April 30, 2015

Another Great Day of Retirement

I've been sitting here today waiting for the grass to dry so I can mow the lawn later this afternoon. It's tall as usual this time of year and with the light rain early this morning it's not dry yet. It just proves that when you are retired things do not matter. If something is not done one day it can be done the next or another day.

A lot has happened this past year, nothing major, no problems but just the way my life has adjusted to my first year of retirement.

I had no doubts I would NOT miss work and I haven't. If I wasn't traveling, I am doing what I pictured I would be doing if I decided to stay around the house and the local area.

All the plans for traveling and the reasons for delaying them have been discussed in past posts.

My daily activity is not much different than what I have done for years while working. The only difference is, what I spend all day, every day doing now I use to do during weekends and when I had time off from my job. It seems like a lot of my time I do nothing and that's fine with me. It just doesn't matter to me, nothing is scheduled nor prioritized. Sure there are things I want to get done around the house, some things I need to get done before going anywhere ... and they are getting done, just at a slow pace.

I use to be a workaholic, rarely took vacations, worked on days off and at home. Still deep inside I knew I could and would adapt to be someone would slow their pace down to almost nothing. There are days I follow the same schedule as my hounds do ... eat a little, sleep a lot.

Through the help of my Excel spreadsheets I've always kept that track my monthly spending and a book I read a few years ago called You Don't Need a Million Dollars to Retire, I have been able to adjust my lifestyle this past year and my spending from the days of working a stressed out job to daily routine of relaxation and leisure.

Sure, there is always unexpected expenses and there always will be. Mine have been small amounts  compared to others. They were no more than the cost of vet treatment for Heidi's skin rash/allergies. It seems like a lot of money but is nothing compared to medical bills, car/rv repairs or house repairs that other people are going through. I'm thankful for that and know that I am fortunate my life is what it is.

I have gone past my 1 year anniversary for retiring. I stopped working last year on April 11 and then it was official a couple of weeks later after my company processed what was needed for my departure.

At the time of the exit interview I had just bought a 2006 Chevy 2500HD 4x4, with plans of purchasing a larger trailer and was deciding on a trailer around 19'-21'. It was a great pickup truck, short bed, crew cab, plenty of room for me and hounds and enough power to tow about anything I wanted.

At times it felt like it was too big for me and when thinking of adding another 20' feet behind it ... I had doubts that was what I really wanted to do.

Within 4 weeks after buying that truck I saw a Toyota FJ Cruiser for sale that had low miles, one owner that had it serviced on a regular basis at the Toyota dealership. Of course that would put me back into the range of small fiberglass trailers 16' and/or the converted cargo trailer option. It was a costly move but one I'm glad I made.

Still that smaller vehicle was going to put me further off the grid to camp and a vehicle that would get me further off-road when exploring the local area.

It must have been the right rig to buy because for the first time in almost 15 years, I have not had the urge to look at other vehicles online, buy, sell or trade it. I've been happy with the two vehicles I have and that says something after the amount of cars and trucks I have bought, sold over the past 15 years. The only thing I have noticed though since retirement, I rarely drive anywhere. When I reported my annual mileage for my car insurance, which decreased my premiums, I thought they might have a really hard time believing the mileage I was telling them.

Luckily with my addiction to spreadsheets, I already had a spreadsheet made, where I take the odometer reading the first day of each month, recording the monthly mileage of each vehicle. I know those miles will increase later but since last June, it is consistent and extremely low.

So if you have read this far, you must be asking yourself where is this leading to ... what is so "great" about today? Nothing really, except I am not in the long line of traffic every afternoon that passes in front of my house, of those that work where I use to work. That is the "great" thing about today and every day ... a job is not soaking up my time and after a year plus two weeks, I am still able to do what I want when I want. To me, that's a fantastic thing to have.

I have not missed spending money on a whim. I do miss the dollar amount of those checks I use to get electronically deposited in my account every two weeks, but I really like the trade off of dollars for time. Time seems to be much more valuable and is much more enjoyable.

