Learning New Skills

Retirement is …. (searching for judgement-free term)… different. I was reading a book – actually I’m reading LOTS of books now – and I came across a VERY relevant quote. The (very imho) young detective is talking to an older woman.

YD: How often do you work in the shop?

OW: Two or three days a week. As I said on the phone, it’s something to keep me busy. Retirement’s not easy.

YD: Isn’t it? YD would have thought it was the definition of easy

camera. and I found this root interesting. evocative. trying not to think that I thought it was representative

Some of us do NOT find retirement easy. Or to put it differently I saw this “inspirational” picture and saying on my media stream today: “Every dead body on Mt. Everest was once a highly motivated person, so maybe calm down.” When I was employed I had a lot more problem-solving running through my brain. Constantly. I miss that. No, I do NOT want to go back “to work”. But I do need to figure out how to achieve that same activity some other way. Because – are you listening, Honour? – I’m a little bit bored. In the meantime, I do the best I can. Which means gardening and cleaning the basement and trying to get back to a healthier life-style. This week the weather and my mood were compatible so I went for a walk. 🙂

taken with the camera

On my way out the door of my employment, I “cashed in” my thank-you points. These are points that coworkers can award you as a thank you for your assistance. I’ve cashed in a few times, mostly for smaller items that I thought could be useful. This time I wanted to try to get the biggest bang for the buck. It came down to either a small stand-alone freezer or a vlog camera. You know I like taking photos and blogging. I also like entertaining and making lots of food. Practical or Indulgent? I went with the Sony vlog ZV-1F camera. I haven’t the faintest idea what makes it “vlog” as opposed to “camera” but that’s what I’m learning.

taken with the camera

Several days ago I figured out how to send a photo on my camera to my phone. That involved a good hour of downloading apps, reading online instructions, figuring out how to turn on and off the camera with fat fingers, learning the difference between the button for taking videos and the one for taking stills. 🙂 Despite having worked in technology for over 40 years I am still technically incompetent in so many ways. 🙂 I confess that icons don’t usually mean much to me – I’m much more text oriented. Add to that the existence of functionality I never dreamed of and you can see why learning to use a new camera is not as simple as pick-it-up-and-shoot.


I went out for a walk, taking both my phone and my camera. I walked down to the park, which is bordered by the river. It was a very lovely walk – 75 minutes in sunshine and comfortable temperatures. I tried taking the same photo with my phone and my camera several times. It seemed to me that my phone has a much better telephoto. Which means I need to figure out what it is that my camera does better since it has all these rave reviews. Videos?

phone. because I (stupidly) scared the BETTER picture of turtles when I walked towards them.

My first comparison shot was of a kite stuck in a tree. *grin* Do you think it was Charlie Brown’s kite??? I thought that the phone zoomed in much closer than the camera. But when I compare the 2 photos (cutting the relevant area and pasting together), it seems to me that the camera takes a much wider bigger image but is zoomed almost the same as the camera. What do you think? They are obviously different. I think the phone has greater detail? clarity? But the camera is not bad.

phone on left, camera on right

There is no question that the camera has a much better wide-angle view. Also the battery lasts longer on the camera. Using my phone to take photos is a very rapid drain on the battery. Otoh using the camera means I’m carrying 2 items, not one. *grin* There’s always an up and a down, right? The park has a gazebo near the river. As I approached I saw and heard a group of musicians jamming. It was lovely. I used the camera from a distance and then used the phone to get a better-structured close-up.

Today when I wanted to write this post I had to figure out how to send multiple photos from my camera to my phone, so that they would then be uploaded to iCloud. That actually is another one of those things I plan to “learn” now that I’m retired. How come my laptop doesn’t see my phone photos when I attach the phone to it? It USED to do that. Is it because I switched to backing up my phone to the cloud? I figure that’s one of those things were I can saunter in to the Apple store in the middle of the week and cry “HELP!” 🙂 Anyway, to send the camera pics to the phone meant going online to find the instruction manual (sorry old folk, no more paper manuals). I was a little stumped when I tried to pick the “send all photos with this date” because it kept telling me I hadn’t selected any. It didn’t, however, include HOW to select the photos in the instructions. Ultimately I took a correct guess and here we are. 🙂

It looks so out-in-the-country, doesn’t it? Used the phone to get in close. Camera needed too much cropping.

