There is a writer in there somewhere!

Many of us are sure that there is a book hiding inside of us.   It is not likely the next great American novel, but a nice book in there that folks just might like to read if we just put down on paper.   I am sure I have one or two, but just never seem to get off the dime and get moving.

At one time, probably the busiest time in my life, I belonged to a writing group when I lived in the Minneapolis metro area.   It was a great bunch of creative women and they were both published and non published, back when there was no serious self publish option like there is now with Amazon.    They were so supportive and willing to share.   They came from a diverse bunch of backgrounds and wrote in the whole spectrum of genres.   Some had a couple of names for the different genres they wrote in.   If you need to find out a procedure someone was always willing to help you find a person who you could run your ideas past to see if you got the nuts and bolts of how it was done right.   They knew chefs, chauffeurs, FBI agents, police detectives, corners, publishers, restaurant owners, wheelwrights,  and any anything else you might need.       I did lots of research, background work and my analytical mind went into high gear in all that “should do” stuff they tell you that you must do before you begin to write.   It should have been the perfect group of people to write with, but my timing was wrong.  I never got that novel written.

Well National Novel Writing Month is just about here again and I am going to give it a whirl again.   Only this time I am going to be a “let’er rip” girl this time.   There are novelists who just sit down and write by the seat of their pants and then go back and fill it in, edit it out, and make the story become a full-fledged novel.  I am going to try that  this time because the planning approach has not worked for me.   I am now in the state of less than a million people, Montana, in one of the more sparsely populated areas and so that cushion my writing group gave me to research before I wrote is gone.   I am going to write and when I find a spot I need some research I am going to punt my way through it and come back and find just who and what I need when the need is there and real.

It may be good.   It may be bad.   No matter, when the end of November finally rolls around I am hoping I have 50,000 words down on paper.  A story, that may become a novel.    It can’t be any worse than my previous attempt that never got out of the gate.   Tomorrow it begins

Book Clubs

I have never belonged to a book club, but I am thinking it may be time to try one.   I am a veracious reader.   I have a small stash of hardcover books that I likely will never get rid of and another small sash of books in case we have a holocaust and my paperwhite is rendered useless.   I read a little of everything because it challenges me and how I look at things.   I also read a diverse selection of books because  I hate it when folks condemn a book based on what they have heard or someone has told them.   I don’t want to be one of them, a person who is swayed without information.   I read books from the library, freebies from Amazon, borrow from others on the ebook site lendle and  buy a few as well.   So the idea of reading a book that someone suggests and getting together to discuss it has some appeal.

On the other hand I am a little leery as I am one of those people who goes a little bonkers when people say things in the book represent something.   The Old Man and the Sea by Earnest Hemingway, according to everyone is full of symbolism.   Unless Earnest himself told us that, how do we know?   Aren’t we putting things in his mouth and telling others what it suppose to be?    If you say when you read this it gives you this impression, or you see a parallelism, to me that is ok because  it is your point of view.    But for everyone to say that this is what Earnest meant, well that gets me going.

The local library has a book club that meets once a month.   Next month’s book is A Woman’s Crusade: Alice Paul and the Battle for the Ballot.   I was introduced to Alice Paul when I watched Iron Jawed Angels and have since read other books about Alice Paul.   I think it would be interesting to read another book about her and then discuss it with others. This sounds like a safe intro to a book club.  I guess I  have made up my mind to give this a go.   Time to buy a new book and set aside some time a month from now to go the library to meet some new folks and see what this book club concept is all about.      I will let you know how it goes.

Tender Heart

Everyone has things that bring out their tender heart.   For me it is senior animals in shelters.   I wish I could bring them all home.  It breaks my heart to see them there.

I have a dog that was eight and a cat that was ten when they were turned into the shelter.   Their stories are like so many others who should being enjoying their golden years, instead are uprooted from the only home they have known and sent to a shelter environment.   Our dog only spent a few weeks in the shelter, unfortunately our cat spent over half a year before we adopted her.

