Wednesday, August 31, 2011

WTF Wednesday: Nana Scores One For Feminists

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.

Our local newspaper is the East Oregonian. Last Friday they published an article on the front page about a "Pendleton girl" who is one of the few helicopter pilots in the army.  She will soon be deployed to Afghanistan.  This "girl" is 26 years old.

WTF????  Is that sexist language I see on the front page of the East Oregonian?

Yep, see for yourself below:

The headline is "Pendleton girl flies the big birds" and the article is titled "Adventure in Afghanistan."  Like flying a Medivac helicopter in a war zone is a ride at Disneyland!

WTF???  Where do they get off patronizing a highly trained professional woman?  So I wrote a letter to the editor.

To the editor:
In 2006 when the East Oregonian reported the death of Army Spc. Ryan D. Walker in Operation Iraqi Freedom, he was not referred to as a boy. Yet Ryan Walker was 25 when he died for his country, a full year younger than Amanda Charlton, who the East Oregonian refers to as a "Pendleton girl" on the cover of the August 26th paper.  Amanda Charlton is, according to the article, "one of the Army's few female helicopter pilots."   Amanda Charlton is not a "girl." She is a highly trained professional woman and to refer to her as a girl and not even list her military rank demeans her achievements. She is putting her life on the line just like all the military men who are deployed overseas. She deserves to be addressed by the rank she has earned and she deserves to not be patronized.

I realize that I run the risk of criticism that I am hypersensitive about political correctness, but the reality is that sexism still exists in our country and one of the biggest problem areas is our language.  Using the word "girl" in reference to an adult woman when the term "boy" is almost never used to refer to an adult male unless an insult is intended is a common example of sexist language.

Come on's 2011; you know better!

I emailed it to the editor Friday evening and he emailed me right back and said he completely agreed with me and had spoken to the person who had written the headline.  My letter was published in the Sunday paper.
Score one for feminism!

Friday, August 26, 2011

Nana Disproves The Theory That Pre-Planning For Yard Sale Shopping Is Beneficial

Fridays in the summer are prime time for yard sales.  This week, as temperatures hit the high 90s, the residents of Hermiston seemed to realize that the lazy, warm days of summer were almost over and they were losing their opportunities to hold an outside sale.  The Nickel Ads had column after column of yard sales listed.  This week I followed the spouse’s advice and made a list.  Last night I entered all the addresses into Google Maps, organized the sales by proximity, and printed out a detailed plan of attack for Friday morning.

My first stop was an estate sale.  I bought a pile of old towels to use for cleaning rags and a Field Guide to Western Birds.  I also called the spouse and told him he should stop by to see all the tools and man toys in the basement of this sale.  I moved on to the next sale on my list but later received a call from the spouse.  He was ecstatic.  He had bought every drill bit they had.  He found several old Stanley planers which he is sure are valuable (as if he’d ever sell them!)  He purchased several tools that he’s not quite sure what they’re used for…but he’s sure they’re good ones.  He also bought, wait for it…five chunks of lead and a giant plank of steel!!!  It really doesn’t take much to make him happy.  Later in the day I heard him talking on the phone to his brother and bragging about his great finds.  It’s fun for me to see him so giddy about shopping.  I know the feeling, but I usually get that way after Macy’s has a 50% off the sale price special on shoes.

I expected to find some real treasures today because I spent all that time organizing.  I think I shattered the spouse’s theory of the benefits of pre-planning.  I was even out the door before 8:00!  I wasn’t any more successful today than when I follow my usual practice of sleeping in and then late in the morning aimlessly driving around and looking for yard sale signs.    That’s what I’m going to do tomorrow.  It’s Saturday and there are more sales starting, but I’m not getting up early.

Saturday, August 20, 2011

Forty Years Ago Today

Earlier this week I read a lovely tribute that a blogging friend had written about her marriage on the occasion of her anniversary.  You can read it here.  Because I try to be open to the messages that the Universe sends me, I realized that it was a reminder that my own anniversary was approaching. 

