Wednesday, September 23, 2009

59 years 6 months


Among my peer group of baby boomer friends, I am one of the "older" ones.  Nevertheless it may surprise you to realize that I am able now to take money out of my IRA without penalty. As with most discoveries, it is a mixed blessing.

In keeping with the theme of aging, I feel compelled to share with you that I visited the social security office today. It's been on my to-do-list for years, this visit, to correct my birth date. I discovered in filing income taxes online that my birth date is incorrect with Social Security, and frankly, I've had enough lying about my age in order to file online. Besides, I'm quite sure I won't be able to apply for social security a year early just because the Social Security Administration currently thinks I was born in 1949, not 1950.

Carl will be interested to know that marrying him aged me, because it was my name change in 1983 that triggered this error. I was born in 1950 until then.

I was under the wrong impression that after changing my birthday, I could leave my birth certificate with them and file online when the time comes.  Not so.  I have to go in person again when I want benefits.  Phooey to a wasted morning.  I could have lived with lying about my age a few more years if I had realized I could not multi-task my visit.

After I changed my birthday (and felt instantly a year younger), I decided to check a few facts. This only took two more hours of waiting, luckily with a good book to read.

Here are the facts I confirmed today.

Fact # 1. Early retirement is still age 62.
Fact # 2. Medicare is still age 65.
Fact # 3. Deferred retirement is still age 70.

So the only thing that has changed for us baby boomers is normal retirement age, currently age 66 for me.

So, do you want to guess the penalties and benefits of going on the dole early or late? 32% penalty for going early, 32% benefit for waiting till 70. I don't understand the math, but the difference between early at 62 and deferred at 70 is 75%. My brain is hurting trying to figure the rate of return for waiting 4 years or 8 years....but I'll come back with that later if I develop confidence in my calculations.

All that said, I am thinking that before I see a nickel at any age, all the rules will have changed. But today I feel really American. I've stood in line at Social Security.

Monday, September 14, 2009

St. Gertrude Celebrates National Tire and Battery Day

I knew St Gertrude was up to something this morning. The first thing I noticed was a low tire as I picked up new mother neighbor Christine to take her baby to an appointment. But we were already running late. I could easily check that tire after I dropped her off for her appointment, so why waste precious moments now?

One block later, we were headed back to exchange my flat tired vehicle for hers, moving the baby buggy, the baby in the car seat, the diaper bag, the water bottle, the snuggy, etc etc etc. We were just a few minutes late. I dropped her off and settled in at nearby Rice Stadium to read a good book instead of parking the car 14 floors up at the medical tower. Christine could call me when she was ready to go.

A few minutes later I decided to relocate to Starbucks, but the click of the key told me I wasn't going anywhere. It could have been so much worse. I had visions of the baby screaming while Christine called for help to get jump started, and I knew already that St. Gertrude was at work. It was me by myself and not a new baby in the Houston heat dealing with this dead battery. And, I was not 14 floors up in Smith Tower. How awkward would that have been?

I didn't even have the chance to call AAA when a Rice policeman on a bike came by. "How old is your battery, ma'm?" I didn't know. How do you explain to a policeman that it's not your car? That you don't know where the cables are, or the hood release or why the horn alarm keeps going off? But he accepted all this as the truth and called a mobile unit that would give me a start.

Last Saturday in meditation class my teacher told of a wonderful experience she had when a girl in the smoothie store set out to make her happy with a perfect smoothie. It made her day. Well, the Rice police made mine.

While he was letting the battery charge up a little, the policeman told me to clean the connections with a coca cola. "Diet or regular?" I asked. "Regular. And warm, not cold. One can per cable connection."

This led to a discussion of the acidity of Coke. I recalled marinating a tough cut of meat in Coke to tenderize it. He then shared that in his family they marinate their chicken in milk. "Lowfat or regular?" I asked. "Whole milk. Breaks down the proteins and makes the chicken tender. "

Then he told me that at a fish fry, I should put potatoes in the oil and leave them there all day. It would keep the peanut oil from becoming too hot.

