Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Archive from October 31, 2007

Entry for October 31, 2007

I just received a short Email from a gun-slinging friend, RJ Corvino. He is an I.T. genius, as well as having many other highly marketable talents. He referred me to a website he had just designed for a writer, Kimberly Bravine. She has accumulated quite a nice collection of memoirs, poetry, and prose. If you enjoy well-done site designs, along with reading the works of a talented writer give the site a visit.

http://kimberlybravine.home.comcast.net/

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Archive from October 30, 2007

Entry for October 30, 2007

I spent part of the day getting some exercise by walking around Waukegan Harbor. There is a major remodeling underway of the south half of the south-harbor. Next year I assume they will do the north half of the south-harbor. The fixed height docks are being replaced with floating docks. The radical changes in Lake Michigan water levels have been very frustrating for boaters over the past several years. From the looks of their design drawings, the old north harbor will remain as is.

In 1997 I bought a boat and kept it in the south harbor during three summers. It was an exceptionally good experience; a great adventure on every outing. The overused cliché about a boat being a hole in the water where one pours buckets of money is quite true. Another truism is that the two happiest days in a boater’s life is when he buys the boat, and when he sells the boat.
How much does it cost to keep a boat on Lake Michigan? I am sure some can do it on a tight budget. For a decent size cruiser, don’t be surprised if you wind up spending a sum of around $5,000 a year for slip fees, insurance, fuel, planned maintenance, repairs, and off-season storage. Larger boats can run up some truly overwhelming costs. If the harbor is where you will be spending all of your summer vacation and holidays, keeping a small to mid-size cruiser might just be reasonable. It is like having a floating summer cottage. Watch the Fourth of July fireworks then sleep in the boat; not a bad experience at all. Lake Michigan makes one huge backyard to play in. You have not lived foolishly until you have taken storm-waves into the cockpit of your cruiser. Mother Nature does not care how much your boat weighs; she will slap it ten feet sideways whenever she feels like it.

Lake Michigan fishing is an awesome experience. I need to admit that most of the fish I caught were more by accident than with skill. My boat-neighbor was an expert. He felt sorry for me when I came in empty handed and would often take me back out to do some serious fishing.

Will I ever buy another boat for Lake Michigan? Probably not, it was an experience I cherish but have no desire to repeat. When I relocate to Florida, then I may consider another boat.

Here is a link to the Waukegan Harbor Website. There are plenty of charter services around if you want to spend the day salmon fishing.

http://www.waukeganport.com/harbor_html/wkgn_main.html

Sunday, October 28, 2007

Archive from October 28, 2007

Entry for October 28, 2007

Trick or Treat for Waukegan, Illinois was today. They limit it to two hours, between 2 p.m. and 4 p.m. Since Halloween for this year is not until Wednesday, having Trick or Treat today may seem a bit strange. The city long ago decided to take control of Halloween, after the vandals had taken control of Halloween. To some extent, it is sad, although it does make it quite convenient for the adults. Every group of kids came to the house today with at least one adult to supervise.

When I was a kid, Trick or Treat was on Halloween no matter what day of the week it fell on. Kids ruled the streets, wraiths running from house to house for as far as you could see. Typically, we ran from whenever school let out until 9:30 p.m.

Last year there was the highest turnout of kids of any year that I have lived here. I gave away the contents of two bags of candy, and wound up finishing out the day giving away money. One quarter was given to each small kid and two quarters to each of the bigger kids. The kids and their parents loved it. I went broke.

This year I decided to plan for another mob, and walked out of Sam’s Club with two big bags of assorted candy bars. As I am typing this, it is past 4 p.m. and the fun for the kids has ended. There will probably be a few stragglers but there was no mob of kids to swarm us this year, just a couple of dozen. I am stuck with one and a half bags of left over candy bars. Whoops … ignore that last statement. I just flagged down my neighbor, who has three kids and plenty of visitors, and gave him a half of a bag of candy. Now I am down to just one bag. Just what a retired guy needs, a bag full of assorted temptations. I need to save some for my Granddaughter, who will be here on Wednesday. Maybe I will just send her home with ten pounds of chocolate. Yeah, let her Mom try to take it from her. Grandpa is a good guy, Mommy is bad. That is sweeter than any candy.