Senior pets are often slow to be adopted because folks are generally attracted to those young cute kittens and puppies.   Most senior pets have some basic skills and likely a couple bad habits as well.  What is unique about the senior pet is that they are very anxious to please and forever grateful when rescue them.   They will forever be thankful to you for picking them.   This gratitude makes them much easier to train and teach them the rules of your home.

Now that I have more time of my own I find myself stopping at the local shelter volunteering  and spending time with the animals there.  I know I can’t take them home, but I can make their time at the shelter a little less lonely.  Sooner or later a senior lover like me will find them and take them to their forever home.

I just learned that November is adopt a senior pet month….how cool is that.

 

Menu Planning

I am one of those folks who does menu planning. I think like home cooking it is a bit of a lost art.  Menu planning is something that takes time and if changing things up bothers you can become a bit of an albatross around your neck; creating more stress when its purpose is just the opposite.   I do menu planning for one of several reasons.

First I don’t work in town and hence don’t grocery shop but once a week.    If I plan to serve interesting well-balanced meals that I need to have everything I might need in my pantry.  My pantry is well stocked with staples: flour, sugar, can goods and a freezer with beef, pork and lamb.    Perishables like milk, fruits, vegetables, cheeses and bread constantly need to be restocked along with what we have used up since our last time at the grocery store.   Shopping with a plan helps to ensure not only do I have what I need, but  I don’t end up throwing things out because  they have spoiled from lack of use.   It also helps keep us from going crazy buying things we really don’t need or are likely to use just because there is a sale.

Second I hate leftovers.   I can’t imagine eating the same thing two days in a row.    This for me means planning how to repurpose a meal so it is not the same.   I often cut my meat in to two or three pieces before I cook it.  If we have pork roast one night,  the leftover will be split and we will have pulled pork  or Cuban sandwiches then the next possibly chili verde.   It is highly likely one night a week will be smorgasbord of leftovers.   No matter how well I try I do end up with leftovers.   Usually it is a little of this and a little of that.  Sometimes it enough for another meal and that goes into the freezer for a future no cook night.   With my leftover tidbits, not enough of anything to make a meal, but when it is all served at the same time with a new veggie for fruit salad thrown in makes a nice meal.

Lastly we like to eat a wide range of foods and have an adventuresome palate.   We are always looking for a new recipe to try.   After work if we don’t know what we are going to make with the recipe handy , we have a tendency to fall back on the same old things.  Also Montana is not the place to come if you are looking for restaurants to sneak out to feed your need for serious ethnic cuisine fix.  Good authentic ethic foods is made in the home with ingredients you horde from online shopping or trips to the cities where there are ethic neighborhoods with grocery stores that stock what you need.     Montana is the place where beef is king, but don’t be surprised to be fed elk, antelope and lamb.   Our season are too short and growing many veggies that the rest the US sees as normal is hard here , as a result it is carnivore heaven.   Meat and potatoes is the main fare here.   We enjoy a good piece of meat, but it just doesn’t have to be roasted or broiled.   It can be wrapped in the spices of the world and served in ways that meat  is a piece of the total menu, not the over running piece of whole meal. Some nights we even do a meatless meal.

Menu planning is a Sunday evening chore for us.   RangerSir and I sit around and talk about what we are hungry for.   Possibly what one us has an urge to make.   Once that is decided the plan mode kicks in,  where we suggest what we might do with the other parts of the cut of meat if we make x or y.   We spend some time on our Kindles surfing the net for something that looks good and printing off recipes.   Once done we stack them in to make order, make notes about sides.   Look at the ingredients list and compare it to what we have on hand.   Monday night is shopping night, and we eat one of those frozen meals we have on hand.   The rest of the week we work our way through the printed out recipes, sometimes shuffling them base on time and preference.   Occasionally things really change up and the roast that was supposed to make three meals only makes two then we move in to full comfort food mode, making a simple soup, burgers or dinner salad with what we have on hand.

