Honey, I’m home. (the wife’s prespective)

(I blog at faithsighanddiy.com)

When I realized Doug was really going to retire , I was




Scared my life would change dramatically. Scared I’d never be able to shop again. Scared we’d never be able to afford to do the things we wanted to do.

Until I realized that:

  • I wanted to change my life dramatically anyway.
  • I shop at Goodwill anyway.
  • The things Doug and I enjoy the most don’t cost anything anyway.

But on a more serious note, I really was scared. It was the unknown, and I like things wrapped up in nice, neat little packages.

small gifts

small gifts

What I knew for sure, though, was that I wanted my husband around more. While all the traveling was exciting and the fact that I got to accompany him a couple times of year gave us both opportunities we never would have had, it was really hard being apart from each other two weeks every month. Not to mention worrying about him when he was “across the pond”.

I never could understand why wives dread their husband’s retiring because they don’t want their husbands underfoot. I couldn’t wait for him to be underfoot. I mean, isn’t that why you marry someone? Besides I was tired of having a long-distance relationship, especially at a stage in our life when we should’ve had more time with each other not less.

Couple spending time together.

Couple spending time together.

As far as the finances go, we had never lived beyond our means. It was just last year I traded in my eighteen year old Taurus. Besides, I like “old” rather than new. Even my husband. (Just kidding, honey.)

We had taken advantage of every financial opportunity that came our way, maxing out 401 K’s etc. Plus, Doug is one smart man. I should’ve trusted that he knew what he was doing.

I couldn’t be happier Doug is home now. I love watching him get to fish and hunt as much as he wants, although I’m always having to remind him he doesn’t need to wait for the week-ends anymore.

Doug fishing

Doug fishing

(I had two pictures but the “boss” nixed it as he thought it made him look fat. And this is one day after a large study proved that men are many, many times more narcissistic than women. Ya’ think?)

I love seeing his excitement over finding a new body of water that needs to be challenged.

I love knowing when I’m downstairs praying, he’s upstairs doing the same thing. I love holding his hand in church, at the movies. I just love that he’s home.

My fears were so totally unfounded.

The best words I’ve ever heard, “Honey, I’m home”.

Honey, I'm home

Honey, I’m home

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I was born tired and I’ve been having a relapse ever since. So a person could rightfully say I’ve been retired since birth.

Retirement is a state of life that many dream about. Some do not plan for it. Some enter it and find out it is not the Promised Land but a place of strife, unhappiness and possibly financial hardship. The two primary categories I’m addressing today are the financial and lifestyles dimensions of retirement.   They overlap and the attention to one will have an impact on the other.

FINANCIAL: It has also been said that free information is as good as the price paid for it. And while this information, along with a five dollar bill, will get you a designer coffee at Starbucks. Hopefully there will be some gems that might be of value.

I have a Bachelors and Master’s degree majoring in accounting and minoring in economics, was a Chief Financial Officer for a number of years and also run my own financial consulting business.  In addition I am an avid reader of “The Wall Street Journal and “The Financial Times”.

The dream

Let’s start with some basic facts agreed to by most economists.

In 1975 88% of workers with plans covered by their workplace had defined benefit plans, today that number is 35%.  More private sector employers switched to 401(k) plans during that time frame with varying degrees of matching which resulted in employees becoming more responsible for their retirement.

A 2010 survey by the Federal Reserve found that the median amount saved through 401(k) s by those households approaching retirement was $100,000. Considering that a person would need to live on that for approximately 20 years one could expect to receive around $417 per month.  Couple that fantastic amount with $1,260 (what the average person receives monthly from social security) and you can see why some folks continue to work well after retirement age.

They cannot afford to retire.

You don't want to be here!

You don’t want to be here!

Another consideration is health insurance. In 1988 66% of retirees were covered by an employer’s plan while in 2013 that number has dropped to 23%. Medicare does not cover all medical expenses and therefore obtaining a supplemental policy is a necessity. Medicare Part B is deducted from a person’s monthly retirement check and in 2015 that amount is $104.90 per month. (Hope you’re following the math.)

The number of Americans working beyond the age of 65 has increased. The reasons are the recession, economic necessity from lack of financial planning, or just due to the fact that folks are living longer and they don’t want to outlive their savings. Also many people, myself included, loved what they did and elected to hang on to that part of their life.

