“I want to caution you against the idea that balance has to be a routine that looks the same week in and week out.”

Today is windy and chilly. It is winter cold. Gracie and I will be making a dump run later. The dump is all open land with no trees or buildings so when the wind blows like today, it is so cold I always think of the Russian steppes. I can never empty my trunk fast enough.

I don’t remember it being all that cold when I was a kid, but I do remember the wind. It blew across the field at the foot of my street and the strongest wind would sometimes almost blow us away. We’d laugh and even raise our arms like sails so the wind could catch us. Some days we’d walk backwards as protection from the wind. Our collars would be up. Our hats were pulled down to cover our ears and to save them from flying off, from being borne by the wind. We’d hold the bottom of our jacket sleeves to keep the wind from sneaking up inside. I’d arrive home almost breathless and with cheeks reddened by the wind.

I never counted days until vacations. I counted days until Christmas but that had to do with Santa and new toys. Going back to school in January was no big deal when I was young. That was my lot in life so I just took it all in stride. Later, when I was older, I was far less pleased at the end of vacation because it meant back to my routine, to long hours which left little time for fun, for enjoying even the smallest piece of the day.

I figure retirement is a gift, a recompense for all those days. I have a routine of sorts which involves coffee and the papers and KTCC but then that’s it for the rest of the day. I fill the hours handily and usually happily.

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12 Comments on ““I want to caution you against the idea that balance has to be a routine that looks the same week in and week out.””

  1. Morpfy Says:

    Rhubarb Strawberry Jam

    o 1 lb rhubarb
    o 1/4 cup water
    o 2.5 cups crushed strawberries (about 1.5 quarts)
    o 6.5 cups sugar
    o 1 pouch liquid pectin
    Step By Step
    1. Sterilize Mason jars and prepare two-piece lids.
    [To sterilize the jars, boil them for 10 minutes. If you live at an altitude of 1,000 feet or more, boil an additional minute for each 1,000-foot increase in altitude. *If you wish, rather than sterilizing jars the processing time can be increased to 10 minutes. Keep in mind that if your altitude is above 1,000 feet the processing time needs adjustment.]
    2. To prepare fruit: Wash rhubarb and slice thin or chop; do not peel. Combine rhubarb and water in a saucepan. Cover and simmer until rhubarb is tender, about 1 minute. Sort and wash fully ripe strawberries; remove stems and caps. Crush berries.
    3. To make jam: Measure 1 cup cooked rhubarb and crushed strawberries into a large pot. Add sugar and stir well. Place on high heat and, stirring constantly, bring quickly to a full rolling boil that cannot be stirred down. Boil hard for 1 minute, stirring constantly. Remove from heat and stir in pectin. Skim foam, if necessary.
    Immediately ladle hot jam into clean, hot, sterile jars, leaving ¼-inch headspace. Prepare jar rims. Adjust two-piece lids.
    4. Boiling Water Canning: Process Half-pints and Pints 5 minutes*. Follow step-by-step directions for your pressure canner’s boiling water method. For processing above 1,000 feet altitude, see **Altitude Chart for recommended time.

    • katry Says:

      This is scary. Just this morning I was thinking of you and that you hadn’t been by for a while. Then here you are!! It must have been strong vibes.

      I have just started liking rhubarb because I really hadn’t tasted it at all when I was young. I recently tried a piece of rhubarb pie and liked it.

      Perfect timing for the recipe.

  2. Morpfy Says:

    Banana Cake with Cinnamon Glaze


    1-1/2 cups flour
    1 tsp ground cinnamon
    1/8 tsp ground nutmeg
    1 tsp baking soda
    1/2 tsp salt
    1/2 cup chopped nuts (pecans, walnuts, cashews, peanuts, etc.), optional
    1 cup sugar
    1/2 cup oil
    2 eggs
    1 cup mashed ripe bananas
    1/2 cup sour cream
    1 tsp pure vanilla extract
    Cinnamon Glaze:
    1 cup confectioners’ sugar
    1 tsp ground cinnamon
    1/2 tsp vanilla extract
    1 to 2 Tbsp milk or cream


    Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Line a 9 x 13-inch baking pan with non-stick foil.
    In a small bowl, combine flour, cinnamon, nutmeg, baking soda, salt, and chopped nuts.
    In a large bowl, beat sugar and oil. Add eggs, bananas, sour cream, and vanilla extract.
    Beat for 2 minutes until thoroughly combined. Add dry ingredients,
    stirring only until all ingredients are combined.
    Pour into prepared pan.
    Bake for 30 to 35 minutes until lightly browned and top springs back when lightly touched.
    Let cool to room temperature.

    Cinnamon Glaze:
    Whisk together confectioner’s sugar, cinnamon, vanilla extract,
    and milk or cream.
    Add only enough cream to make a spreadable glaze.
    Top cooled cake with cinnamon glaze before cutting.

    Yield: 24 to 36 servings, depending on cut size

    Grilled Pork Chops with Coffee Barbecue Sauce

    1/4 cup fine sea salt, plus more for seasoning pork
    2 pounds pork chops, preferably center cut Freshly ground black pepper
    Coffee Barbecue Sauce (read next recipe below)

    Pour 1 quart of water into a deep container.
    Add the salt and stir until it is dissolved.
    Put the pork chops in the solution,submerging them completely and weighting them down
    with a plate if necessary.
    Refrigerate for at least 12 and no more than 24 hours.

