A Day in My Life: A Blogging Event

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My blogging friend, Trish, (Love, Laughter & a Touch of Insanity) is hosting this 2nd annual blogging event. Last year, I so enjoyed reading about people’s lives, but didn’t post about my own. This year, I’m sharing a day in my own life, and will once again enjoy reading about yours!

Two and a half years ago, I retired after teaching for 27 years, and my husband and I moved to a small town in Oregon. The following is my account of a pretty typical day in this retired teacher’s new life.

THURSDAY, MARCH 17, 2016

5:00am:  I wake up at this time no matter what. Inner clocks are incredibly difficult to reset, and even though I’m retired and could sleep-in as long as I want, this is the time my body says to get moving, so I get moving!

5:00-5:45am:  Wake, make a big pot of tea, and read (currently reading my first book by Ann Cleeves, A Bird in the Hand).

tea pot

5:45-6:15am:  Work on my Bullet Journal. One of the joys of retirement is getting up each morning and being able to set my own agenda! Our first year of retirement was pretty unscheduled — footloose and fancy free! Recently, I decided that I needed a little more structure to my day, so I set up my bullet journal and spend time each morning and each evening planning my day and then reflecting on each day. I love this! I’m much more efficient with my time, so I’m getting more reading done, more knitting, taking more long walks, remembering to send birthday cards on time, etc. I’m still setting my own agenda and enjoying my days even more! Delightful!

6:15-7:00am:  This is time usually spent on the computer reading, answering, and sending emails, and catching up on social media. I do a lot on Facebook, which is a nice way to communicate with my Mom and family, and friends and relatives that live near and far.

7:00-9:00am:  I ate breakfast and then got ready for my morning exercise activity. On Mon/Wed/Fri, I go to exercise class at the gym 3 blocks from my house. On Tuesdays and Thursdays, I meet a very special exercise buddy. My new friend, Gloria, is an 81-year-old runner! I meet her twice a week to walk/run on the hills near her home. I walk, she runs! Because my legs are long and I have a long walking stride, I can keep up with her (most of the time) while she runs. She’s been running for 40 years, and she has become my mentor as I learn to challenge myself and my body more and more. With her encouragement, I have signed up for a summer’s worth of 5k challenges. Portland Parks and Recreation sponsors 6 summer 5k walk/run events, each one at a different local park. My first ever 5k walk will be on May 15th. Gloria will run and I will walk. What fun! Can’t wait!

9:00am:  Back home, shower, get ready for the rest of the day!

9:15-10:30am:  Housecleaning, laundry, menu-planning. It’s been so rainy recently that I haven’t been out in the yard doing some of those morning tasks, but that will change very soon. Today, I swept the front porch to get ready to put out some potted plants soon.

10:30-11:30am:  I signed up for a Craftsy class on “Designing Edible Gardens,” so this morning I spent an hour working on that class. I take notes in my Bullet Journal, where I keep track of all  the planning I’m doing for our 2016 vegetable garden.

 

11:30-Noon:  Prepare lunch. Today’s lunch was a “rice bowl”… brown rice, stir fry veggies (no oil!), cubed tofu, mandarin orange slices, some slivered raw almonds, and 1/4 cup orange sauce. (Warmed it all up in the microwave.) A simple, but very healthy and satisfying lunch. Two years ago I was overweight, pre-diabetic, and taking 2 blood pressure medications as well as a cholesterol-lowering medication. My new doctor referred me to the Healthy Living department at Kaiser Permanente where I met with a doctor and his nurse who have changed my life! They gave me the information and support needed to change the way I eat.  I have worked hard to change old bad habits and establish a new and healthier lifestyle by eating a completely plant-based diet. The health benefits for me have been enormous. I’ve lost 25 pounds and Kaiser no longer classifies me as obese or pre-diabetic. I no longer take blood pressure medications or cholesterol-lowering medication. “Food is my medicine.” And along with losing weight, I have become much more physically active. I go to exercise class three mornings a week, and meet with my running friend twice a week, so I have a good 1-hour/5 days a week exercise routine. I also go for long walks with my hubby, and ride my bicycle and go hiking when the weather permits.  Simply put, I am feeling better than I have felt in years!

orangericebowl

 

AFTERNOON:

12:30-2:00pm:  Running errands. Fred Meyer, car wash, JoAnn’s for some crafting supplies, and Best Buy to pick up a new exercise tracker to help me do some serious training for my summer of 5k races!

