on my way out of the gate.  It was anticlimactic.  The HR guy was friendly and open, appreciative of my time spent with the company and pleasant to be with.  I really expected to be grilled more since the exit survey I filled out a week ago was so detailed, but then it was a general survey for anyone terminating their employment, not just for retirees.  A lot of it just didn’t pertain to me at all but I still expected to be asked a few leading questions that never happened.  Cool!  Do I feel different now?  Yes.  I feel more relaxed and optimistic.  Good.

I had a busy day today for the first day of retirement.  A lot of errands, groceries, shopping, then housework and laundry.  My sweet housekeeper comes tomorrow but I wouldn’t ask her to clean up all that was left around here out of neglect.  I did a bit of vacuuming and cleaning off of flat surfaces.  Tomorrow I’ll pull up the rugs and the remaining dog blankets and get them in the washer before she arrives.  It’s the least I can do for all she does for us.  We love her!

I have an early morning visit to the dentist/orthodontist tomorrow.  He’s going to remove my permanent bottom retainer and give me different ones (well, he’s not “giving” them to me; they’ll be $350).  I’ll be glad to see this one go; it’s a devil to floss with this sucker in the way.  Then, Jennifer comes to clean, and I’ll wait for FedEx to deliver my new iPhone and go from there.  We ordered the iPhone 5 on September 27th and it’s just now arriving.  I’ll get it and Ronnie will get my 4S.  He hates his Samsung and I don’t blame him; I hated mine, too; but then I’m just not an Android fan either.  I’ll be glad to be able to carry on a conversation with my husband that doesn’t get cut off mid-stream.  And he’ll be glad to get an iPhone again.  He liked the last one; pity he can’t keep up with them because they’re expensive to replace.

Wednesday is an open day and I hope I can get started on my sewing again but it’ll more than likely be spent doing business and making phone calls.  Thursday I have doctor’s visits and phone calls and then no formal plans for a couple of weeks.  I’m pricing airplane tickets to go see my family in Oklahoma in their new home.  I sure miss them.  We’ve all been so busy lately that we’ve hardly spoken.  I’ve got to remedy that.  And I’ve got to load Skype on this new laptop so we can see each other again soon.

I’m happy that I’m becoming more of a day person lately, but that means that I’m soon going to fall flat on my face if I don’t take myself to bed.  Good night, All.  We’ve got it covered from here on out….don’t sweat the small stuff…

Down To The Wire

Tomorrow morning I go to work and sign out.  It’ll be the last time I badge in and badge out, the last time I park in that parking lot, the last day of my employment there.  It feels kinda scary but I know it’s simply a part of the process that I have put into place to retire.  I can’t start the rest of my life without turning this page.  That job has been my security blanket for 29 years.  It helped me raise my children, help my grand-children, buy and build a home and a life for myself.  It has seen me at my worst and my best, and everything in between.  I’ve laughed inside those gates, been frightened, angry, stressed and cried copious tears.  I’ve been sick, tired, sleepy, motivated, elated, and bored there.  Whatever I’ve been, it’s been within those borders, too.

I’ve known some really sweet people there, and some really asinine people, too.  I’ve had love affairs with some people who entered those gates (no, not within those gates LOL).  I’ve argued with people there, been intimidated by people there, admired people there, and resented people there.  Just like real life, all those emotions live within those gates, too.  I’m leaving behind some really wonderful co-workers, people who had my best interests at heart.  I’ll miss them terribly and hope to see them again.  I have no ill feelings for this site.  It’s just time for me to go and I’m fortunate enough to be able to retire early while I can still enjoy my life.

How do I say goodbye after spending half my life there?  Today at lunch with Ronnie I cried, but not because I would miss the place, but because I feel rejected by the company.  I feel that I gave much more than I was appreciated for, acknowledged for, or compensated for.  I spent so much time trying so hard for what ended up to be nothing at all, just a paycheck, just a way to fill my time and build my retirement funds.  I wanted so much more and tried so hard, yet with every turn I was rejected and defeated until a couple of years ago when I just stopped caring and stopped trying so damned hard.  It’s such a shame.  I had so much potential that the company squandered, but by then I had spent so much time there that I couldn’t start over anywhere else.  Sad.  I wonder if I’ll ever have to cry over that loss again or if that was all the tears I’d stored inside for the loss I’ve felt for so long.  Time heals all wounds.  It’s a matter of time.  This time….time out….overtime…one time….time will tell.

All My Days Are Saturdays

This is the 2nd time in my life that I have intentionally wanted to be a housewife.  The first time I was 16 years old, newly married and very, very naive.  This time I am not newly married, not very young, with grown kids and family moved away long since.  The first time I was just doing what every little girl was raised to do: get married, have children and live happily ever after.  This time I’m living happily ever after and the rest doesn’t matter.  After working full time for 40 years, all my days are now Saturdays.  What a lovely thought!