The spouse and I have never been sentimental about our anniversary.  Most years we would forget all about it until the anniversary card from my mother would arrive in the mail.  She always decorated the envelopes with anniversary greetings and drawings of flowers, so the mailman always knew it was our anniversary before we did.  My mother died four years ago and now no one remembers, so it’s nice that the Universe has stepped up to prod my memory.   

Today the spouse and I have been married forty years.  Forty years!  I have been married for two-thirds of my life!  I’ve spend as much time married as Moses spent wandering in the desert!

The traditional fortieth anniversary gift is ruby.  I won’t be holding my breath waiting for that to arrive.

The spouse and I married in Granada Hills, California at the Catholic church that I had attended as a child.  I was Catholic by birth, meaning that my mother had made me attend church every Sunday and Catechism classes every Wednesday night until I escaped to college.  The spouse and I met with the priest the night before the wedding because the spouse was a heathen.  Since I had attended those Catechism classes every Wednesday, I knew that anyone who wasn’t Catholic was a heathen, but I loved him and wanted to marry him even though he was probably going to spend eternity in Limbo which, if I recall correctly, isn’t such a bad place except Jesus never hangs out there.   It’s definitely a D List location.

The wedding party gathered at the church the evening before the ceremony to rehearse.  The priest asked to meet with us alone for a few minutes in his study before the rehearsal.  He asked the spouse, “Do you commit to raising your children Catholic?”   …and there was an uncomfortable silence in the room until I jumped in with “I thought the Vatican changed the rules and didn’t require non-Catholics to agree to that?”  And five minutes before our families were scheduled to join us at the rehearsal the priest says, “Then I don’t think I can marry you in good conscience.”  Do they learn those blackmail techniques in priest school?  The spouse and I sign that we will raise our yet to be conceived children Catholic.

On August 21, 1971 we married in a small ceremony in front of friends and family.  The priest wore Kelly green socks and sandals under his long flowing vestments and the wedding party got a case of the giggles when the priest pulled out a plastic squeeze bottle of holy water and spritzed the rings held out by our best man.  Perhaps he was warding off demons.   
At our meeting the night before the priest had told us that it wouldn’t be appropriate for us to kiss at the end of the marriage ceremony.  We did it anyway, so between that and not raising our children Catholic, I’m probably joining my life partner in Limbo.  We marched out of the church to the organ playing the tune made famous by the Carpenters in a bank commercial, “We’ve Only Just Begun.”  Grab the Kleenex and click the link below...

I dug out my wedding album this evening to look for a picture to accompany this post.  I hadn’t looked at the pictures in years.  We were all so young and all the men had so much hair!  It is hard to believe that forty years have gone by so quickly.  Forty years, two children, two grandchildren and a lifetime of memories and it still feels like we’ve only just begun.

Monday, August 15, 2011

Nana Likes Sudoku

I like doing Sudoku puzzles.  My local newspaper publishes a puzzle daily.  I always finish reading the paper by doing the puzzle.  While I was in Texas for three weeks last month visiting my grandchildren, the spouse saved all the local papers for me.  When I got home I scanned through every issue to get caught up on the local news, but mostly to cut out the daily Sudoku puzzle.  My son commented, “You know, Mom, you can buy a whole book of those puzzles for $1.00 at the Dollar Store.”  Yeah, I know, but there’s something in my frugal nature that finds satisfaction in getting those puzzles for free.

Our local paper publishes three different levels of puzzles: bronze, silver, gold.  The bronze are too easy and the gold are occasionally difficult.  The silver are, as Goldilocks would say, just right.  They are challenging without being frustrating.

I don’t know what it is about Sudoku that appeals to me.  They really are a mindless activity.  If you are systematic in working through the puzzle, it is unusual to not find the solution…and that might be exactly what speaks to me.  Sudoku are governed by a set of rules and if you follow the rules, the outcome is predictable.  The numbers all line up, everything is in its correct place.  There are no gray areas.

