Free With a Price

I guess I must be strange, but when I go to a seminar, I actually want to hear what the speaker has to say.

I recently went to a free seminar on improving your retirement income. As a low income person, to have the opportunity to receive free financial advice from a seasoned professional is a blessing.

But as usual, that sentiment is not shared by many in an audience.

The man next to me loudly announced to a woman, who made the mistake of trying to chit chat to him about the topic before the talk started, that he had no intention or need to retire, that he LOVES what he does. So why are you here? To annoy everyone else I soon found out. He huffed and puffed, clicked his pen constantly throughout the talk, threw the free handouts we got on the chair next to him and sat defiantly with arms crossed.

There were many interruptions and of course, the self proclaimed experts in the audience that took liberties to answer questions for the speaker.


There are so few seminars I have gone to where no one is on their own agenda and respect the speaker and reserve their questions and thoughts until the end of the talk.

However, I did learn a few things, mostly that when it comes to financial advice, you really need a custom made plan as everyone’s life situation is different. And you need to get several opinions and ultimately, make your own plan. The people who could benefit the most are the low income persons, who can’t afford a financial adviser. However, there are free seminars!

Living in a Sieve

John Cleese when asked why he went to the United States, replied, he had vowed that once he was able, to never be cold again.

I too have made that vow, but have not had the success of Cleese to do it.

Instead, I have an indoor winter coat.

It was once an outdoor winter coat, but being white, it looked terrific for about a month and then needed some serious cleaning.

So I retired it to where it would stay clean but still have purpose. To wear in my drafty apartment, where there are so many places the air gets in, it is like a sieve.

Living in a sieve is not so bad in the summer, I do not need air conditioning. I love my apartment because I have a big balcony and a very soothing view. But, damn, is it cold in here in the winter!

I have taken all the drastic measures to keep a north wind out; sealing the windows with plastic and tape, stuffing them with towels, blocking them with foam board and finally covering them with heavy duty curtains. I do what I can. The indoor temperature seldom gets above 70F, it hovers around 62-65 no matter what I do, usually for several months.

So I have my indoor winter coat.

You do what you have to do. I like where I am, but if I could afford better, I would – providing it has a nice balcony and view!

Quiet Please

Sounds I like to hear.

A cat purring. Rain on a roof. Fall leaves rustling. Thunder. Wind through the pines. Waves lapping the shore. Birds singing in the morning. Crickets on a hot August afternoon.

Songs that remind me of better times. I can be stopped dead in a store by a song that comes on from the past.

A babbling brook. A train blowing his horn way off in the distance. A cats gentle meow. A lonely loon.

Silence. Yes, I like to hear nothing – it is a very rare thing to experience nowadays. Some nights there is a small window of time, maybe 20 minutes, where there is no noise at all.

If I had my way, we would have a mandatory noise free day once a month. People cannot mow their lawns, have radios on, fix their cars or homes. No traffic, no planes or trains, no sirens, no construction. Try to have a day that people can enjoy quiet.

But even the libraries are not quiet any more.

Having headphones on is not the same as open air quiet. Being outside in a quiet place is expansive.

Quiet please.

Mom is Smiling

My friend insists I share this story with you, please don’t be offended. This happened 9 years ago and is a true story. I didn’t have much money in those days, and I am a person who makes do.

It was a beautiful fall day. I got off the bus early because I had a special trip to make before my work day began.

The funeral home was conveniently located close to my place of employment.

I went inside and was greeted at reception by an impeccably dressed gentleman in three piece suit and tie. At 8 a.m. he looked ready to greet the Queen if necessary, instead it was just me, in my scrubs, hair tied back. He was a bit uncomfortable, but polite.

“I’ve come to pick up my Mom”

He cleared his throat. I have a loud voice.

After signing all the papers, he presents me with a beautiful and large solid brass urn, it is heavy! But I was ready. I always prepare for things in advance.

I pull out my recycled plastic grocery bag – you know, the ones that can hold fifty pounds and have pictures of fruits and veggies on them.

“Put her in here” I cheerfully hold open the bag.

Aghast and with eyes as big as saucers, the gentleman lowered her gently into the bag and off I went to work. As I slung the bag over my shoulder I remarked that Mom was heavier than I remembered.

I put Mom in the back room of our office where we have our little kitchen and storage area. It was the first time Mom had ever been in my office. No one knew that she spent the day with us, everyone just presumed I had been grocery shopping before coming into work.

At the end of the day, Mom and I took the bus home, her safely tucked in the bag between my feet.

Mom would have approved.


Where I live I can watch airplanes coming in for a landing. When I was a little girl, my parents would take us to the airport to watch the big birds land. In those days, the airport was a strip of tarmac that ended abruptly in a field of long grass. This was of course where we parked our cars, with other on lookers and waited for the big event. Sometimes it was a long wait. Those were the days of no fences, not at airports, drive-ins or most anywhere else to keep us out.

We would be rewarded most times with that silver roaring bird passing over our heads with a great rush of wind, so close we thought we might touch it. Later we’d all head for Kelley’s Ice Cream shack, a place that seemed stuck out in the middle of nowhere, just like the airport.

Nowadays, you could never do these crazy things. It is a good thing. But something has also been lost in our safety first world. Awe.

Awe and wonder are the two things I remember most about my youth. The world was full of mystery. We had to experience things and try to figure things out ourselves.

Much as I love the ease of the internet (I was often frustrated trying to find information as a young girl, we only had small libraries, word of mouth, and teachers who had never been anywhere in their lives), I do miss the magic of discovery.

I do miss watching those airplanes come down over my head.

And the homemade ice cream!