There is no finish line

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halfmoon
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There is no finish line

Post by halfmoon » Fri Nov 11, 2016 9:49 am

I've been a lurker here for a long time, but I've hesitated to participate. This is such an interesting and analytical crowd, most of whom are considerably younger than I am. I'm not sure that my experiences hold value for many here, but...I'm taking the plunge.

I'm in my late fifties, female, living in Western Washington. DH is almost eighty, and we've been partners in everything for 36 years. I'm a self-employed accountant. DH is a beekeeper, winemaker, family cook, gardener, landscaper and baker of all things good.

When I was 34 and DH was 55, we retired poor and moved to acreage we had bought on the side of a mountain in a very remote area of Eastern Washington. We built our own house there in the year before we retired, and by that I don't mean "We paid someone else to build it." We lived in the middle of state forest land without neighbors, paved road, public electric power or phone. We put up a 60-foot pole tower to hold our solar panels, heated with a wood stove, and used the beautiful outhouse we built with a picture window. Very proud of that outhouse. :D Spring, summer and fall were spent working hard on our property, but winter was devoted to cross-country skiing and snowshoeing right off our porch, cooking/eating good things and reading. This went on for 10 years.

I had always dreamed of living remotely, and I'm immeasurably glad that we did this. It's not a lifestyle for the old, and if we'd waited too long we would never have had the experience. We imagined that we were retiring permanently at the time, but life changes. We had loaned a large sum of our retirement capital to a well-employed relative who stiffed us, the tenant in our rental house (former residence) turned out to be a sex offender and stopped paying rent, and DH was diagnosed with the first of three cancers he would eventually have. We decided to temporarily move back to our former residence and renovate it for sale, which we figured would take up to a year. Meanwhile, I would take on a few accounting clients to supplement our income. We firmly believed that we'd be moving back to the mountains.

What's the saying? Man plans, God laughs. I may not believe in God, but I've definitely heard the laughter. :lol:

DutchGirl
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Re: There is no finish line

Post by DutchGirl » Fri Nov 11, 2016 10:46 am

Nice to meet you, halfmoon. I'm glad you had that time in your life, and I hope and believe that current life isn't so bad, either?

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Dragline
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Re: There is no finish line

Post by Dragline » Fri Nov 11, 2016 11:12 am

Thanks for plunging, and nice to have you here. I am feeling younger (early 50s) already.

And I've noticed that we always behave a little better around here when more women participate. ;)

halfmoon
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Re: There is no finish line

Post by halfmoon » Fri Nov 11, 2016 11:47 am

Thank you, Dragline and DutchGirl!

Current life is good, and it isn't as though every moment of our retirement was idyllic. Retired or not, it's clear that being alive comes with joy and...the other stuff. If we hadn't had an adventurous life, I might feel more frustrated with current limitations. Since we did have that, it's easier to relax and appreciate easier times. We even have a washer and dryer right in the house like real folks!

I plan to write more, and I promise it won't be tragic or self-pitying. :oops: Thanks again for the encouragement.

halfmoon
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Re: There is no finish line

Post by halfmoon » Fri Nov 11, 2016 2:30 pm

Before going further, I want to clarify the "no finish line" title. That wasn't intended to be negative, especially for all the folks here who are counting the years/days/hours to early retirement. I just meant that retirement, like all stages of life, is constantly evolving. As many others (including Jacob) have mentioned in different words, adaptability is the key. There's no way to truly predict the changes (and their effects on us personally) that will occur in health, macro economics, personal investments, relationships, et cetera. That's probably a good thing, though I've always said I'd like to view my life as a video in advance to avoid surprises. Maybe comes with the accountant/control freak territory.

Edit: I was re-reading this because I'm trying to figure out how to transition to a journal. Just realized that I called Jacob "Joseph". Mortifying senior moment.
Last edited by halfmoon on Sun Nov 13, 2016 12:25 pm, edited 1 time in total.

Did
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Re: There is no finish line

Post by Did » Fri Nov 11, 2016 2:36 pm

Lovely story. You are very welcome. Please share all you would like.

halfmoon
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Re: There is no finish line

Post by halfmoon » Fri Nov 11, 2016 8:20 pm

Did, I truly appreciate the warm words. This is such an accepting community! I worried after writing my first post that it was too whiny and long-winded. I've never joined a forum before (unless a few random Amazon reviews qualify), and I suspect that this isn't a typical experience. Of course, you're just all enabling my continued oversharing and have only yourselves to blame. ;)

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C40
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Re: There is no finish line

Post by C40 » Fri Nov 11, 2016 9:21 pm

Hello half moon. I thought your post was fascinating. Not whiny, just matter of fact about some facts of life.