I’m glad I have these photos today. It was gray and drizzly yesterday. Raining today. Forecast for rain tomorrow. There were 2 outdoor festivals I planned to attend this weekend. I guess I’ll stare at my photos instead.

Lilac bush and red bud tree on the side of the house before the rain (taken on the camera)

A (Very) Expensive Lesson

E Street Band – April 9, 2023 UBS Arena

I often joke that I am Old. I don’t truly think of myself as Old (yeah, with a capital ‘o’) but sometimes I am struck forcibly by the way the world has changed since I first learned how to do certain things. Today’s revelation is about attending live rock concerts.

E Street Band – April 9, 2023 UBS Arena

I began attending rock concerts when I was in college – ’74-’78. I’d never gone to one in high school. No desire, and probably over-sheltered. In college it was so easy to go hear live music. There was so much FREE music in bars, parties, and festivals. Getting tickets to touring bands was easy as well. I’ll drag out my “I was an EARLY Bruce fan” story. It was ’74 and I was chatting with my sister who had called me from work. She had access to a WATS. Hah. Who can tell the audience what a WATS line is? I was telling her that there was some guy giving a concert tonight but no one was going, some guy named Bruce Springsteen. She went nuts, telling me that he was fantastic, Boston was still rocking from his show there, I must GO GO GO. I said okay calm down, let me see if anyone will go with me. Finally I found a dorm mate, Marilyn from NYC, who agreed she wasn’t doing anything else so she’d go to this concert with me. I wandered over to the venue at 4:30 that afternoon and picked up 2 tickets. Well. You know the rest of that story. 🙂

E Street Band – April 9, 2023 UBS Arena

The next year when Bruce came around we slept out the night before tickets went on sale. I’d gotten there so early that I was within the first 75 ‘sleepers’. An hour before the doors opened the back of the line rushed the front of the line. It wasn’t pleasant. I did get tickets but the seats were not reserved – all general seating. Which meant it was going to be the same mad house trying to get into the show. (It was, and that’s another horror story for another day.) Suffice it to say, I LOVE Bruce & the E Street Band and have seen them numerous times in NJ. There is nothing like a Bruce concert to make you feel energized, alive, ecstatic. The man and the band give their all and so does the audience.

NY’s Finest at the UBS Arena – April 11, 2023

So when the tour was announced in the summer of 2022, my sister and our friend and I all wanted to get tickets. The first new wrinkle was the presale auction. First you had to win the RIGHT to buy tickets. The auction demanded that you specify which show (place/date) you wanted to attempt to ‘win’. My sister and I won the right for 2 different shows, both in Long Island, NY. Our friend Ann won an auction right for the NJ show. Next came the actual date when the sale began. I’d never had to buy tickets under these conditions before and at first I had difficulty understanding the process. Various seat selections would be displayed, also showing a price, and you had to click to get that selection. For the first several minutes (and please imagine me hyperventilating and stressing out) every single time I clicked on a selection I’d get a message that someone else had them, try again. Slowly the screen began to make sense and I could try to “aim” for certain tiers and sections. I ended up spending $100 more per ticket than my original plan, and then add on fees and the rest, but I got 4 tickets for the LI show for ONLY $1480. Yeah.

E Street Band – April 11, 2023

The show was great, of course. It turned out to be much easier to get to than expected. Some of you reading this, however, know about the Belt Parkway and the Cross Island Expressway and know that easier does NOT mean traffic-free. (It was at the UBS Arena in Elmont, NY. A place I hope to NEVER visit again.) We came out from the concert to my car in the parking garage, where I discovered that (most likely) the honking big SUV next to me had kindly dislodged my front bumper, leaving a beautiful red dent as well as a shrieking Parking sensor.