Friday, October 26, 2007

Archive from October 26, 2007 No. 2

Entry for October 26, 2007 No. 2

Recently I met a writer from out East who was an amazing, soulful talent. This artist could touch the essence of any man or woman with her prose and poems. For now, she is unpublished, but I hope she chases her dreams. She is not yet retired and has a busy schedule. My guess is that the best writers in history go to their graves unpublished. Either they never pursued publication or they were simply “undiscovered.” Rejection slips from publishers fuel the flames that consume the spirits of many aspiring writers. Early on, I made rejection slips a badge of honor. You cannot fly until you try. It is time for me to add more to the collection.

Retirement should be the time in life for everyone to “put up or shut up” about all of the dreams that were put off in anticipation of someday finding the time to pursue them. Want to be a writer? Write. Want to be a painter? Paint. Grab a big chunk of rock and start hammering out the sculpture that you have had visions of for your entire life.

Thanks again for the visit.


James A. Zachary Jr.

Archive from October 26, 2007

Entry for October 26, 2007

For those who worry that their health will start to deteriorate as soon as they retire, I guess anything is possible. Consider these few possible health saving benefits of retirement.

You have more time to pay attention to your health. It is much easier to find the time to schedule a visit to the doctor or dentist. You will not need to try to schedule appointments for after work, or need to take a day off from work.

You may find, as I have, you eat less after you retire. I am not sure why, but I am not nearly as hungry as I was while working, and I don’t feel the need to snack. That might have something to do with stress, so if NOT working is going to cause you anxiety or boredom, it is possible you will gain weight. For me, so far I am down fifteen pounds and hope it keeps dropping off.

You have more time on your hand to exercise. One ex-coworker I know that took an early retirement joined a health club and goes there regularly. He has dropped even more weight than I have. While he was working, he never was able to work a health club into his schedule.

If you a tobacco user, you may find the lower stress level makes it easier to abstain.

I ran into another ex-coworker a few months ago who retired when he was around 58 years old. He is now over 80. He was always an active guy who loved eating homegrown vegetables. I believe he just plain became even more active after he retired, loved the lower stress level, and continued his hobby of gardening.

I do recommend that you visit the doctor regularly, and take all of the damn pills prescribed. Most of the old geezers I know always run to the doctor at the first sign of trouble. The ones that don’t, well I guess I know a few of them too, but their group has more funerals.

Should you retire and not be able to afford health care insurance, I am guessing things could go very bad very fast.

ZACK REMINDER: The COMMENTS-function for this blog is not working as it should. YAHOO has already been informed and, in their typical fashion, they have done nothing to correct it. If you are looking to start your own blog site, I recommend you check out Google Blogger.


Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Archive from October 24, 2007

Entry for October 24, 2007

Part of the idea of a Web Log (blog) is to make regular entries. Some do so daily, some are somewhat irregular like this one. Most folks start a blog and let it fold after an entry or two. I would like to thank those that have visited here, especially those that visit more regularly than I have been writing. Thanks for peeking in at my life and I’ll try to get back to some regular entries. Few will be profound, a few will be profane, and most will be mundane.

As far as retirement, it will soon be three full months. Hardly a full test-run of a new life, but I have to be very honest and say it is every bit as great as I thought it would be. At least a third of life’s stresses are work related. A large chunk of life’s stress comes from worrying about money. By putting a focus on a retirement date, and saving and planning for years, retirement can yank a whole lot of stress from your life. Age 55 is not too soon if you think things through. Not retiring at all is fine too, as long as it is your choice. Needing to work until the age of 80 years of age, because of finances, would be a bitch.

