Week In Review – 11/6/11

Another busy week!

I really hate this time change, it throws me and the critters off kilter for about a week, which just gets old and frustrating.  Oh well just have to suck it up and do it.

The other day my secondary blog (Aging Reluctantly) somehow changed from me being an administrator to just an author and I can’t get back in and change things around??? Still haven’t figured out what I did this time, but not having administrator privileges on that blog just doesn’t work for me. In a way it was a good thing because that blog and One Foot In Reality have a lot of overlap areas and writing there was going to be basically to the same audience.

I like the idea of having a niche blog in addition to my regular blog and had really thought about what the focus should be for a while. When I chose Aging Reluctantly, it was more because I already had the blog address, which really wasn’t the correct reason. So when I had the opportunity to re-choose what my niche blog would be it was probably a very good thing in the long run. See my Another Blog Bites the Dust for the rest of the story.

I took my time and decided to create a blog that focuses on running – if you would like to check it out here is the link – A Veteran Runnah.

TheWife hasn’t had much time to write for the blog lately, while getting ready for SD#2’s wedding this week. I expect to see more from her after that is over.  Weddings are a lot of work and pretty stressful to plan for, so blogging is not even on her radar right now.

Posts published this week:

  1. Klout Now Allows You To Delete Your Account
  2. Google+ is Blurring the Lines for Bloggers
  3. Lessons Learned from the October Blizzard
  4. A Simple Idea Fixed a Long Time Problem
  5. The New Google Reader – After a Week
  6. Nationwide Emergency Alert System Test 11/9/11
  7. Another Blog Bites the Dust
  8. Why Did I Retire? – Looking Back
  9. The Blivet Lifestyle and Retirement

Our top 5 posts for the week based on pageviews were:

  1.  Evernote as a Task Manager
  2.  Nationwide Emergency Alert System Test 11/9/11
  3.  Opus Domini – Electronic Organizer Review
  4.  Another Blog Bites the Dust
  5.  The New Google Reader – After a Week

It seemed like I wrote a lot on techie type stuff this week, but that is what I have been doing more of this week. The garden is buttoned up, most of the outdoor projects have been finished up and I am focusing a little more on getting back in shape.  Although we did get six truckloads of loam that will need to be taken care of, as much as possible before the snow gets here for the winter. My weight lifting program, an hour or two a day should be plenty.

Well here is to next week and I wish SD#2 and her fiance all the best on their wedding day and their lives together.

The Blivet Lifestyle and Retirement

We can’t do __________ (you fill in the blank), we’re just too busy!

I would like to have a dollar for every time we have said this to each other since last June. How is this possible?

After all we are both retired, no real job and should have plenty of time to do all the stuff that we want to do. Unfortunately or fortunately depending upon how you look at it – since retiring I have been very, very busy almost every day doing something. Often there have been 7 day weeks to get the things done, that we want done.

What I am Learning

Other retirees have told me that the first year of retirement is the worst, because you start to really notice all of those things that need to be fixed, changed or replaced around the house. You are learning new routines and how to live with less and what you will do with your time during your retirement. Also I have been told that if you believed your job is who you were, the adjustment to retirement is much more difficult. Luckily I didn’t believe that and the adjustment to not going into work or being what I was has been a quite easy.

Initially, I did have a difficult time with the label retired and the negativity and stereotypes that surround that label for someone who retires earlier than is “normal”. So for the first few months I attempted to call my new lifestyle a sabbatical or semi-retirement. They were not accurate.

Now I have come to accept the fact that I have retired and don’t give a damn what others might think about it. I am starting to enjoy my retirement.

New Full-time Job

I found that instead of going to work at a job for someone else, that our little 8 acres of “heaven” has become my full-time job. All the years of doing things half-assed or having the attitude of just make it work have caught up with me. This attitude was mostly because we were always trying fit “repairs or improvements” in around the little time leftover from when we were not at our paying job, but isn’t that how everyone lives? Answer later.

Over the past 5 months I found myself doing lots of small things at my new full-time job like:

  • expanding the garden and doing a lot of work there
  • building a cold frame (with another one being discussed)
  • getting loam to re-landscape the yard
  • getting wood in for the winter
  • cleaning out the garage
  • building our blogging empire (yeah right)
  • the normal household chores
  • attempting appease a 5 mile a day dog
  • getting rid of the fat that I accumulated over the past 2-3 years and rehabbing a bad knee
  • taking care of family emergencies
  • storms (emergency preparedness and then clean-up)
  • other unexpected things that suddenly come up and need to be taken care of right then
  • scrounging and scavenging (more on this in later posts)
  • and so on

All these take time and effort to get them done, something that used to be in short supply.

