A View from Sierra County

Small town life and politics, lots of knitting, and travels with and without my five burros

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Location: In the Sierra Nevadas, United States

I blog about rural living and social issues, and the creativity that comes from knitting, as well as post random pictures of the Sierras and my burros. "In order to be an artist, one must be deeply rooted in the society" - Simone de Beauvoir


Wednesday, May 17, 2006

Mid-Week Update

I cannot believe that I am really within inches of being finished with Ruana! It all depends on where I lay it out to measure, though. If I use the couch or the bed that I measured the first half on, I am almost done. But if I use the floor, a hard surface, I still have a few inches to go and the first half is probably an inch or two narrower than I thought. I have decided that I will keep comparing the two halves on either side of the waste yarn that marks the center opening (to be edged when I bind off), and when they match, I will be done. This will at least make for symmetry.

It really isn't all that wierd to have an ever-changing length measurement, as this project uses large needles and aims for a fabric that is a bit loose and drapey. I am betting that I was wise to make the length a LOT shorter than the pattern called for, and not just 'cuz of my short stature (not sure what she meant when Margene commented awhile back that I was shorter than she had thought; I am 5'3 1/2"). The weight of this large project is apt to make it one of those that "grows" or stretches out in length from draping it over my shoulders, so I can count on being plenty warm in it. I was pretty warm (maybe too much so) last night while working on it, as I would occasionally turn a row and end up with the whole pile on my lap, promoting feelings of imminent hot flashes. Good thing I will be done soon.

Carole posted a picture of a fabulous little shawlette today, prompting me to comment that she was a shawl-knittin' mama! She even added beads! I would feel woefully inadequate, but my Mountain Peaks is looking pretty promising... there will be update photos when I can get a longer needle in the right size, so that I can transfer the stitches over and spread the darn thing out to photograph, without losing the stitches (yes, it is possible to learn from one's mistakes). I ran out of time to stop at my LYS today while in town and before class time, as my secret ingredients for Dye-O-Rama involved more stores than I originally planned for....

I got in a few more inches on Ruana than I had planned last night, as I decided to watch a rather compelling edition of Frontline, titled "Can You Afford to Retire?", dealing with 401(k)s and retirement issues. I found it disturbing, but somehow not surprising to hear one of the business professors interviewed state that "the new retirement will be work" (as in working through our retirement years).

Apparently, letting people who are not trained investment advisors (such as you and me) manage their own 401(k) plans only worked for the employers who were now making significantly less in contributions, but not for the employees who mainly were not savvy enough to a) put enough money in for the long haul, or b) invest in areas that gave the best return. On top of it, those of us within 10-20 years of retirement (or less) were amongst the guinea-pig pool of workers who have been experiemented upon by this bait-and-switch method of getting corporate America out of the pension plan option, with no clear idea of the long-term social costs.

Do I sound a tad bit bitter? I am not, really, for myself, as I have always known that what was available to me in my working life would be woefully inadequate, and would not allow me to ever fully "retire". I have intended to keep trying out new jobs, and refining what was best to do at a given time based on my skills, abilities, and health, as well as managed a rental business for the past decade to help bolster our income.

However, most of my fellow baby boomers (I was born in 1954, at the tail end of the boom) have gone through their working lives duped into thinking that there would be a time, at a relative young age, when they could "stop working and kick back", yet continue to live a posh lifestyle. Statistics are proving otherwise.

I am sharing this depressing information with you, my dear and loyal readers, not to ruin your day or week, but to encourage you to do a bit of soul-searching right now. Are you truly living the life you want? Are you deferring some plan or dream, thinking you will have more time and/or money for it later, "when I retire"? My answer to that is DON'T. Do what you love right now, as much as you can fit it in, and be thinking of what you can do that makes money doing what you love, and that you can change if your abilities and health changes.

I told my husband, who I forced into watching this hour-long bummer with me, that I thought he should start making custom furniture now, during his winters off, since he has been amassing skills, tools and materials, since that would be a much more compatible occupation than his present one, hefting a chain saw and hiking through the back woods 8-10 hours a day clearing recreational trails for the Forest Service.

You may not ever really retire or want to retire, but it is critical to love what you do in order to face every day with hope.


Blogger Kathy said...

Hi Birdsong

I found your post realistic and not depressing. I truly love my job as a NICU Rn; it graces my life in so many ways.

I am 5'3. I was so happy to read your advice re:the pattern adjustments b/c I need more coaching in this area.

Thanks for the great Burro post last week.

You don't have to reply. Just wanted to drop by.

5:55 AM  
Blogger margene said...

So true. We have been fed untruths and polyanna stories about ss and other retirement plans. Few of us will be ready. Healthcare alone will be unafordable when we get there. It is no surprise to me that I'll be working until I drop.
You just looked a little taller in your pictures. My mind said you were about 5'6". But it really doesn't matter...it's all good;-)

8:58 AM  
Anonymous Imbrium said...

I'm not anywhere even approaching "retirement age," but I've long since realized that life is not going to turn out the way I'd always thought. And in some ways that's disappointing, but it's also freeing...there is no path, there is no plan, but the freedom to do what makes us happy.

At least, I try to look at it that way. Otherwise, I'd have to cry.

9:22 AM  
Blogger KnitNana said...

I think your post for me was a touch depressing even tho' I've known a long time that I'd be working the rest of my natural life! (till I can't anymore) And yes, in some ways I do feel betrayed. I have a dear friend who says to me (since she and I are on opposite ends of the financial continuum) "you're the only person I know who could actually live on Social Security. She meant it as a complement.
(backhanded, ok, but nonetheless...) I'd really rather not have to...but...

Ruana? Well, I haven't started her yet, but I did have another friend some months ago who said, make sure you have a non-stretching yarn in the mix or that garter-stitch will be dragging the ground in no time! I'd forgotten that advice, but I've added cotton and tape yarns right along with the wools and alpacas!

10:46 AM  
Blogger Carrie K said...

I caught that special too, and it was depressing.

A vast majority of people don't save ANY money at all (and not just people who need the cash for living expenses)and there's so much they can do to prolong life now.

But you still spend it as an old person. And not necessarly just a feeble old person, but possibly as a hella sick old person.

5'3 1/2" is not short.

11:01 AM  
Blogger lucette said...

Like you, I've never really expected to be able to retire young (or even maybe at all!)--I'm a writer, and for a long time I didn't have a full-time job. Still--a depressing program, wasn't it?
I'm also a fellow baby boomer--born in '49.

9:06 AM  
Blogger Stacie said...

You are so right on. I have never put in to a 401k cuz it just semmed a little fishy. I love Frontline,but man that show is painful!

6:06 PM  

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