It’s been a great, happy, peacefull and productive day.  I cooked toast and coffee for breakfast, chocolate brownies with pecans for mid-day snack, and put a roast and veggies in the crockpot for dinner (with a loaf of hot French bread to dip in the gravy).  I ran the dishwasher twice with all the cooking.  Ronnie washed Maximus’ and Bandit’s blankets so it smells much fresher in the living room crates.  I worked on my new laptop off and on all day, and, of course, we cuddled dogs all day.  For the life of me I don’t know why I got out of bed at 7 A.M. when I didn’t have to get up at all this morning, but I have noticed that since I haven’t worked nights for a month that I’m turning into a “day person”—–me, who has always been a “night person”?  Gods, what next?

I have no plans for tomorrow.  There are things I’d like to accomplish (vacuum, grocery store, finish the laundry) but I realized this afternoon that if I don’t get everything done the next day that there is another day following that it will get done.  No pressure.  No deadlines.  Wow!  What a concept!

Vacation’s Over…

…now the living begins.

When I left work last Sunday all I could see was this list of things I had to do, and that’s how I’ve lived for most of my life.  There’s always been a never-ending cacaphony of chores, errands, jobs, and responsibilities.  From where I sit today that list is almost done, so now what?  Monday I go to work and check out.  The rest of the week I have a couple doctor’s follow-up appointments and my housekeeper comes on Tuesday.  The remainder of the week is free to shape as I please.  Figuring out what I please is the next big thing in my life, the next step, and I’m trying to learn not to push myself too hard, to let things happen the way they will.  I think all my lists and planning will have to change in this phase of life…or I may have well just kept on working.

It’s been an eventful week.  Jolie was terribly ill last weekend and I was afraid that she wouldn’t make it through the night last Sunday.  I sat with her until 3 A.M. before I was sure she’d keep breathing if I slept awhile.  The vet gave her a shot of cortisone on Monday and that eased her breathing tremendously.  On Tuesday we started another trial of Prednisone and she’s visibly better now.

I had a whole week of appointments and errands, trying to take advantage of still having 2 insurance plans, making phone calls to ensure everything is switched over on the business side of things.  I’ve spent more time on the phone this week than I have in previous months.  The cable even went out Thursday and I spent a half hour on the phone for one call!  And I still have to get the life insurance switched over.  There are a lot of details to this retirement thing, especially when you add it to the living thing.  But I also planned some good things into this week, like a hair appointment (cut, color and highlight), pedi and waxing, and a little indulgent shopping at Palais Royal (they had a SALE!).

I’ve been pleased at my energy level this week but feel that I was simply running on stress for fuel and yesterday was the day I crashed.  I took Fancy for a ride to Petco and to Sonic for popcorn chicken and tots.  She loves to go in the car and hasn’t gotten too much personal time lately so it was just her day, one we both enjoyed.  But when I got home somebody pulled the rug out from under me and I slept sitting up on the loveseat.  I just couldn’t make myself get up and do anything.  At first I wondered what was wrong with me: why am I so tired all of a sudden?  Then I realized that I had simply run myself ragged all week and my body and brain needed a break.  So I just sat around under dogs’ butts, snuggled whoever was available and snoozed.  Around 9 P.M. I got a surge of energy and cleaned the kitchen.  I went to bed earlier and woke at 7 A.M.—-totally out of character for me when I don’t have to get up for anything in particular.  Today I’ve decided to do some things for myself that I’ve been putting off, enjoyed a pot of coffee and toast with Ronnie (who has the whole weekend off—Yay!), and still sit here in my nightgown.  We got a cold front in yesterday so all our 4-legged children are enjoying the new air.  I’m going to try to do the same.

Congratulations, Cheri

I never have to work another weekend or another graveyard shift or any other shift.  Today was my last day of work, at least work for pay; I can still volunteer (after I get a much-needed vacation, of course).I was surprised that my co-workers were so enthused about my retirement.  On Friday there was a surprise cake, ice cream and visit by my management.  Today they cooked breakfast tacos then delivered coney islands for lunch with a gift from one girl of cupcakes to bring home to share with Ronnie.  I guess I never felt very important out there but I sure found out how much my co-workers cared the past few days.  I’m impressed, happy, pleased, surprised, elated and very, very touched by the send-off.  Wow!  It’s so nice to know how much they care.  I don’t think anyone ever really knows this stuff until it’s over and that’s too bad that it happens that way all too often.

Ronnie took me to Lowe’s to buy me a lawn chair to use on the patio so I can sit out there and watch the dogs play, read my books and enjoy the beautiful weather we’re having of late.  Simple things mean so much.  I’m so happy Ronnie and I agree on that; it makes life so much more peaceful.

All Over But The Shouting

Ahhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh!  Done with all the stress crap.  Errands done, dog medications all picked up; retirement list completed; exit interview scheduled with HR.  Bought groceries, had a manicure (broke a nail), bought cheap gas ($3.15/gal), loved all the 4-legged babies, ate supper and enjoyed a glass of wine. Health insurance taken care of, our prescription program transferred to the new insurance, phone calls made, swapped my email from Cloud to local.  Got notice they’d shipped our new laptop, received my new Chihuahua wine glasses (cute!) I’d ordered, etc.  Bought a few items for myself (at Walmart–don’t get excited!).  It’s just been a damned good day all the way around!