For those readers that may be on the fence, trying to decide how much longer to work, it's doable to retire and live on less money than you planned on having. It's doable if you have as many things as possible paid off. It's also doable if you have a few monthly expenditures and can control your spending.

Enough about wasting days away retired.

As you can see from the photos, Heidi has decided to come out of her hibernation and enjoy the good weather outside. From day one when I picked her up 4 hours away at the Basset Hound Rescue in 2010, she has always been a true homebody and will spend the majority of her time inside the house, no matter how nice it is outside. Plus she loves to sleep more than any other hound I have had since 1987.

The other two, Winston and Sadie love being outside. Winston will sleep in the sun unleashed, while Sadie will roam the field in back connected to a rope to prevent her from taking off chasing deer, rabbits, squirrels, birds or butterflies. She will sniff every inch of that hay field. The length of the rope is long enough where she can reach the back of the field near the woods.

One thing I have noticed. When I am sitting outside enjoying the day, the sun, sometimes the cool breeze and they have all those acres of open field to move around in ... they either sit or lay in the grass within 6' of where I am sitting. If I move my seat, they follow me and stay within 6' of me. They don't get too far away from me if I am sitting outside.

That makes me think they would all do well at a campsite boondocking. I have made each of them a 20' lead that can be connected to my FJ bumper, to a stake or a cable run when traveling. They have also passed the nighttime test sleeping with the windows open and a lot of animal noises nearby, such as dogs barking, or coyotes howling. Things that wake me up do not wake them up. That's another good sign for their future in traveling.

I think right now it's down to a couple of things for use to get sorted out ... the process of all three of them wanting to get out of the FJ at the same time when the door opens in back. Then the process of me controlling three 6' dog leashes with two hands and keeping them from wrapping them around my legs like on the trip in September 2013.

Sadie has no issues jumping in and out of the back of the FJ like she did with the H3 Hummer I had on the September 2013 trip. She has even jumped into the FJ that was full of groceries when I have opened the door after returning home from the store. She never did that when I had the Hummer. The two bassets have to be lifted in and out of course due to their short legs. They would jump out but that isn't good for Winston's bad back and both basset's knees. I have a ramp picked out to buy for them to use. It's retractable and can be easily stored.

So once again it's that time of  year where the travel 'bug' is with me. Some things with the hounds have been figured out and tested with positive results. I know the two kinds of weather I don't care for but put up with are "hot and humid" and "freezing cold" ... those are looking like travel times.

We will see.

April 22, 2015

Dairy Queen and Apple Computer Photo Issues

Well after all of that hard work over the weekend, the rain on Monday gave me a day off from any kind of effort. I took advantage of that and probably spent more time sleeping than anything. I didn't have a great night of sleeping Sunday night ... I knew the reason.

So I caught up on my lack of sleep on Monday. I now have a better idea what it must feel like to be a basset hound or a bloodhound, as I followed their daily routine.

Probably not good for you but they taste good going down ... Dairy Queen grilled cheeseburgers, with onions, tomatoes, mustard and ketchup. I also added a large order of onion rings to that gut bomb and a large strawberry shake to wash it  all down.

Everytime I do that and after I finish, I say never again ... but a few months down the road, I'll do it again and then spend the majority of the night sleeping in 30 minute periods, waking up with some major heartburn.

So the rain on Monday didn't bother me that much .. the day was a totally wasted day.

With the new changes that Apple has shoved down their user's throats whether they want it or not, the latest update to their Operating System Yosemite has replaced their iPhoto program with something called "Photos". This program is like the one on all the iPhones and iPads but it's a huge change for those with iMacs and MacPros or MacAirs.

It migrated the 24,000 photos I had with a few minor issues of "duplication". I found out yesterday why those photos may look to be duplicated in the Photo program. Luckily I can still use and view all of the self made folders I have put my photos in previously in iPhoto, even though the new program is designed to and would love to do that for me. I hate when that happens.

