Saturday, 31 December 2011

#164: Book Group Slug

Confession time: my book group is on Tuesday and I still have 200 pages to read. 

Shouldn’t a retired librarian who recommended the darn book in the first place have made more effort?  What’s worse, I didn’t read our December book at all!  I went to the meeting regardless, and no-one seemed to mind, but I’m not sure I can pull that trick again.

On the bright side, I can make the time to power read, and I am really enjoying The Sea Captain’s Wife by Beth Powning. It was a great choice. I would probably be gulping it down 50 pages at a time even if I didn’t have a deadline. 

I hope I get it finished.  I would hate to abandon pregnant Azuba on her husband's clipper ship in the middle of the ocean just as she discovers they have been cheated of supplies. 

What if it is New Year’s Eve.....I have "work" to do.

Friday, 30 December 2011

#163: Snow Job

Finally, just when we thought it had forgotten us, Winter has arrived in southern Ontario.

The storm was a modest one but, nevertheless, while we were in the movie theatre last night it reduced our vehicle to a snow and ice-encrusted Toyota-shape.

And where was the damned ice scraper/car brush?   

It could have been worse.  I wasn't confronting my ill-equipped, frozen car in a dark and lonely library parking lot.


Thursday, 29 December 2011

#162: Retirement Syndrome

It’s good to know that if I ever win Lotto 649 and have to suffer the ensuing shock of such catastrophic life change, I will have already honed my coping skills.

A news story about “sudden wealth syndrome” reminds me that financial windfalls have a lot in common with other life changing events – like retirement, for example.   In fact, many suddenly wealthy folks do retire and are supremely unhappy as a result.  Their sense of identity is vastly altered; they lose contact with their workmates; they need to find a new sense of purpose.

Doesn’t this sound familiar?

Some advice to the suddenly wealthy certainly applies to the newly retired -- especially the recommendation to put off decision making for six months and the observation that it will take about a year to adjust to ones new situation.

The recently wealthy, however, are also cautioned to keep their situation secret for as long as possible.  Facebook status updates that declare I’m rich! I’m rich! are not recommended.  Thank goodness this does not apply to retirees who share their new status gladly.

Let's face it:  No one is going to ask us to lend anything more significant than time.  And that exchange has the potential to be mutually enriching.

Wednesday, 28 December 2011

#161: The Secret

I have discovered the secret to successful post-Christmas, Boxing Week bargain hunting. 

Timing is everything.  You need head for the shops when the youngsters have gone back to work.

Today I scored half-price shoes at the best store in town, the one with the reputation for such cool merchandise that out-of-towners make it a destination.  Hundreds of women had lined up out the door, eager for cut-rate footwear on Boxing Day.  But since I waited until well after the rush, the shop was almost empty when I went shoe shopping in the middle of a weekday.  The sale was still on, and no one was competing with me for the last pair of comfortable brown flats in my size. 

I made such a good start, it's too bad I didn't have a longer shopping list. But I did go into a few of my favourite downtown stores just for fun.  And what did I find?  Other retirees who also know The Secret.

Tuesday, 27 December 2011

#160: Time Travel

I recommend that retirees begin organizing their photographs immediately!

Don't put it off because you imagine it will be the one useful thing you will be able to do when "active living" becomes a challenge. It is a boring, picky task and will remind you of the worst parts of any job you ever had.  You need to start now.  Work at it bit by bit, and if you are sorting slides, stop occasionally to see how they look. Fill up the projector and be prepared for some surprises.

Based on our recent family experience viewing just a fraction of our slide collection, I can pretty much guarantee that you will discover the following:
  1. You took far too many pictures of landmarks, scenery and buildings and will have no clue about what they were or even which continent they were on.
  2. Your wardrobe, which seemed quite smart back in 1982, was ugly.  Really ugly.
  3. Your children, on the other hand, were absolutely adorable.  If you are fortunate, they will be enjoying this blast from the past with you, and you will be able to tell them so. 

