Monday, March 18, 2019

Lungworts and Retirement

I know I talked about going on a photo walk this weekend, but the motivation just wasn't there. Yesterday was a nice day but I felt like I had so much to do at home, I'd better just stay here and do it!

I worked a bit in the garden, lightly trimming the bushes in the front of the house and cutting back the geraniums. Our lungworts are blooming, as you can see. They're in the same family as borage and forget-me-nots, which is why they look somewhat similar. We have a spotted variety (above) and a plain one (below). I'm seeing a few tentative forget-me-nots out there, too.

Then Dave and I took to the high street to run some errands. For Christmas I gave him a gift card to a cookware shop, so we redeemed that -- he wanted a new nonstick skillet, and we wound up getting three of various sizes. Of course that was more than the value of the gift card, but that's fine. This shows why retailers like gift cards -- not only do they get to sit on the money for a few months (I bought it in December), but card-holders always wind up buying more than the card will allow!

We visited a new pastry shop, where we got some desserts -- a smooth and glossy piece of caramel cake for Dave and chocolate pudding for me. We now have SIX bakeries on our high street, all doing some combination of breads, pastries and breakfasts. Frankly, we seem oversupplied. I don't know how they all stay in business.

Then we went to the grocery store where, on a whim, we picked up something called Eccles cakes -- "a Lancashire tradition," according to the package. We had no idea what they were, and when we asked the cashier she didn't know either. I guess she's not from Lancashire. Turns out they're miniature pies filled with currants and raisins. We had them with our afternoon tea and they were good. I'd buy them again.

I took Olga to the cemetery, where our walk was interrupted by gathering storm clouds of such darkness and magnitude that I decided we'd better hoof it home -- and it's a good thing we did because we got thunder and hail!

Finally -- and here's the day's major achievement, saved for the end -- I filed our American income taxes. Woo hoo! It's always such a relief to get that done. This year we actually had to pay a tiny amount ($24). It's the first year we've made more than the permitted exemption for foreign income, and because we paid off Dave's student loan back in 2017 we no longer have that interest to deduct, so we basically broke even. Maybe we need to set aside even more of our money in pre-tax retirement savings to avoid that situation in the future.

We were at a party recently where some of our coworkers were all talking about their retirement plans. One guy's moving to France, another to Palm Springs. They asked us what we intended to do, and we confessed that we hadn't really considered it. They're all older than we are, but not by much, and I suppose we do need to start thinking about our options. Good Lord.


  1. I chuckled about the fact that Eccles cakes were a mystery to you. Eccles is a suburb of Manchester and I have consumed many an Eccles cake. Perhaps you could retire to Eccles. I found this little £75,000 bungalow for you and Dave:-

  2. Six pastry shops in your neighborhood? That could be an indication of how bad things are, as "vice stocks" tend to rise in value in times of trouble and stress.

    I envy people who know what they want to do for their third act. I knew a man who was in the print business in Manhattan and dreamed of owning a working cow breeding farm and when he was 65, he did it. He moved to upstate New York, to the middle of nowhere, and breeds Polled Hereford cattle. He's 80 and still gets up at dawn and works harder than he ever did as a print salesman. He's snowed in at least one month a year. It's not Palm Springs, but it's his idea of retiring from the rat race.

  3. I hate gardening in this wet dank time just before the warmth of spring

  4. Six bakeries does seem to be a goodly plenty.
    You and Dave could retire in Lloyd. The sweet little house across the street is for sale, I think. You could grow tomatoes and adopt my grandchildren as your own. I'm sure this would be like the answer to a dream for you guys.

  5. Well I think plants and retirement go nicely together. Yes, definitely plan for retirement.

  6. You do have a lot of bakeries close by. Sounds like a yummy way to walk around and sample the sweets. Retirement is an interesting adventure. Since our retirement we've lived in three different places and have learned a lot about ourselves and what we truly want as we get older.