The Blivet Lifestyle

We both often stop and wonder how we did all of this in addition to our “regular” jobs before we retired.  Personally, I think that our lives before retirement were more like what my grandfather called living a “blivet” lifestyle – 10 pounds of shit in a 5 pound bag.

I rather like the Urban Dictionary’s definition

I believe that this is a pretty accurate description for far too many peoples lifestyle, most of us try to pack way too much stuff into our lives and don’t really stop and take the time to just enjoy it.

No focusing on my job around the house, the hyper dog and getting back in shape are more than enough to fill my 5 pound bag right now. So waiting a while before adding additional “stuff” to that bag seems to be the right thing to do for me now.

Being retired has enabled us to simplify our lives, spread out that 10 pounds of shit and put it into the bag at times that are more convenient for us to take care of it, very seldom do we overfill that 5 pound bag and let it become a blivet again purposely.

Seems like a good thing to me, otherwise I wouldn’t be writing this blog right now while waiting for the Septic Tank repairman (talking about something full of shit…well you know) to come and not be stressing out about when are they going to show up. They will make it today, but if they don’t they will be here Monday. The old pump still works enough to not get too worried about, but it is time for it to be replaced before the cold weather really sets in.

After all I don’t have to get back to work or reschedule my schedule to be here when they get here.  It is that change in attitude from me that wouldn’t have happened before.  I would be all stressed out about when they were showing up and how it would affect work.

No life is certainly a lot less stressful since I retired and I am glad that I have left the blivet lifestyle behind.  Now if we could only win the lottery – that would make things a little easier 😉

Is your lifestyle the blivet lifestyle, what can you do to change it.

If you are retired also, did you notice this change to how you look at and do things?

Was the first year after you retired the hardest?


RunLog November 6, 2011 – Long Uphills Suck

Another beautiful day outside, definitely overdressed enough to have to take off the running jacket, but sweating felt really good. Motivated after watching the start of the NYC Marathon on television this morning, so I did a lot tougher run than usual, same distance though.

We walked Bennie 2.5 miles right before I went for this run, so I was warmed up, but the legs were a little tired. It was nice to see other people out being active, two women out running/walking/running, a guy on a bike, people cutting firewood and other outside work – most of the time everyone is all bundled up in their houses this time of year.

I went down the hill to the Shepard Rd.  I made it all the way up the hill to Manny’s and then had to stop and walk about 100 yards before I started running again. Running up long hills really suck, especially when you are just starting to get back in shape.

When I got to the top of the hill I did pick the pace up pretty good to the house. I actually wore my watch for a change so I have a time and was happy with it, considering I came back up the hill and did some walking. Put that damn hill in the middle of the NYC Marathon and the times would be slower there too :-). Had to laugh when the women came down the hill behind me and I said to them “Sure is easier coming down than going back up that thing.” They laughed and said “it sure is!”  As I was going back up it.

I ran in my Nike Dual Fusions today for the first time since July and they worked out fine for me. They seem to provide a little better cushioning than my other shoes, so I might run in them for a little while and ease back towards the more minimal shoes as my knee gets better. However, I did focus more shorter stride length and landing more on my forefoot.  Getting to the point where it is almost automatic now.

Just a good run – I wimped out on the hill – if it don’t mind, it don’t matter – today I minded too much.

Course:  Shepard Rd. Out and Back
Distance: 2.0
Time:  19:08
Pace:  N/A
Weight: 178
Shoe:  Nike Dual Fusion
Time of Day:  10:30 A.M.
Temp:  Start 44 – End 52

The Stinky Running Shirt

The Shirt in better days!

Have you ever had to throw out a favorite running shirt because it stunk so bad that your spouse or whatever, told you how bad you stunk after a run and to throw the #$%$& out?

The other day I finished running three miles and came back in for lunch.  While we were in the kitchen, TheWife who is not known for being very politically correct said you “really have a certain aroma about you today!”

I “gently” reminded her that I just got done running and probably should have a lovely aroma. She told me “you stink!”

I don’t try to be purposely offensive to my wife, so I said something rather sarcastic (not me!) and went in and changed shirts and came back out – She let me know I was now a lot more acceptable to be around, but definitely needed to shower.

However, when I went back in to get the shirt, I could even smell how bad it was, even with my horrible sniffer. Kind of a combination of rotten cabbage, skunk and bad body odor – not anything that I really want in the house or wear again.

No I haven’t had cabbage lately and I haven’t had any run-ins with a skunk in over a couple of years. ;-P

When I carried it outstretched in my hand to the kitchen, TheWife told me to get that nasty thing out of here and not to put it in the dirty laundry, but to throw the #$!@ing thing out, along with a few other choice comments that only a loving wife can have. Like a good husband (there are some things to go to battle over, getting rid of a stinky old running shirt is not one of them – even if it was my favorite shirt) I said “yes dear” and put it in the trash can.