Monday, 26 December 2011

#159: Time Stops

This Christmas with everyone at home is so much like bygone holidays I feel as if the calendar has magically wound back a year or two.  Surely I am working tomorrow....I had better see if there are any Christmas leftovers for my lunch.

At least, that is the way it feels.

In a day or so they will all leave, and I'll be ready to work at retirement again.

Sunday, 25 December 2011

#158: Merry Christmas

We just spent a very pleasant day with our lovely, competent, funny, thoughtful children who just happen to be grown up.

Adult of the blessings of growing older.

Saturday, 24 December 2011

#157: Santa's Helper

He:  So, will we be up past midnight stuffing stockings?

Me:  No need.  Santa's already taken care of it.

He (smiling) :   That's right.......Santa's retired.

Friday, 23 December 2011

#156: Slide No-Show

Thinking I might surprise the kids at Christmas with a few images from their past, I have attempted to hastily organize our recently discovered horde of about 1000 slides. 

It turns out this is not a hasty task.  Peering at tiny numbers on tiny slides is a tiring, not to say, boring activity even with a self-imposed deadline.  So I haven’t made much progress.

My dining room table is covered with little piles.  They are sorted by location and date and some (the possibly-organized ones) are optimistically stacked in those little yellow plastic boxes from the camera shop.  Notes on masking tape stuck to these boxes hint at their contents, as in:  Trip to Maritimes?-- 1982?  

Slide show anyone?   

I can see that there is a reason “organize the photographs” is an oft cited retirement activity.  At the rate I am going, it could be my full time job for the next 20 years.

And in the meantime, I have other plans for that dining room table this weekend.

Thursday, 22 December 2011

#155: Slacker Oldies

It looks as if retirees find a number of ways to slack off.

We get out pencil and paper for sudoku and cross-word puzzles or play Scrabble and mahjong online and tell ourselves that we are outwitting creeping cabbage brain by playing "thinking games".    Reality check:  research shows that those exercised neurons are very specific to their task.  My improved Scrabble brain will not help me put together an Ikea bookcase.

Older folks indulge in activities that I consider pretty mindless, too.  What's with Farmville anyway? 

But after careers spent filling every moment with purposeful activity, perhaps we need the opportunity to indulge in some mindless pursuits.   I just wish I didn't feel like such a time-waster when I click on the Scrabble board!

I've been beating myself up about this, and in doing so have evolved a guilt assuaging, useful formula:  The Pensioners' Purposeless Pursuit Calculator (PPPC).  It goes like this:  Number of Unfilled Minutes per Work Day (aka "lost time") = Slacker Time in retirement.  For example, my unfilled minutes = 60.  This is how long it took me to drive to and from my job.  The way I see it, I should now be able to spend up to one hour daily, guilt free, doing whatever mindless activity gives me pleasure.                   

Hmmmm.  Logic aside, that does seem like a lot of slacker time.  It's a good thing I wasn't commuting to Toronto.

Wednesday, 21 December 2011

#154: The Bad Part

Yesterday, I made a quick visit to my former workplace. I picked up my reserved book and then headed toward the public exit.

There at the reception desk in conversation with the library concierge were two large policemen.  My former manager suddenly appeared, gave me a quick smile, and approached the officers.

Oh, Oh. I had forgotten this part.

Someone had stolen something/vandalized library property/gotten into a fight /passed out/had a seizure/viewed child porn many possibilities of things gone badly wrong. 

Sitting with a young thief waiting for the cops to come was never the best thing about my job.

There in the parking lot was the waiting police car.  No matter.  It was time to visit my well-behaved retirement home readers.

Tuesday, 20 December 2011

#153: Anger Management

I am resisting the impulse to download Angry Birds.

It is bad enough that I just spent one half hour playing online Scrabble. At least I can write that off as an intellectual activity. 

And that's not a rationalization!  It isn't!

No way!