2:15-3:00pm:  Home again. I sat in the recliner, put my feet up, and called my Mom on the phone. I talk with my 96-1/2 year old Mom every day. She lives 800 miles away, but we bridge the distance by having long conversations about health, happenings at her retirement home, and about what we are currently reading. We never get tired of talking about books!

3:00-3:45pm:  Stayed sitting in that recliner and worked on my current knitting project while listening to my current audiobook, In the Wet, by Nevil Shute.

3:45pm:  Stood in the kitchen looking out the greenhouse window at the flock of little birds, the Scrub Jays, and the Acorn Woodpeckers that frequent our bird feeders. I could never get bored looking out that window. There’s a lot of bird (and squirrel and cat) drama to enjoy!

 

4:00-5:00pm:  The Grandboy and his daddy arrived. I was honored with an invitation to join his Minecraft world for awhile!

 

5:00-6:00pm:  I set the table while hubby cooked dinner tonight. He cooked a totally whole foods, plant-based meal for us — Cuban Black Beans. No, he hasn’t given up his meat or cheese (or pastries), but he has been very supportive of my plant-based needs. He likes to cook and bake, so he usually fixes 2 or 3 meals a week (yes, I’m spoiled!). Today, he fixed this one, which is one of our favorites!

6:00-6:30pm:  Dinner.

7:00-8:30pm:  We cleaned the kitchen, and then sat down to watch some TV. We chose a new Nature episode with David Attenborough. Love, love, love David Attenborough!

 

8:30-9:00pm:  Planning and reflection time with my Bullet Journal.

9:00-10:00pm (or so):  Reading in bed until too tired to read anymore. I love this!

Goodnight!

Notes:

** My “retired” days are busy and I love that. Although this has been a day where I mostly described my solo activities, my husband and I do many things together.  When we retired, we started a wonderful tradition of going “exploring” on Wednesdays. We call it our “Wandering Wednesday,” and it started as a way to get to know this new area we moved to. We visit historical sites, botanical gardens, libraries and bookstores, wetlands and forests. We post photos on Facebook for our family and friends to enjoy, and it’s become a delightful highlight of our week.

** I love my new focus on physical activity and healthy living. It just feels so darn good!  A number of years ago I read Reeve Lindbergh’s book, Forward From Here: Leaving Middle Age — and Other Unexpected Adventures. In that book, she said that 60 is the “youth of old age.” I am closer to 70 now than to 60, but I feel more youthful today than I did when I turned 60. Although I haven’t always been good about this, I know how important it is, at any age, to take good care of yourself. My mother is a wonderful role model for aging gracefully and healthfully, and I hope I can do as good a job of moving into my elder years as my mother!

**  This is a new stage of life for me that comes with many, many changes, but the one thing that has remained constant is my passion for reading! With retirement, comes much more time to enjoy my books. What a luxury to be able to sit down and read on the front porch or in my favorite indoor spot at any time I want!

porch_photo

My favorite reading spot…

Thank you for stopping by and taking the time to read about “my day in the life.”  Although I don’t post or comment as often as I used to, I still love the blogging community and enjoy visiting your blogs. I love to hear about what you are reading and what is happening in your lives.

Thank you, Trish, for hosting this annual event!

 

Between Two Grandmothers

Leap Year! For me, the 29th of February is always special because it’s a day to stop and remember my two Grandmothers. Maternal grandmother, Maude, (a poet…you can read about her here) was born on February 28th. Paternal grandmother, Mary, (a farm girl who had a very humorous way with words) was born on March 1st. So this day is sandwiched between the birthdays of those two wonderful women whom I remember so fondly and miss even after all these years. I was so lucky to have both of them in my life until I was an adult. They influenced me in many ways, and their unconditional love is more than just a memory, it is something I carry in my heart and treasure every day of my life.

I’ll talk about my February reading in a post tomorrow. Today, I just want to focus on remembering those two lovely women.