    Remove the chops from the brine and pat them dry with paper towels.
    Prepare an outdoor grill or preheat a grill pan over high heat on the stovetop.

    Season the chops with salt and pepper and put them on the grill over direct heat.
    Cook for 5 minutes on each side,or less if the chops are thinly cut.
    After turning the chops,baste them with coffee barbecue sauce,
    letting the sauce caramelize onto the pork.
    Serve from a platter with extra barbecue sauce alongside.

    Yield: 4 to 6 servings

    • katry Says:

      I think I am in love with you banana bread. It has sour cream which always makes for a moist bread. Yup, I’m saving this in my files.

      I’m looking for the Coffee Barbecue Sauce. It sounds delicious.

  3. olof1 Says:

    Much the same here but with snowflakes too. It has been snowing almost all day and quite a lot of it too but nothing can be seen on the ground. It is the kind of snow that just keeps on flying and I’ve always wondered where it finally ends up, as rain in Germany perhaps 🙂

    It was nasty outside so we’ve mostly stayed indoors and I’ve kept the fire burning in the wood stove. I didn’t even bring a camera with me so today I only show photos from old cameras, some have frost in them so it sort of fits anyway 🙂

    I hated routines back in the days and still don’t like it but sort of have my routines anyway, like the laundry on Sundays and going to the stores on Fridays so I don’t have to do that on weekends.

    Have a great day!


    • Birgit Says:

      Christer, that explains why our rain was so cold today. I would have appreciated it more if I knew it was from Sweden 🙂

    • katry Says:

      The sun is going down, and it’s getting colder. We have no snow in the near forecast, and I’m glad. By Friday it should be a bit warmer.

      I stayed home today as well. I got all the trash in the car but decided to wait until tomorrow to go to the dump. I just wasn’t in the mood today to do anything too constructive.

      You have the same sort of work week routines I used to have. Saturday was for cleaning, changing the bed and shopping if need be. Sunday was prepare lessons and go to the dump day. Now I do whatever whenever or not.

      Enjoy your evening and stay warm!!

  4. Richard Says:

    O. M. G. … Where DID the year go … ? Looka heah: It’s already the SECOND of Jan-yew-erry … it seems like just yesterday it was only the first …

    Bright. Shiny. Sunny. Chilly. Everything’s good except the ‘bright,’ ‘shiny,’ and ‘sunny’ parts. Chilly I can deal with. We’ll be in the upper 20s tonite – life is indeed good.

    Coldest I’ve ever been was when I stood guard duty at Ft Jackson during AIT after Basic. Walked the Motor Pool perimeter in weather that was just absolutely Gawd-awful cold, mostly ‘cuz the Motor Pool was a huge empty plain where the wind could blow unhindered by little things like tall buildings. Hell, the Motor Pool buildings were all flat, spread-out one-story affairs, and they didn’t block anything. Field jacket, liner, gloves … nothing kept the cold and wet wind from cuttin’ thru the clothing. Makes y’ think of how Washington’s troops at Valley Forge must have felt on the Delaware crossing. This, thankfully, isn’t anywhere near that cold.

    Vacation proximity was always a countdown for us. So was its ending and the first day of school. As you state, vacation assumes an outsized importance as we trod thru the workaday world on our Journey to Retirement City – and it is a gift, to be sure. Ever since the day I told FedEx to cut the paperwork (after they told me my position had been outsourced to some hajji in India), every day has been Saturday. My ‘routine’ (to use a word in its absolutely most meaningless sense) is whatever I feel like doing at the time. I now have time to use Photoshop and Illustrator for the projects I find interesting rather than working on retail jobs with little to no interest value but which kept FedEx happy because of the income they generated. Income’s a nice thing, don’t misunderstand – it’s just not the only thing. There’s a lot to be said for being able to nothing on your own schedule … wait! – izzat an oxymoron … ? Mmm … prolly it’s just a regular moron.

    • katry Says:

      That’s funny-I thought the same thing this morning. I said here it is the 2nd already. Where does the time go?

      I like the sun on a winter’s day. It has a different shine to it than in the summer. It is seldom ever warm and has almost a sharpness to it.

      I never spend all that much time outside in the winter, especially on a really cold day. It is to the car then back to the house with maybe a store in between.

      I think the memory of being colder than you’ve ever been stays with you and becomes the standard by which all other cold days are measured.

      Like you, I see every day as Saturday, and after all this time I am no longer astonished by being retired. I love having whole days to do whatever I want. I haven’t once looked back.

  5. Caryn Says:

    Hi Kat,
    Today was a slacker day for me as well. Yesterday was house party day, all day. Lots of food, conversation and more food and more conversation. Catching up with people I’ve not seen all year in some cases.
    I planned to do a few things today but just never got around to them. Instead I did some knitting, photography, dog-walking and playing with the dogs. A good day all around. Maybe tomorrow I’ll do those chore things. Or maybe not. 🙂

    It was sunny but not warm up here. There is still snow on the unpaved areas but it’s more like a film of snow. The puddles melt during the day but I can see them icing up shortly after the sun goes down.

    Enjoy the evening.

    • katry Says:

      Hi Caryn,
      I had such plans for today but decided that I just wanted to hang around the house and do little or nothing. I have been loading the car with trash and am ready for the dump run so I guess I did something.

      I still have presents for friends so we’ll have to get together for a little Christmas. I need to wrap a couple yet but I’ll do that tomorrow. I did many last night so only a few are left.

      No snow down here at all, no puddles either.

      Have a great evening!

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