My favorite parts were:
1 - the list of all your husband's ventures/work/hobbies. I'd love to hear more about these. Was he selling some of the things he made?
2 - Your description of living out on that state forest in your self-built home. I'd love to hear more about what life was like there

halfmoon
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Re: There is no finish line

Post by halfmoon » Fri Nov 11, 2016 9:47 pm

@C40,

I plan to write more about #2. You may regret asking for details, because I have a backlog of stories. You have no idea. :lol:

Regarding #1: DH is a remarkable person. Very driven and creative. I struggled for over 20 years with my OCD freak-out over the messes he created, which pretty much came to a head with a winemaking explosion of something purple (grapes? blackberries? plums?) all over our newly-remodeled kitchen cabinets, floor and ceiling. After stating that I needed to BE ALONE to clean up the mess, I had an epiphany: creating things was the core of my loved one's self, and making a mess was the inevitable byproduct. I remind myself of this when he cooks up sugar water (sticky! sticky!) for the bees and fills half of our kitchen with carboys of wine-in-progress. Oh -- and there's also the deydrator stacked with veggies or fruit. Everything. Is. So. Sticky.

halfmoon
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Re: There is no finish line

Post by halfmoon » Fri Nov 11, 2016 10:54 pm

@C40,

I just realized that I forgot to answer your question about DH selling some of the things he made. He's never done that, though I'm sure he could with some effort. It's always been about trying new things for him. A neighbor once said that he was put on this earth to make the rest of us feel lazy.

Edit: changed DF to DH. I had to google so many abbreviations when I started reading this forum. Truly a (geriatric) babe in the online woods.
Last edited by halfmoon on Sat Nov 12, 2016 8:16 am, edited 1 time in total.

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FBeyer
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Re: There is no finish line

Post by FBeyer » Sat Nov 12, 2016 1:50 am

Sounds to me like you should be writing a book, not forum posts... I'd read it!

DutchGirl
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Re: There is no finish line

Post by DutchGirl » Sat Nov 12, 2016 8:14 am

halfmoon wrote: A neighbor once said that he was put on this earth to make the rest of us feel lazy.
Now I'm so curious who would win the "most active person" contest, him or my mother.

It took me a few years to realize that not everybody has the energy level that my mother has, and that that is okay. And that's it's okay that I'm one of those people, too. :lol:

halfmoon
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Re: There is no finish line

Post by halfmoon » Sat Nov 12, 2016 8:29 am

FBeyer wrote:Sounds to me like you should be writing a book, not forum posts... I'd read it!
Thanks, FBeyer! This will be a book by the time I'm done introducing myself, just for a very select audience. ;) I'm not sure about the protocol here. Should I be rambling endlessly in the Introduce Yourself section, or is it better to start a journal?

@DutchGirl,

How old is your mother? DH struggles now with so many health issues that some days he can't do much. Then as soon as he feels better, he goes nuts making up for it. I'm more the slow and steady type, and I can pretty happily sit at my computer most of the day. That is, I could if I didn't feel guilty watching DH work.

DutchGirl
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Re: There is no finish line

Post by DutchGirl » Sat Nov 12, 2016 8:34 am

My mother's 67 now, and slowing down a bit due to older age. That means that other people on a good day sometimes have the chance to do an equal amount of work.
I haven't seen my mother being frustrated about it, just yet. I can imagine to your husband it must be quite frustrating to see the difference between now and back then. I hope he can find peace with it, and enjoy the energy he does have left.

I think at some point you move over to starting your own diary, if you want to; but I don't believe there are specific rules against a multiple-page introductory thread either.

halfmoon
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Re: There is no finish line

Post by halfmoon » Sat Nov 12, 2016 9:05 am

I'm still trying to figure out if it's better to wind down my introduction and move to a journal. Advice solicited. Meanwhile, I'm going to tell a little more about DH because he's an interesting person.

DH was born in Munich shortly before the start of WW2, and living with hunger prompted him to be a dedicated hoarder of food and pretty much everything else. It's a serious struggle to get him to throw out spoiled milk (he hides it in the back of the fridge, then tries to turn it into cheese when I pitch a fit) or stop buying food on sale when the cupboards are full. I know; not really compatible with this crowd. On the other hand, we're completely set for the zombie apocalypse. :roll:

DH drove trucks as a young man, hauling fruit from Italy to West Berlin and of course traveling through East Germany to get there. He says the roads were deteriorated and dangerous, with unlit tanks running maneuvers across them in the dark. A fellow truck driver once hit and killed a bicyclist at night, and the East German officials sent the truck back with his partner only. They kept the driver to make up for the lost worker.

DH felt stifled in Germany. He dreamed of open spaces, fewer rules, and the ability to hunt and fish (only possible for the wealthy in Bavaria). He emigrated to the US in 1961, headed for Colorado. He arrived in New York with 3 handguns, a rifle slung over his shoulder, and a smoked ham in his suitcase. Immigration authorities seized the ham. :lol:

halfmoon
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Re: There is no finish line

Post by halfmoon » Sat Nov 12, 2016 9:18 am

@DutchGirl,

Thanks for the advice. I'll probably start a journal soon.

I love your line about your mom slowing down and letting others catch up. She sounds impressive.

It's hard for DH because he's always been about physical accomplishments. This comes back to adaptability, because he has few interests that can be pursued in a chair other than reading; he's a voracious reader. I've theorized (without a shred of evidence or research) that women are better long-term survivors because we're conditioned to adapt. Opening myself up to disagreement here.

