Saturday, December 28, 2013

Out With The Old

No, I haven't thrown out the spouse!  We're heading to the coast this weekend.  For the past several years we have gone to the Oregon coast for a few days after Christmas.  It's usually cold and wet and uncrowded, and we like watching the waves crash ashore from the comfort of an overheated beach-front hotel room.  This time of year the whales are migrating along the coast to the warmer waters in California and Mexico and there's always a chance that we'll spot one through the binoculars. 

Rain or shine we'll be walking the beach.  The spouse has a new toy, a metal detector.  He has visions of finding great treasure buried in the sand.   I am once again a stereotype, the metal detecting senior citizen!

This year we're meeting my college roommate and her husband at the coast.  I made lots of great memories with Beth when we were younger.  I'm looking forward to catching up with her and creating some new one.

The after-Christmas sales are calling.  I really don't need anything, but the factory outlet mall at the coast is an opportunity for Beth and I to have some quality bonding time over discounted fashions.  Before I leave home I need to make room in my overfilled closets for any new treasures and fashion finds.

Since I retired I have purged my wardrobe several times.  It has been difficult for me to let go of my professional wardrobe.  My head knows that I don't need, and will never wear, all those suits that are still hanging on padded hangers, but there's a little voice that says "what if..."  Little by little I'm letting go and replacing professional wear with fleece, cotton jersey, and denim.  I also have a new category of leisure wear to incorporate into my wardrobe, RV clothes.    Since our RV is small and has limited storage, RV clothes are those that are multipurpose and can be rolled up and packed into a small space...and still be marginally presentable.  I don't have a travel iron in the RV!

It's time for me to quit the delaying tactics and get busy.  How many pairs of high heeled black patent leather pumps does a retired senior need?  It's so hard to decide if I want to keep the wedges or the heels.  This is definitely a first world problem!

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Christmas 2013

I made a half-hearted attempt at decorating for Christmas.  I wrestled the tree out of its box and hung a few ornaments.  The tree is a little bare because I didn't bother getting down the ornaments from the high shelf in the garage…the 
easy-to-reach ones are good enough.  There's a wreath on the door and garland on the mantle.  That's enough Christmas to suit me.

We're not buying presents.  We don't need more stuff and neither do any of our family members.  When the opportunity presents itself, we'll pay for a fun activity or some other treat for our kids and grand kids.

Even though we're not the most festive house, I couldn't stop myself from baking.  I'm also struggling not to eat all those goodies I've prepared.  Tomorrow we will have traditional Christmas food…turkey, ham, stuffing, mashed potatoes, yams, and will eat leftovers for the rest of the week!

It will be quiet at Nana's this Christmas and I will count my blessings and be grateful for all the gifts I have been given this year.

Merry Christmas to all my cyber friends.  I wish you peace, joy and love.


Sunday, December 22, 2013

We Like to Write

I like to write.  My youngest granddaughter also likes to write.  When she was very small she would scribble on paper and demand that we read it back to her.  She couldn't understand why we couldn't read her scribbles.  Now that she is in first grade she has finally figured out the whole letter/sound system.  My daughter sent me the following paper that she wrote in her journal in school.

My Nana
I love my Nana because she has fun projects.
She visits fom Oregon.
We go to the park to play.
She helps me pick up my room.  She is awesome and cool.
My Nana loves me


Yep, I love her!  …and it's nice to know that I am awesome and cool!

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Catching Up

I've been absent from these pages for several months.  I took the summer off because the grandchildren stayed with us for six weeks,  and I didn't do anything but make memories with them. 

4th of July with the second cousins

Digging for fossils in Fossil

Breaking the rocks to find fossils

Trying on antique clothing in the museum in Fossil


We hiked up to the bridge at Multnomah Falls

Multnomah Falls

We spent a week camping on the Oregon Coast.

Crafts with Nana.
Scrambling for candy at the Umatilla County Fair Parade.

Umatilla County Fair

We learned about local agriculture at the Sage Center.  Moments after this  picture was taken Megan fell off the stool.

Hiking with Grandpa Paul at Hat Rock State Park.

 Then I took a long-term substitute assignment at our local high school for a teacher who had just had a baby.  I had forgotten how much work it was to work!  I had great students, but it was exhausting…my teaching skills were rusty.  I felt like a first year teacher.  It was surprising how much had changed in the few years I had been retired.  I spent every spare minute the first few weeks just learning about all the new technology I needed just to take attendance, keep grades, and manage electronic portfolios.  I was relieved when the 10 weeks ended.

If you leave your iPad unattended in the classroom, the students will take selfies, and...

take pictures of the teacher when she is not paying attention!

