Monday is Labor Day in the U.S. and many folks will have the day off. Since I’m retired, I always have the day “off” but because it coincidentally has been about 30 days since my retirement it’s an auspicious time to reflect on my new lifestyle.
When I was working, I’d get up at 6:30. Now, I typically get up around 8:30 and catch the end of “Good Morning America” while having breakfast. Also, the first half hour of “Kelly and Michael” since I’m in no rush to be anywhere… 😉
Although at home I have access to all my coffees and coffee brewers, so far I’m following my “work” coffee routine. During the week, I use the four cup coffeemaker I had at work and “good” coffee (currently Peruvian). Sometimes, I’ll use the French press when I want a stronger brew. During the weekends, I use my moka pot and “premium” coffee (currently organic Ethiopian whole bean) or a “ready to brew” espresso grind (such as Cafe Bustelo) when I don’t feel like grinding the Ethiopian.
After breakfast, I’ll get in about 45 minutes of yard work if needed. Since there’s been constant rain (almost nine inches over normal so far this year), and our lot is over half an acre, there’s a lot to stay on top of. Tuesday was the first day after a cooling front and because temperatures were in the mid-70s with low humidity I put in two hours of yard work. I removed my front lawn from the “nastiest lawn on the street” list but the back yard is still a bit of jungle. I’ll get around to it….
If there’s no yard work, and the weather is nice, I’ll head over to nearby Lake Ella, a water retention area which does double duty as a park, and get in about an hour of reading.
Currently, I’m finishing up “The Fall of Berlin” by Anthony Beevor, who won three awards for “Stalingrad.” I began the 400-page Berlin book about two years ago but put it aside after reading about half of it. I’ve only got about 100 pages left (the Red Army is in the outer part of Berlin) and expect to finish it by the end of the week.
While the “history” of fall of Berlin can be found in many other books, Beevor has done an excellent job conveying the “human” aspect of the last months of the war, sometimes by just providing certain statistics. For example, when the Russians launched an offensive in a critical sector, they had almost 9,000 artillery guns, which was one gun for every 12 feet of front.
On the first day of the attack, those guns fired 1.2 million rounds (over 100 rounds per gun). Can you imagine being a front line German soldier, often with little or no combat experience, and being subjected to a bombardment of 100 artillery shells followed by an onslaught of tanks and battle hardened troops seeking revenge for what the SS did during the German invasion of Russia? It was the Red Army which introduced “shock and awe” tactics to the world.
I’ve got two other books in the queue, both historical and both related to war (my two favorite reading topics). Next up is “Honor in the Dust,” another 400 pager which covers the American occupation of the Philippines. This was America’s first Viet Nam, complete with domestic and Congressional controversy and a war crimes trial of a Major for the murder of Filipino prisoners.
The second book is “Lt. Ramsey’s War,” the 350 page memoir of an American cavalry officer who, during the Japanese invasion of the Philippines, led the last mounted cavalry charge in U.S. history (for which he received a Silver Star) and then refused to surrender to the Japanese after the American defeat at Bataan (the largest surrender of U.S. forces in history). For the rest of the war, he led a guerrilla force of 40,000 Filipinos (for which he received the Distinguished Service Cross) until Gen. MacArthur fulfilled his “I shall return” pledge.
When I’m at Lake Ella, I’ll finish up by walking around the lake, which has a .6 mile walking trail. Between the yard work and walking, I’ve lost about six pounds in the 30 days since I retired.
Lunch is around noon, so I can watch the original “Hawaii Five-0” on the oldies channel. If the weather’s nice, Susie and I will have a picnic lunch once a week at the lake. Typically, a “lunch special” from a nearby Chinese takeout.
After lunch, I’ll get on the Internet. The first site I visit is CNN’s Money section so I can check the stock market. I’ve opened an account with Scottrade but since my next post will be about that, enquiring minds will have to wait.
Next, I’ll check e-mail and read national and international news at CNN, state news at three Florida newspapers, local news at two local TV stations, and the Las Vegas newspaper. Then maybe play some online poker and/or work on this blog.
Tuesdays, I can see a movie at a “second run” theater for $2 or for $3 on other days. So far, I’ve seen Now You See Me; World War Z; Man of Steel; and Lone Ranger. I usually catch the first show, which is around noon, so I can go grocery shopping afterwards and make it home before the “rush hour.” I definitely enjoy not having to drive during rush hour!
So far, I’ve done nothing on either of my first two “big” projects: scanning travel photos from trips before I used a digital camera and cleaning out my closets. I expect that will begin in the Fall, when there’s less rain and I don’t have as much yard work to do. But there’s no rush…I’m retired!
There is one activity I plan to do soon: a mini-harvest. I live in a fairly rural area where there’s lots of agriculture. August and September are grape season here and the local grape crop is my favorite variety: muscadine, especially scuppernongs. There are at least two vineyards within 30 minutes of my house that have a “you pick” option. I hope to pick some scuppernongs in the next two weeks.
Although I’ve just begun retirement life, after just 30 days, my verdict is: I’m lovin’ it!