Every year, we do a post with our final thoughts on the prior year. Most years, we have some hopefully funny thoughts (like, why can’t anyone return their shopping carts to the stupid cart corral) and we answer some questions (like, are we happy we retired, even though the answer is always “duh, of course”). This isn’t going to be that. So hang on and let’s hope next year things are back to normal.
Oh, 2022. We really thought you were going to be a great year. And, let’s be honest — it didn’t entirely suck. But, it certainly wasn’t our best year either.
For starters, this was the year of no peanut butter. OK, fine, it was only a couple of months without peanut butter, but it felt like a year (or maybe even two!). When Jif had to recall all their peanut butter and I had to throw away my stash, my heart dropped. How was I going to survive without my beloved peanut butter? I very impatiently waited and waited for new batches to hit the shelves. And waited some more. (No, I did not stoop to the level of eating some other brand of peanut butter. Robert bought me a jar and I took one look at it and said “absolutely not.”) Finally, that familiar red, blue and green label appeared at our grocery store. I was ecstatic. Until I realized that there was no crunchy on the shelves. The horror! I was forced to buy the far inferior creamy version, and I literally had to sprinkle crushed peanuts on top of my peanut butter until the crunchy version hit the stores again. Thank the maker that Jif crunchy is once again on the shelves, and I currently have three jars (yes, three, I don’t intend to be without again) in the pantry.
This was also the year of a pretty serious shoulder surgery for Robert. His shoulder has bothered him for years and years and it just got progressively worse. (Note to our readers: Don’t try those artificial surf pools unless you actually know what you are doing or unless you are under 40.) So, this year he finally bit the bullet and had surgery. Of course, he had to travel to Chicago for the surgery because his doctor down here only had surgical rights at facilities that use out of network anesthesiologists. (Once again, American health care is the best in the world, right?) At least he found an incredible doctor in Chicago (who happens to be the team physician for several Chicago sports teams.) When all was said and done, Robert had his rotator cuff repaired and he also had his bicep removed from the bone and reattached. The bicep was basically shredded and hanging on by a string. Not pretty. Robert is glad he had the surgery, but it entailed a very long recovery period and nearly six months later his shoulder is still not entirely back to normal. The worst part? I had to cook! Or, in other words, I bought rotisserie chicken, we ate a lot of frozen pizza and salads, and we went out to eat far too often.
This was also the year that our main sewer line backed up. Yep, all of a sudden and with no warning, not a single drain in the house would do its job. So, we called out the emergency plumber. After agreeing to pay him $500 to unclog our line, the plumber spent about an hour snaking our drains, told us there was no clog, and told us the problem was most likely in the city line. We should have known the plumber was incompetent when he refused to run a camera down the drain unless we paid an even bigger fortune to first run access pipes to the side of the house so he didn’t have to crawl under the house with his “expensive” camera . . . But, we stupidly listened to him and decided we needed to get the city involved. How do we do that? Well, according to the emergency plumber, you just call the city sewer department. So we call the city who tells us they only come out as a “courtesy” when the city line is clogged and that we have to first find our connection to the city line, dig it up, and open it. WHAT????? The city gave us measurements as to where the connection should be, but they were internally inconsistent and made no sense (e.g. they told us the pipe was 38 feet from our side property line when we don’t even have 38 feet of frontage). The emergency plumbers probed our entire yard and couldn’t find the connection. They tell us our best bet is to buy a metal detector. And, they tell us they can leave the cap off the line from our house so we can use our toilets, meaning raw sewage will accumulate under our house. WHAT????? No thank you. So, we got a hotel and tried to figure out next steps. The next day we got up and called another number the city gave us to get a map to find the city line. It was the wrong number. Get directed to the correct number and they sent us the wrong map. I can’t make this up. Eventually get the map and it is worthless. So, Robert started digging up the yard. Pretty soon a neighbor stops by to help. And then another neighbor. Robert and the neighbors spent about 5 hours looking for the damn sewer pipe and never found it. They dug multiple holes, put probes in the ground, and crawled under the house. Nothing. Thankfully, one of our neighbors suggested we call his plumber. We did and, once the new plumber was able to come out, he immediately found a clog and was able to flush it right out. Ugh. Sure wish we had called that plumber in the first place. But, at least we learned we have fantastic neighbors. And, the second plumber was able to use his camera to find the city line so now we know where it is. Of course, we also now know it is buried 10 feet down so I don’t know how we would ever get to it (and that recommended metal detector sure wouldn’t have found it).
