Friday, May 14, 2021

Invited to a Campsite



Today I ran into one of my neighbors on my way home from swimming and sunbathing at the lake.  She told me that she has a campsite reserved nearby, and invited me to visit.  I put it on my calendar.  I am so excited!  I plan to bring my bicycle, as it's near one of my favorite bike paths.   The views are glorious, especially at sunset.  She has a fantastic camper with pop-ups.  Being outside is a great way to socialize.  I still wear a mask, but am looking forward to the adventure.

I have never been camping, but I did visit another friend of mine at her campsite once, in Lake Tahoe.  It was so much fun!  She's from Australia, and was staying there in a tent, with her son.  I remember cooking over an open fire.  Being outdoors is such a part of the Aussie  lifestyle.  It's part of mine, too.  Lake Tahoe is an exquisite location.  We were doing "Sugar Babies" together there at  the time, at Harrah's.  

Being up at the cabin feels like glamping.  I see trees everywhere, from all the windows.  The air is fragrant with pines and lilacs, and the birds are singing.  For me, having a kitchen, bathtub, and sauna makes it very comfortable and luxurious.  Now that's it's warmer, we can walk to the lake and take a swim.  The air mattress is getting regular use, the sunscreen that smells of delicious honey is slathered on, and I even started soaking in the jacuzzi.  The jets are powerful,  and the heat feels fabulous!  I just love the lazy days of late spring and summer.  

Have you been enjoying any warm weather where you are?  

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Monday, May 10, 2021

Met a PCT Hiker Today

 


Today while I was running Lula alongside my bicycle on the Walkydog, I ran into a smiling, radiant woman wearing a hat.  She was walking a cinnamon colored dashhound mix.  The dog had long hair, and an intelligent, expressive face.  She told me that she is sixty, and is hiking the Pacific Crest Trail!  (For those who don't know, the PCT runs all the way from Mexico to Canada.) It takes months to complete.  She is doing it solo.  

I was so impressed,  That's something that I've always imagined doing.  I told her that I'd read all the books about it, and really admired her.  I asked her if she was scared.  "No," she replied.  "I  just stay aware as I do when going to the grocery store at night."  I asked her if she had done a lot of camping, and she nodded.   

I commented that she looked very stylish for a hiker.  They are usually dusty, and lugging these huge backpacks.  She laughed and told me that the woman who owns the cabin where she is staying let her shower, do laundry, and that she also lent her some clothes.  Her eyes were flashing with joy and adventure.  I could see that she was very spiritual.

A little further down the road I ran into one of my neighbors who was out on a walk.  I asked her how she was enjoying her retirement.  She answered  that she had just returned from driving from the West coast to the East coast on her own, staying with different friends along the way.  I smiled, nodded, and told her that she looked very happy and jazzed.  I think we all love adventure.  These women both enjoy their own company.  We are all exploring new ways of traveling.

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Friday, May 7, 2021

Loving the Garden

 


This is one of my favorite times of year in the  garden.  The soil has warmed up, the flowers are fragrant and blooming, and the trees have leafed out and become green.

Yesterday I planted a six flat of red poppies, and placed a young artichoke plant in the front yard.  They are such conversation starters...and need plenty of space to expand.  

The citrus trees have developed tiny green fruit on them.  The rhubarb is nearly ready to harvest.  I love how all of the disciplined work comes together.  The watering, pruning, weeding, composting, and mulching all combine to make a healthy, robust plant.  Rich, black soil is key.  All of my fruit and vegetables scraps break down in the compost pile over the winter to be returned into the earth.

The longer you have a garden, the more synthesized and robust it becomes.  Sometimes competition makes the plants become stronger.  Today I'm digging up some of my larger plants to divide and share with my neighbors.  Many of them were from cuttings that were given to me from ladies in this area when I first bought my cottage.

How is your garden doing?

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Monday, May 3, 2021

Resting When You're Tired

 


Today I am feeling a bit exhausted.  We just finalized the agreements of my father's trust.  That's a relief.  I mailed the contract this morning at the post office.  After that, I spent a lot of time pulling weeds. then took Lula for a gorgeous bike ride early this afternoon.  The lilacs are all in bloom.  I love the different shades that people have planted: white, a deep purple, lavender, and pink.  Their intoxicating  fragrance lifts my spirits.  I picked some from my garden early this morning, and placed them in a vase of water.  I have been carrying them around with me all day.  The flowers are so petite and sweet.  The older I get, the more I appreciate the fragrance and energy of homegrown flowers from the garden.

I have been reading a book about seniors who live in their RV's.  It's very sad.  I think that's part of why I felt so drained of energy this afternoon.  Their plight makes me cry.  It makes me more grateful than ever to have a home, and more determined to keep up with my chores and responsibilities.  

Many of the people the author interviewed seem to have a refusal to follow rules and will do anything to avoid paying taxes.  I feel like California is one of the most comfortable and beautiful parts of the world, and am happy to pay my taxes.  I want to contribute to keeping the roads, bridges, and schools running.  

