Yeah, it's been a while.
The wind is outta my sail. Like many of you, I'm dismayed at what is happening all around me and more dismayed by the fact that few folks around me seem to care. Why can they not see what is just around the corner? My son will be 30 in July and I'm furious that there's NO WAY he can experience the country I grew up in. It's gone. Forever.
Why aren't my neighbors with several kids in an uproar?
So for me, it's hard to pump up the motivation to write anything.
But much has happened and I need to chronicle it.
So let's catch up-
We spent most of the Winter in the condo in Destin. My EMS co-workers coordinated with me so I could work two weeks, then take two weeks off. Sara Jean and I headed South during the two week hiatus in November, December, and January.
I retired (really this time!) 26 January and we spent all of February and March overlooking the Gulf of Mexico from our balcony, coming home three or four days at the end of each month to grab the mail and insure that burst plumbing wasn't ruining our home here in the Great White North. With neighbors all around watching over the place, getting the mail actually was the main reason for the trip.
Did you know the U.S. Postal Service now charges a fee to forward your mail? I was surprised too.
Winter in Destin this year was wet and cool... kind of a surprise. We carried the GoldWing down our first trip hoping to get in some riding during the time that would either be impossible or uncomfortable in our Northern home.
But the damp, cool weather in Destin didn't much lend itself to two-wheeled therapy.
I did use the bike quite a bit to run short errands. But I was absolutely amazed at how quickly the salt air/spray ate up the chrome on the machine. All of the chrome now needs major elbow grease, or maybe rehab/replacing.
I now question my plan to take a newer, more expensive machine down next year.
And this Winter, if we have a repeat of last year, I may not go to the (considerable) trouble of loading a bike in the back of the Ram Diesel at all.
We still have not adjusted to retirement. I'm told by some that it may take me more than a year.
In February, when we first got to Destin full-time, I found myself rising at 0530 or so, turning on the computer and listening to our radio station back home for news and weather. (We wanted to be able to justify to ourselves the expense of spending all the money we've spent to Winter on the Gulf.) We had to mostly content ourselves with the fact our temperatures in Destin were 20 or more degrees higher than they were at home, because the wet and rainy days mostly kept us inside, happy to have the fake fireplace space heater working its magic.
No matter the temperatures, there is something about looking out the balcony window and seeing the water lapping against the shore that is good for the soul.
I applied for Social Security benefits the evening of my 66th birthday. I did this online and was amazed at how easy it was. The process was so efficient, I (wrongly) expected the checks to start arriving quickly. My first check arrived almost two months after I applied, after we had used up virtually ALL ready cash, making me sweat just a little.
But now that income stream seems to be flowing efficiently. I'm now consolidating several Mutual Funds under one umbrella so that we can also start a "systematic withdrawal plan" from them.
It's hard to describe how this makes me feel...
I started contributing to a fund in 1972 with the hope of retiring rich.
Now, 41 years later, I find myself saddened by how little all that squirreling away is gonna buy... certainly MUCH less than I hoped, considering the self-denying we've had to do for YEARS to save that money. The recent hit taken by the stock market is responsible for part of that. The fact that I started being more conservative with my investments as we approached retirement is also responsible. Looking back, not being able to see how I could have handled it differently is small comfort. But here we are, and I DO take comfort in the fact we ARE rich in many ways...
We are in great health.
And we CAN retire.
That's sayin' a LOT.
But it IS an odd feeling planning to withdraw money, rather than saving more for some future date.
What else can I say about retirement?
Well, I'm still trying to sort out a routine. I was going buggy so I went to the Destin airport to chat with the guy flying helicopter tours down the beach and volunteered my services. They really don't have much work there until the Spring-Breakers descend upon the town, and I got the feeling the young Whipper-snapper flying the R44 there really didn't want some old fart coming in, stealing time that could be logged in his logbook.
So I got no return call. Maybe next year?
And SJ and I have both added about 10 pounds to our bulk.
Cold/wet/windy days lead to laughing at one another when the question "Do you want to go for a walk?" was asked. The next step, after the laughing had died down, was to head for the 'fridge to get an adult beverage.
We soon found ourselves in "Jimmy Buffett" mode...
"It's five O'Clock somewhere, right!?"
More laughter. Well, it IS grape juice, isn't it?
And grape juice is good for you!
The weather here in our Northern home is beautiful... cool, crisp nights. Warm, breezy/mostly sunny days. Buds on the trees look like they could explode.
And, ashamed of ourselves for our "Dunlap's disease", we've actually walked more here than we did all Winter in Destin.
I've already lost four pounds. SJ has lost more.
I think this retirement business is gonna be O.K..
We just have to continue to adjust to it.
And WE either have to dramatically increase our amount of exercise, or cut back on "Jimmy Buffett" mode.
I'll update you soon on how that turns out.