DutchGirl
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Re: There is no finish line

Post by DutchGirl » Sat Nov 12, 2016 12:28 pm

Growing up in the 40s or 50s in Europe seems to have given many people "food insecurity", so to say. My parents also never throw away anything, and will indeed make cheese from sour milk, and reheat leftovers for their next meal(s). My in-laws (who are roughly the same age as your DH) only shop at the cheapest supermarket (because savings!) and have three fridges (one in the house, two in the shed), one freezer, and four cupboards full of low-quality food. They will not go hungry, ever again. I think they're all a bit too "set in their ways" to change that now. So your DH is not alone in this type of food hoarding.

halfmoon
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Re: There is no finish line

Post by halfmoon » Sat Nov 12, 2016 4:56 pm

@DutchGirl, that's a great bit of insight. I used to be very judgmental about other people's choices because I saw them from my own logic/perspective. Part of the aging process for me, in both my professional and personal life, has been to understand that our choices and behavior are a complex mix that serves us on some level (optimal or not). As my brother said to me once:

'Be careful about insisting that people tear down their emotional walls. Those might be bearing walls.'

...a metaphor that might be better explained by cmonkey or ffj. ;)

IlliniDave
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Re: There is no finish line

Post by IlliniDave » Sun Nov 13, 2016 7:55 am

Welcome,

Here in the US, my grandparent's generation had that same shaping of frugality from having grown up/come of age during the Great Depression years as children of immigrants. A strong dose of that was passed to my parents. It sounds like your DH and my dad would get along famously. My parents' basement is full of winemaking stuff, an impromptu still made from discarded/repaired laboratory equipment (he is a retired college chemistry teacher) to make brandy out of excess wine, and the family is full of stories about his projects gone wrong. One of the favorites is when he tried to dry home grown hops in my mother's brand new clothes dryer (she hadn't even used it for clothes yet). I can now detect sour milk from at least 1000 yards (one of his "tricks" was to use it to make yogurt when it reached the point of foulness me and my sisters would not drink it any more). But it's not all bad--he became an expert at drying popcorn, raised the best honey I've ever had, and used his chemistry background to perfect peanut brittle (the solution to giving away the superabundance of home grown, homely-looking peanuts he found himself with every year). Now in his later 70s he's cut back on much of that, but when I went out into the world I learned that I was raised in an unusual environment, and though I did not inherent the propensity, I recall all of it fondly.

halfmoon
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Re: There is no finish line

Post by halfmoon » Sun Nov 13, 2016 10:59 am

@IlliniDave,

I really enjoyed the story of your dad's projects. I'm sure that my DH would find him fascinating. He also had a still once (made peach brandy), but that's dismantled now. I wouldn't mind seeing him set it up again in the basement, but I fear that it would end up in the kitchen. Aside from the usual cupboards and appliances, our kitchen currently has:

-- 2 5-gallon buckets of sugar for the bees, one sticky pan/lid/spoon dedicated to making sugar syrup, 3 mason jars with perforated lids for the syrup. After having every saucepan in the kitchen sticky for awhile, I put my foot down on this.

-- 4 5-gallon carboys of brewing wine: 1 apple from our trees, 1 plum from our trees, 1 elderberry from wild plants (he's re-brewing this because it came out too sweet and low proof), and 1 Frankenwein, a combination of various fruits and some commercial apple juice that sat in the fridge too long.

-- 2 gallon jugs of more brewing wine. I think these are peach from our tree.

-- Winemaking accessories that absolutely have to be in the kitchen in case DH suddenly needs a cork, bubbler or yeast energizer.

-- Professional-grade Kitchen Aid stand mixer used for baking bread, with an attachment for making pasta and another for shredding vegetables.

-- Meat grinder.

-- Lye for making pretzels.

-- Parchment paper for making biscotti.

-- Heavy-duty blender for making pesto from home-grown walnuts, basil and garlic. YUM.

-- Dehydrator. Right now, we're drying the last of our greenhouse spinach to make spinach powder.

-- An insane variety of spices, many bought in bulk or home-grown.

-- Trays of drying black walnuts from our trees. I love black walnuts and end most meals with a few.

-- Buckets of already-dried English walnuts from our trees. These need to be cracked and the meats frozen.

-- 21 cooking knives and a poultry shear, all deadly sharp. I'm allowed to use one of them. :lol:

-- Knife sharpening stone.

-- Knife sharpening steel.

-- 2 pairs of binoculars for looking at wildlife on and around our pond while we eat.

-- Magnets all over the fridge: big welding magnets, magnets removed from old microwaves and computers, little magnets arranged to form facial expressions. DH has a magnet fetish.

-- Plants covering one windowsill and little animal figurines all over the other: elephants, lizards, turtles and pigs. DH loves knick-knacks and picks them up at yard sales. I called him a magpie once and genuinely hurt his feelings. We've finally stopped going to yard sales, so there's that.

Edited because I forgot the bee-feeding stuff the first time around.

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