When Two Become Four

As we moved into week two of social distancing, Malcolm started to do what CPA’s do, calculate the math. Based on facts at hand, and no clear plan for containment of the Covid19 virus by our Governor, he estimated that Miami, our largest city, would be in trouble within two to three weeks. Our daughter who lives in Miami had already been working from her tiny, high rise condo for nine days when we called to issue an invitation mandate that she and her boyfriend join us for the duration.

They were hesitant about the decision for obvious reasons; Malcolm, his mom and I are all on the endangered species list. We made a convincing argument for why she was in far more danger than us at this point, and they packed up and left Miami. That was ten days ago.

Making It Work

Maintaining our Corona altered leisurely lifestyle and staying healthy as the kids manage their 9 to 6 workday is an interesting dance that we are still learning the steps to. A few basic ground rules, mostly regarding allocation of space and duties has abated an OCD meltdown on my part and I am actually beginning to see a mutual benefit to the situation.

We are well aware of triggers that create anxiety, tension and resentment within our family dynamic and thus far, we have avoided conflict by having a genuine desire to make the best of this situation. Patience, understanding and respect for boundaries continue to serve us well.

The Down Side

You guessed it. The Corona Cave, that I wrote about in the last post, has been reallocated to office space. We miss it, but at least it has been sacrificed to a greater cause. They each have their own (quiet) work space in the house, and we are back to hanging out in the living room. Not my favorite space to lounge, but, at least it’s closer to the kitchen!

The Up Side

We enjoy their company, their energy and their contribution to our well-being. Having them here gives us a sense of purpose beyond ourselves and it makes us happy to provide a comfortable, stress free environment while they continue to work at jobs they love.

Obviously, best behavior practices and patience are the order of the day, but I can honestly say it hasn’t been difficult. Hopefully, we will still feel this way by the end of May.

Something to Think About

This disease will change the way we think about a lot of things and our temporary situation prompted me to consider how it might impact our living spaces in the future. I can’t say that we are ready to embrace this communal living concept as the new normal, but it has made us rethink the idea of down-sizing to condo living. Logistically, in our global society, it would not work for a lot of folks to accommodate adult children, but what about elderly parents? What do you think? Will multiple-family dwellings be a thing in the future?

Be Well!

Filling Time Between Coffee and Wine

Like most people, Malcolm and I have come to terms with how life will be for the foreseeable future. Being retired enables an inherent flexibility that we are especially grateful for right now. Our wings may be clipped, but adapting to our new reality has been easier than imagined.

Making a conscious decision to be diligent about the things that matter has been the key for us. Creating balance in our daily lives which includes time for family, friends, health, fitness, hobbies, travel and finances has always been at the core of our well-being.

Of these priorities, only travel and finances have been detrimentally altered by this disease. Everything else can be easily maintained, even when ‘social distancing’ is imperative. When the dust clears, we will deal with adjustments to the way we travel and restructuring of our financial security.

For now, creating structure and balance within our daily lives, while remaining true to our values is most important.

Adapting to How Things Are

My twice weekly social tennis game has been replaced by a brisk daily workout against the wall at our local park. Not only is it a great workout, but it provides some valuable meditative time as well.

The park is just a few minutes from home by car, so I drive over and Malcolm walks. It is about a 40 minute walk, so by the time he arrives I am almost finished. It is a win/win for both of us.

Our floating picnic is quickly becoming a favorite Sunday afternoon pastime. Launching the kayak and paddling out to a secluded beach in the middle of the river has its perks. I posted this photo on my Instagram Stories last Sunday and my daughter accused me of being insensitive. What do you think, too much?

Malcolm and I have always had shared and individual hobbies and the hobby he misses the most is entertaining friends in our home. He is still cooking lots of yummy food and treats though, so I may have to up the workout to twice a day just to keep up with the calories he is forcing me to consume (wink).

When he isn’t baking a seriously sweet Caramel Flan like the one above, or a starchy comfort food like the mac and cheese below, he is running to the market for fresh produce. BTW, he scored a package of TP this morning!!

The virus is getting too close for comfort and as of today, his trips to the market are hereby suspended by the Executive Committee (me). It seems irresponsible, even as careful as he has been, to continue this indulgence. From here forward, we will have to make do by using the delivery apps recently installed on our phones. Walmart has really stepped up their efforts and I highly recommend downloading that one if you haven’t already.

Creating Comfort

We have a lovely home with plenty of space to be separate or together, but when it comes to waking up in the morning (coffee) and settling down in the evening (wine), we both want to be in exactly the same place – a comfy recliner.

Redecorating the family room a few months ago left us with some excess pieces of furniture that didn’t fit the new/lighter downstairs look. After surveying the upstairs loft, which hasn’t been used since our daughter moved away for college, we came up with a plan to reclaim the space. The timing couldn’t have been more perfect.

We started by donating gently used items and pitching the rest. Then, we rebuilt the TV cabinet to accommodate a modern flat screen TV. Next came re-purposing the old downstairs pieces and acquiring a couple of new things to make the space cozy. I am happy to say that we completed our little ‘reading nook’ just in time for a pandemic!

We expect to be spending quite a bit of time here for the next few weeks and possibly months to come, so why not be comfortable. His chair, devices and chargers are on the left, mine are on the right. We each have head phones and can tune each other out when we want to. Not shown in the photo is a small space with a coffee pot and wine cooler. It is the perfect Corona Cave. Yes, I said that.

