Wednesday, September 14, 2022

Getting Organized

 


Today I went to the DMV (Department of Motor Vehicles, for those of you not in America.)  I needed to update the registration on the car that belonged to my dad before he died.  I didn't realize that it had expired.  He had paid it the month that he died, and then time just flew by with Covid.  The DMV was closed when I first tried to fix the issue.  I wasn't able to resolve it online.

Anyway, to make a long story short, I had to write them a check for $1,300.00 to pay for the back fees.  My brother had transferred the title to me, but because of a glitch, it was showing up in the computer as still belonging to the trust.  An expensive lesson learned.  


I switched my health insurance up to the mountains, because it is one hundred dollars cheaper each month that way.  I also changed my address on my car registration and driver's license.  I hadn't been able to do part of that online, either.  What a relief to have it all completed.  My car passed the smog test, so that was another item ticked off of the list.

I was impressed with the new equipment at the DMV.  They have booths for you to punch in your information for any changes or updates to your license.  It's very efficient and easy to use.  I already had gotten a Real i.d.  Those are needed for travel in the US in 2023.  

I finished my socks.  They fit perfectly, and I have been getting a lot of use out of them.  I am working on another pair with Noro sock yarn.  The photo at the top is of my friend Patrick and I.  I went to see him in the Broadway touring company of The Prom.  He had a huge role, and was marvelous.  I was so proud of him.  We enjoyed catching up over lunch outside at The Music Center.  We shared a delicious piece of chocolate cake for dessert.  

How about you?  What's new and exciting?

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Tuesday, September 6, 2022

Leaf Litter and Butterflies

 


The other day, one of my neighbors stopped by as I was sipping coffee near my roses, and asked me about my trees.  He said that the fire department had issued him a notice.   He raked up his yard, and now his pine trees are dying.  I nodded in agreement.  This is happening all over California.  We have been experiencing raging forest fires, and are in the midst of a drought.  

I explained that we are allowed to have some mulch on the ground.  We have to keep our weeds trimmed below four inches, but when bare soil is bone dry, it becomes hard as a rock and can't absorb the water.  

Today I watched a documentary explaining how native plants help butterflies produce.  That's part of the reason why my land is so productive.  It is filled with lilacs, oak trees, and bright red Indian paintbrush wildflowers.  The tiny hummingbirds flit from flower to flower, soaking up the nectar.   My land is filled with them.  I let the seeds dry on the stems, and then spread them each September.  The soil remains undisturbed, except for the wildlife.  I stay on my path when walking up and down the mountain with friends,  neighbors or my dogs. 

This afternoon I harvested the coffee berries.  They are a flavorful fruit that resembles a blueberry.  The taste is almost like licorice.  They contain seeds, like a Concord grape.  They start out green, turn red, and then become almost black.  The plants were here when I bought the cabin, and are native to the area.  

So, as the ecosystem hums along, without sprays or chemicals, people feel the buzz of life as they walk by; everyone who visits comments on the trees. They look up in amazement.  Trees are life, and oaks are spectacular.  My dad taught me that you can't put a price on mature trees in a neighborhood.  

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Wednesday, August 24, 2022

Back to Knitting Socks

 


I have been knitting another pair of socks with my favorite sock yarn, Austermann.  I love these colors.  I have just finished the heel on the second sock, and should have the pair completed by tomorrow.  I am planning on finishing another sweater, too.

Today I got some support on the phone from Lenovo.  I have an Ideapad that I purchased from them at Costco.  For some reason, my camera app disappeared.  I tried a few techniques from Youtube, then called the help line.  I wasn't able to figure out where it went, but the technician who assisted me was superb.  

I gave her my serial number, and she went into the system and quickly started pushing buttons.  In a minute of two, I saw my reflection on the screen.  I looked amazed and happier than I can ever remember. "You're a genius! I praised her.  "And such a good teacher."  Computers can seem so complex at times.  I thanked her profusely and wrote her an excellent review.

Now I will be able to attend my next Zoom meeting.  I love Zoom.  What have you been up to lately?

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Wednesday, August 10, 2022

A Happy and Healthy Coyote

 


I have seen a few coyotes in my yard.  They look and act almost playful.  I think they are getting plenty to eat.  I love having a wildlife habitat in my front and backyard.  One skipped down my steps, and returned a few minutes later with a limp squirrel hanging out of his mouth.   There are nearby lakes and streams that still have water.  

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Sunday, July 31, 2022

Hiking and Mountain Biking During Retirement

 


Having a regular exercise routine when you are retired is an important part of staying fit.  Health is key at any age.   I enjoy running my dogs along my bike on the Walkydog.  They look forward the daily exertion, and I enjoy the fresh mountain air, the gorgeous scenery, and an intense cardio workout.


Cooking and preparing your own meals goes a long way in fighting inflation and saving money.  Although I enjoy eating out when I travel, the rest of the year I save money by buying what's on sale at the grocery store, eating foods that are in season, and baking desserts when the weather permits.  Right now it's been too hot, but fresh pineapple, watermelon and sorbet are delicious substitutes.