Monday, 19 December 2011

#152: RSVPositive

Confession: I am not really much of a party girl, but I do like getting together with friends.

Last week it was lunches with friends. Tonight the neighbourhood party. Tomorrow another lunch. And I can be as sociable as I like because I no longer have to explain that I am working that morning/afternoon/night/weekend/whatever. 

Library schedules are just plain weird.  In 25 years, my friends and family never did figure mine out, and now they don't have to.  My new schedule (and I do have one) is so much more accommodating.

Yes, I'll come.  Do you want me to bring anything?


Sunday, 18 December 2011

#151: Tree Glee

Oh Christmas tree, Oh Christmas tree
I have more time for trimming thee
I do this job with much more glee
Because I am a re-ti-ree!

Saturday, 17 December 2011

#150: A Jingle Jingle

Jingle Bells, Jingle Bells
My wrapping is all done.
Time to do the job this year
Makes it lots more fun!

Friday, 16 December 2011

#150: 20/20

Overheard in our house yesterday as we prepared to join some neighbours at a pub:

Me:  I got soaked on that walk this afternoon.  I need to change out of these jeans and this tee-shirt before we go out.  

He:  You think so? You look great.  You always look nice.

He is such a sweetheart.  Why would any older woman want a younger man?  Deteriorating eyesight is such an advantage in a relationship.

Thursday, 15 December 2011

#149: Keeping in Touch

Without the interference of work, it is so much easier to keep in touch with people, especially my retired friends.

But there are qualifications.

We do not text one another, or skype. As for Twitter...... I cannot even imagine a twittered exchange among the people I know.   And forget Facebook; in spite of my enthusiasm it is a hard sell to an older demographic. I consider myself lucky to reach so many folks by email, although some check it only occasionally.

But my older friends do use the telephone. And, *bonus* that leaves a hand free to hold a mid-afternoon cup of tea. 

  providing that the recipient actually checks email.  

Wednesday, 14 December 2011

#148: The A-Word

This week I met a new retirement home reader with a great attitude.  Mrs D. left a bridge game to give me her list of favourite authors and when I returned from the Bookmobile, she enthusiastically checked out my choices. "The new Stuart Woods!  These are all Bestsellers!  You're an angel."  She piled her books (her regular print books) into her walker and happily departed. Mrs. D is 95.

My afternoon encounter with Mrs. D was the perfect antidote to my gloom after getting an email about an elderly friend who was cancelling lunch because her arthritis was bothering her.  Rats.  Old Age strikes again.   Unless you clock out when you are about 40, you can't help but be aware of Retirement's evil twin, Aging. Retirement and Getting Old are pretty much joined at the hip and sometimes it is arthritic. 

I steeled myself and called the arthritis sufferer.  She spoke optimistically about hip surgery and an upcoming doctor's appointment.  Yes, it is a nuisance, but she will be OK.

Once again, Attitude trumps Aging.  I'd better start taking notes.



Tuesday, 13 December 2011

#147: Has Bean

I never soaked a bean in my life.

Until now.  Today I have the time, I have the inclination, and I have a yummy black bean recipe.

There are lots of things you can do with newly soaked black beans.  (Google is a great source of information.  "How to use black beans" comes a close second to "piano-playing cats").

I'm going with enchiladas.  We'll save the black bean brownies for another occasion.  

Monday, 12 December 2011

#146: Money Matters

Since I am no longer filling the volunteer candy jar, I must be a saving $10 (more or less) each month.  Whoopee.  Perhaps it is cheaper to live as a retiree.  Let me count the ways:

My daily 50 km commute is a thing of the past and so is the weekly gas bill.

I rarely take clothes to the dry cleaners now.

I rarely buy new clothes.  I often admire a perfect work ensemble, but confer with my inner retiree; she reminds me that I don't need them -- not those kind of work clothes, anyway.

No more TGIF.  We don't eat out on Friday, and don't seem to miss it. 

