I was feeling a bit low yesterday. A former classmate posted about his impending retirement on Monday and while I’m happy for him, of course, I got to thinking about how far away we are from that goal.
Sometimes, as any freelancer does, I miss the regular paychecks, the benefits and the security for a pension a “real” job affords.
For the past 13 years, I’ve celebrated Monday, October 31, as my Free Day. It was the day I shed a life in a gray flannel corporate cube that did not suit me.
I’ve always thought it was ironic the anniversary fell on Halloween, one of the scariest days of the year, but also one full of treats if you say (trick or treat!?) and do (wear silly costumes) the right things.
There have been times when being on my own has been scary, especially these past 2–3 years. My writing career was built on newspaper journalism and as the economy faltered so did most of my long-standing clients.
It’s been tough rebuilding my writing to a majority of online clients as well as adding back in corporate communications, marketing, public relations and learning a whole new world of social media marketing (something we couldn’t have ever imagined when I was earning my degree in business administration 20 years ago).
For the past 13 years, overall, my writing life has been a treat.
We began our Saturday at a Dutch oven cook-off, a good, old-fashioned way to enjoy a beautiful fall morning, especially if you enjoy that type of cooking as we do.
We ended the day, about as high tech as we could get, choosing new cell phones.
First, let me say that I hate the fact that we have to update all of our electronics every few years, especially when there may be nothing wrong with them. I think, like most things, it is a complete waste to have to purchase a new phone when the older one still works.
We purchased our first “car phone” (what they were called then), a big, bulky bag phone for about $400 in 1990. I drove a ways to work and we justified the expense knowing I could call Dale if there were an emergency.
For a long time, that’s the only phone we had and we had an inexpensive “emergency plan,” for $10 a month with huge per call fees if we did use it (which I recall doing only once, when my Baby Blazer’s axle broke on the highway).
Our German daughter thought having a phone in the car was the most ridiculous thing she had ever heard of. Of course, when we attended her wedding in 2007, like most people today, she was never without her cell phone.
While I finally upgraded, Dale kept that bag phone until they told us the technology to provide it service was no longer available. By then, he was working nights and I insisted he also get a phone, just in case.
Dale and I both had the same model phone that we purchased four years ago when we moved to Our Little House. We had to switch carriers because the old one would not work here and the chip in our old phones wouldn’t work with the new provider.
We chose a model of phone that did nothing but make and receive calls. No cameras. We could text, but it was a cumbersome process. Since Dale didn’t do it at all and I only do it when I cannot reach someone by calling back someone who has texted me, it really was unnecessary.
My, have things changed in four years.
Dale woke up yesterday morning complaining of being cold.
When we were younger, I was the one always cold and he was hot, now it is reversed.
“You’re going to have to put on some sweats or something,” I told him, “That is, until we fire up the stove.”
He said something about adding another dog to the bed – we already sleep with two – which isn’t an option in a double sized bed.
We’re using a small electric oil heater right now, enough to take the chill off, but we won’t start burning wood until the temps dive and stay low.
Until then, instead of turning up the electric heater, which costs us as well as the environment (or making it 3-dog nights), we will take these steps:
- Add an extra quilt to the bed
- Layer clothing
- Open the oven after use to allow the unneeded heat for cooking continue to warm the house
- Close the vents in the basement
For those of you who have central heat, lowering your thermostat to 68 degrees during the day and lower at night not only helps the environment, but can save you up to 15 percent on energy bills each year.
Do you have any more tips to help save energy in the winter?
As I write this, we are expecting our first freeze of the season, which means my beautiful summer annuals will be no more and it is time to get serious about getting ready for the cold.
I took the dogs out yesterday morning and could already smell the familiar scent of the woodburning stove my aunt got going at her house down the road.
We haven’t had to do that just yet. We typically use a small electric oil space heater until the temps refuse to come back up. The stove just really is too much for Our Little House when it isn’t staying below 40 degrees.