When I saw this cartoon posted by Joe at Easin’Along I had to laugh out loud. Similarities to our new space and our attitude are uncanny. Thanks Joe!

Lessons Learned

What made me smile this week was the realization that we can adapt and ride this thing out in relative comfort, and maybe even with a little humor at times. We don’t have to put our lives on hold, but we will have to be creative, stay positive and make a few sacrifices. Some of us may even use the time to do some good. If you are like me, you will know you are doing the right thing when your actions align with your core beliefs and you wake up looking forward to another day, not dreading what the news will bring.

Please remember that many, many people are hurting right now and reach beyond yourself at every opportunity to brighten their day in some small way.

We could all use a little smile right now and would love to hear what you are doing to ‘lighten things up,’ not only in your own lives, but for others. Please share your thoughts regarding how you are filling the time between coffee and wine in the comments section. And, don’t forget to visit Trent’s World to add a link to what made you smile this week.

Sharing Some Goodness

Malcolm made these yesterday and they are yummy. He says I should remind you guys that they are made with no sugar; the sweetness of the bananas is sufficient. They were great with our morning coffee.

Until next time, be responsible, stay safe and take delight in the little things.

When Retirement and Coronavirus Collide

For several months, a group of friends and I have been planning to host a Mahjong Tournament for our neighborhood players. A few days ago we decided to cancel the tournament because it felt irresponsible to continue. Obviously, this is a minor alteration to our busy retirement schedule, but there have been many other considerations and cancellations as well.

Besides having a full and active social calendar, the thing we love most about being retired is the ability to travel when and where we want. We spend a lot of time considering destinations, researching options and securing plans. Most of our trips are finalized well in advance, but sometimes we hit the road in a moment of spontaneity, just because we can. I’d like to say that will continue to be our attitude, but this spring has altered our thinking in ways we never thought possible.

Being in an ‘at risk’ category has made us think twice, not only about ourselves, but about the people we interact with – namely, Malcolm’s 90 year old mother. Irresponsible is the best word I can come up with to describe how we feel about exposing her, or ourselves carelessly to a virus that could have devastating consequences. Can we avoid the disease completely? Who knows, but we can take precautions, beginning with what hurts most – cancelling our travel plans for May and June.

After months of anticipation and countless hours of preparation, our Alaskan voyage through the Inside Passage, followed by visits to Banff, Lake Louise and the Canadian ice fields will not happen. At least not for the foreseeable future.

We made the decision to cancel early on, based on a gut feeling, but did not put the wheels in motion until an advisory from Celebrity Cruise Lines declared their intention to transfer paid fees to a future cruise booking. That was just the beginning of the unraveling that was to follow. Three flights, a rental car, and two hotels later, Malcolm had recouped almost 100% of our initial outlay. Had we held out another week, we probably would have received refunds for everything, but we just wanted the pain to be quick and done. Unlike our daughter, who is keeping the faith that her July trip to France will still be possible.

When the final toll is taken this virus will have long term effects that will shape our thoughts and actions for years to come. There will be a new reality, but what will or should it look like?

According to the CDC, anyone over the age of sixty is at risk for complications from this disease. I am not an alarmist by nature, but the thought of death, or reduced lung function from having this flu (who knows what the next one will be) is something I am concerned about going forward.

Will those concerns keep us home? Absolutely not! As soon as I get over my disappointment (almost there) we will begin to think about how we can travel smarter. Maybe this is the year to take a long drive, visit our national parks, or rent an RV and try a new experience.

We would love to hear how the Coronavirus has affected your plans and daily life. Please share your thoughts in the comments below.

My New Toy – A Cell Phone Tripod

We take a lot of photos when we travel, but very few of them include both of us in the same picture. Asking another tourist can be a bother and you ‘get what you get’ when you do that, so I decided to look for a solution.

While not a fan of the ‘selfie stick,’ I am completely in love with my new Iphone tri-pod, complete with blue tooth for remote operation. It is small enough to carry in a handbag and set-up takes just seconds. It can also be adjusted to landscape or portrait position. At under $25 it is a photography tool worth the investment.

Depending on what I plan to shoot, I sometimes carry just my Iphone 11 and the tripod. It works well in a variety of situations, but I have noticed that a good stiff wind will tip this particular model over when it is extended to its full height, which is about twice what is shown in the photo above. The remote shutter fits securely into the base of the tripod when not in use.

Malcolm and I clowning around at the beach, testing the new toy. I think the results are a nice alternative to a typical selfie!

What made me smile this week was discovering a fun new toy that enables me to easily take photos of the two of us. I was looking forward to getting some nice shots of us sitting on the deck of a ship while a magnificent glacier loomed in the background. But alas, that is a sad story and would spoil the mood of today’s challenge.

Trent’s World Weekly Smile Challenge is the place to go if you have a smile to share, so please visit his blog and attach a link. We could all use a few extra smiles right now!

Two Retirees on Vacation

Like many retirees, we travel a lot, but we haven’t taken a vacation in years. When we travel, it is all about experiencing new cultures and cuisines, while learning about the history and geography of a place. We are busy, engaged and on the go.

After returning home from a few weeks in Europe, we have been known to quip, “we need a vacation”. But, it almost seems redundant to the leisurely retirement lifestyle we live. Some of you might remember what a vacation is like; a few days lounging on a beach, sipping margaritas and whiling away the hours until sunset; then back to work!

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