Those are the facts. But what is the plan? Outside of searching for a wealthy spouse who is in bad health and has one foot in the grave and another on a banana peel there are a few more realistic options.

Slipping on in!

Slipping on in!


 First participate in your employer’s 401(k) if they have one. Otherwise begin investing on your own. If your employer has a 401(k) that matches and you are not participating then you are giving up free money!

As regards to investing, there is a simple rule. No one one beats the market year after year. Invest and leave your money alone. Don’t read the stock market reports every day. And if someone is telling you how their company significantly outperforms the market every year, run! Remember, if it seems too good to be true it probably is.

Listen to your wife. Women are far smarter investors than men as has been proven time and again.

Secondly, take a thorough look at your current financial situation. This could be very scary for some but it is better to be scared into action then to be lulled to inaction.

Draw up a balance sheet listing your assets on one side and your liabilities on the other.  The difference between the two is your net worth as shown in the example below.

A typical household balance sheet

A typical household balance sheet

If your assets are less than your liabilities, you are in a heap of hurt. Also look at your income and compare that to your expenses, or how you spend your money. This may be a real eye opener. Suddenly you may see that cup of coffee or eating lunch out every day adds up to a significant amount.

Wow!  That's what I spend!!

Wow! That’s what I spend!!

Third, invest in help from books that deal with finance. Some authors I recommend are Dave Ramsey or Suze Orman. Don’t read from authors who are only trying to get you to buy their books or invest in their courses. Or worse yet, promise you great wealth if you do what they suggest. Most of us aren’t going to get there.

Some churches even offer courses on debt management using programs like Financial Peace University which was developed by Dave Ramsey. However, this is not free. Better yet, listen Dave Ramsey’s call in radio show and in a week’s time you’ll learn a lot from other people’s experiences.

A journey starts with one step.  Even a procrastinator makes a decision quickly, even if it’s only to procrastinate!

LIFESTYLES:  This is basically the quality of life issue that can make or break a person or relationship.

I have heard spouses say, “Good lord, when he retires I’ll have to put up with him all the time” or “living with her day in and day out is worse than being at work”.  Other comments I have heard are, “I don’t know what to do, I don’t have any hobbies, etc”.

The retirement years can be dangerous for a relationship due to some significant stress factors. First there is the adjustment to not working. After 40 years of employment the end of that can be similar to a death.

Second, there is reduced income which can impact a couple’s lifestyle.

Third, there is the adjustment to the relationship. From being newlyweds to raising children and becoming grandparents, you now are together again without anyone else around. You signed up for better or worse. Let’s hope it’s for the better.

Consider this fact that the number of divorces of those 50 and older doubled from 1990 (4.67%) to 2010 (9.74%). Today there is a term called “gray divorce (though it may not have 50 shades). This refers to people in that age group. Looking for a real joy stealer? Become a statistic where the two of you divide up the assets (after the lawyer’s fee), and then maintain two households.

Building a lasting relationship, one that will survive retirement, starts with a four letter word, “WORK”.  Around our house are two very opinionated, strong willed independent people who have managed to make a go of it in spite of the fact that some folks at our wedding placed bets on how long the marriage would last.  The first thing is to have an unconditional love towards your spouse and keep them, not your children or grandchildren and not your hobbies, a priority.

Next, share things in life. Hopefully you had similar interests when you married including faith. If you didn’t before, you can certainly find some now. Again, it’s called “work”.

Doing things together

Doing things together

Enjoy each other’s company. Whether it is travel, reading books, skiing, kayaking, shopping or just having a weekly date night.

As we age, we begin to have health issues. Parts wear down and need to be replaced.  Look at the bright side. If you don’t set off the scanners at the airports or stick to magnets, then you are doing okay.  Disease can impact anyone at any time, however there are things we can do to reduce some of the factors.

We can maintain healthy lifestyles so those retirement years can be enjoyed. Contributing to our own health is probably the most important area where couples can make the biggest difference. Stop smoking. Drink in moderation (moderation means an occasional beer or an occasional glass of wine). Lose weight. Eat a sensible diet. Find time to exercise.  Start out by walking and as you get more in shape add to the regiment with strength building. Consider a gym membership if you need that extra support. Some are quite inexpensive.

The third component to finding joy in retirement is to have a plan regarding what this newly “found” time means to you. Sitting in the chair and watching television is not consistent with an active healthy lifestyle. Find activities that challenge your mind, body or spirit. Volunteer with a local agency, work with Habitat for Humanity, or find some other outlet that will put good use to the skills you have acquired over a lifetime.