The one thing I am having to learn is how I treat photos that I want to post to the blog. No longer can I go directly to Photos like I did with iPhoto to pull the photo out of the file to post on the blog ... I have to put photos in a different file that is accessible for the blog to pull them.

The 2nd thing I have been having problems with until I dug through information to find out the fix ... when I would export the photo to the file I had set up for the blog to use, it would export the photo in the original size. Well some of those photos from my Nikon D3200 are huge in size ... like 5-7mgb large per picture. The blog would pull them and post them ok but I have to wonder just how many photos of that size the people at Blogger will tolerate.

Of course the solution to the photo size problem is hidden in a drop down arrow at the time of export. You have to set yourself, otherwise by default, the photo size remains the same as the original size it was loaded.

I love the Apple products that I changed to in October of 2010 but their recent changes to their O/S has had too many bugs when they released it. They don't tell you how to fix things, you have to read forums, or read it on a blog ... for example since I have not changed any of the default settings it has attempted to synchronize my 24,000 photos in to my iPhone that has only a 16Gb hard drive. Go figure...lol.

If I wanted my iPad and iPhone to have all of those photos I would have made my own arrangements to have them transferred. I didn't, so now at some point in time I will have to spend time taking those photos out of my iPhone and iPad.

Back to the diet information. I am finding that my heartburn / acid reflux is occurring more frequently with any kind of food eaten. I guess those late nights of hot salsa, chips with melted cheese are going to happen less and less.

April 19, 2015

Yard Work is Kicking My Ass

As you can see from the hat, I've been working way too hard outside in great weather. I'll get to the yard work with some photos but first since I have not posted in over a month I thought I'd write about general stuff first. I will say my time on the internet is still low. I'll read my Feedly feeds, check the sports news, over my first cup of coffee then turn off the computer or put it in the sleep mode until early evening. Every day it's been sunny outside, I've been outside 4-6 hours per day doing things, by late afternoon my body is sore (out of shape) and by early evening I'm headed to bed.

That's quite a change for me since I'm a night person by nature and spend most of my time up past midnight, sometimes till 2am or 3am. So when I am going to bed and am fast asleep by 9:30 or 10pm, that's history.

Heidi has just started her 11th week on RESPIT. I've been giving her 1ml shot per week as directed. I started with .1 and then increased it each week by .1ml until the 1ml was reached. A couple of weeks ago I saw a lot of improvement, although it is said not to expect any signs of improvement for a 140 days of treatment.

Her stomach and armpits have healed. Under her neck has healed and has white hair growing back. She continues to lick her front and rear paws, will tear off baby socks when worn to protect her feet, so those spots on the paws are healing, the skin is a lighter red and nothing raw. Her hair is trying to grow back on all the spots that were red and raw.

One of the side affects of the RESPIT, is being lethargic. She is all of that for the first 3-4 days after the shot on Wednesday. Still she is back to sprinting around the house after her first trip outside to start her day. She is also back to barking when she wants fed, so I take it she is okay.

Winston has had a little lower back/hip problem as all older bassets have on occasion and has a little trouble getting up the two steps to get into the house. I'm finding that the "buffered" aspirin helps that lower back out, although I don't give him that on a daily basis.

Sadie is normal, happy go lucky and obnoxious as always ... lately getting her aerobics in by chasing the rabbit in the yard to the back of the field into the woods ... then she returns to her yard. If it isn't a rabbit it's the squirrel that likes to torment her. She is strong pulling on the retractable leash when she locks into the scents that are more evident in the spring time.

Back in the middle of March I was doing some indoor minor repairs and general house maintenance, waiting for warmer temps outside. Then 'March Madness' started so there went most of the nights and afternoons from Thursday - Sunday. Once the college basketball champion was crowned in early April, the good weather showed up, so the yard work commenced.

