Peace on Earth

Well, after all that fussing and agonizing over Christmas, it turned out fairly nice.  I went to Seattle on the 18th to visit my nieces and nephews, attended the baptism of my great nephew Logan on the 19th, and we headed back to Eugene on that afternoon.  Fortunately, the traffic was not bad.  Sitting for that long took a toll on my spine, but I had physical therapy on Monday afternoon, so I was soon put to rights.  My sisters and my brother-in-law and I got in lots of chatting, shopping, and generally motoring around.  On Tuesday, we made the final preparations for their trip to Long Beach, and they were off on Wednesday morning.  I went back to physical therapy that morning, had my aging eyes (complete with slight cataracts) checked Wednesday afternoon, and then I had a full body massage on Thursday afternoon.  Aaaaahhhhhhhhhhhhh!  This was my first massage with Zach Newell at http://pattersonpt.net/ and it was fabulous.  Everything was just perfect — the decor of the room, the soothing music, the slight fragrance of the massage oil, and then the massage itself.  I melted.  Zach is very professional and thorough and I think I was a pile of mush for about three days afterwards.  It made for the best holiday ever.  I went to my brother’s house on Friday night and we went up to his Father-in-law’s house for a little party Christmas Eve.  It was very low-key, relaxing, and fun.  Ozzie and I spent the night on my brother’s couch which, by the way, was excellently comfortable (even with a dog sleeping on my chest) and got up to a pleasant Christmas morning.  We all shared small Christmas gifts — just enough to let each other know we were thinking of one another — no huge credit card debts built here, and then we had a nice prime rib dinner.  A little football, a lot of chatting and catching up, and then Ozzie and I were on our way home.  Probably the most hectic part of the holiday was Ozzie constantly stealing Bugsy’s (my brother’s Boston Terrier) ball.  They snarled and barked at each other but, in the end, I think they really had fun with each other.  Ozzie just passed out when we got home.  He was very tired.  On Sunday, we cooked a turkey — not all the fixin’s, just the turkey, and Ozzie and I had turkey for dinner.  I had salad with mine, he passed.  Yesterday (Monday) we made a fabulous turkey stew, saving just a bit of the turkey for more salads, and now I’ve got enough to eat for the week.  So, there’s the holiday in a nutshell.  More than you wanted to know, right?  😉

I’m at the office this week catching up on paperwork and beginning to do the big cleanse of the office space.  There’s a lot of build-up in here from 23 years on the job.  Old notebooks full of budgetary info from years ago that can now be recycled, notebooks to be recycled also because who uses them anymore?  I took my stereo to the holiday party this year and it’s now in a box on my desk.  I’m debating whether it is worth setting it up for a few months or if I should just go ahead and take it home now.  Not that I’m anxious to leave or anything!  I did hand in my termination paperwork last week, so by now the administration is aware I am departing.  Did you hear that collective sigh of relief from Eugene?  Yes, I’ve been here way too long and it will be wonderful to leave.

So, my Christmas was wonderfully peaceful.  I’m anticipating a super new year — retirement, working on my health (more Pilates and a natural, organic diet pledge), starting to quilt more, gardening, and generally trying to become relaxed and comfortable with the life I’ve always wanted.  As I’ve said for many years — I always wanted to be retired when I grew up!

A blessed and prosperous new year to you all.

The Silly Season

Does your family put the fun in dysfunctional?  Mine does.  Actually, from what I hear, most folks have some part of their family that totally flips out at holiday time.  Over the past couple of weeks I have had to listen to family gripes on the phone and am doing my best to make sure we all have a fun and peaceful holiday season.  Childhood trauma can really change your views of the holidays.  What should be a season of peace and love is rarely that for us.  I am really looking forward to seeing everyone and hope that it will be a wonderful get-together.  I’m off work for the start of next week, then will be working the week between Christmas and New Year’s.  I do hope it will be a good time to get caught up on paperwork, move funds to the spots they need to be for the faculty, and start to clean 23 years of crud out of my office.  I’ve been in that one job for that long, with a total of 31 years at the UO.

I did my termination paperwork (for March 31) today, and also created my post-retirement contract to begin April 1st.  I’ll need to get my boss to sign all this stuff and send it in.

I’m sure I’ll be back during the holidays.  In the meanwhile, I hope you all have a lovely and peaceful holiday season, celebrating whatever it is that you celebrate during this season.  Only five more days till the days get longer again!