Romantic spots

Romantic spots

This can be the most rewarding time in a person’s life if they plan for it.

On the beach in Australia

On the beach in Australia

(I’ve asked my wife to write a guest post for me to give the female perspective to all this. After all, retirement is about the two of you, not the one of you.)

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Even though it is January and the snow is covering the ground, my thoughts began to drift towards spring and turkey season.  Wild turkeys are an example of a successful program by the Michigan Department of Natural Resources.

In the spring of 1954 the DNR released 50 birds in a select area and over time additional restoration attempts continued.  However, by 1964 approximately 2,000 birds had become established in Michigan’s Lower Peninsula.

Fast forward to today and wild turkeys are evident almost anywhere in the Lower Peninsula. They can be found in the suburbs or in the country and as many a suburbanite has found, they can be aggressive and will camp out at the bird feeder.

Often when folks think of turkeys they think of Thanksgiving but for those of us who find ourselves in their habitat, we see a bird that has keen eyesight, excellent hearing and can startle an individual as they either fly up to, or down from their roost.  A bird of that size makes a fair amount of noise as it moves through the air.

Around 1995 two friends and I decided to take up turkey hunting.  While we had hunted other game for many years and were successful, this undertaking would prove to be humiliating.

We hunted hard for three days and the only birds we saw were alongside the highway.  The next year we made a momentous leap as we actually saw a few birds in the woods.  While we considered this a step up, we also realized that we were far from being able to call a bird or even get close enough to get a shot.

Fast forward two more years. Our motley trio had progressed to that ultimate stage where we could be referred to as, “The Three Stooges of Turkey Hunters”.

Early one morning we set up in concealment and I began to call.  Immediately I heard a male (Tom) turkey reply and as he was quite far away I spent the next hour trying to entice him into my shooting range.  Eventually the bird came within range but he was in a small ravine and I had no shot. He headed towards my partner.  The only problem was my partner was hard of hearing and never heard the bird responding to my call and therefore missed his opportunity for a shot.

Since that time I have taken a couple of birds and have been successful in calling birds in.  The most rewarding part of this sport is not just in taking a bird. The most rewarding part is when the bird responds and comes within view because I’ve called him in.

Also, I normally hunt during May which is when the woods come alive and I see does and fawns and even once I watched some black bear cubs playing on a hillside.  It has been said that if a turkey had the same sense of smell as the whitetail deer, a person would never get a shot at one!

Turkey hunting is, without a doubt, the most challenging hunting I do.

Try it. You’ll like it

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I have to finally admit it there are three mistresses in my life.  As when I sleep they haunt me with their siren sounds.   I think of them when I am awake and long for them when we are apart.  Their beauty captivates the very essence of my being.   They are alike, yet unique.  Their names are White, Platte and Pere Marquette.

The crystal clear waters of the Platte beckon always in my mind.  She is a about as wide as the White with riffles and holes.  She guards her rainbows and browns and reluctantly relinquishes these treasures to those few who remain faithful to her. This was the first river I fly fished for trout and she became my first love.   In earlier years she graced me with views of spring run steelhead but only yielded to my courtship after many pilgrimages. It was here I learned the importance of stealth and concealment, the necessity of gently landing a fly and how patience was more than just a virtue but a skill to be perfected.

This is where an airborne ballet was performed by a beaded nymph.  Where yards of line carved graceful arcs in the morning mist, where time and space lost all meaning.  She kept calling me back and I continued to give in to her wooing. She enticed me one evening with a vicious strike from a brown that shot out from an undercut bank like a missile to intercept my caddis.  The fish darted across the river and then came upstream, cleared the water and shot the fly back at me.  I could hear the river proclaiming, “Yes, I have some good fish but only for those who spend the time to learn my secrets”.  The memory of that lost catch tempted to me to return time and again to recapture that moment as evidenced below.


The White ambles, alternating between long expanses of shallow boulder strewn riffles and shorter, narrower runs that tempt the angler to probe her depth.  Her tannin colored waters conceals boulders that make fast movements risky.  Quick to warm in the spring and slow to cool in the fall making her a haven for brown trout.  My first encounters with her left me with a damaged ego and fishless days.  I continued to call and tempted her with dries on a cool and windy day in May and she finally yielded a favor.