What $3200 worth of damage looks like

I have asked UBS Guest Services for assistance in identifying the car next to me. This is a modern garage, with sensor lights indicating open parking spaces, handicapped spaces, how many open spaces THIS direction and how many THAT direction. You’d think they would have working video cameras. Not only have they not been able to “find my car” (despite the photo of the wall sign showing exactly where my car was parked) their attitude sucks. I’ll say that every person there I met F2F was WONDERFUL. All the client-facing folks via email are rude and lack the most fundamentals of good client services. The arena also raised the parking rates for the concerts (compared to what they charge when the hockey team is playing). So keep adding $$$ to that $1480. Another $55 to park. Of course like most venues these days the prices inside for food, drink and collectibles was through the roof as well. $50 for T-shirt. No thanks. I bought a cocktail in a can for $19. Since I could not identify the offending party in the accident, I had to pay the $500 deductible on the $3200 repair bill for my car. There’s also a story about trying to leave the parking lot the night of the second concert but that one is your typical Long Island traffic story.

E Street Band – April 11, 2023 UBS Arena

Okay, these things happen. It’s the only accident I’ve ever had going to a concert. (Some time let me tell you about the Bruce concert at Giant stadium where somehow I missed the parking lot and found myself heading back to the NJ Turnpike, but the wonderful police officer STOPPED all the traffic coming from the toll booths to allow me to turn around and try again. *grin* Not all my stories are sad ones.) The other part of this concert that was all new to me was the fact the NO paper tickets were allowed – everything had to be on your phone – digital. Well. My one prior experience with that was trying to get into Giants stadium for a FB game, 5 of us with the tix on one phone, and a massive crowd all trying to access the internet to show THEIR tickets. That was 18 months ago and the world has moved on, so I could accept that perhaps this would work. I confess that I just handed my phone to the “ticket taker” and let him swipe it for us. 🙂 What happens if your battery dies? I understand it, but I am curious about all the possible “what ifs?”.

This week we had tickets to see another concert in New Brunswick. I’d bought those tickets back in November 2022. I would have sworn, nay, I’d have placed MONEY on a bet, that I’d gone through the venue’s website. Why am I so certain? Because how else would I have know this concert was happening? I’m NOT plugged into concert tours but I AM on this venue’s mailing list. Be that as it may, again I found myself trying to pay $150/ticket and ending up spending a total of $354 for 2 tickets. Again I got an email with my digital tickets. I confess – I did NOT open up that email to actually LOOK at the tickets. This is my VERY expensive lesson.

E Street Band – April 11, 2023 UBS Arena

We went to the show, went to our seats, and I saw that the seats were all even numbers. I looked at our tickets and saw they were the same row, but one was even and one was odd. NOT together in other words. I asked the usher and she asked me was I Odin Hill. Huh??? Well, no, I’m not. But guess what – I had Odin’s $59 tickets. Who knows who had my $150 tickets. I got no sympathy nor empathy from the staff at the venue. Their response – we can’t help you. You didn’t buy through us so if you want to sit together, you need to buy 2 new tickets and take this up with your credit card company. We left. I bought and paid for those tickets in 2022. No one is going to help me get my money back and besides – I actually RECEIVED tickets. They just weren’t the ones I bought as stated in my confirmation email.

After buying the Bruce tix back in July 2022, I felt so battered. Going to a concert these days feels so terrible to me. The concert might be great, but buying tickets, paying a zillion add-on fees, having things like parking fees boosted just because they can – it stops being fun. Our friend Ann who was trying for the Bruce tix in NJ had a bad experience as well. By the time she was allowed in to try to purchase tickets, the prices had risen to a starting price of $600. That’s a lot of money and that’s before the additional fees get added. I needed to sell one of my 4 tickets. Given that they were all digital, I had limited options. I could ask Ticketmaster to help me – for which I’m fairly certain they’d have charged a fee to me and to whoever bought them. I could have offered them up to sale to “anyone”. Then it’s a game of chicken – I transfer them to you and trust you to send me your $? Or vice versa? Or do what I was fortunate enough to do – found a friend in town who wrote me a check and rode to the concert with us. By the time I was done trying to sell the ticket, figure out how to “tailgate” in a venue that forbids tailgating, plan the drive on 2 of the worst highways in the area, have my car damaged, drive back home – I’m not sure I’ll be attending many more concerts such as these.