In a moment of weakness I agreed to contract with the Education Service District to write grants.  Once again I was reminded of how much had changed since I stepped out of public education.  I am enjoying working with the local school districts on the grants, but it has required a lot of study time to get up to speed on the latest rules and regulations.  By the time I have written a grant application, it feels like I have used up my quota of words and have none left over for my blog.

Writing for me is a little like exercise.  I can skip a day here and there, and then before I know it, I haven't exercised for months.  I need to write regularly and, unfortunately, I've let myself fall out of the habit.   

Now I'm going to make the effort to write here more regularly.  It's good to be back.  

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Nana Camp 2013

My grandchildren and their parents arrived this evening.  My daughter and son-in-law will be here until Saturday, after that the grandchildren will be all mine for five weeks!  Well, I guess I have to share them with the spouse, and he's good for doing those tasks that Nana doesn't really enjoy, like baiting fishing hooks and driving the RV.  I don't mind going fishing, I just don't like to fish.  I'm fine sitting under a tree or lounging on the boat with my book.  In reality, there's not much fishing going on when the grandchildren are involved.  The spouse spends a lot of time untangling their lines and baiting their hooks.

This week while their parents are here the girls are sleeping on a blow-up mattress in the tiny bedroom we use for an office.  It is also the bedroom has my closet.  I was helping the girls get their bed made and Hunter was poking around the room.

"Nana, you have beautiful shoes." she says as she explores my closet and holds  up a pair of shiny gold flats.  "You should wear these tomorrow.  They are gorgeous!"

It's going to be great having a six year old around.  It will do wonders for my self esteem.   I'm the one with gorgeous shoes!

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Hear This!

Our original plan was for the spouse to retire at the end of June, but then he didn't get around to registering for medicare and now he needs to maintain his employer provided health insurance until medicare kicks in. His employer asked only that he let them know a few weeks before he wants to go.   They've been planning for this transition for a while now.  His medicare card showed up in the mail today, so I imagine that he will be retiring in the next few weeks.   In preparation for this major change in our income and lifestyle I decided to take advantage of our double coverage while I still had it and made appointments to get all systems checked.  I've been to the doctor, dentist, and hearing specialist. 

I came home from today's appointment and saw that my copy of the AARP magazine had been delivered.  Today I was fitted for hearing aids.  I guess I can't deny it any longer...I am a stereotype; Nana is a senior citizen! 

I didn't realize I had a hearing loss.  I had noticed that I was asking the spouse to repeat what he said, but he mumbles.  Come to think of it, a lot of people mumble.  I knew that I leaned in hear conversations, but there was background noise.  I sometimes heard words, but didn't understand what was said.  The hearing test showed that there was substantial loss at certain frequencies.  I think that I still didn't really believe that I was hearing impaired.

Today the technician inserted the aids in my ears, and I was stunned at the difference in my hearing. After calibration of the aids, I can best describe my hearing as crisp.  I can hear every syllable and understand every word.  Until the moment that the hearing aid was turned on, I didn't really believe I had a hearing problem.  Now I'm a believer and I'm grateful that the problem can be remediated.

I am embracing my new role as a senior. I'm rocking these hearing aids.  Maybe I'll shop the yard sales this weekend for a cane.  I'm not ready to accessorize this role with a walker, but a cane could be a fashion statement!

Sunday, June 16, 2013

Happy Father's Day Dad

Gordon Rayner, my dad

In May I flew to San Diego to celebrate my dad's 86th birthday.  We had a great time visiting museums and going out to eat, but the highlight of the trip was sitting down with my dad and going through old family photographs.  My dad has a terrific memory and more often than not, he could identify the mystery people in the old photos.  The photos also dredged up long forgotten memories and wonderful stories. 

My dad has had an interesting life.  Although he left school in England at 13, he is one of the most intelligent and educated people that I know.  Before we immigrated from England to the United States, he worked at Kodak.  When we settled in California, he worked in "the industry."  The industry in the Los Angeles area is the movie industry.  For most of my early childhood he was an assistant cameraman and worked doing special effects.  Later he was a cameraman and then became a member of the Director's Guild.  He filmed a lot of commercials, television and movies.  I don't remember being especially impressed with his job when I was a kid.  However, I did like that when he was filming commercials the leftover product often wound up at our house.  Back in the days of black and white television, they used to film the products with black and white labels so that the contrast was clearly defined and the label easily read.   I remember having cans of spray on deodorant with black and white labels for years.  My dad filmed the Pillsbury commercials with the Pillsbury Doughboy...and we had a refrigerator filled with Pillsbury slice and bake Christmas cookies.  Score!    

I will eventually write about some of the photos and stories my dad told about our family and his  work, but today I'm just going to share some old photos of my dad.

My dad and I, taken in England in 1951

 Not sure when this photo was taken, but he sure looks young and must be before he married and had children.