Goodbye January

readingJanuary was an enjoyable reading month for me — I read seven books and also celebrated my own birthday as well as the 9th anniversary of the birth of this blog. As usual, my reading was all over the place, from Gloria Steinem’s My Life on the Road, to Anthony Trollope’s The Warden, and each of the 7 books was a good choice for me.

As far as reading challenges go, I usually sign up for a few starting in January, but this year I’ve decided to keep those commitments to a minimum and just focus on my own reading. So I am focusing on my own Goodreads 2016 Reading Challenge, planning on reading at least 75 books, and I joined Emma Watson’s Goodreads feminist book club, “Our Shared Shelf,” and will read the 12 books she chooses for this year. Also, my Mom and I continue our daily phone chats, mostly talking about books, so my reading is strong and healthy and off to a good start for the year. It continues to bring me great joy.

So it is goodbye to January and hello to February which includes an extra day this year for extra reading!

Here are my January reads:

 

A Gift of Reading

My sweet life-long reading buddy, always-reading Mom, age 96, didn’t want any gifts for Christmas. Really, what she didn’t want was to receive things that would take up any space in her small apartment. But since she loves to read, and loves her Kindle, I didn’t have any problem coming up with a very appropriate-for-her gift! I gave her a small library of Kindle books to keep her busy for the confining winter months when she can’t walk to her library (next door) or even her post office (also next door). So I sent her a Kindle book each day from Christmas Eve to New Year’s Eve. I tried to pick exactly the right book each time, and I think I got pretty close. Here are the books I sent her for winter reading.

A Perfect Ending

16th

It’s been a very cold snowy wintery weekend, so the whole family has enjoyed the warmth and quiet of home, everyone doing their own thing throughout the house. Hubby has been doing jigsaw puzzles on his iPad. Daughter has been knitting. Son and Grandboy worked first with Legos and are now creating something terrific in a Minecraft world. And I did something  that I haven’t done in ages! I spent the entire day reading a book, from start to finish! I honestly don’t remember the last time I allowed myself that pleasure, but it certainly should happen more often! So despite the cold, it has been the perfect end to a lovely holiday. Happy New Year, friends, and happy reading!

Last Year’s Words

For last year’s words belong to last year’s language
And next year’s words await another voice.
And to make an end is to make a beginning.

~ T.S. Eliot

2015 was an enjoyable reading year for me. I was a consistent reader in 2015, which is joyful for me after numerous years of inconsistency. Reading has always been my baseline … no matter what was going on in my life, reading was always happening. Happily, I returned to that sense of normalcy and enjoyed always having at least one book underway. One book, one audiobook, one Kindle book, one library book … often all of them at the same time!

2015completedI read 65 books in 2015. (Please visit me on Goodreads to see the complete list.) Which was my favorite book of the year out of the 65? Interestingly, it was the last book I read, just finishing it yesterday morning. I love the Maisie Dobbs series, by Jacqueline Winspear, and her last book, A Dangerous Place, was, in my opinion, her best yet. I love the emotional honesty that is at the core of every Winspear book, and I enjoy the stories and puzzles that the wonderful character, Maisie, must work through.

A Dangerous Place

My second favorite book of the year was Marta McDowell’s lovely study of Emily Dickinson’s Gardens. Combining my love of poetry and of gardening, this book was just a pleasure for me to read. I will definitely be reading more of Marta McDowell’s books on gardens this year!

Emily Dickinson's Gardens

 

As I reflect on my 2015 reading, the quote above by T.S. Eliot seems particularly appropriate. The books I read in 2015 belong to last year’s language. I’m so looking forward to discovering another voice, the new voice of next year’s words, in my reading in 2016!

Home

Home

We had a lovely Thanksgiving this year with all the family at home, including the Grandboy. We didn’t go anywhere, except for long walks, and the family just enjoyed being at home, quietly doing their own kinds of things over the extended weekend. The best kind of holiday!

Home, by Carson Ellis, is a wonderfully illustrated picture book about HOMES, and all Ellis’s fun illustrations introduce young children to the idea that there are homes of all kinds around the world and in imagination. I really fell in love with this book because it is filled with a combination of fun and fancy, and very important ideas. Children (of all ages) will enjoy this compassionate introduction to diversity.

