Archive for Retirement

Cleared to Proceed Via Orbit Seven-Niner

earth-orbit.jpgWell, here it is another milestone along the road that we travel as inhabitants of the Blue Planet. I have previously made reference to the fact that every year of our lives marks one orbit around the Sun by our fair planet. This day completes my 78th orbit and as far as I can tell, the Man Upstairs has given me clearance to pilot my path along the next circuit to which I reply, “Roger, SIR, proceeding as cleared.”

At this time, I have no reason to believe that I might not complete this next orbit and several others beyond that. My sweet Mother, Kate and her Grandmother, Emma, both made it into nonagenenerian territory and, GOD willing, perhaps I might make it to those future orbits as well. Tempus narrabo.

Our celebrations today were modest, what with running a coupe of errands and then grilling a couple of steaks outdoors which Damsel complimented with a nice Salad. We plan to spend the rest of the evening just relaxing and later watching a movie on the Tube*.

* I guess there aren’t any actual tubes in our entertainment boxes these days, but whatever. They still refer to “film” to record them even though actual film is seldom used anymore.

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Another New Camera Lens

SL1 w/New 250mm LensI posted here before about acquiring a 400mm telephoto lens for my little Canon EOS Rebel SL1 and that lens is worth every dime I spent on it. The only drawback is its size and weight when you want to go out into the desert to capture a few photos of critters. It is a bit clunky lugging it around on a walk up the road or for other events where you might want to get photos of subjects that may be dozens of yards away or perhaps more than that.

Image - Camera with the new EF-S 55-250mm Zoom Lens attached. Click on the image to enlarge.

The SL1, when I purchased it in 2014, shipped with the standard 18-55mm lens and an additional 75-300mm telephoto lens, neither of which were of really decent quality. The latter, after a couple of years, developed an autofocus intermittency and had to be scrapped. Plus, in 2019, we replaced the stock lens with a superior quality 18-135mm lens.

So, the bottom line is that I wanted a lightweight intermediate zoom lens for those times that I mentioned above. So far, since I received the new lens last Thursday, I am pleased with its performance. I took the cactus wren photo today at a range of about 35 feet and the lunar photo last Friday during the full February “Snow Moon.” I cropped both images down from the full-frame size to enhance the subjects. Click on either image to enlarge. I am especially pleased with the sharpness of the mountains and craters on the moon which is not bad for an intermediate telephoto lens.

Cactus Wren on Saguaro Snow Moon

I other news, I renewed my expired AZ Driver’s License yesterday. The expiration was covered by an extension due to the pandemic, but that extension ran out at the end of February, so I drove to the MVD and got my renewal. I should get the new license by mail in a week or two.

In other other news, our COVID-19 vaccines have not yet arrived in our area. There are two venues in town through which we can be vaccinated but neither on-line registration is yet available. We’re both eligible for the vaccines by virtue of age.

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2020 IRS Returns in Progress

ir.pngBecause the tax program we use was a little tardy in getting all the appropriate updates (and some are still not ready) we are getting a later start than usual on the preparation of our annual tax returns. We know most of the numbers such that we can input them to the tax program to get a fairly close approximation of the actual bottom line for the tax year. According to early results, we seem to be getting a larger chunk of change than originally forecast for a couple of reasons; first, the entirety of the .gov “COVID Stimulus” went to charitable organizations which was above and beyond and in addition to our normal 501(c)(3) contributions. The second reason for the larger rebate is we decided to itemize some deductions that were to occur in 2021 by paying them in 2020. That got us to where our itemized deductions exceeded the generous standard deduction introduced by the Trump administration by a couple of thousand dollars which resulted in several more hundred dollars coming back to us.

Meanwhile, we’re waiting on the various income source institutions to provide the 1099’s that show the actual numbers which ought to be pretty close to those we already have put into the tax program since I have a spreadsheet for the purpose of tracking and estimation of the final numbers. So, we’re waiting patiently for the paperwork from the IRA, the pensions, the SSA and our financial intuitions to show up. I expect to be e-filed before the end of January for both State and Federal Returns which should result in our refund within a couple of weeks afterwards (if the irs.gov has their feces together, that is).