As I mentioned, my dad worked in the movie industry.  He was  a cameraman on a Zenith television commercial and, since he had served in the Royal Air Force, he was asked to show the actors in the casting call how to present arms.  The English apparently do it differently than the Americans.  None of the actors could get it right.  My dad wound up acting in the commercial.  For years we would see him on TV playing a guard in front of Buckingham Palace. 

 Have you noticed how well dressed people are in old photos?  In most of the early photos I have of my dad, he is wearing a tie.  This is one of my favorites of my dad and his brother (my Uncle Colin) taken in the driveway of my childhood home.  Don't they look like they could be from the cast of The Book of Mormon?
On my wedding day my dad put a "tuppence" in my shoe for good luck before we left home for the church.
Happy Father's Day Dad.  I love you!
My brother Leigh, my Dad, me taken last summer in San Diego

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

WTF Wednesday: Yard Sales

WTF Wednesday is a semi-regular feature of this blog. It documents the things that have made me pause, slap my forehead and say "What the f**k!" Well, that and I just like saying WTF. I'm retired. I don't have to watch what I say anymore. I'm not any one's role model.

Yard sale season starts in Hermiston about the same time that gardeners decide that the danger of frost has passed.  In late April telephone poles sprouted neon colored yard sale signs and Pampers boxes with directional arrows  began appearing on street corners.  Last weekend there were more than a dozen sales listed in the Nickel Ads and I spent Friday morning searching for items on the list for Nana Camp. 

Nana Camp is the highlight of our summer.  Our granddaughters come from Texas to stay with us and we indulge their every whim.  We camp, we fish, we garden, we cook, we schlep them to swimming lessons...we spoil them rotten.  We love it.

This year they put in a request for scooters.  So Nana has been trooping through the yard sale offerings on the look out for scooters, and for bikes, a play kitchen, art supplies...and anything that looks like it might be fun.  Yes, I could just head to Walmart and pick up everything on the list, but where's the challenge in that option?

Last weekend I finally scored.  I found two razor scooters for $5.00 each, and at a sale down the road I found a vintage red scooter for $2.00 that the spouse suggested Nana could use to scoot up the driveway to get the mail.

There are a few things on the list that I am still searching for, so I will head out exploring once again this weekend.

You never know what you will find.  I didn't know Nana Camp needed a plasma ball until I found one for $2.00.

Then there's the stuff that makes you slap your forehead and say "WTF?"

This is what I found at a yard sale last weekend:

No, I didn't buy it!!!

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

I'm a Survivor

Reflections on Completing the A to Z Challenge, April 2013

This was the first year that I participated in the A to Z Challenge and like most things in life, it involved both pleasure and a little pain.  As a retired person I thought I had left stress behind me, but the Challenge changed that.   As a follower  of rules,  I felt pressure to write something for each of the assigned letters.   I am pleased with myself for following through and with one exception, getting all the posts done.  (I still haven't written anything for K...WTF?  Nothing interesting starts with K.)

I'm already thinking about what I will do differently for next year.  I will probably start a little earlier and pre-write some posts instead of dredging up drivel at the last possible moment.  I will try and write a little less about my adorable granddaughters.    I will try to remember that not everyone is enchanted by children...even when they are as cute as my granddaughters!  At this point I fully intend to write down good alphabet ideas as I think of them throughout the year.  We'll see how long that lasts.

The Challenge forced me out of my usual blog zone.  I ventured into neighborhoods that I hadn't previously visited.  I even signed up to follow a few of those blogs in foreign territory.  My usual blogging buddies are a pretty tight group.  We seem to follow a lot of the same blogs and have a lot in common.  Out in the other neighborhoods, that isn't so true.  I have to admit that I was surprised at some of the blogs.  There are a lot of talented, creative writers, but there is also a lot of crap.  I think I waded through a lot of drivel before finding a few gems.  Not long ago I was looking at a book about blogging and one of the pieces of advice was "Nobody cares what you had for lunch."  After reading a few less than notable posts I would add, nor do we care about your gerbils, your shopping with coupons, or the dream you had last night.  And, I say this as a blogger who writes way too much about her grandchildren.

I picked up a few followers and actually broke into triple digits, but I notice that on the blogs that I visited there were very few comments.  Was all the activity on the better known blogs? 

I'll do it again and I hope that the new cyber relationships I've found will continue to grow.

Many thanks to the organizers of this activity for all their work in keeping us going.  You are appreciated! 

Tuesday, April 30, 2013

A to Z Challenge: Z Is For Zebra

Is For Zebra

This is the final posting in the A to Z Challenge, and not a moment too soon.  I'm fresh out of ideas.   I'm looking forward to seeing what everyone else came up with for Z.  Luckily I had the following photos of my grandchildren, or I wouldn't have anything.