I do sometimes take advantage of seniors' prices.  As a grand-daughter of the Depression,  it seems only right to save money if the opportunity presents.  (But I did feel unnecessarily cheap while shopping at Value Village on Seniors' Day.  I have my standards.)

So many ways to save!  And just as well, since I have new expenses. As a former library employee I must now pay overdue fines.

Sunday, 11 December 2011

#145: Old Habits

I came that close to buying a reduced-price, giant bag of mixed candy for the volunteer candy jar, the one that sat near the sign-in book by my desk at the library.

On second thought, considering that I am now a volunteer, I suppose I might have bought it for myself.

Maybe next time....

Saturday, 10 December 2011

#144: Knit Bit

With one mitten complete, I am concluding that knitting has the potential to satisfy many of my retirement activity needs.   Knitting is:

Creative-- I am sometimes moved to "modify" the pattern.   Of course this is not always a good idea...

Intellectual -- Every project is a learning experience.   My first sock took nine months to complete and by then it really should have been able to knit itself. The second sock was much smarter.

Social -- Sometimes I can only extricate myself from a woolly mess with help from a friend

Physical -- I have the sore right arm and hand to prove it.

Spiritual -- Although some knitters claim enlightenment, I'm still not ready to knit a "prayer" shawl for anyone.  The infamous first sock probably had an understood vocabulary of 10 or so words and phrases. None were prayers. 

Sooooo, not a perfect activity, but still fun!  Bring on Mitten # 2.

Friday, 9 December 2011

#143: ZZZZZZ, Again

A few posts earlier Sandra observed that sleeping late offsets the fatigue of a too-busy day.  I think it is great that retirees have so many of those!  In fact, I am discovering that for many of us, busyness extends to midnight and beyond.

Readers, now retired, revel in the knowledge that they can keep reading the "exciting part" and not have to drag themselves out of bed next day.  An insomniac says she is less anxious knowing that she can just get up and check Facebook, play Scrabble or read, knowing the alarm clock won't care   A librarian friend who has unleashed his artistic side, speaks of happily completing a painting at two a.m. He was on a role, and couldn't stop, and didn't have to.

Meanwhile in the family room at 12:30 last night I finally figured out the tricky bit of a knitting project. Even a good book would not have kept me up so late.  This was different.  I was not going off to bed defeated by a mitten!

Thursday, 8 December 2011

#142: Qi and Me

Having just finished going through 20 or so Qigong postures at home, I can only say that a class session is preferable.

I am sure our instructor James would agree.  He would probably explain that the group experience increases our qi or life energy and multiplies its positive effect.

I'm not really sure what that means.

What I do know is that in the classroom surrounded by other people all doing "Double Hands Support the Heavens", I am not seeing dustbunnies or a drooping bunch of flowers, and I am not thinking about unfinished Christmas cards or overdue library books. 

Besides, a friend and I go out to lunch afterward. "Double Hands Support the Coffee Cup" is very qi enhancing.

Wednesday, 7 December 2011

#141: However You Define It

My Christmas shopping trip to Toronto, on a Wednesday no less, is complete and I am now at home with a glass of wine.

That is what I call a good day's work.

Tuesday, 6 December 2011

#140: Morality

In yesterday's post (now edited, thanks to a sharp-eyed friend), it appeared that Spell Check was directing me to examine my "morality".  Oh oh.   Does Microsoft know something about me that I'm not aware of?  Was I being given advice?  Forget about encroaching old age and be a better person?

That slip of the Word made me think.  Retiring can be about "doing good" in a more active way than was possible when one was working, and for many this involves some sort of volunteer commitment that provides a real sense of satisfaction. It doesn't have to be a big deal either.  A neighbour says that her favourite retirement activity is doing quick repairs on clothing for the food bank clients she has come to know.  "It's a little thing, but it means a lot to them."

I'll keep this mind as I go off to the retirement home this afternoon and have another conversation with one of my "readers" who has dementia.  We have the same chat, with variation, week after week. Even if she doesn't remember me, she loves to see me and talk about books.