This particular afternoon I could do no wrong as the browns attacked the fly.  Although they were on the smallish side it was tantalizing enough to keep me coming back to ply the waters.  To my surprise on a nice September day those browns got bigger and attacked my wooly bugger with a vengeance as they feasted in preparation for the upcoming winter.  Later that evening I drifted the bead head bugger into a small deep run and felt it come to a sudden abrupt stop.  I gave the line tug assuming I had snagged on the bottom when suddenly the snag began move. I was fast into a nice brown.  My tenacity was finally handsomely rewarded.


The lore of the Pere Marquette River for me is that her fish are legendary.  Her reputation makes one feel unworthy to begin to seek her out.  She is ever changing, moving swiftly with runs longer and deeper than her sisters.  On my first visit she was receptive, yielding two fine salmon to my egg fly but I found that her depth and current intimidated me.  I sought her out again after a time but felt uneasy in her presence and I abandoned her.

But once again she seduced me and I returned in humble anticipation that she would entice me with browns and rainbows.   I placed a black bead head wooly bugger into a deep bankside pool and she granted me a nice rainbow that allowed me to show off in front of a drift boat maneuvered by one of the many river guides.


Encouraged by her favors,    I sought her out again.  This time I arrived at the river confident in my abilities to charm and conquer her, convinced I was her master and she was mine forever…  I confidently cast a Dave’s hopper against the bank where it floated on the surface only to catch a snag at the end of the run.  I tied on another to have it repeat the same abysmal performance.   Rising fish watched my offering pass; the fly ending up on a fallen limb like ornaments on a Christmas tree.

The sun began to set as I left her side with my head held low.  I could hear her laughing waters sing a taunting melody:

“You thought you were my master, that you owned me.  Not so!  I own you. You will return and if I choose to I may grant you a favor.”

I plodded heavy hearted back to my truck and knew this river would always challenge me.

These are my first three but there are others that have now entered my life and vie for my attention.

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One of my most used tools is my power miter. Most of my projects require the use of this tool especially for cutting 2×4’s, trim, etc. The problem with a power miter is that they do not come with a stand like a table saw. When I use it outside I can often put it on my deck and stand on the ground which allows me to use it in a less awkward position. Other times it is on my drive or garage floor and I attempt to use it on my knees. Another problem is if you are cutting longer boards you need to stack a couple 2×4’s to provide a support to keep the wood level. While looking at a Handyman’s magazine a couple weeks ago I found a solution to my problem.

I had an old gas grill at my cabin and decided I could use that for my portable work table. The following is the procedure I used for the conversion.

This is the grill before work started. Remove the grill, the control mechanism and the propane holder.


This is the frame work after stripping off the grill.


This is the table without the saw. For the table I used a piece of ¾ “ plywood and cut it to fit the frame of the grill depth wise and also cut it length wise leaving myself enough space on the one end for handholds. I drilled though the plywood and the frame and then attached it using machine screws and nuts. The holes may also be counter sunk to allow for a smooth surface. Also for added strength I attached a brace on each end. On the bottom of the grill I made a small platform where I could place the saw when not in use or place some other tools. Next I spray painted the unit just for looks.   The supports are made from 2×4’s cut to the height of the table. In order to hold the supports in place I drilled through them and the table top and also counter sunk the holes so I could use 5” bolts that would just drop through the holes and provide a smooth top surface. By using the longer bolts it prevents the support from falling over without having to use nuts to hold them in place.


This is the finished product. No more bending over, looking for 2×4’s to match table height or sore knees from working on the garage floor. The only expenditures I had to make were for a can of spray paint, some machine screws and some 5” bolts which all came to around $6.00.