Now in a way that was really hard for me to do, I really loved that shirt (a lot of good training memories and when/where I got it – Saucony Outlet Store down in Kittery in 2004), it didn’t have too many holes in it, still had its color – bright yellow, was just starting to fit right again (loosing 20 pounds does that) and very few snags.

I know that I could get 3-4 more years out of it as far as wear goes. Yes I wear my stuff out – too frugal nowadays not to.

However, I have learned that once a running shirt reaches the level of stink that this one had, there is no getting rid of the stench. I have tried all the baking soda soaks with charcoal, specialty stink remover detergents, leaving it in the sun to kill whatever is living in the shirt, vinegar and nothing makes that level of stink in a running shirt go away, except putting it in the trash can.

Too bad too I really, really liked that shirt and won’t get another one like it for a long time. Oh well gotta move on.

  • What do you use to get rid of the trench running shirt smell that works most of the time?
  • How about you have you had to get rid of a favorite shirt, not because it wore out, but because it stunk too much?

Let me know, this is one of those problems that I have had more than a few times over the years and had to throw out perfectly good running shirts, except for the level of stench that they had. I was going to get a picture of what it looks like now, but when I took the trash to the transfer station the other day, it went too, so no recent picture of a great shirt.

Why Did I Retire? – Looking Back

Xcountry school photoWhat is the biggest difference that I have noticed since I have retired.

How tired and drained I was – emotionally, mentally and physically when I hit the beach initially on June 17, 2011.

Tired, Stressed and Out of Shape

You just don’t realize how beat down, tired, stressed out and out of shape that you are, when you are out there working. Putting in all those hours to have the money for the lifestyle you have chosen. When you are in the middle of the doing, you don’t realize what the “rat race” takes out of you, it has become just the way it is.

For many years I combatted the tiredness and everything else, by exercising (mostly as a runner), which helped most of the time. I usually went to the gym or ran, but a fall off a roof in 2008 and in February 2010 a knee injury restricted my physical activity a great deal.

As the knee deteriorated, so did my health and desire to exercise – if something hurts (a lot) you just don’t enjoy doing it.

After going through the standards of care continuum over the course of the summer of 2010. The doctor originally diagnosed me with something really bad as far as knees go in September 2010. School had just started when I got the diagnosis, so I delayed surgery until May 2011, when I couldn’t stand it anymore.

Yes I got fat (over 200 pounds on a spindly 5’7″ frame) and didn’t do a lot to working-out that last year, which didn’t help matters at all.

Most days after getting home from work (I usually got there early and left late), I would sit in my easy chair, the dog would leap up and sit in my lap and we would fall asleep for 30-45 minutes until supper was ready.

After doing the dinner time chores I would sit down and watch sports channels for an hour or so then start working on whatever had been brought home from work, that needed to get done or planned for.

Then once I got all or at least most of the work that I had brought home done, I would then participate in #chats on subjects that I was interested in on Twitter or watch/participate in the numerous online webinars, all in the guise that these were making me better at my profession.

I did this most nights, weekends, school breaks, when I should have been resting or recuperating. What all these extra hours I did I thought was making me more effective in my profession.

The truth is as I look back those activities were taking my down-time away from me and I was living my job 12-14 hours a day.  I was not giving myself time to rest.

All Jobs Have Stress

All jobs have stressful parts and after a while, constantly eating adrenaline burgers, does something to you. In my final year I always seemed to be sick a great deal more than in the past, having that constant headache or just feeling blaaahhhh all the time.

Add those to not being able to sleep after going to bed, tossing and turning thinking about what happened that day, dreading what was going to happen the next day or trying to think of a way to reach a student. Then getting up at 5:00 A.M., commuting 30 minutes to work, no matter how bad you felt most of the time and feeling guilty when you stayed home sick – because “you should have gone in.”

My wife was starting to get worried about me, she was saying that I always had a “gray look” to go along with being tired all of the time. I kept pooh poohing her concerns, but looking back, however, they were signs of how stressed out and tired I was at the time, all the time.

TheWife had gone through her own battles with health and work. Due to some very similar circumstances she had retired in November 2009 and the difference in her was very evident and definitely positive. We talked a lot last spring about what was important in life to us and the kind of lifestyle that we wanted to live. After all the talking we decided to wait and see what the result of my surgery was in May before making any final decisions.


Luckily when the doctor got in there to look around at the knee, it was only some damaged cartilage and an easy repair job. It was a big relief, I still had my own knee! That helped make our decision a lot easier, if it had been more than a simple repair job, I would have stuck around for the medical benefits that I would have needed.

Based on everything that was going on, our conversations, the direction that my former profession was heading (which was vastly different than what I believe in) and how work was affecting my health, we decided to give full retirement for both of us a try.