After the first time of mowing the yard with my 22" push mower, on the side of a 80' hill, I found out really quick just how bad of physical shape the winter had put me in. My breathing and muscle soreness told me just how bad of shape I was. I was somewhat shocked as it felt worse than past years.

July 2014
I had more plans this spring than just cleaning the yard, picking up the fallen tree limbs from the winter and mowing weekly or around the rains. This spring I wanted to do two things. I wanted to clear out a patch of land that had been overgrown with wild bushes, some honeysuckle, vines of some sort and really just brush junk. I also wanted to clear the bank on the side of my driveway, which consisted of dead 6' horse grass and a LOT of small tree starters that had trunks of 1"-2" in diameter. I didn't clear them last summer, so I had some work to do.

First with the land in back. I really didn't know this was my property until the neighbor had the field surveyed when he bought it a couple of summers ago. Of course I'm still not sure how accurate that survey was because soon after they started they had wood markers pressed against my truck door on the south side and metal stakes with orange flags driven into my yard on the north side inside my fence, not 5' away from the house.

A few days later after returning home from work, I noticed I had gain my original property line on the south side but had gained 10' on the north side of the house along with 10' more along the back. So I decided I'd cut those bushes out, at least burn them, clear the land and make it into a "camping" spot. I would build a fire pit, sit out a couple of chairs and spend some nights out there with a fire and a sky of full of stars.

It didn't get that done last summer due to laziness, so this spring was my chance. I started with this in March. Once the snow melted and things dried out, I burned it. That took out a lot of brush but still left me with a lot of vines that had taken root. I pulled out what I could, then cut them out of the ground. There were some trees where I cut with my hand saw, down to ground level.

January 2015

I did half of the area, raked and leveled the land enough to plant grass seed. Just the bending over to pull roots out of the ground or to kneel down to cut small tree limbs put more hurt on my body than the lawn mowing did. My nights ended with me laying on tennis balls, on different pressure points on my back. Cheaper than a massage and still will point out all the bad parts of the back.

Still with each day bright and sunny, my focus on the job at hand would fade. My focus would move on to the next job outside even though I had not completed the land in back.

So last Thursday I glanced at the bank along my driveway and decided it was time to clear it. I started by cutting many of those small trees with an electric handheld saw. Since I had sold my old Chevy truck last spring, trying to downsize the auto herd, I found out the only way I could remove those 10' trees were by hand. That meant I had to take as many as each hand could hold, walk up the hill more than a few times and haul those 1" & 2" trees back into the woods behind my house.

October 2014
January 2015
That took time. That also was a workout climbing that driveway going up the hill.

With tree limbs dead from previous years, dead horse grass stems and the usual wild brush ... my urge to build fires came back to me ... so I lit the bank on fire, with the water hose turned on and nearby in case the fire wanted to go further into the woods than I had planned.

There were no problems with the fire, except the one spot that burnt my fence. That took place as my neighbor and I were discussing life in general. By Saturday afternoon I had raked all of the dead leaves, branches and anything else my rank could find, down the bank into a burn pile.

Some of the trees branches were too green and were not expected to burn but I was planning to burn as much as possible. This will now have some green wild stuff start growing to cover the bank. It will also prevent those small trees from growing taller and harder to cut down, that would disturb my clear southern sky for my Directv and Internet Satellite dishes.

With rain forecasted today and Monday, I will get a break from killing myself clearing land. On Tuesday I will be back in the back area to complete the land clearing and plant more grass seed.

The land that my house is now on plus the field behind my house use to be my great grandfather's property. As a kid, my dad use to farm this property with a team of mules. He remembers putting this roll of barbwire fence on the fence post sometime before 1944. I found the barbwire and a rusty metal fence still attached to the post after I cleared out the brush and overgrowth around the fence post and trees.

Well the rain has stopped, the sun is trying to peek out from behind the clouds and Winston is whining to go outside. I'll start blogging  more often and hopefully Heidi will be willing to have her picture taken outside, where I can post some updated shots of her.