It's a little thing....

Monday, 5 December 2011

#139: I Have Company

I Was a Reluctant Retiree  is the reader essay in the Globe and Mail this morning.  Looks like there are a few of us out there.

The author, Elaine Peebles, retired 3 years ago and still finds the transition challenging.  She fills her time with tennis and travel and wonders if she did sufficient preparation for this big life change.  She still rankles at loss of identity.  I laughed to discover that like me, in spite of her new freedom, she still doesn't have enough time to read, and her basement remains unorganized.

I hear you, Elaine. But I sense that I may be a bit more settled in this new role and I wonder if it might come down to something as simple as age.  I suspect that I am older than lots of new retirees.  At almost 68, with mortality staring me in the face, I really had to decide how I wanted to spend the rest of my life.  It's that basic. 

And  besides (as I often explained to my library colleagues)  it's got to be awkward steering a walker up and down the stacks.

Sunday, 4 December 2011

#138: Anniversary

I has been over six months since I retired so I'm thinking I should make some thoughtful comment about my new condition.

However, the only thing that occurs to me is that our evening meals are slightly more interesting now that I can spend more than 15 minutes preparing them.  In other words, I have not purchased a rotisserie chicken since last June.   

Until yesterday.  In need of an instant meal I broke down and bought a precooked bird in a little plastic coffin.  Here is what I discovered:  the price has gone up $3.00 since last summer and the chicken is much, much saltier than I remember.  Perhaps extra salt costs more.  Regardless, I am sure the salt is part of a plan to lure me back to my old chicken-a-week habit.

Can't be done.  I'm immune.

Hear this, chicken pushers.  In retirement I have time and energy to resist.  I wasn't buying those birds because they were delicious. It was all about convenience, and now I have more options.   

Saturday, 3 December 2011


I like to ask retired folk what they like best about not working, and sleeping in comes high on everyone's list. I even had a volunteer last year who told me that since retiring from a job that required a long commute and an early start,  I shouldn't count on her for anything before 11 a.m.

I'm energetic long before 11, but I do find that I am no longer rising at 7.  Without the alarm clock imperative,  it just feels right to listen to one's body and mine tells me that 7:30 is good enough.

But not today.  Today I worked a morning shift at one of our branches, so I was up early and on the road by 9. It was OK.  I didn't mind it but only because I don't have to do it again until next Saturday.

I am beginning to think that a lot of working people must be sleep deprived.


Friday, 2 December 2011

#137: Hip Hat

In search of a tolerably acceptable hat to wear with a puffy red winter jacket, I went into a shop downtown that specializes in hemp products.  Guelph has no Gap, but we have Hempire.

There was a really cute hat in the window, so I determined to try it on and chose to ignore the fact that I was four times older than anyone else in the store.

The salesgirl (and she really was a girl) took a long time to get to me because she was dealing with a couple of young men.  I didn't mind.  You can learn a lot overhearing people's conversations.  Not every retiree can list all the advantages of using a glass bong.  Also how to make a bong from a McDonald's cup in case you are smoking up in public.

I guess that is called added value.   

I bought the hat, of course, and I will feel extra cool wearing it.

Thursday, 1 December 2011

#136: Out, Out, Out

Yesterday, I was the emergency librarian at one of our branch libraries where there are tons of teenage patrons.  Some of them were creating a ruckus and as I escorted them to the door, I realized that nothing says "retired" like a feeling of complete calm as one invites a group of very noisy teenagers to leave the bulding.

Was I truly pissed at them?  Not particularly.  Did they need to leave?  Yes.  Did the confrontation cause me any problem at all?  No way.

In the past I would have been concerned that this was an escalating behaviour problem that I would have to deal with on a day to day basis.  It would have made me feel anxious.

But I'll never see these kids again. So I could do the right thing without a second thought.

I must be retired.