Life doesn’t have those same rules.  Oh, there are rules that we’re taught and live by, but the outcomes aren’t guaranteed.  We tell our children to study hard and go to college so they can get a good job, and now we’ve got 10% unemployment and a lot of those kids who studied hard and went to college are now unemployed or under-employed and burdened with student loans.  We tell people to work hard and save money and then they can enjoy their golden years and now we’re rolling back pension promises and reducing Medicare. 

I know, I know…there are no guarantees.  But every time I see a job go to an insider rather than a highly qualified outsider, or a criminal get off without consequences, or children going without medical or dental care,  I wonder what has happened to the rules that govern our society. 

I like Sudoku.  It’s predictable.  You follow the rules and reach success.  I just wish life were a little more like Sudoku.

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Regrets, Nana Has a Few

In my last post I wrote about ten things that I had done right to prepare for retirement.  Today I address the things that I would do differently.

Plan:  I made the decision to retire quite suddenly.  Although I was eligible for full retirement, I didn’t have an exit plan in place.  I made the decision to retire when I lost total respect for the people I worked for and it became too difficult to continue to pretend that everything was okay.  Granted there was talk of changes to the actuarial tables that would have impacted the amount of my monthly benefits, but for me it was an emotional, not reasoned,  thought process that led to my decision.  Other bloggers have related accounts of their retirement plans; all in all I think that it is probably wiser to devise an exit strategy at least six months before a retirement date.

Take full advantage of employment related benefits:  There were benefits that I received as an employee that are not available to me in retirement.  Before retirement I should have had all my dental work done since my post-retirement plan does not include dental.  Six months before your final retirement date, get in to see your dentist and doctor and get EVERYTHING checked and fixed.  Because I retired with only 30 days notice, I didn’t have time to get an appointment with my dentist and get a few things fixed before my insurance expired.  My employer also offered an Employee Assistance Program that offered, among other things, free access to counseling.  Heck, it was free.  I should have taken the three free counseling sessions and had some assistance coming up with a post-retirement plan.

Start saving for retirement sooner:  I had retirement savings, but they took a big, well really gigantic, loss in the stock market crash a few years ago.  They are starting to recover but I wish I had more in savings to supplement my income from my pension and future social security income.  When I was younger I didn’t think about retirement.  Had I listened to advice and acted on it, I would have a lot more money in the bank.

Decide where and how you want to live in retirement and act on it before you retire:  If I were buying a house to live in for retirement, I wouldn’t buy the house I now live in.  If, for example, the spouse or I had to use a wheelchair, my current house is not fully accessible.  Although it is all on one level, there are stairs at both the front door and rear that would make getting in the house a challenge.  There is nothing that stops us from downsizing now, but  my sense is that it would have been easier to secure funding (and pay it off) while we were both still working.

Get a hobby or a plan for staying active:  The first few months of my retirement were a challenge for me.  After the retirement trip to Hawaii and cleaning out my long neglected garage, I had no plan for what to do with my days.  I am still envious of the people with well thought out retirement plans that include a bucket list of activities.  I’m still fumbling around doing whatever pleases me at the moment.  There’s nothing that stops me from creating a plan now, other than I’m quite happy doing nothing.  Unfortunately, there’s a little voice inside me that isn’t happy about my slothful behavior.

Build relationships with other retired people:  When I retired my friends were all still working.  It is only now, two and a half years later, that I am starting to build relationships with other retirees…and that is a challenge for a recluse!  I’m comfortable going to a matinee or shopping by myself and it is a pleasure to do these things during the week when they aren’t crowded, but it is also fun to have a friend along.   

Make a commitment to exercise:  Remember these are things that I wish I had done, not things that I did!  I have the time now so there are no excuses (except it’s really hot today.)  Commit to exercise several times a week.  There are days that I realize I didn’t leave the house…I should at least be walking or riding my bike a half an hour a day.

I wish I were one of those people who lives life without regret.  I’m packing around a boatload of regrets.  Sometimes it’s easy to fix…I can return that sweater that made my daughter comment, “Mom, what were you thinking!”  Sometimes it’s a missed opportunity that might never come my way again.  I may be piddling away my retirement years, but I don’t regret the decision to retire. 
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