A few words of unsolicited advice are in order. Money is the key; quite simply money is power. You do not need to be rich to retire early, but you will need to live within your means. The first part of any retirement plan should be unrelated to retirement. Learn to set a budget (computers and spreadsheets have made this much easier than with paper and pencil). I look at mine most every day and make adjustments where needed. Keeping a budget will guide you to retirement. Next, pay off all debts if reasonable. Carrying a credit card balance from month to month is not a good idea even if you are rich. There is no greater waste of money than credit card interest fees. Here is a kicker; I have two credit cards that both pay me to use them! One pays me a cash rebate of 1% of what I charge on the card (even though I pay it off each month). The other is a graduated amount, up to 2% of what I charge. Both pay cash, none of that “points for gifts” nonsense. Folks, a couple of hundred bucks a year from a credit card company is not much but is much better than me sending them interest fees. Next, if you have a pension from a job you are quitting don’t cash it out! Let it ride until you retire and let it be part of your income. Next, put money into any tax deferred retirement fund you have at work. Put it in until it hurts. Mind you, if you are going to run up a credit card balance doing this; back the amount down to your means. Third, if you are maxed out on your plan at work, save and invest as much as possible in other ways. Certificates of deposit are OK, same for Roth IRAs. Better rewards (at greater risk) can come from stock mutual funds.

Final thought for today. A temptation most will have, including me, will be to take a big chunk of savings and buy a boat, an outlandish luxury car, or a vacation home. Savings, like a pension, is a like a job that pays you whether or not you get out of bed. If the savings shrink, the paychecks get smaller or can disappear entirely. Never spend the principal.

Thanks for visiting,


James A. Zachary Jr.

Thursday, October 18, 2007

Archive from October 18, 2007

Entry for October 18, 2007

Last month when we brought Mom home from the hospital, it was for the simple reason of having her die in her own house. She was born in a time and place when the lack of modern medicine mandated that most everyone who fell terminally ill would die at home. She lived through the era when the abundance of modern medicine mandated all terminally ill would die in a hospital, often after spending months or years hooked to machines used to prolong life. She lived into the era when hospice care became acceptable. Full circle, again the terminally ill could die at home.

Along with my Aunt Shirley, Rainbow Hospice of Park Ridge, Illinois provided the care for Mom during her final days. Caregivers from Rainbow Hospice are assigned to teams with names from the colors of the rainbow. The “Purple Team” served Mom. They all were skilled, caring, gentle, respectful professionals. They provided comfort for Mom and all of her family. One day when I arrived at the house gospel music was flowing through the open windows. A hospice C.N.A. was singing with my Aunt Shirley. She gathered everyone at Mom’s bedside and led us in singing Mom’s favorite song, “Amazing Grace.” Reliving that moment still pulls at my heart.

On behalf of the five sons of the late Georgia Zachary, I would like to thank Rainbow Hospice. Collectively and individually, you were blessings.


James A. Zachary Jr.

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Archive from October 16, 2007

Entry for October 16, 2007

If God has created anything gloomier than the low lying, gun barrel blue evening clouds of October I have yet to see it. The falling leaves have left barren patches in the tree line, with the remaining leaves favoring the color of skin lesions from secondary syphilis. Bourbon offers no comfort; it just digs a hole below what would be rock bottom for anyone with sanity. Still another drink will splash to see where the hole will lead. Life is what it is. Depression is just one room of many in the house called life. How many rooms still to visit? So far, all rooms have had doors that lead back to here. There is no hurry; depression is the only room left where it is still acceptable to smoke a good cigar. We will see what the next room holds as soon as the tobacco runs out.

Saturday, October 6, 2007

Archive from October 06, 2007

Entry for October 06, 2007

The visitation for Mom was on Wednesday. The interment was the following day. Yesterday we drove Aunt Shirley back to Tennessee. Today we returned home.

Now we will begin thanking everyone for the prayers, help, and kindness. It truly has been overwhelming. Neighbors, co-workers, friends, family, and perfect strangers all provided support throughout all of this.

Death to me is as natural as birth. It is inevitable that someday we will all lose each other. My sadness comes from knowing Mom will never again answer the door when I knock.

I celebrate each moment of the life she gave me, and I celebrate each moment of the life she lived. A memory will kiss each remaining beat of my heart.

Thanks for listening, and thanks for being here.


James A. Zachary Jr.