It's sad to hear how many of these people lost their homes and retirement savings.  I closed my dance studio during the recession, and my emergency plan was to sell my cottage and move to someplace cheap, like Nebraska.  I knew I could buy a small, older home for $20,000. there.  To me that would have been far less expensive than driving a gas guzzling RV, and I was always able to find work as a ballet and yoga teacher.  

I will try to finish this book tonight; it's a difficult  read.  It's taught me a lot about squatters and has  been eye opening.  I have had several people here try to use my forested property as public land.  It took some action and firmness to stop them.  Reading about this group of people has made me see that many of the drifters will look for opportunities to store their vehicles and those of their friends if you don't watch them closely.  

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Friday, April 30, 2021

Day Trips

 


Day trips are a great way to feel like you've had a vacation while still saving money.  If you live fairly close to the beach or a lake, it can be a relaxing getaway that is still close to home.  Lula and I love to jump in the car and head off to the beach.  PCH has some scenic bike trails, (some right near the sand,) that are completely free from cars.

The dogs that we've met there are well socialized, calm,  and happy.  Everyone follows the leash law.  You can tell by the pets' body language that they don't have any aggression issues.  Canines at the beach always seem to be relaxed and smiling, like their owners.  We often stop and chat; everyone is so friendly.   I get a lot of questions about Lula's Walkydog.  It makes it so easy to ride her alongside me on the bicycle.  The bar keeps her stable  at my side.  It's safer than a leash; I can keep both hands firmly on the handlebars.

It's quick and easy to pack plenty of water, a lunch, dog biscuits for Lula, and fruit and dessert for me.   A sun hat, sheet, towel, and sunscreen are all that I need to toss into the beach bag.  

Parking is often free, and I can lock up the bike if we want to dip our toes in the water.  Watching the surfers is so entertaining.   They are still wearing wet suits.  They are in top physical condition,  I am amazed at how calm they are.  Yesterday we saw a lone paddle boarder and just one  man in a kayak.  The paddle boarder was surfing, and he was one of the best out there.  I feel in awe of their balance and control.  One was a complete master; he looked older than the others.  He was walking on his surfboard on the water!

It's exciting to be out in the sunshine again.  Summer is one of my favorite times of year.  How about you?

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Tuesday, April 27, 2021

Where Did Your Grandmothers Live When They Were Older?

 My father told me that during the Great Depression, his grandmother came to live with them in San Francisco.   They had a beautiful home  on Taraval Street, in West Portal.  The poor woman had run out of money. 

 His parents slept in the master bedroom, his sisters shared the back room, and my dad had to sleep in the middle room with his grandmother.  He was a little boy, and he didn't like it.  "She smelled like Ben Gay," he told me.   "And she snored," he added.  I giggled.  I guess many  older people come off as unappealing to young children.  We don't realize that we will be in their shoes someday.

She would stay four months with my dad's family, then go for four months with another one of her children, and spend the remainder of the year with her third child.  They took turns taking care of her.  Her husband had died, and she didn't have the means to live on her own.  There was no assisted living in those days.

It's important to look at our family history with money and retirement.  We can learn so much from the past.  Do you know what happened to your parents' grandparents?

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Sunday, April 25, 2021

Planning For Old Age

 


This morning I talked on the phone  with my friend about our financial plans for retirement.  We discussed how much income we will have, where we will live, what housing and living expenses will cost, and other subjects.

It is so important not to let retirement sneak up on you!  I can't tell you how many of my dancer friends have had to have unexpected surgeries at around the age of fifty.  None of us had purchased disability insurance.  (which is very expensive.)  When you are self employed, if you can't work, you don't get paid.  No one thinks that they are going to be the one on the operating table, but it is highly common.

I never imagined that I would be having my hips replaced at age fifty.  Fortunately, I had six months of living expenses in my savings account.  I also had a large stockpile of food, a productive garden and orchard, and a paid off home.  Many others aren't so lucky.  

It's wise to rehearse for your retirement.  Practice living on the amount of money that you anticipate receiving.   Factor in for inflation.  That surprises many people.  How long will your car last?  Will you need to replace it?  Can you walk or bicycle places so that you aren't wasting trips?   Keeping your mileage low really saves money.  Older cars are much cheaper to insure and register.

Will your home need a new roof?  How about your appliances?  How old is you water heater?  Do you have mature trees that need trimming?  All of these costs can sink a budget, if you haven't planned for them in advance.

I personally think an older person should have five years worth of living expenses in savings.  If there's a downturn in the market, you can pull on that cash and not lose a huge percentage of your principal.  

It's helpful to keep track of your net worth.  You can check your home's value on Zillow or Realtor.com.  If you add up the totals on what you have, you can get a visual picture of whether or not you are headed in the right direction.  Planning is everything.  Just getting started is the main thing.  

How does your future look?  Do you feel confident and optimistic about the old lady or man that you will become?  Will that person be secure and comfortable?

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