And, yes - I have already throttled back the Fed withholding for 2021 in hopes that we might break even next time or owe them a little bit. I hate lending the .gov interest-free money.

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One Decade in Our Desert Home

January 2011 January 2021

Images: January 2011 and January 2021 - click on either image to enlarge.

Today marks the tenth anniversary of moving into our little Desert House. We were sleeping on a box springs and mattress with no bed frame, sitting on folding chairs and eating/computing on a 24×48″ folding table - virtually camping in the new abode, but we were “moved in” a decade ago.

Just after moving in, we had a short list of fixtures to be acquired and installed, plus some other improvements to be made. This is the list from ten years ago:

  1. gate2.jpgCourtyard - We spoke to our contractor last week and gave him specifications for a wall and gateway to enclose part of the house to form a courtyard in front and a dog run on the side of the house. We will have an estimate to build the wall this week and will ask that the work be scheduled right away.
  2. red-bird.jpgLandscaping - After the wall is up and the gate has been installed, we are going to start landscaping the yard. This will take some time to accomplish but we are planning to put gravel down on the RV drive through and in the courtyard. Later, we will bring some of Damsel’s cactus from California.
  3. shutters.jpgShutters - Today, we ordered shutters for several of the windows. We contacted a vendor in the Phoenix area that offers a southwestern shutter style that will match our Santa Fe style and will look very nice inside and outside of the house. The wood and stain will match the wood of the cabinets in the kitchen and bathrooms.
  4. sw-furn.jpgFurniture - We promised ourselves that most, if not all of the furniture in the new house, would be new. This week, our first priority will be to get a dining room set. Gradually, we will be acquiring furnishings and decorations that are appropriate to the old west and Santa Fe style that we love.
  5. door.jpgSecurity Door - We probably don’t need this door for security as much as we want the southwestern style and the ability to open the front door and let the air in and keep the bugs out. I contacted a vendor that is willing to travel to Wickenburg to meet with us and to measure the door. He will also install the door when it is complete. The style we select will match the color and style of Damsel’s sconces.
  6. screenmobile.jpgScreens - While driving through the neighborhood, I noticed a screenmobile parked about two blocks away. I took down the number and called our neighbor who installs custom screens. He came out to our property and immediately furnished a quote for screens for all the windows.

Some things turned out to be different from the list, but we got a lot done and are still making minor improvements. Very soon now, we will be getting all new furniture for the great room and new kitchen appliances now that the original stuff is a decade old.

Even after a decade, we thank God that we are here and out of the former residence. It feels good to be here and we remain very happy in our little desert home.

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Cataract Surgery Report

Lens ImplantIn August and then again in October, I had eye surgeries to replace aging lens elements in my eyes with artificial implants designed to eliminate cataracts and to correct visual acuity.

Image: Lens Implant similar to those now in my eyes. Alcon© AcrySof™ Click to enlarge.

My guess is that millions have had their cataracts replaced but this is my story and observations. The surgery is quick and painless with perhaps a small amount of discomfort that quickly abates afterward.

In my case, as I grew older, I became nearsighted and had to wear glasses to fly, drive and do anything that required distance acuity. I removed the glasses to read and work with things close-up. Kind of a pain in the ass without bifocals, and I hated bifocals so I did without. This was before progressive lenses were available.

After a while I wore a contact lens in one eye only so I could see distance, but the uncorrected eye was perfect for reading and working on the computer at home and work. No glasses other than shades were involved. This technique is called “monovision” with one eye corrected for distance and the other used for close work.

Then, about 23 years ago, I had Lasik® surgery to fix my right eye only in order to eliminate the need for a contact lens. Still monovision, but now independent of corrective lenses. I had glasses made for driving where the correction fixed the nearsighted eye and corrected for astigmatism in both eyes. I eventually added progressive corrections so I could seamlessly switch between the distance view and the instrument panel or GPS. That was the status quo up to the surgeries this year.

The left eye surgery was a standard lens replacement while the right eye was a bit more complex, which I will describe below. After the left eye was fixed, one of the first things I noticed was a rather pronounced difference in color perception between the fixed eye and the unfixed eye. With the left eye, white looked white and with the right eye, white looked yellow-ish. Blues were vivid in the left eye and dull with the right eye. I guess I underestimated how big an effect that cataracts have on your vision.

