Check In: Day 10

How’s the retirement going, Suzette? VERY WELL, THANKS.

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                                                                        If I had a big Alzheimer’s clock like this I could hang it on the wall next to my bedroom doorway and then I would see it on my way out to start the day in full and confident knowledge of what day it actually is.

Benefit: I am no longer counting by business days. Now I count in calendar days, like a person.

Little wrinkle:   I have already lost track of what day it is since every day feels like Saturday now. I’m trying to talk Sami into getting one of those Alzheimer’s clocks that not only displays but announces in a human-like voice: TODAY IS TUESDAY. Sami, however, is not yet ready to accept demented people as his peer group. I don’t care I just want to know for sure what day it is. I’m still pretty good about remembering what month it is but as I say, it’s Day 10 of retirement so we’ll see how long that lasts.

[Edited to add: I know I can look at my cell phone, my iPad, the desktop computer or any one of the TVs and find out the day and date but I need something immediately available so that I can refresh without too much effort on my part. The thing is sometimes I don’t think about what day it is when I get up in the morning. Then later I make a cockeyed assumption about what day it is and that’s quite often wrong. This results in frantic conversations with Sami about things like getting the garbage can to the curb in a big hurry until he tells me what day it really is. Hint: not garbage day. So apparently the demented are NOT his peer group after all but it looks more and more to me mine. 😦  ]

We should probably establish some kind of routine around here. That would help. We went out for breakfast today – Pancake Tuesday, you know –  so we could start out by agreeing to go out to breakfast every Tuesday. We should probably start showing up in a church every now and then.  Pancakes every Tuesday, church every Sunday. Or every 4th Sunday. We’ve been in our Florida home for 2 1/2 years and haven’t set foot in a local church yet. Don’t judge! We did go to a funeral mass in Jacksonville once, so it’s not like we’re complete heathens.

I started my retired life in a frenzy of kitchen activity – bread baking, marmalade making, producing a lunch and a supper on the same day – but frankly I’m  not into that kind of predictability. This week, I’ve been visiting all the Walmarts within a 30 mile radius to find more of the really great yellow Ixora that they had here in my local one. (3 gallon pot, 11.98!)  I need 8 and so far have found 7.

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The River City Walmart had 2 of what I was looking for, plus some smaller ones in the right color. I grabbed them in case the 8th one eludes me.

I’ll have to go deep into the heart of Jacksonville to complete my plan. Maybe tomorrow. Today I made a fruitless trip to the Walmart Supercenter in southeastern Georgia and that’s enough roaming around. It threw off my whole napping schedule! I’m probably going to have to shorten cocktail hour to get everything back on track. This is what constitutes a tough choice these days. Hmm, not entirely accurate. I did struggle with the decision between orange or yellow ixora as well.

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I’ll probably have to get them planted soon too but that would involve finding (or being) someone who likes digging more than they like napping.

I was going to invite some neighbors over this evening to celebrate Fat Tuesday but #1 I already had pancakes* today and #2 I missed my nap. Also #3 drifting balls of dog hair. You’ll notice that housecleaning has not yet appeared on my Schedule of Retirement Events.   I had to can the party plan.

To sum up: eating, gardening shopping , taking naps. Perhaps those “active seniors” in the Celebrex commercials would be bored, but for us it’s not a bad way to pass the time.

*  They have this thing they call “diner-style” pancakes around here. God bless me if anyone can find an actual diner, but diner -style pancakes, yes. They are enormous, on the sweet side and a little bit stretchy. Not sure if regular pancakes are an option around here?

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VERY IMPORTANT UPDATE! I forgot that during my week as a housewife, I used some zip ties to lash down 2 lid organizer racks in the pantry to corral my big trays, pizza pans, pasta serving bowls and kabob baskets. No wonder I need so many naps!

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I never had a pantry before. I’m not too good at keeping it orderly, which I believe is a basic requirement for housewives. I would rate myself a 3, which is “meets expectations but does not excel.” (Maybe I’m not 100% divorced from the workplace just yet?) Also, “expectations” in this case means the door can still close.