I love these old cabins, their rustic fencing, and the wooden signs.  It all reminds me of how California used to be.  Things were simpler then; cars and homes were smaller, and people enjoyed spending time outside, doing chores.

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Sunday, July 24, 2022

A Bear Has Been Visiting

 


This morning as I was drinking my coffee,  I looked over the security footage from my cameras.   I noticed several paper plates piled in my parking area, and decided to reverse the tape.  I thought someone had littered as they drove by...no.  As I studied the playback, a very large bear came ambling into the area where I get in and out of my vehicle every day.  

He carried a bag of trash in his mouth from one of the neighbor's homes.   I don't keep any outside garbage in Wrightwood, for this reason.  He tore open the plastic, and started to munch.  As you can see, he is very large and healthy.

A car drove past and turned around at the end of our cul de sac.  The lights from the vehicle seemed to make him nervous.  He left the remnants and ambled down towards my cabin.


I think he's kind of funny.  I had just watered those roses early in the morning.  I have made an effort to keep my land very natural and pleasant for the wildlife.  I didn't realize how much use it was getting.  Bears eat grasses and berries.  They also like acorns, (which are plentiful on my land,) and they will eat bugs and predator animals.  This was an amazing surprise.

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Friday, July 22, 2022

Discussing Your Retirement with a Financial Planner

 


Yesterday I had a phone appointment with one of the brokers at my brokerage firm.  He had mentioned that a financial plan is included with the account, so I decided to take him up on his offer.  Everything I read online said that there would be a fee, so I made sure to get it in writing.  He assured me there would be no charge. 

He asked me some interesting questions.   I think they would be helpful to anyone. 

 Do I have any debt?  How much do I pay for health insurance?  Do I have Long Term Care Insurance?  How old is my car?  Will I need to budget for a new one?  How is my roof?  (Fortunately, I replaced it recently, as well as the original windows.) 

I gave him the basic numbers of my budget.  We discussed when I would take Social Security.  Although I had planned to wait until I am seventy, I decided to take it earlier, following my dad's advice.   He invested the money himself and made far more than 8%.  I think I could do the same thing, based on what my stocks are now averaging.   I manage the portfolio myself, and I enjoy the challenge.  

He asked about my health.  My dad lived to be 88, so he came out ahead, even taking Social Security when he did.  My mom didn't live nearly as long, so it was also better for her to take Social Security as soon as she was eligible.  How long we think we will live is a big factor.  We just never know.

I really enjoyed the meeting.  We will have a follow up Zoom session next month.  He praised me for handling my property and legal matters without paying a lawyer.  Being self-employed prepared me for a lot of those issues.   I also am glad that I had my hips replaced when I was fifty. 

Have you consulted a financial planner on your retirement plans?  How was your experience?

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Tuesday, July 19, 2022

Invited to Another Lovely Party

 


On Saturday I attended a fantastic party for a Broadway conductor that I worked with when I was twenty-two.  His wife and I were in the chorus together.  We got back in touch on Facebook, and they have invited me over to their gorgeous home on a couple of occasions.   I just love going over there; I always have such a fun time. 

I went around and took photos.  Everyone looks so happy.  My friend was thrilled when I sent them to her.   She said that I had gotten better ones than she had taken with her phone.  I wanted to contribute something to their gorgeous party.  I brought a bottle of wine and a bar of goat's milk soap, (with a birthday card.)


They had a delicious taco bar.  It was amazing!  I told the chef that it was the best Mexican food that I had ever tasted.  There were so many wonderful, artistic people there.  Conversations were rich and educational. 


My life in retirement has become much more social.  I enjoy meeting new people and talking with them.  I think traveling has taught me how to start conversations and interact with people I don't know.  This was a terrific group of artists.  

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Wednesday, July 13, 2022

Your Lifestyle in Retirement

 


I have been surprised at how different my daily routine is in my late fifties, compared to when I was a busy dancer in show business, and later, as an enthusiastic dance and yoga teacher.  Work was my life.  I thought I would be teaching students donned in a leotard and tights into my late seventies.  


How wrong I was.  Two replaced hips later, that chapter is in my past.  Fast forward to now: I never dreamed that I would be traveling as much as I do, enjoying cruises and hotels, and spending a large amount of my time taking care of my investments.  A great deal of my energy goes into the home: scheduling repairs, cleaning, cooking and food shopping.  Those things I took for granted as a young artist, but now I find they take more energy.  They are still my foundation and a top priority.  My mother always taught me to take care of my house and animals, and my father kept a close eye on his stocks.  


The trees and garden are very dear to me, and keeping up on both is on the schedule at least three times a week.  My neighbor told me that before I bought the cabin, he would look up at my land and saw that the pines and oaks were turning yellow.  A huge number of those sick trees had to be removed, due to a bark beetle.  "Now the trees are green," he mused.  That gave me a relieved feeling of satisfaction.  I sense that they like the extra space, the natural layer of mulch, and the consistent watering schedule.  Also, they know that they are my babies.  The wildlife greatly enjoy and use this corridor, as well.  I keep it as natural as possible.  

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