This was also the year we learned that our budget for living in New Orleans is completely unrealistic. Some of that is because of us. For example, one of the things we failed to account for when trying to figure out our “living in New Orleans” budget was the need for decorations. In the last year we have bought Mardi Gras decorations, St. Patrick’s Day Decorations, Halloween decorations, and Christmas decorations. We haven’t gone all out, but it adds up. And, don’t get me started on the need for flags. We’ve never flown a flag before, but we have two flag poles now. I’m constantly on the look out for cool new flags. I mean, what is the point of having a front porch if you don’t decorate it, right? And, we had to have Chelsea and Manchester City flags once we found out our neighbor was a Liverpool fan, right? We also failed to account for the cost of costuming. We seriously need to up our costuming game. At a minimum, in 2023 we need (not want, NEED) Mardi Gras costumes (more than one), St. Patrick’s Day outfits, Easter bonnets, Pride outfits, Halloween outfits, and ugly Christmas sweaters. Thankfully, I think we are pretty well supplied with glitter and head boppers at this point (but a girl always needs more). And, don’t forget the need for hats. In years past, we traveled extensively in Asia, where it is hot and sunny. And, not once did I even consider buying a hat. It took literally two hours at Jazz Fest before I bought a hat. I now own five. Louisiana sun and heat is brutal. It took a bit more time to decide to buy white t-shirts. All the way to day 4 of Jazz Fest. At which point, we both looked at each other and said “we need white clothes.” As you can imagine, white clothes were never in our planned budget. Of course, I still haven’t managed to make myself actually wear the white clothes we bought . . . .
But, many of the budget constraints were not of our making. Car insurance is far more expensive here than pretty much anywhere else in the country, and it just goes up and up every six months even though we haven’t filed a claim. Home owner’s insurance is skyrocketing, and getting more and more difficult to even find. Flood insurance goes up every year. The water and electricity bills are outrageous (and the electric bill is completely unpredictable). Don’t get me started on the school zone speeding tickets that arrive in the mail. Of course, the flashing yellow lights that are supposed to alert drivers to a school zone almost never work. It is so bad that these days we pretty much just drive 20 m.p.h. during school zone times unless we are 100% sure we are not in a school zone.
Oh, and to wrap up the bad news, this was also the year we both got covid. (Robert definitely had it; I never tested positive but am pretty confident I had it.) I guess that was to be expected and at least neither one of us got seriously ill. And, we are pretty sure both us suffered from mild depression this year, although nothing some travel in 2023 won’t cure.
I know, I know, at this point you are thinking “first world problems, sure wish I was retired at their ages.” And, we know that. We do recognize how absolutely privileged we are to be retired, to be able to live where we want, eat what we want, do what we want, and to travel when and where we want. And, don’t get me wrong, there certainly were some good things about 2022.
We started fostering dogs and got to temporarily take care of three dogs in 2022. We love getting some doggie cuddles without the long term commitment of a dog. We have, however, learned to specify that we will only take dogs that have been house broken. And, there will be no more puppies! Thanks to Squirt for teaching us those important lessons . . . .
We have found a home at the Irish pub just down our street. It has become our second living room, and we have spent hours and hours there watching football (soccer for you Americans that refuse to use the correct name) and making friends. We never thought we would find a local on par with A.J. Hudson’s in Chicago, but Finn McCool’s is pretty darn close. And, they have half priced bottles of wine on Wednesdays!
The festivals in New Orleans are fantastic. We enjoyed our first Jazz Fest together, even if it was brutally hot. We are able to walk to Jazz Fest from our house, which is amazing. And, Robert got to try crawfish Monica. Yum! We loved our first Mardi Gras as residents of New Orleans. If there was a parade that day, we were there. We even caught a couple of coconuts at the Zulu parade! Although, we pretty much slept for two full days when it was all over. We also hit the Big Gay Easter parade and the Gay Pride parade and French Quarter Fest and the Halloween Parade and the Christmas Parade and the Krewe of Krampus parade and various second lines. If you are bored in New Orleans, that is on you. And, we weren’t bored.
We got to see many of our Chicago friends several times (both in Chicago and in New Orleans) and also our Minneapolis friends. And, our friends from the UK were able to fly over and stay with us for a couple of weeks. Plus, my parents even came down for a visit. Although, I’m pretty sure they were not big fans of New Orleans.
We’ve loved trying the food and restaurants in New Orleans. We have a couple of favorite po’ boy places (Liuzza’s By The Track and Guys and Parkway), our neighborhood go to’s (Katies and Mandina’s), our favorite pizza places (Pizza Delicious and Margot’s), and our favorite Chinese (Dian Xin). And, of course, we have our favorite wine bars (Bywater Wine Garden, Patrick’s Bar Vin, and The Grapevine).
We traveled to Mexico three times and discovered that we adore Mexico City. The food was amazing and the sightseeing was incredible. We also did a nice road trip around the Mid-West.
We spent hours and hours walking around the parks in New Orleans and the surrounding areas, bird watching and looking for other wild life.
So, what is on tap for 2023? How are we going to make it better than 2022? Well, to start with, we plan to up our travel game. We’ve decided to take at least three nice long trips to places we have never been to together. Our trip to Greece is nearly planned. We also plan to travel to Argentina and Ireland. We can’t wait to get back out there!
We are also planning on joining a gym. Exercise is a good for the soul, right?
And, we hope to make more friends. We’ve joined a Newbies to New Orleans group and we are going to get out there and experience all that New Orleans has to offer. (Trust me, we are still considered newbies even after two years.) Here is to a great 2023!