The First Day of Retirement

Well, what better day to retire than April Fool’s Day?  I thought it was a great idea, so at the end of January I submitted my paperwork, and today I get paid to do nothing related to work.  Social security, my pension, and Medicare are all lined up.  And now, my new life begins!

Today, I was taken out to lunch to celebrate!  I also have been deciding a “class” I want to take.  I’ve decided to study the exercises in a book on perspective for painters, so it covers not just the vanishing point varieties (one, two, and three dot), but also perspective based on colors.  Tomorrow, I begin!

Besides studying perspective, I have also been painting and drawing and sewing and making pictures with both digital and film cameras.  I finished my little quilt.  I’ve scanned photos and edited them.  I have been out to the local botanical garden and begun a sketchbook about the garden in spring.  Visiting family and friends and doing fun things is also part of the program . . . I don’t think I will be bored too often, but I might over extend myself.

Here are some things I’ve been doing . . . but no pictures of the quilt – that is a later post.

A Sunny Day in the Garden

A few miles up the road from me is the local botanical garden.  It’s located on a series of hills that cover several acres.  Trails wander through oak groves and chaparral.  Specific areas are planted for butterflies and birds, sage plants, California natives, rare fruit, cacti.  It’s always a pleasure to meander around in it as it changes with seasons.  Different times of day bring out different animals; as well, the light shifts and changes.  Early morning, sunset, high noon.  Benches  line the paths throughout the garden.  For a wilder walk, there are the trails along the creek.  I’ve seen squirrels, road runners, coyotes and hawks.  Critters like it as much as I do.  It’s even better when you are the only one there except the wildlife!

I went out to take pictures and to draw – it’s been several weeks since I was last there.  Rain and cold as well as being ill kept me home for a bit.  With today’s 70 F, it was hard to stay indoors.  I took a couple of cameras – one film, one digital – some paper and a pen.  I wanted to see the flowers in particular, especially the spring bulbs which come up at this time of year.  I wasn’t disappointed.The outing was soul-satisfying on a personal and artistic level. I’ll be back sooner rather than later!  There is little more satisfying than time spent in solitary and quiet appreciation of nature.

On the Way Out the Door

I am heading out this morning at 8 a.m. to a watercolor workshop down toward L.A.  With so many things in boxes, waiting to be placed somewhere in the studio, I’m lucky to have anything to take with me.  It’s amazing how simple the flood was (we had a pipe break, FYI), how long it took to repair all the damage and do the upgrades (why not since the whole house was torn up), and how much longer it seems it will take to put our lives back together.  Like finding a specific brush or some paper or whatever.  I did some unpacking yesterday, and today, no . . . watercolor instead.  We were joking that it will probably take longer to unpack than any other part of this home repair adventure!

It’s been a nutty week.  Crazy end-of-the-school-year stuff.  Testing.  Stressed out kids.  I can hardly wait to be done with it all, and even more so, done with working and having a life during retirement.  To make life productive on a personal level, I’ve tried to draw or paint every morning before heading out to work.  Simple sketches, no lines, using watercolors as the way to do things.  Nothing really exciting is being produced, but what is good is the daily practice.  It does make things work better and it adds to a store of knowledge that comes only with practice.  Here are some of the things I did this week.

As well as putting my art supplies and books back together, my photography stuff is slowly getting straightened out.  I picked up some film I had processed.  I took both my Nikon Df and my Oly OM4-T with me to the botanical gardens down the road.  Film always has a quality to it which digital lacks.  I was excited to see how the auto exposure feature worked on the Oly as I only recently acquired the camera and had a test batch of Kodak Ultramax 400 in it.  I used a 35-70mm zoom, and was really pleased with a number of the photos.  Everything was in bloom – or ready to bloom – so I tried to catch as many colors as possible, from deep reds to pink to yellow and white.   I am really glad to have space now to keep my Pakon 135 set up, and the laptop I use exclusively with it, in its own space, plugged in and ready to roll.

Now, look at my check list and get on with the day!  While I am gone, J is gonna be brewing.  What happy little campers we will be at the end of the day!



Floors, Hidden Vanities, Studio, Office, Wrist & Finger

Okay, the shower is tiled, but now is covered in plastic sheeting, protected by the painter from the paint. Hidden but not forgotten as its door arrives Friday!

But what else has been happening? We now have floors. Not rugs. Not hardwood. Vinyl, 20mm thick, looks like wood and designed for dogs. You read that right: dogs. The flooring has textures so that dogs have traction and don’t go flying down the hallway. It’s actually quite nice. It feels good underfoot.

And, the vanities have arrived, but until the painter is done, they remain covered and mysterious. They need to be installed before the template for the countertops can be made, and then installed.

My studio and J’s office are beginning to become usable again. Funny how daily habits, when upset, are so nice to take up again. I like reading the news and drinking my coffee in the morning, and perusing other blogs. My cameras are back on the shelves – not all of them, but a lot of them – and I used my Nikon Df here, with the 85mm f1.8, to take some photos. I also used some film cameras outdoors … the drafting table is in place, and paints and paper and brushes are reappearing.

And, my wrist and finger are mending very well, and I am out of the finger splint altogether, but wear the wrist splint at night or when my wrist feels tires or sore. Hard to believe I went flying over Smudge (dog) 4 weeks ago.

Home, Sweet Home!

Thursday Morning

This has been quite a week or so.  I am so glad I get the next ten days off from work, starting at 5 p.m. tonight.  I am just about done in!

You could say it began two weeks ago.  A pipe broke under the shower pan in the master bathroom.  Three days later, half the carpet in the bedroom is gone, the shower stall is destroyed, and the leak is fixed.  Now all that remains is arguing with the insurance company, choosing tile for the bathroom, ordering tile for the bathroom, ordering flooring for bathroom and back third of the house, painting the bathrooms and bedroom, and installing new vanities, possibly one or two new toilets, new mirrors, and new lighting in the bathrooms.  Maybe it will be done by the end of April.  The other half is going bonkers with all the estimates and people coming and going.  Besides that, I had a 3-day painting workshop (yay!), a nasty cold and flu, and now Josh has the cold.

So, what is going to happen during the break?  A few appointments.  Lots of art if I am lucky.  Lots of photography, too.  Choices being made for tile and paint – the flooring is already chosen – and writing big checks for all this stuff.  And researching what “contiguous” means in context of California insurance law – but that is another story!

And, of course, organizing all the bits and pieces of my life that have fallen apart over the last few weeks.  I never realized how disorganization is like a perpetual motion machine – it is entropy at its worst!