Menu planning isn’t for everyone or every family, but if you have thought you might want to try it, I hope you will give it a shot.   Like  every other kind of planner, customize it up and get it to work for you, not the other way around.

Relaxing Seaside

We recently returned from a trip to the Oregon coast.    We love the ocean and in an ideal world we would retire in the NW or the NE walking distance to the ocean.  This trip was part vacation and part retirement exploration. It was the first time in nearly 35 years that we went on a true vacation.   By true vacation I mean a trip away from home that we were not planning on visiting friends or family.   We were taking time away just for ourselves, and think about what might be next  for us.

It was a relaxing time.   We had no work pulling at us.  We took no computers and set our smart phones to take no business calls or download any work emails.   We were off line.   There was no one we had to see or place we had to be.   It was vacation time no excuses made.

I woke everyday mountain time and was the first one on the beach with the dog.    It was solitude at its best.  The two of us started every day walking miles along the surf.     Each day RangerSir and I would have breakfast at the little house we rented and decided what we wanted to do that day.   The weather was iffy and so it was a day by day event.   We spent part of each day out exploring the area and eating lunch somewhere differently each day.  In five days we had five different chowders.   We poked around  towns along the Oregon coast looking at what they had to offer and how they might fit with our retirement plans.   We always found ourselves back at the beach two or three more times daily besides my morning walk.  We planned our days around the tides.  We could not get enough time seaside.

One of the things we did was kite flying.   Neither of us had done it since we were kids.  The kinds of kites we flew were the paper kites with the wooden crosses and tails made of rags.    The area of  Oregon we were at  has lots of coastal winds. We splurged and bought a kite at the local kite store, nothing fancy, mind you.  We had no idea what to expect, so we did not go crazy, though the store had hundreds to choose from of many colors and designs.   Our new kite was a modern contraption made with ripstop nylon and a built in tail.   Our modern-style kite far exceeded our expectations.  Kite flying was one of those things that we only give ourselves permission to do when on holiday.   We live in an area of Montana with plenty of winds and even more open spaces, so you will likely find us flying our Oregon coast kite again in Montana. We won’t wait so long to fly a kite again.

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Life Truely Is What You Make of It

I work for a small  nonprofit and their finances are an open book.   The writing has been on the wall for some time, that it was highly likely that my hours would be cut.   This week it happened.   I am now working three-quarter time.   In spite of it all when it finally happened it sucked, at least it did for  a bit.   I am the age where I am working for retirement and loosing 25% of your income, well that isn’t good.

Now none of this was under my control.   Life was happening this way and nothing I was going to do could change this.   After sleeping on this for a couple of days I found one of my driving principles in life that I had somehow lost during all of this again.   Here it is: You can not change much of what happens in your life.   You can’t make someone like you, give you a job, buy your stuff or be happy.   The only thing you can control is how you react to life.

I like who I work for and I find my job/work interesting and satisfying.   I am lucky that even working 3/4 time I can meet all my financial obligations.   So bottom line unless I want to I don’t have to go out and find another job.   This change did mean though that I am going to likely need to postpone my target retirement date.  Woe is me.   Or maybe not.

Here lies my moment of enlightenment.  I was not suffering from a work cutback; I retired early.   Ok,  the caveat is that  I am  a part-time retiree, not full-time.   That may not sound so good, but listen to this and tell me if it does not sound pretty darn good.   I no longer work eight-hour days.    I work 7.5 hour days.    I no longer work five days a week.   I have every Friday off.   I have time for the lunch-time yoga on Monday.   I can take off on Friday and get things done that used take up my weekend.    I have time to cultivate friendships that I put on the back burner.   I have more time to cook because I  love to.   I have time to volunteer more.    I have time to spend being creative in my studio space.    I have time to make gifts for Christmas.    I feel like blogging, because I am no longer mentally spent at the end of the day. I have more time to bike, hike, read and anything else I decide to do.   I gained time every day and  have a day just to myself every seven days.   This is the first of many retiree Fridays.

Now what was that about a job cutback?