A sadder but wiser girl am I.

Quintessential Bruce

Retirement – Day 4 or 20

BC has been retired since she joined us.

I’ve already posted that to me it feels like this week was the actual start of retirement. Passover and paperwork took over the prior 2 weeks. This week, however, I’ve actually sloooooowwweeed down. Oh, I’m still doing ‘stuff’ pretty much all day. The difference is mentally & emotionally. Most of my family and friends will tell you that I am somewhat driven, frenetic, obsessed with details, and somewhat like the Energizer Bunny. (Moi?????) Behind that description is the steady drumbeat in my mind about time, time, time, time. Not enough. Deadlines. Must do. Time. Fit it ALL in. Never stopping, always moving, always checking things off The List – this was me.

a very happy andromeda bush, with the Eastern Redbud behind

Those last months of 2022 at work coincided with the second phase of the renovation, which was beginning to seem never-ending, and with WC’s failing health. It wasn’t a great time. I stopped exercising and started eating quantities of comfort food. So here I am ready to rock-n-roll but my body is not quite with the program. The good news is I have the time to do the gardening SLOWLY. I’ve gone out each day this week and spent 2 to 2.5 hours doing cleanup and preparation. I’m hoping this gentle approach will remind my knees of the concept of “bend”. 🙂 I’m also hoping that being out in the sunshine and digging in the dirt will restore my taste for salads. My mother used to have an ash tray – maybe my sister has it now. I never understood it when I was younger. But oh does it resonate now!! It shows a few people lounging in comfy chairs and the caption is “Next week we’ve got to get organized”.

wintered-over succulents and chives. bulbs & perennials coming up behind

Ever since I decided last year to retire, and then topped off with Covid in the summer, I found that I wasn’t as driven to “get things done NOW”. Part of that is that there is just SO MUCH cleanup and reorganization from the renovation that there is no way I could “get it done” in a weekend or two. And it’s always been getting things done in the weekend. Vacations were for doing things that were NOT getting things done. Because my super power is worrying, I have worried that not being pressured for time would make me ineffective and lazy. Oh – my secondary super power is the ability to be very hard on myself. 🙂 The corollary worry is that Covid sapped my inner strength/energy. It’s not that I’m choosing not to push myself, it’s that I CAN’T push myself. I’d guess many of you could understand why not having the choice is an unhappy realization.

Now add more boxes between the treadmill & the bookcase, and MANY bags/boxes tossed on top of the stuff that is already on the couch (hidden below that black heating unit)

What is the big deal about cleaning and reorganizing from the renovation? Well, when you empty the 2nd floor of the house, the stuff needs to go somewhere. We didn’t toss/donate everything. We were extremely naive and uninformed and we stored a LOT of boxes up in the attic. We didn’t realize that the attic was going to be turned into the alien abode of the central air conditioner. The a/c crew took most of what we stored in the attic and moved it to the basement. Besides all the things they added on the “playroom” side of the basement, the laundry side also has a row of boxes. The photos here do not truly display the disarray after the a/c installation began. On the other hand, central air means I now can see out of 3 of the bedroom windows that used to be blocked by window units.

I can see out my bedroom window – No a/c unit!!

BC is trying to teach me the Tao of Retirement. I’m not sure if that’s because she’s trying to be helpful, or if it’s because she has become very very needy since WC died. The latter I suspect. BC follows me pretty much everywhere and most of the time needs to be ON me as well. She’s in for a treat surprise. We are going to get her a kitten once the basement is navigable. Yeah, she’s going to hate it. But then we think she’ll start liking it. Remember that we rescued her when she was only a few weeks old and brought her into a house with 3 other cats and a dog. We think she’ll adjust. She will have to adjust. Because the next step after the kitten will be a puppy. 🙂 That’s part of my big retirement plan.

