Friday, June 26, 2015

Some thoughts on this blog and RETIREMENT!

Well, it's been a while since I've jotted down my thoughts here.  I was thinking about that and told myself I'd been busy and really what did it matter?  And, then I remembered the entire purpose of this blog - to remember my life as it unfolds, because some day I may need my kids to print these pages to show me or my caregivers that at one point in my life I did something totally different, challenging, interesting and exciting!  So, here I am again, Blog, doing my thing!

First things first - I'm enjoying my retirement!  It's still hard to believe that I'm not getting up every day to go to work.  Some mornings I'm even a bit disoriented.  But, that doesn't last long!  I do still get up pretty early, I've always been an early riser - that usually follows if you're an "early to bed" person, like I am!  Most mornings I walk for an hour, sometimes I walk to Starbucks or McDonald's for coffee, but mostly I just walk and listen to an audio book.  I don't listen to these books unless I'm walking or driving. so as long as I have a good book to listen to, I'm pretty motivated!

The day I retired my kids took me to my favorite place for dinner - Sycamore Inn.  I like to sit on their patio and take advantage of the happy hour drinks and dinners!  It's relaxing - I call it my mini vacation.  The kids were so generous with their well wishes, and gave me a very special gift box filled with gift cards!  They also included several lottery scratchers - and I didn't get one number on any of those suckers!

The day after that I left for a week in Palm Desert - this is where I thought maybe I'd failed at retirement.  After 5 days I was ready to head home!  I'd had enough relaxation.  So, because I'm retired and can do what I want with my time - I did come home!

I spent a day getting ready to spend some time with the Logger family and then my Camper grandson and I headed north to help the Loggers prepare for a move to a new-to-them home.  It was a busy, busy 10 days as Logger daughter and I painted and prepped the new house for carpeting, and packed up and moved whatever we could physically handle.  We stored these items in one room of the new house that was not going to be carpeted (hardwood floors will go in later).  I wish I could tell you how many square feet of wall space I painted, but all I can tell you was it was a lot!!!  After 10 days I dragged Camper grandson from the pond, from the woods, and all the fun things he'd been doing with the Logger grandkids and we headed home.  We were not done, not by a long shot, but, I needed a couple of days before June 19th to finalize my social security application.

Ah, Social Security.  Ever since Don passed away, 6 years ago now, I've made an annual trip to the local SS office.  I just needed to be sure that some day I'd really be able to retire.  During one of those trips a couple years back the SS person I spoke with almost gave me heart failure when she mentioned that my benefits would be subject to WEP - Windfall Elimination  Program.  This was put in place years ago so that people with government pensions, who had not paid into social security, would not be able to draw both their pension and SS - that would be double-dipping.  I have for all but just over 2 years of my working life, paid into SS.  This went completely unmentioned by this person so I was pretty devastated when she told me I'd probably only collect a few hundred dollars a month!!

After going to Camper daughter's house and drowning my sorrows in a couple glasses of wine, thinking that I'd never be able to retire, I went home, got on the computer and did enough research to know that the SS person was full of S..., well, she didn't know jack S,, Darn.  She was just plain dumb.  So, I waited a day and then I went back to the SS office.  I saw someone else, told her what I was questioning and she told me not to worry - that WEP thing wouldn't effect me.  So, the next couple of visits were just to confirm an estimated amount I'd receive by collecting survivor's benefits.  All was well - until I went in 2 weeks before my retirement to complete my application.  They started the paper work and told me I needed copies of my marriage certificate and Don's death certificate. Oh, and by the way, those 2+ years that I didn't pay into SS will likely reduce my benefits! I was back to drowning my sorrows - I'd already retired, what was I going to do now!!  So, Okie dokie - I head home and the following Monday I'm back at the office with my copies of those documents.  OH NO, they need original certificates, the ones with the pretty blue edges.  BUT, I was told that they'd checked on the WEP concern they had, and I wasn't going to be effected at all by that!  So, good news at least - now I just had to get my original marriage certificate.  Well, guess what!  I have several original death certificates and can't find one original marriage certificate!  So, I pull up the address of the county office in Norwalk - where I've heard you can head if you want to wait for same day delivery of legal documents.  As I'm searching for the address I notice that same day delivery of marriage certificates is not available for marriages performed before 1995 - And, that would be me :-(.  So, now what??  I have to get that document to SS before June 19th or the application will be denied, and then I'll have to appeal the denial!!  Bottom line, about $60 later I've requested from a 3rd party vendor 2 original marriage certificates to be delivered to me - it will take anywhere from 9-20 days to receive them.  If they take the full 20 days I would receive them on the 19th, and could hopefully still finalize my application.  The documents actually arrived about 4 days before the deadline.  I got home at 1 pm on the 18th, picked up the certificates from my home mail, and drove to the SS office.  Showed them the original (they didn't need to keep it - just see it!), and was assured that everything was in order.  And, WHEW, it really was.  About 3 days later I received a notice of my eligibility for SS and Medicare benefits!

I'll feel better about this whole thing once I see checks being deposited into my account - so far that hasn't  happened.

So, since retiring I've vacationed, attended a family wedding, spent more than just a few days with my daughter, spent some quality time with a grandson, painted til I thought my arms might fall off, took care of an internet problem, took a granddaughter to school, had a couple of dinners with friends, had dinner with family, had a doctor appointment, filled out and mailed off all my medicare documents (I hope), spent an hour laying out by the pool reading, and cleaned out 2 drawers in my kitchen!  And, I started in on my garage makeover.  I've moved shelving units to a location outside the garage (Camper daughter says it might look trashy to my neighbors, but I just wasn't up to building new storage sheds!), built a new storage unit for the garage, built a long table for my cut-off saw and re-purposed 2 end table type things I picked up at a garage sale to hold my Kreg Jig and my new planer.  The garage project is not going as quickly as I'd planned, but I reminded myself just the other day that it was okay - I'm not on any deadlines!

And, I'm thinking of renaming my blog - I kind of like the sound of The "Retired" Widow's Workshop.