"And, by the way, this lot is normally closed off. I don't know how who moved the barriers." I was sorry, I said, and I would move as soon as the car started. I didn't think I needed to explain how it was probably St. Gertrude who moved the barriers. It might have been too much on top of explaining how the car wasn't really mine.

He continued. "If you have grass growing somewhere that you don't want it, put salt on it. "

Huh? Really?

That's when I knew St. Gertrude was definitely in action. Christine has been searching for a way to stop the grass growing between the flagstones on her patio without using harsh chemicals or throwing pebbles into the windows while weed eating. This was it! Salt on the flagstones. The answer we had been needing. St. Gertrude, my patron saint of fortuitous timing, had come through again.

"Rock salt or regular?" I asked.

"Regular. Only costs 19 cents a box."

"Okay, start her up, ma'am."

The car started right up.

Thank you, St Gertrude, for everything wonderful that happened today. And if you are wondering about St. Gertrude and how she came to be my patron saint of Fortuitous Timing, see how this all started on the July 18 2009 blog, "Saved by St. Gertrude" and more on July 19.

It's sort of like that old TV show where the guy time traveled and woke up somewhere not knowing why he was there. By the end of the show, he would have averted some horrible historical event. One time, he stopped Buddy Holley from writing the lyrics Piggy Sue instead of Peggy Sue.....but that was a little out of the norm. Anyway, it's like that with St. Gertrude. You think things are going badly, but then, eventually, you realize there's a reason for it. Meant to be.

Monday, September 7, 2009

Saturday, September 5, 2009

Chapter One


“Why can’t Daisy fly in the cabin with us?” asked Louise.

“Because she’s too big to fit under the seat,” said Mr. Adams. “Don’t worry. We’ll be in Ohio in a couple of hours, and then we’ll all be with Grandma. Daisy will be too.”

“But if we drove to Grandma’s in our car, Daisy could be with us all the time, right?” Asked Louise.

“Yes, but then we wouldn’t have much time at Grandma’s. This is the fastest way for all of us to get there and be together for a nice long visit.”

“I hope Daisy will be all right”, said Louise, with a tear in one eye.

“Well, she certainly won’t be hungry,” said Mrs. Adams. “Look, she barely fits into her crate. She’s getting very round. No treats for Daisy at Grandmas’ house, okay?”

“Yes Mother”, said Louise. She looked at Daisy and sighed.

“Okay, say goodbye to Daisy now,” said Mr. Adams. “ We’ll see you in Columbus, Daisy.”

Daisy pushed her tongue out between the wires of her crate door, and she gave Mr. Adams a goodbye lick.

“Bye Bye Daisy,” called Louise as Daisy and her crate disappeared on the baggage cart.

Friday, September 4, 2009

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Hello Trevor

This morning I heard a hello as I weeded one little flower bed. There are SO many flower beds to weed, having been neglected for four months.

The hello was my mailman Trevor. Someone I have known more than five minutes. This is good! It is SO good to be home.

A few days in my cousin Katy's bed in Cushing OK reminded me how much I wanted to be home!!!! She was a great hostess. Her guest bed has linens just like a B & B. It came complete with Josie, the 8 month old boston terrior who dug in my hair till I woke up. Katy and I found a detox in Cushing at the Cutter Beauty School, followed by Tecates served like a frozen margarita. WOW. And a wonderful little winery, Tidal School Winery, in an old country school. They have some oklahoma wines that are not very fine, but I did love Impressao, a blend of cabernet, sangiovesse and another grape I have never heard of. I already drank it and threw away the bottle, so sorry.....no more information.

After Katy's house I was a horse smelling the barn. Carl convinced me not to drive the square tires all the way home in one day, so I stopped in Fort Worth, bookending my trip with a visit to Carol, now a famous internet talk show host. Catch her on Voice America Wednesdays and archived forever on a program called Stargazing Stories. She helped me drink the Impressao.

So, guess what! I wrote my children's book. Lots to do still, but I have a draft. Daisy gets on an airplane....and she gets lost. Oh my!!!!