The gardening so far has been mostly weeding, pruning, and cleanup. I’ve written numerous times about my beautiful Rudbeckia Laciniata Hortensia. They need a lot of support. A few years ago I began adding screen material to the iron border fencing in an attempt to keep the plants from growing out through the fence into the sidewalk area. I took down all the old screens this year to try to make them more aesthetically pleasing and to get a better fit on the street side, where the grass insists on poking out into the street. I fix the bottom with the garden staples but the top is trickier. In the past I used wire ties – poked them through the screen and twisted. This year the proverbial light bulb went off over my head. I’ll sew them on!!! Pull them tight, do a running stitch and have a snug fit. It worked, but it reminded me how much I loathe working with fishing line (or whatever that plastic thread is called). I used a sail needle so that it was large enough to hold and to punch through the screen. I cannot say that it was a pleasant experience but maybe it will work as expected and last for more than one year. 🙂

As a reward, and because my inner 6-year old has been screaming “save $$, don’t spend $$, AAACCCK” I decided to try growing some of my usual flowers from seed. I’ve done this in the past but always by sowing directly into the ground once we are past the last frost date (mid-May). This time I decided to see if I could have actual flowers to plant in May. I’ve saved half of each packet so I can do the direct sow as well. I’ve moved the succulents out of the kitchen and outside (I’ll cover them if we have a frost warning) and I’ve put TWO trays under the grow lights in the bay window. That window gets a lot of sunlight as well as the grow lights. I did the first tray 5 days ago and I have seedlings!!!!! I did a second tray yesterday. I have no idea if I’m doing this properly or not. I can’t be bothered to do research. I had a package of seed starter material and that’s what I used. Even if I only get what I’ve got showing now, I’ll be ahead of the game.

Basil, Rosemary, Dill, Sunflowers, Tithonia, Cosmos, Zinnias, Orange tassel flower.

Report From Retirement

Yes, I AM returning an 8 year old laptop.

I did it. I retired after 43 years as a systems analyst. It was a very, very scary decision. I’ve been working since I graduated high school. Summer jobs, temp jobs on term break, employed before I graduated officially with my Master’s degree (MBA). I suppose technically going to grad school for 18 months isn’t being employed, but it was certainly working.

spotted dead nettle – I almost never see this because it’s on the side of the house

I’d become extremely unhappy and frustrated at my job. There were still moments of great satisfaction and fulfillment, but more and more I was frustrated, angry and feeling very disrespected and unappreciated. Although I agreed with some of what leadership was proposing, the truth is that almost none of it was new. I’d been in that role for 11 years. What I’ve learned is that corporate life is cyclical. On a macro level you can see it with the centralize/decentralize cycle that occurs regularly. For my role this would have been the 3rd or 4th time I’d heard the same “wouldn’t it be great if we …”. I can only do that so long. Yeah, great idea. You’re not the first. Stop acting like you’ve solved world hunger. I’ll be 67 this summer. It was/is time to do something else.


Deciding to retire was, as I said, terrifying. I didn’t know what I’d be/do if I was not employed. Everyone (Hi, Honour!!!) told me that I’d be amazed at how much I would find to do. I was also terrified that I would not be able to pay my bills, to not indulge in any luxuries. I’ve gotten quite spoiled the last few years with both my husband and I working, no child to support, inheritance from my parents. Well we’re both unemployed now, the inheritance was spent rebuilding the house (omg, wait til I show you the result of the 2nd floor renovation!!!!), taxes are going up, the stock market is going down, and I still have tons of fixed expenses. My financial analyst keeps assuring me that we will be okay, but I was raised by a neurotic mother whose father died when she was 6, leaving the family quite poor. No matter how much my logical side tells me we’ll be okay, my inner 6-year old is screaming in fear. Repeatedly.

variety of flowers in the pot that wintered over on the porch, now blooming 🙂

My last day was March 31. Although I had a goodbye dinner, a goodbye lunch, handed in my laptop, and handed in my badge, it didn’t “feel” like retirement. I immediately began preparation for Passover the following week. A week of Passover, then a week of 2 Bruce Springsteen concerts, dealing with car insurance because my car was hit at one of the concerts, paperwork to move my 401K, to pay the contractors the final payment and other legalities – still not feeling “retired”. This week (and it’s only Tuesday) feels like retirement. On a sunny Monday afternoon, I went out at 2pm and worked in the garden. 🙂 Now THAT is what I thought it meant to be retired. 🙂