 

Suzette At Rest

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SUZETTE AT REST Announcement: I have retired from work. Whatever shall I do to fill my time? #retired #retiredlife #notworking #outofoffice #atliberty #free
     It happened. As I sit here beginning this blog post, I see by the clock that I’ve been retired for 24 hours and 2 minutes.  I believe it’s going well so far.
     The first thing I did this morning while the coffee was brewing was pick up a screwdriver and go outside to the front lawn to look for weeds to uproot. I have never intentionally done this before in my life. If I had happened to be passing by a particularly annoying  weed, I might have stooped to yank it out. Might even have  gone to get a screwdriver if I was sufficiently annoyed by its refusal to surrender to me. But this morning, I just casually thought it would be a good use of my time while I waited for the coffee.
     Apparently, my body automatically reset itself to retirement mode and I was acting from pure instinct. In the same way that newborn babies instinctively turn their mouths in the direction of the nipple, newly minted retirees must have the instinct to fret about their lawns. I have no other explanation.
     But I’m glad it happened, even though its not what the youngs would call hip. Or cool.  Or whatever the term is now. To me, it is a signal that I’m going to have an easy adjustment to a life of leisure.
     On the other hand, I find myself in an EXTREMELY ANNOYED state, which is entirely consistent with my pre-retirement attitude.  See that picture and caption up there? I posted them on Facebook and Instagram and no one even mentioned the hat. I’ve been saving that hat for more than a year for exactly this occasion. I admit that I got it for the impact I imagined when my coworkers saw the, so probably not meaningful to people who didn’t live and die by email. But still, you would think that it would generate a few remarks, wouldn’t you? But no.
      Also, it’s gone unnoticed that the bolded title of the posting is a reference to the John Updike book Rabbit At Rest. Harry Angstrom and I are both retired to Florida and are unable to “stop nibbling corn chips, macadamia nuts and other junk food.” That’s a joke. And it’s not true, she said while eyeing the pile of pistachio shells next to the keyboard. I just thought the phase would evoke the memory of the very famous Pultizer-prize winning novel.
     But it doesn’t bode well, does it, for me to be utterly and completely irritated by the fact that total strangers (for the most part)  who cannot read my body language or see my facial expressions would not immediately get the admittedly obscure references that are so clear to me in my head. It might be a sign that the road to retirement contentment is going to be rocky.
     But I forge ahead. Now that I’m no longer a High Powered Executive Business Woman, I feel like it would be appropriate for me to be doing something kitchen-y. One of my Ponderosa lemons is ready to be plucked, but I’m a little afraid of it. Not sure I can face even a thin slice of it’s reported “extreme tartness” floating on top of a cup of tea or perhaps a tankard of gin, so I do have a plan to make Lemon Marmalade out of it.
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The small one in my hand is a red grapefruit. The big ones on the plant are Ponderosa Lemons.
    Wrinkle in the plan: I have never made marmalade before. So rather than taking a chance on ruining my lovely giant lemon which took about 8 months to mature, I’m going to make some sacrificial Grapefruit Vermouth Marmalade as a practice run. I just saw the recipe on the webs this week so it seems predestined, especially since I had the ingredients on hand. Those of you who know me in real life know that I am married to Mr. Sweet Rob Roy and we positively swim in sweet vermouth around here so all I needed to buy was 4 grapefruit. And some sugar.

 

     There we have it. I’m retired.

Patio Fruit Farmer Redux

CHAPTER ONE – Long-time readers will remember that I could not sucessfully farm a container Meyer Lemon Tree in NJ.

CHAPTER TWO – Sharp-eyed readers will realize that I haven’t mentioned the Brown Turkey Fig Tree in a container in many months. 

They’re both dead now.

CHAPTER THREE – Weary/sceptical readers are about to be pummeled with tales of my SUCCESSFUL Ponderosa Lemon Tree in a container. Look at this:

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Apparently, this plant is a cross between a pomelo (?) and a citron. The fruit is enormous. These two are not as big as some I’ve seen on the internet but they are approximately one coke can high, so pretty impressive. I have no doubt I’ll get to harvest ripe fruit this time.

But what to do with it when I do harvest it? All of the nursery sites that sell this tree describe the fruit as “extra tart!” and provocatively invite you to imagine “how many pitchers of lemonade you make from just one of these lemons.” This might be too much for me.

On the other hand, big lemons make for big dreams and so my dilemma is that I only have 2 lemons for harvest now. I’d like to cut one for fresh use, make one into marmalade and candy one for use in homemade panettone. I have never marmaladed, candied or panettoned before  and yet the success of this fruit farming has gone to my head.

It’s a new year which as you know is a blank tablet. I’m writing Ponderosa Lemons on the first page.

Also, this:

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Don’t want to brag but I’m also a successful Bird of Paradise farmer, so …

You Know What I Miss?

I miss Sukkoth.

Our first house in West Orange NJ was inside of  the eruv set up for the Jewish community. There were 3 synagogues in our area plus a mikvah. Even near our next home in Aberdeen there were also 3 synagogues within walking distance. Aberdeen was a newer community and more sprawling than West Orange, so the visible rhythm of Jewish life and holidays was less visible to me. But in both locations, you could always spot the Sukkoth tents set up on patios and decks, peeping up over the fences.