I mentioned that the replacement surgery in the right eye was more complex. When I had Lasik® in that eye I had no idea that it would affect the cataract surgery in that the cornea became distorted. To correct the cornea problem, a second procedure was needed. Before the lens replacement process, they put me under a machine that made contact with the cornea and fired several laser blasts to reshape it. Immediately after that the lens replacement took place with an additional measurement to determine which lens power to use. The surgeon then selected the proper power and completed the surgery.

All the follow up appointments with the ophthalmologist went well. I was now seeing 20/20 with the right eye and the left eye was suitable for close work and reading. This month, I ordered two pairs of prescription glasses - one pair of shades with progressive lenses for driving and daytime outdoor use and another single-vision clear pair for watching TV and other night time use.

Damsel and I were out the last couple of evenings watching the ISS fly over. As a bonus, the crescent Moon, Jupiter and Saturn were gathering together in the southwestern sky in a gorgeous asterism. And Stars! So many Stars all now brightly focused and brilliant. I can SEE!

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Eleventh Retirement Anniversary

eleven-red-rocks.pngThe last year seems to have gone by in a whirlwind despite the social and biological plagues of 2020. Since our Retirement Post Last Year, we have been busy with our everyday routines accompanied by some occasional deviations from the norm. We find things to keep us busy, I guess, as most retirees do, and that seems to make the time pass quickly.

Because of the overblown COVID-19 pandemic (or should I say DEM panic?), we have postponed any excursions in the RV to next spring and/or fall. We had planed a couple of trips for 2020, but stuff happened.

IMAGE: Numeral Eleven textured by the red rock gravel around our house where many people would have a lawn. We have to pull weeds once in a while, but no mowing in retirement!

During the past year, on two occasions, we have entertained overnight visitors in our home. The first visit was from a couple that we have known since the early 1960’s. They stayed a couple of nights with us and had a reunion dinner at our place with another couple who, like us, relocated to Arizona from Kalifornistan. The second visitor, also an old friend and former workplace associate, stayed with us a couple of nights in August while on his way from Colorado Springs back home to the Los Angeles area. Those were both nice visits that we enjoyed immensely.

October is going to be an eventful month. I have my second cataract surgery scheduled mid-month with pre- and post-surgery visits with the ophthalmologist plus visit scheduled with the proctologist for an exam and to schedule the next colonoscopy. I also have some more dermatology work to be done sometime in October. I also plan on seeing the orthopedic surgeon next week regarding knees, shoulders and hips. There’s nothing drastically wrong with those (I hope) but I have a recommendation from the family doctor to go to the ortho for x-rays and follow-ups.

So, here we go into our twelfth year of retirement. We’re praying that the widespread insanity diminishes enough for us to get back to normal and maybe hit the road to relieve our wanderlust.

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Fifteenth Blogiversary

fifteen-blog-years1.png

It’s time for the annual milestone to mark yet another year of blogging on CB&D. Our statistics for the past year show that we have posted about 52 times, or, on average, once a week. That’s nowhere near the “old days” when we made 300 or so posts yearly, but it’s not to bad (in our opinion).

Just because we’ve gone sort of silent on posting does not mean that we’re out of blogging in the reading sense. We have an RSS feed reader browser extension with some 27 blogs that we read daily (or as often as they post) several of which post many times a day. We think that we’re getting the news we need through them.

In the coming year, we will probably be doing just about the same as this past year, noting when there are special events or personal activity, not the least of which we hope will be travelling in our motorhome to new and interesting places as well as some old favorites. That may resume in springtime assuming this COVID-19 crap goes dormant and there are no riots where we’re going.

Lest we forget, today marks The Autumnal Equinox, a.k.a. “first day of fall.” Here in AZ we are still having what we call “second spring” with cactus flowers and our Pride of Barbados shrubs in bloom. We see bees, hummingbirds and butterflies regularly and will probably continue to have them well into winter months. What will disappear from our skies are the ubiquitous Turkey Buzzards who will soon be headed to Mexico for the winter. Happy Fall, everyone!

Thanks for keeping us on the blogrolls. Let us know if we’re not reciprocating.

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