I could also have done G is for Giraffe

or E is for Elephant

or L is for Lion.

But, we're at the end of the alphabet so it has to be Z is for Zebra.

Monday, April 29, 2013

A to Z Challenge: Y Is For Youth

 Is For Youth and Their Future

Today is April 29 or 4/29, so it seems an appropriate day to talk about college 429 savings plans.

These are my grandchildren.

They are five and seven years old.  Megan will head to college in 2124 and Hunter two years later.  It is scarey to think about what college will cost by then.

When Megan was born I promised her mother that I would not shower her with gifts of toys and useless trinkets.  Instead, I fund a 429 Oregon College Savings Plan  for each of the girls.  (Well, I do, now and then, spoil them with gifts also.)  I opened the accounts when Hunter was born and a deposit is automatically deducted from my savings account every month.  In Oregon deposits to a 429 account are tax deductible on our state return up to $4,345. a year for joint returns.  Interest that the money generates is tax free if used for qualified higher education expenses.  When I first opened the accounts only $1200 a year was deductible, so that's what I've been depositing every year.  I checked the Oregon Savings Plan site and saw that amount has been increased, so I'll  probably increase my deposits.

I don't make a lot of money...heck I'm retired on a fixed income, but we're frugal and have no debt.  We live within our means.  We can afford to put a little aside each month for the future of our grandchildren.  So that's what we do.

I don't kid myself that we are saving enough to pay fully for their college, but every little bit will help,  and we take advantage of the tax savings to help us fund this. Year after year the deposits and the interest add up. 

Take time today to explore the 429 plans that are available in your state and others for the future of someone you love.  They'll thank you for it.

Saturday, April 27, 2013

A to Z Challenge: If X Marks The Spot, You Are Here

 You Are Here
One of many benefits of being retired is the ability to live in the here and now.  For years when I was working and raising a family, I always had too many things to do.  Even when I was attending an event or sitting in a meeting, my mind had moved on to all the other things that I had to do.  The X on a map may have showed that I was there, but mentally I had moved on.
As a young mother I attended my son's little league games, but many times I brought along work related reading material.  I was there, but not fully engaged. I know that now, but at the time I thought I was doing the best that I could to balance the demands of my work with family life.  The reality is that I short-changed the people that I love the most, my family.
The technology has improved greatly over the years and now parents can carry their work with them everywhere they go.  At any event that I attend, I see people with their fingers working the keys of their cell phones.  Instead of enjoying a performance live, audience members are busy recording it on their cell phones to post to Facebook. 
The ability to multi-task is a valuable skill, but there is also worth in offering your undivided attention.  The way to show staff, family or friends that they are important to you is to pay attention.  Show those you care about that they are important by focusing on them and what they have to say.  I think this is especially true for the children in your life.
My grandchildren are still small, but they are growing up quickly.  I know how fortunate I am to be able to spend time with them.  I am building relationships with them now, while they still like hanging out with me.  I hope that will carry us through the teenage years when I expect they won't be quite so eager to spend time with Nana.  When I'm with the girls I still carry a cell phone, but they are my priority...really, what is more important than grandchildren?


Friday, April 26, 2013

A to Z Challenge: W Is For When We Were Very Young

W Is For When We Were Very Young

Earlier this week I wrote about a treasured childhood book of poems, When We Were Very Young, by AA Milne.  That title popped into my head when I was searching for an appropriate W topic.  I thought I might share a little about my childhood and if I find some embarrassing pictures of my brother it will be a bonus! I'm going to visit him in California next week.  This week he is in Italy riding bicycles and there's not much chance he is reading my blog. 

Both my brother Leigh and I were born in England.  Here's a picture of us with some of our playmates.  Leigh is the one with his tongue out.  I am in the center.  Aren't we so very English?

Here is a picture of my brother and I on the ship that brought us to America.  Note that he is wearing a sailor suit.  He couldn't say his S's and called it his "dailor duit."  When we were growing up, every time a picture of him in the "dailor duit"  was shown, he had to hear that story.  Awww, precious!

Here we are at Knott's Berry Farm in 1959.  It's surprising that my brother didn't grow up to be a member of the Village People.  When we were very young he must have liked dressing up in costume.  (Sing along, you know you want to... It's fun to stay at the  YMCA...
spelling it out with your arms is optional.)

Earlier this year I visited my family in California and we went to a swap meet.  Here's my brother pointing out the quality merchandise that was available. 

And here we are with my dad at the ocean.  I never would have stood with him on a cliff when we were young; he would have pushed me over...and then told our parents that I started it!

I'm looking forward to seeing my family next week, even my brother!
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