Carson Ellis is a local artist (Portland, Oregon) who has also worked collaboratively with her husband, Colin Melloy, (of the Decemberists) illustrating their terrific series, Wildwood Chronicles.

Home 2

 

Holiday Tales

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A few years ago, I started a new reading tradition for myself. On November 1st, I begin to read books and stories about the holidays. A simple tradition but one that has brought much joy to my reading.

This year I started with an old classic published in 1897: Holiday Tales: Christmas in the Adirondacks, by W.H.H. Murray. I’d never heard of it before, but I’m glad I discovered it because it was a lovely beginning for this season’s reading. The book was free for my Kindle, and can also be read online as part of Project Gutenberg eBooks. It contains two stories about an old trapper named John Norton who lives in a cabin deep in the Adirondacks.

The Dismal Hut

The Dismal Hut

The first story, called How John Norton the Trapper Kept His Christmas, is about how he helps a neighbor, a woman with three children living in a dismal hut in the woods. They are starving and destitute, almost completely without hope. The Old Trapper had just started to put together a basket of food to take to them when a large crate is delivered to him from his son who had moved to a city far away. The crate contained warm clothing,  foodstuff, and other things needed to help the neighbor woman, whom the son had met on his last visit. With Old Trapper’s kindness , the caring generosity of his far distant son, and the help of the old friend who delivered the crate, they bring Christmas and renewed hope to the little family living in the “dismal hut.”

Ah, if some sweet power would only enlarge our hearts when, on festive days, we enlarge our tables, how many of the world’s poor, that now go hungry while we feast, would then be fed!

The second tale, John Norton’s Vagabond, is of another Christmas when John Norton decides to invite everyone in the woods, including the “vagabonds,” to his holiday dinner. The Old Trapper believes strongly that Christmas is a time for “forgivin’ and forgittin’,” so he invites even those men that have stolen from his traps. It’s a humorous story, but with the most important, albeit simple, messages.

Ah, friends, dear friends, as years go on and heads get gray–how fast the guests do go! Touch hands, touch hands with those that stay. Strong hands to weak, old hands to young, around the Christmas board, touch hands. The false forget, the foe forgive, for every guest will go and every fire burn low and cabin empty stand. Forget, forgive, for who may say that Christmas day may ever come to host or guest again. Touch hands.

With it’s poignant reminders of what the holidays are all about, with stories of kindness and caring, this was a very enjoyable book to start my holiday reading.

W. H. H. MURRAY, THE MURRAY HOMESTEAD GUILFORD, CONN.

W. H. H. MURRAY,
THE MURRAY HOMESTEAD GUILFORD, CONN.

The Woman Who Walked in Sunshine

Sunshine

“Sunshine” seems to be my theme for this week!  A few months ago,  I pre-ordered Alexander McCall Smith‘s most recent #1 Ladies Detective Agency novel, The Woman Who Walked in Sunshine. It arrived on my Kindle just in time to bring some needed sunshine to a dark, rainy weekend. AMS’s books are always a breath of fresh air with happy and humorous reminders to focus on the kind and good in life rather than getting bogged down in the negatives that surround us all.

“Everything could always be worse,” she would say, “and so be grateful that things are only as bad a they are.”

The main character of the #1 Ladies Detective Agency novels, Mma Ramotswe, is a kind, intelligent, caring detective. She makes a difference in people’s lives — in the lives of the people in the books and also in the lives of the readers! I love her outlook on life, her interactions with the other characters, and the way she problem-solves the situations she faces in her business and in her personal life.

So many people had lost that sense of identification with the land that gave meaning to life; that fixed one firmly to a place one loved. At least we still have that, she thought: at least we still have land that we can call our place; acacia trees that are our acacia trees; a sky that is our sky because it watched over our mothers and fathers and took them up into it, embraced them, when they became late. We still have that, no matter how big and frightening the world becomes.

With humor and words of wisdom, this is a book series that definitely brings sunshine into our lives.

Sunshine in the House

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What’s all that laughter I hear from the Grandboy’s bedroom upstairs? He and his daddy have been reading aloud a whole stack of Diary of a Wimpy Kid books they picked up at the library. There are three sounds I love on a rainy afternoon like this:  The sound of the rain…  the sound of someone in another room reading aloud…  and the sound of my Grandboy’s laughter.

Grandboy books