  7. Portugal. retire to Portugal. I'd love too myself especially if by some horrid twist of fate Trump gets elected again. if that happens this is not a country I would want to live in but no way would I be able to drag my children and grandchildren along so I guess I'm staying here. but why apply for permanent residency in the UK if you are just going to leave when you retire?

    we have two donut shops here, never been to either one. one of the restaurants is supposed to be opening a bakery attached and they've been working on it for months and months. last time I was there I asked the guy when it would open. I swear he told me March 1st. it's still not open.

  8. I agree with Ellen , although I have not been to Portugal...yet. OR you could come here, Sandwiched in between Seattle and Vancouver BC, freezing most of the time, in the darkness most of the time BUT, It is pretty gay up here, and there is a bookshop on nearly every corner. Loads of dogs and a leash law but plenty of hiking off leash. However, if the rump is re elected, forget about coming back here altogether.
    Pastries are no as nice here as London, Nothing is , really...

  9. Retire??? What is that?
    I just saw an episode of "Escape to the Continent" about southern Portugal on Netflix and I must admit, it was pretty enticing.
    Six bakeries does seem like a few too many.

  10. The main character in one of my favorite mysteries (Maisie Dobbs) loves Eccles cakes so I looked them up one time. Sounds like I would like them too!

    Mike & I never planned to retire, but he sort of is by default and things aren't looking so hot at my job either. Of course I'm too young to retire (55) but also too old to be having to look for work again. Sigh.

  11. I am coming up on my 23rd year of retirement. I have a lot of things to do but seem to spend an inordinate amount of time on this damnable machine. But I enjoy being retired. As much as you seem to have in your life I think you will, too. And Portugal could be a great place to do it.

  12. Good for you getting your taxes done! And major kudos for getting Dave's student loans paid off. A recent study stateside found that student loans are severely hobbling the millennial generation, causing them to put off getting married, having children, buying homes, thereby affecting the economy.

    By the way, I have been posting, but ever since I made my blog private it appears that it no longer updates on people's blog rolls. I hope you'll still stop by sometime, even if it looks as if I haven't posted. And if you find you don't have access, please email me at and let me know so I can invite you at whatever is your preferred email. I'd hate to lose you.

  13. Is the high street the name of the street or does it just mean the commercial street in the area? Growing up we always said we were going downtown, but it meant we were going to the street with all the shops in the middle of town - Broadway in Saratoga.

  14. YP: I did not know it was a place! I thought perhaps it was a person. I think I'll pass on that dreary bungalow. (Someone needs to learn how to prepare a home for photography for a real estate listing!)

    Vivian: To each his own, I suppose. I can't imagine all the work that must be required to run a cattle farm, but it probably keeps him healthy!

    John: Yeah, it's not the best time to be outside, that's true.

    Ms Moon: Lloyd would be PERFECT! I'd probably adopt your chickens, too. :)

    Red: Well, that's true -- we already have a head start on the gardening!

    Robin: It would be nice to have the freedom to go anywhere. I just hope we can afford it if and when the time finally comes.

    Ellen: Portugal would be fabulous. I'd definitely consider that. For some reason lots of British people go to Spain, but I haven't heard of many going to Portugal.

    Linda Sue: I have to say, freezing darkness doesn't make it sound ideal! But I'm not a sunbather, so maybe I'd manage. (I'm sure it's no worse than England!)

    Sharon: What is "Escape to the Continent"? Maybe I need to check that out?

    Bug: I suppose I'm semi-retired already, having downshifted into a less stressful (and less well-paid) position after my newspaper career! Not that there's anything wrong with that.

    Catalyst: Computers are very seductive that way!

    37P: You haven't lost me! I already left you a comment, which you probably saw by now. And yes, it's SUCH a relief to have the IRS off our backs for another year!

    Sue: Yes, a high street is just the main commercial strip in any town or community. Ours is actually called West End Lane.