Tomorrow I have to go back to work, but I only have 3 days to work then I go on vacation.  And, I never have to work another graveyard shift.  I can’t even get my mind around that.  It’s still sinking in that it’s really, really over.  Ronnie commented that I was visibly calmer today than I have been for the past couple of weeks, and he’s absolutely right.  I’m beginning to “get it”.  I’m realizing that there was no bullet to dodge in this.  Life is good.

On My Way Out

Tonight I can’t wipe the smile off my face!  It’s all over but the shouting now and I do feel a load has been removed from me.  I only have to work 3 more days then go on vacation and retire on October 29th.  Got most of my paperwork done today and that damned list is almost finished.  I ended up in the financial advisor’s office for almost 4 hours but he walked me through more than my pension and I’m grateful for that.  I took him a copy of my list and I think he knew how stressed I was feeling because he went out of his way to help.  I’ll have to send that man a very nice Christmas card.

I have tomorrow to wrap up all this leftover stress list and then perhaps I will be able to relax and start to really look forward to retirement.  I was very pleased that the financial outlook was rosier than I thought; now I just have to live a long life and enjoy what has taken me most of my life to build.  There is still an element of unreality to this whole retirement thing.  It’s hard to believe it’s really, really true.  I wonder how long it’ll be before it dawns on me what I have done, and have I done the right thing?  Jeez, what a thought!!!!!!!!!!!


Closer Yet

Tomorrow is the day that I sign my working life away.  I will sign my papers at Fidelity which allow me to retire early after 29 years.  And I’ve decided that I’m ready to go now, by the end of this month. Should I work a couple more weeks it would only allow a few more bucks; it wouldn’t affect the pension amount in the long term.  They’ll just have to pay me for the vacation I have yet to take.  A coworker of mine has already cleaned out my two lockers on the unit.  All the FRC has been returned.  So, Fidelity tomorrow, then Benefits, then exit interview with HR.  All over except the shouting.

There have been rumors flying at the plant lately that the Amoco Heritage retirees have to be out by November 1st.  I called Fidelity on it yesterday but they denied that that was indeed a fact.  They’re going to check into it  and let me know what they find out.  Told me to go ahead and make my plans and I could always change them if they found something that would indeed affect me, but I think it doesn’t matter one way or another.  I’m done.  I’m ready to go; BP can have my job; give me my pension; I’m done.

Retirement Practice

I realized this afternoon that this vacation (last day was today) was practice for my retirement.  There are situations that slightly worried me about retiring and being home day in and day out.

1. Will I go stir-crazy being in these 4 walls every day?

2. Will I enjoy cooking every day (or the majority of them)?

3. Can I save money and be off, too (are they mutually exclusive?)?

4. One of my retirement goals was to visit each doctor and get clearance for my health and be able to live with only one insurance coverage

5. Etc…..I have a 2 page list of goals to retire

Yes, it can be crazy-making staying at home every day; we all know that but when it came up during the past two weeks I was happy to see that I reacted well.  The dogs were getting on my nerves and I just needed to have a change of scenery.  So I went to Barnes & Noble and browsed the cookbooks for an hour or so then I went to Starbucks, got an iced tea and a piece of lemon cake (ate 1/2 of it—yay, Me!).  By the time I got home I felt better all over and have 2 new cookbooks to play with.

I cooked most of my days off when I got home early enough to do so.  I tried some new recipes that we liked (and Ronnie took to work without me suggesting it).  Yesterday he asked if I would make another pan of cornbread so he could take the rest of the pinto beans to work for himself and the rest of his crew.  Yeah, I was hot and tired but I was more flattered so homemade cornbread it was!  He said they loved their lunch.  I felt like I was 10 feet tall.  Decided that there was something to this cooking thang.

Saving money was never my strong point but for the past few years since I’ve decided to retire early I’ve been learning.  To date I have all the big stuff paid off (except Ronnie’s truck which he is paying for as penance—-which is another story entirely), all the credit cards gone and (hopefully) the monthly bills at a manageable level.  We’ve done all the big ticket items in preparation.  You know buy a new laptop (have it custom built), a new iPad, new cellphones (iPhone 5 for me 4S for Ronnie), new refrigerator, new treadmill, new mattress set, additional sewing machines (total of 4 different machines now), boat paid off, new freezer in the garage, etc.  We still need a new roof and a patio cover (I still don’t know what I want) which Ronnie is going to pay for with his bonus.  So, financially I think we have it going our way.

I’ve been to each doctor, had an echo-cardiogram, dental cleaning, scheduled a scan of my carotid for next week, had 3 shots of cortisone in the bottom of my foot, ordered new orthodontal retainers, etc., etc., etc.  Talked to each office about the coming switch to one insurance company——-check!

Now I guess I want to know how I’m supposed to know that I’m ready to retire.  How do you KNOW?  I THINK I know but since I’ve never retired before what the hell do I know????????????  Any suggestions?  Still waiting to talk to the financial guru next week; what if he says I’m not ready?  What the hell will I do then?

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