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Over the last two sections I covered rods, reels, lines and flies. Now I’ll wrap it up with accessories and casting.
There are four items that I consider necessities and they are a hat, polarized glasses, sun screen and insect repellant. The hat provides protection from the sun and an errant fly and the glasses do the same as well as help in spotting fish. Sun screen is self-explanatory as well as the repellant.
Today some consider a vest old school and instead have switched to chest or sling packs. In either case the purpose is to carry items like fly boxes, floatant, tippets, and possibly an extra reel. I still use a vest and actually have two, a summer weight and one for cooler weather. Regardless of the option one chooses, the biggest challenge is to decide what is necessary to take otherwise the vest or pack will become quite heavy and overloaded. Then the typical reaction is to get a vest or pack with more carrying capacity.
Another item to consider is waders, although if you are fishing warmer waters they may not be necessary. Like my vest, I own two different pair. I use a pair of heavier neoprene waders for early spring, fall and winter wading and a pair of lightweight breathable waders for late spring, summer and early fall fishing. I prefer the stocking foot waders which require the purchase of wading boots. Waders with the boot attached can also be purchased and are usually less expensive overall. Again this is a preference item but I feel I get a better fit in my waders and my boots with this option. Therefore I feel more surefooted in wading. A key issue is what type of water you will be fishing. The bottom structure of the river will play a big role is selecting the type of sole on your boot. One thing about waders is that when you least expect it, they will leak.
For years I fished without a net but one year my daughter gave me one as a present and I have used it ever since. There were a number of fish that could have been lost had I not had that net. The net also is good for the fish in that the angler does not need to battle the fish to the point of exhaustion before landing it and thereby preventing needless morality.
When we think of fly fishing we imagine some person standing in a river and casting a fly in a graceful manner. In reality most of us have ended up wrapped in fly line and being embarrassed. Fly casting is different than spin or bait fishing where the weight of the lure is responsible for the taking out of line. Fly fishing uses the weight of the line to propel the fly. The real test is not how far can I cast a fly but can I accurately place it where I want it.
In many sections of the country with overhanging limbs or brush, thirty feet may be a long cast. The best way to learn to cast a fly, outside of taking lessons, would be to observe a video and then go out into your backyard or some other open area and practice. I have found women to be easier to teach then men as they do not try to “muscle” it. Casting a fly is not about brute strength but is in the motion of the lower arm moving back and forth in a controlled manner. Outside of practice it is not necessary to perform the casting motion a half dozen times before the fly lands on the water.
The fish are in the water not the air.
This has been a very brief description about the sport and more detailed information can be obtained on the internet or at a book store. Don’t get bogged down in research but go to a local fly shop and talk to the people there. Be careful because once you try it your hooked!

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line and backing



In the prior post I talked about rods, reels and fly line and now I will deal with backing, leaders and flies.

Backing is the line you first put on your reel.  Fly line itself is usually around 90 feet in length and therefore the backing line is required to help fill the spool.   It also provides additional capacity should a large fish take out more line.  Backing is usually made of Dacron and comes in 100 yard spools of 20 and 30 pound test.  Once this is on the spool, then the fly line is attached to the backing and wound on the spool.  I prefer to connect the two lines together using a needle knot.   However there are other types of knots which can be used and detailed instruction found on the internet.

The next required line is a leader which attaches one end to the fly line and the other to the fly.  Leaders are co-polymers or monofilament and normally are around 9 feet in length.  The end which attaches to the fly line is thicker in diameter and gradually decreases as it proceeds to the end where the fly is attached.  This tapering aids the fly in its flight and how it lands on the water.  I use 2 or 4 pound test monofilament about 9 feet in length mainly because I am a cheapskate.  I get hung up in trees.  When I break off the line and lose the leader and the fly, I don’t feel nearly as bad.

Open a fly fishing catalog and turn to the section on flies and stand to be amazed and confused by the assortment that is available.  Dry flies, wet flies, streamers, nymphs and poppers along with a host of patterns and various hook sizes are available.  Sounds confusing I am sure but all a person needs is around a dozen or so different patterns and types to begin fishing.  Over the years I have found that I rely on around a half dozen streamers, nymphs and dry flies.

Below are some that work best for me here in the mid-west.  But depending upon your geographical location, you may need to alter the selection.   I prefer a hook size of 10 or 12 normally.

Flies 1

DRY FLIES                                             STREAMERS                                        NYMPHS

Royal Coachman                                   Black Nose Dace                                   BH Gold Ribbed Hares Ear

Parachute Adams                                 Mickey Finn                                          BH Black Stone

Dave’s Hopper                                      Conehead Marabou Muddler            BH Pheasant Tail

Black Gnat                                             BH Woolly Bugger                                Zug Bug

flies 2

Of course with a purchase of flies a fly box is required to hold the various flies and to have them readily available for use.  A medium size light weight foam fly box should serve a person well until such time as they become a full blown addict and end up with more flies than can be used in a dozen seasons.

flies 3

Part 3 will deal with waders, vests and casting, casting being the one item you can’t buy.

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