They came in all styles from stylish and elegant simplicity  to happy jumbles where family members of all ages participated in the assembly and decorating.  Mostly I glimpsed 2 basic types: aluminum frames with canvas walls and bamboo pole roofs, decorated with pretty bundles of palm branches and real citrons or all wood DIY projects made of lattice panels  and  whatever local branches were around with garlands of plastic lemons from Michael’s plus a few empty Real Lemon dispensers thrown in for good measure.

I miss that here in Florida. I think that the Jews must be way down south because they  sure aren’t here in Ferdnandina Beach. Not that I can see anyway.  I’m going to make it a point to drive around this year and look for Sukkoth tents. It would be so great if Google maps did their droning during this time of year and we can all see how charming they are from a bird’s eye view.

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9/14/2018 (shown next to an iPhone7 for size comparison) – This Ponderosa lemon is nowhere near it’s final size.

Anyway the reason I’m thinking about this now is that I’m growing a new lemon tree. It was a Mother’s Day gift from my daughter – a Ponderosa Lemon tree. Apparently its a hybrid of a lemon and a citron and the fruit gets YUGE – they average 2 to 4 pounds each, plus they’re ugly and lumpy and are described as having an “extra tart” taste”. So, triple threat. I got a little scared when I read one nursery plant site that said “Imagine how many pitchers of lemonade you can make from just one of these fruits!”  Yes, imagine it.

I took a picture of the biggest fruit this morning – the visual doesn’t really translate here but its the best I could do. Right now, this one is as big as a really big naval orange.

So anyway, citrons. Sukkoth.  I kind of miss it.

Disclaimer #1: I’m not Jewish, I’m not related to anyone who is Jewish and whatever I know about being Jewish is stuff I picked up just because I lived in NYC and northern NJ where there are a lot of Jews.

Disclaimer #2: I think I actually might be Jewish but that is unconfirmed, based only on my inner feeling and a smidgen of geopolitical knowledge*. I can’t get anyone I know to engage with me about this so it  remains unconfirmed.

*Because my Lithuanian ancestors were from that part of the word that was ping-ponged back and forth between  Lithuania, Poland and Russia.  Before WWII, the town they came from had one of the largest Jewish populations in Europe.  I can see how a dirt poor desperate man with no options and a pack of starving children might convert for a bag of potatoes. Which would be the bigger moral failing – renouncing your faith or allowing your children to starve when you could have taken a path that would feed them? I don’t mean that disrespectfully. I mean that kind of desperation is unknown to me and so I honor either choice. Also, my family name literally translates to Son of Jacob. So you tell me. 

 

Dream World

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Get the look: beach towel by Kohls, oversize lifeguard hat by Peter Grimm, pvc drying contraption by Sami, pool noodle organization by Suzette.

I was out early this morning to beat the mid-day heat. In Florida, “mid-day” means 10 am.

My days are are turning out just as I imagined they’d be. I go out to the patio as soon as I get up – 6:30ish most days – and putter around with the flower pots, do a bit of sweeping or watering, then sit in the shade and drink coffee. On weekends or days that I don’t have a crack of dawn meeting, I swim in clear aqua water while surrounded by perfect order on the patio. The only difference between my dream then and my reality now is that I imagined I would be more attractive and less sweaty.

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This speaker is half a corgi tall.

Here’s a thing I am very impressed with: a waterproof Bluetooth speaker. I have to confess that the radio station selections in the Jacksonville area stink on ice. I have a radio that I’ve been using outside just for background noise and the faint hope of occasionally hearing something that I actually like. Then I thought about the accounts I have with Spotify and Pandora and the regular downloads of the many podcasts I can’t live without. So I went looking for a poolside speaker and man, this one is a real humdinger.

I have an affinity for things that are described  as rose gold and that is always my default selection. Then less whimsical people come around and talk me out of it by making the argument that rose gold is “too girly”*. So I ordered this in a sensible dark gray, which I enjoyed for about 1 full day, regretted for 2 more days and then sent back to get the rose gold version. I figured my choices were (1.) I could swap it out and take a loss on the free shipping or (2.) I could complain about it every day for the next three years. So I switched it and now I’m totally happy. Still sweaty, but happy nonetheless.

*Hello? Have you met me?

 

[Edited to add: You probably are mildly interested in the performance of the speaker itself. It’s great!  For a $30 thing with a main characteristic of water resistance, the sound is fantastic. Surround sound, no less. Very clear, lots of base and loud enough to annoy the neighbors. It got here on June 12, I charged it that day, played it for at least 3 hours a day ever since and it’s still running on the same charge with no sign of flagging. Recommended! I’d write an Amazon review but I’m not the type.]