Destiny

It’s funny how sometimes you feel that some things were just meant to be.  I had originally planned to retire some time this year.  After the big stock market crash in 2008 (I had a lot of my retirement funds in the stock market), I was just sure I was going to have to work for at least five to ten more years.  Then, as I said before, I decided to do some calculations and realized that if I took out one account and paid my debts, I could actually afford to retire!  WELL, I figured this out by using my retirement fund’s on-line retirement calculator.  They recommend that you send for a formal estimate if you are a year or less from retirement.  These estimates usually take months to come back, but apparently, they have a new calculating program.  So, I sent off for my estimate last week and it appeared in my mailbox this weekend.  The new estimate is for $227 more a month than I had planned on!  I swear, every time I explore things about my retirement, it gets better and better.  I think this is destiny.  I had really planned to retire around this time, and even though things didn’t go exactly the way I planned, it will still work.  I’m over the moon.

Spent the weekend being somewhat domestic.  Went to sew with my Getaway Girls on Saturday at Our Sewing Room in Springfield.  This is a really nice facility for sewing with your buddies, and you can also take classes there.  I’ll be teaching Piec-lique’ there in February.  The gentleman who owns the place with his spouse even comes out to the car and helps you bring in your sewing machine and supplies.  They also have machines for rent, lots of pressing stations (including a big board) and just a nice atmosphere.  And, while we were there on Saturday, the Springfield Holiday Parade went by right out the front window.  It was really fun.  Today I did a bunch of cleaning and made fruitcake.  Not your momma’s fruitcake, but a cake with dried fruits marinated in brandy for 24 hours.  It’s really good.  I’m wrapping it up and continuing to baste it with the brandy marinade over the next few days.  Should be a nice treat for the holidays.

So, life continues to improve.  This week will be a little difficult on the eating front.  A College holiday party on Wednesday, lunch with the boss on Thursday, Guild Holiday Party Thursday night, and a retirement party for a colleague on Friday.  I bought the extra large bags of celery at Costco this weekend.  That should keep me full and out of trouble for a while.

Enjoy your week all!

It’s decided – I’m retiring!

On Monday of this past week I decided that I needed to start doing a bit of number crunching to see if I could possibly retire.  Now, I’m not ancient, and I’m not against working by any means.  I just think it’s time that I worked doing something I love instead of floundering in a sea of stress.  So, I ran the numbers on my pension.  Wow – I’ll only get about 70% of what I’m making now, and with having to pay for health insurance (although the insurance available to me is relatively inexpensive [$400/month]), I saw no way that I could make it.  After all, I still have a mortgage.  I still have a car payment for that fancy, but much beloved, CRV I bought in 2008.  So, too much debt, too little income, right?  Hmmm.  Then I started thinking about other assets.  I have a couple of annuities, but I’m a bit young to withdraw them, so I’d have to pay a penalty, and would it be worth it.  In the long run, I decided YES.  Then I went to see our retirement counselor and realized that due to some changes in the laws, after January 1, one of the annuities is a required withdrawal (in lump sum, 5,10,15, or 20-year increments) at retirement.  Because it is required, as long as I am over 55 (which I am) there is no penalty!  I can also work for six months post-retirement, so I can pay all of my debts (except the mortgage) and live off my pension and probably even save my second annuity!!  I am over the moon happy!  I have begun to sleep through the night.  I have a spark of joy in my heart that I’ve not felt in ages.

Of course, there are a few stings that came along with this realization.  When I told my boss I was leaving, he gave me the speech about how valuable my skills were and how the department would miss me, etc.  By the next day, however, he was figuring that there are a lot of housewives and even faculty spouses who might like my job.  This is the man who just hired someone that I have had to provide lots of help for lately, including how to eject a cd from her computer’s cd drive.  OY!  Oh well.  Human Resources values my talents and institutional memory, so they told me that I am eligible to work half time in any calendar year after retirement.  They generally have no one who wants to do this, so if I find myself in need of work, I can probably get a gig to help out at the U.  I’m hoping I don’t have to go there, but it’s nice to know there’s a bit of a safety net there.

So – I retire April 1st.  I can work 1039 hours after that without penalty.  This is probably when I will be training my replacement (ugh).  Sometime mid-September, I’ll be out the door.  Free, clear, ready to quilt.  Just in time for MQX West!!  I couldn’t have planned it better.