Which meant there would be some of changes to our lifestyle based on a vastly reduced income, we would be going from above average in combined income to below poverty level in less than 2 years. Our saving grace was that we didn’t have any bills, beyond the typical monthly expenses. No mortgage, no credit card balances, no car payments, a little bit of savings, none of what is part and parcel of the typical American consumer.

As you can tell TheWife is a very smart and frugal woman, otherwise we would not have been able to even think about retirement, much less be able to do it.

Resignation and Retirement

I submitted my resignation on June 1st and began to dream about what I would be doing in retirement.

The last 17 days of teaching went by like a blur and I really don’t remember a lot about those last few days, except that I was still recovering from my surgery, doing physical therapy and trying my best to leave on a high note and I had to tell my 7th graders that I wouldn’t be coming back for their 8th grade year – which was kind of tough.

I must have done something right, there were two others who were retiring as educators and even though I was not retiring as an educator and had only been at the school for 2 years, they included me as the third person in the retirement celebrations.August 17th was the effective date of my resignation, but school let out on June 17th for summer break and that was when I effectively stopped working for someone else’s clock and became retired.

It didn’t mean because I retired that I sat on my ass and did nothing. That isn’t and wouldn’t be me, I was busier than ever and seemed to never have time to go many places or do things beyond the yard.  No I was very busy, but it was a different kind of busy than I was used to. I was in charge of my schedule, no clock to beat and freedom to choose what I did that day.

Remarkable Changes

The changes since that date are nothing less than remarkable!

While the knee is not 100% and probably never will be and I have accepted that, but hold out hope that the therapist was correct in telling me it would take 8-12 months to be able to run pain-free. I have begun to walk, hike and yes run again – a certain amount of sucking it up is necessary, but worth it. I am now running/jogging 2-3 miles 4-5 days a week – not very fast, but I am doing it.

I also have taken an interest in gardening, now that I have the time for it and doing a little meatball carpentry on the side.  These are activities that I enjoy and which get me outside much more than I was and I know that I am much healthier now.

I also have a secret weapon in the war to fitness, a Jack Russell Terrier called Bennie Bean, he is a 5 mile a day dog. If he doesn’t walk 5 miles a day, he is just too full of energy to be around. Needless to say between TheWife, Stepdaughter #1 and myself he gets his 5 miles a day.

Almost 20 pounds have gone away in the past 5 months, without drastically changing how I eat (I was eating 80% healthy food before this – thanks to TheWife) – yes I know that I still eat too many things made with sugar and I like my chips (TheWife is a great cook and baker), but I don’t over-indulge too often (keeping things reasonable is what I try for) and when I do pig-out, I don’t stress out about it.

We don’t eat a lot of processed food and our garden provides us with veggies and greens (still) and it is comforting to know what has been put on them. Basically, I just try to do a little better each day.

I no longer fall asleep, in the middle of every afternoon, like I did almost every day for the first 3 months I was home, when I would fall asleep for an hour or two and the afternoon would be gone. That tired all the time feeling is finally leaving me, but even after 5 months, there are some days that it comes back and I just have to stop and rest for a while. Thankfully those times are becoming fewer and fewer and farther in between instances.

Didn’t Realize

I really didn’t realize how run down and stressed out I had become, until I started to slow down, exercise more and get outside a lot more. No I read somewhere (I wish that I had kept it) that it takes 6-12 months after you stop working to get rid of the collective stress and tiredness you body bottles up inside. I didn’t think that your body can “store” that crap, but after the past 5 months, I tend to believe it a lot more than I did before – not a true convert yet, but definitely gone from a disbeliever, to being a lot more open to the idea.

The Correct Decision

Fo us, the decision to retire has been the correct one. We don’t have the monthly retirement income that the “experts” say is enough, but we think it will be enough for us. If it isn’t, then part-time jobs are easier to find than full-time ones with benefits, so I really believe that we will be just fine as long as there are no big ticket items that have to be gotten for a while.

The big question I have been asked is “Would I do it again?”

After all I had job security, was pretty well respected in my profession and making decent money. The answer comes to me very quickly. Yes I would do it again, the time was right and you know something. I haven’t really thought all that much about going back to teaching or trying to find another position in education.

I don’t really miss the stress and everything that goes along with teaching in today’s classroom. If I did I really believe that that my health would be a lot worse than it is right now and how stressed out I would be feeling – not worth it to me, I like being healthy.

That is simply because I am enjoying the life that I have right now too much and time is much more my own than it has ever been, but that is a different post.

For me retirement was the correct choice.

We all age and will die, but how we live is our choice.

By the way, the other day.

TheWife was commenting that I no longer have that gray pallor about me and I just look more healthy.  So I guess this retirement thing is working.  Now if I could only look like George Clooney, naw I am very happy with who I am – warts and all.