Sunday, May 29, 2022

I intended to move

Intentions are very well and good, but the follow through is what's important. During the walk with Sean and Cam last week, we came upon this grove of birch trees. At least I think they were birch trees. The light was lovely, and I could almost see a model posed with the trees. Except we didn't have a model. 

I asked myself, what else can I do with this scene so that it isn't just another photo of trees? Movement. Intentional camera movement.

I've been out shooting a bunch of film lately. Almost one whole roll was shot during a Ukrainian walk yesterday with Michelle. There are some of her, of course. The film is at the lab and whatever shots are suitable for sharing will show up here. Stay tuned.

Retirement is much in my news lately. Mine of course, but you knew that. My first CPP deposit arrived Friday, which was sort of a weird feeling. I clearly remember looking at my first paycheque stub from the City, horrified at the deductions for pension and CPP and EI, and whatever else was there. I know for a fact that if you had offered my 25 year old self the choice of taking the cash or having the deductions taken off, I'd have taken the cash. So would you have done. Yes, you would you liars.

Oh sure, I'd have started the deductions later. Always later, since there's be an endless list of things to spend money on. Within a couple years of starting at the City we bought this house, and you all know that dramatically increases the number of things to spend money on. But the whole premise of the CPP is those first deductions have decades to work. Decades of increasing value, building on itself. 

I was only with the City for 6 or 7 years, and escaped with my essentially trivial commuted pension contributions and a shattered sleep life. But those CPP contributions stayed in the system, slowly building up over the years, the decades. And now I'm reaping the fruits of those contributions, though I never really thought the day would come.

For the first part of my working life, early 80's to late 90's or so, I scraped and scrabbled to find RSP contribution money. Then I got a retention bonus from my employer, and I didn't have anything pressing to spend it on. I found a financial advisor, and put a big chunk into an RSP, while she figured out the best investments. I started making more money, so the tax returns got bigger, which in turn got put into RSP to catch up on contribution room. (more detail here.) 

What with widely varying corporate earnings, and the choice of salary or dividends, my financial advisor earned her Wheaties over the years. The last bit of work was to figure out when to take CPP. After shutting the company down, and they knew the final dividend amount, they figured out the most tax efficient way to pull out the funds I wanted. There was a prosaic email that ended, apply for CPP now. I did. 

One of my buddies in Ontario is retiring. She will be busier than ever on the homestead and her many projects. Our neighbour on the other side of the alley is retiring after 38 years with CBE. It's only just recently that the realization sank in that she was turning 65 and had no need to work. I was having a beer on a patio with some other buddies in their early 50's or so, and they are desperate to retire. They're done, but have to hang in there a few more years. 

It's tough sledding for some, those last few years. It wasn't so bad for me, since I'd had breaks between contracts, and generally only picked work I liked. Some people skate through their last time on the job as a long farewell party. Linda's last year was brutal, with ever looming deadlines and expectations to do ever more work. Her to do list over the last month did not include much in the way of farewell lunches. One of the pool lifeguards that I chat with bitterly resents the 'golden handcuffs'. She has no real choice but to hang in there another 5 to 10 years, at a job she no longer likes. Her pension isn't big enough to live on yet, but it's too much to walk away from.

The big question about retirement is how much money will I or my family need? The biggest part of that is how long you'll need it for, and not many of us know that number. It's a terrible thing to outlive your money. It doesn't matter how often you do the math, there's the fear that you've overlooked something. Or that the world will change somehow and upset your financial assumptions. Don't get me started on corporations and their pension holidays and golden parachute bankruptcies. 

Of the Day




Friday, May 27, 2022

Flowery Friday 2021 Peony Blowout

 I took a lot of photos of the various peonies last year. Over the course of a long and brutal winter made worse by COVID, the blog has been enlivened by the peonies doing their thing. But the time has almost come for this year's peonies to do their thing. They are crowding onto stage, ants and all, eager to strut their stuff.

So here's a last look at 2021. I think these are in date order, unless Blogger has messed me up. The peonies have somewhat different bloom cycles, so one could be fading and another in full bloom. I find the fading cycle to be just as interesting as the full bloom cycle.























Of the Day
Driftwood, then a serendipity from the Bird Sactuary.
Do not suspect I'm going to give you a blog post with all the unused driftwood or distressed wood photos. There are hundreds. Many hundreds. They will continue to show up in Of the Day, along with whatever else merits inclusion at the time. This could be a gorgeous model, a cat, artsy, various flowers, a landscape scene, serendipity, a film shot, or whatever else comes to mind or seems good. After all, I wouldn't want you to become complacent, always getting the same old, same old.


Two really similar shots taken within a few seconds of each other, on the way to my hike with Sean and Cam. I really can't decide which I like better. What about you?

A garden shot, 35mm, Visions3 film. But first another serendipity from 2017.

Wednesday, May 25, 2022

The before

Linda has been not-so-patiently waiting. Waiting to see if the flower selection in the stores would get any better. Waiting to see if the frost damaged plants would be replaced. Waiting till most of the danger of overnight frost has passed so she can fill up the many planters. Wincing at some of the prices. Elbowing the other shoppers between her and her prey.

I replaced the metal supports so she could put up bigger hanging baskets, but that's about the extent of my participation. Well, other than photographing the results. I know nothing of flowers, their care and tending, and Linda has a plan. I try to not be in the way.

Since the planting started yesterday, I thought I'd go around and show some wide angle shots to give you a sense of what the garden looks like before all the planting. Then once she gives the ok, I'll go around and get similar shots.

1. The selection of bought plants.

2. These tulips are in the back corner, and were some of the first to bloom.

3. Another view of the back garden bed. If you look at #4 here, you'll see the big blue vases just out of frame to the right, that will soon be overflowing with flowers. 

4. The east side of the house toward the back. The daffodils are a bit past their prime now, but there is a tree peony in the middle of them that we're watching. The bed beside the house was over run with iris, or something. Linda has cleaned that back, and put in some new roses to climb the trellis. 

5. The east side of the house toward the front. A ring of daffodils again, with several roses planted in the middle. The bed beside the house has many tulips. Getting photos of them is difficult because of the netting to keep the voracious rabbits and deer out. Or at least slow them down. There's a couple peonies in there doing really well, and some lilies pushing up. We are already inspecting them for the dread lily beetle.

6. The side bed with the two clematis rescued from the back fence several years ago. Linda didn't think they'd make it, but they are doing fine. There's a rose in the middle that aspires to take them over, but I think it's got a fight on it's thorns. Lots of tulips and lilies and I don't know what else in there. White peony on the left, red one on the right.

7. Front corner featuring the mint plant I use to lure in the bees for photos.

8. From the front, featuring lilies, daffodils, and a several roses just getting started.

9. The front patio tulips, inside some netting.

10. The side of the house next to our neighbour. There's some nice tulips in here, and if I hadn't had other things on the go during the short time they are in sunlight, there'd be better photos of them. They really are quite a lovely red. 

11. Another ambitious clematis. I sometimes have to get a ladder and discourage it from exploring the attic. There's another clematis on the other side of the trellis, but it's younger and still getting started.

12. In the back again, with the bed beside the house.

13. The tools of the trade. Yes the patio umbrella is up and the bbq is ready for action. Well, it gets used pretty much year round, but the task soon is to clean it out and get a fresh layer of oil on the grill. 

There are other places where there are plants, but they're still emerging so there isn't much to see. Stay tuned for more photos!

Of the Day



Landscape from a recent photoramble with Sean and Cam, before we started the actual walk.

Film. I don't remember the shadows being quite so pronounced. Not sure if that's a film thing, or some funny shadows, or what.