FIRE: Two weeks in

Greetings, dear readers!

It has been a while! After opening this blog with a couple of posts four years ago, life got in the way and I never had the necessary combination of time, motivation, and ideas to write something new hereā€¦until now.

I FIREd two weeks ago and thought I’d dust off this blog to record some of my thoughts and experiences during this pretty big life transition. Will I make a long-term habit of posting here? Probably not! I’ve started personal blogs a few times before and have never made it to a dozen posts before fizzling out. That said, maybe now that I’ve let go of the day job and embarked on this new adventure I’ll come up with a nice variety of thoughts that I feel like sharing with the world.

I thought I’d start with some examples of how I’ve spent my time now that I’m out of the workforce.

My first day of FIRE was pretty mundane. I went to the dentist. My corporate dental plan goes away at the end of the month, so that was an opportune time to go in and get my mouth all poked and prodded and tidied up. On my way home from the dentist I stopped at a thrift store to pick up some clothes my son needed. Again, pretty mundane stuff, but it felt great to have the time to do both of those things without any rush imposed on me by an external work schedule.

One morning my wife and I did a scavenger hunt in our old neighborhood, full of cryptic clues leading us all over the place on foot. The neighborhood community center organizes the event every year as a fundraiser but we never actually found time to try it until now. We really enjoyed it!

On a Tuesday we went to a hike out in the mountains. It was a trail that tends to be packed with people on the weekends. We didn’t exactly have it to ourselves on a Tuesday, but it was rather uncrowded nonetheless. How nice to have the freedom to take a day and do that when the crowds aren’t there!

Last weekend I spent an afternoon helping some friends do some electrical wiring as part of a larger remodeling project they’re doing. This is something I have a bit of experience with from previous DIY projects. Lending a hand felt nice.

That weekend we also went to a beach park we had never visited before, just a short drive from our house. They were having a sand castle contest that day, which was fun to see.

One thing I’m really looking forward to during my retirement is having time to pick up new skills. The first one of these: home canning. This has been something I’ve wanted to learn for years, but never quite got around to it. When our CSA has given us too many cucumbers I’ve made refrigerator pickles, and when our apple tree at our old house produced a bunch of fruit we’ve filled our freezer with applesauce. The art of home canning always seemed like just a little bit too steep of a learning curve when we were also in the midst of all this produce to process.

Now we have an apricot tree. It’s much more prolific this year than the previous two years we’ve owned it. In fact it’s so prolific that a couple of branches broke under the weight of all the fruit! Rather than compost all those unripe apricots, we found a nice recipe for how to make jam out of them. It’s pretty delicious! We had enough fruit to make gallons of jam, too much to keep in our refrigerator. The time was right to finally get canning!

I read some online tutorials, bought a couple dozen Mason jars from Goodwill, got some new lids for them, and went to work. The result: 10 pints of delicious jam ready for the pantry, plus quite a bit that went straight to the fridge. As the rest of the apricots ripen, there will more where that came from! The cost is quite attractive too. With a free source of fruit, I can fill and seal a jar of jam for less than a dollar. The savings are sure to add up, especially given the number of apricots I see ripening outside and the number of peanut butter and jelly sandwiches we eat in our house.

That’s all for now. So long, and thanks for reading!