Posted tagged ‘retirement’

“Life, now, was unfolding before me, constantly and visibly, like the flowers of summer that drop fanlike petals on eternal soil.”

August 7, 2017

This morning is a delight. We have bright sun and a blue sky. The birds are singing: better described as the hungry birds as so many of them are coming to my feeders I have to fill the feeders again. I also need more seed, and I need dog food as well so a trip to Agway is on my list today. Gracie and I are also going to the dump. I’ll make two trips as I don’t want Gracie waiting in the car while I shop at Agway. I also need bread so I’ll add the grocery store to my errand list.

The temperature is in the 70’s and will go down to the 60’s tonight. It will be the same the next couple of days. That’s perfect for me. The weather report says showers tonight. I hope so. We haven’t had rain in a while. Summer showers are my favorite of all sorts of rain though thunder showers are a close second.

I do the Globe crossword every day. It seems to be getting easier as I get older. I figure the puzzle maker is young and thinks his clues are head scratchers. The historical stuff I’ve lived through so they’re really easy. The capital of Ghana is often one of the clues, a no-brainer for me. The clues which stump me are often about current singers or television programs I never watch. I can only hope to fill in from the clues around those.

Last night the crowd chose Creature with the Atomic Brain as our movie. It is black and white and was made in 1955 but is a tick better than most we’ve watched. Richard Denning is the star. The evil scientist is a former Nazi and his boss a deported gangster who has returned illegally. They both deserved hissing. We had a few appetizers, played a game of Phase 10 and enjoyed meatballs in marinara sauce, frozen from last week, and a great salad for supper before the movie. We, of course, had candy for movie watching.

When I retired, I had no idea how I’d spent my time, but I wasn’t worried. I knew I’d find something to keep me busy or not. It will be thirteen years this summer, and I have enjoyed every day especially days when I did nothing. I have a routine for the mornings, but the days are come what may. That’s my favorite part, the spontaneity of it all.

“Time is an illusion. Lunchtime doubly so.”

June 29, 2015

The morning is sweatshirt weather, cloudy, damp and chilly. Everything is still a bit wet. We need sun, and luckily, the weather report is hopeful: sun in the afternoon. I hope it’s right.

My neighbor and I chatted this morning, and I sat on the damp steps for so long I could get piles. Okay, I know that’s not true, but that’s what I used to hear: sitting on cold ground was never a good idea because it caused piles. It wasn’t until I was much older that I found out piles are better known as hemorrhoids. Their connection to damp concrete was just an old wife’s tale, a bit of a weird one I think.

I have a few errands for later but that’s it for the day. My back is feeling better so I don’t want to chance hurting it again by doing anything. It’s a great excuse to lie around and do nothing, as if I really needed an excuse.

Every now and then I lose a day. I find something to hold my attention and before I know it the day has gone to afternoon. Often it is a good book as I am always loath to put down a good book. Sometimes I sit on the deck, get drowsy and fall asleep on the lounge. When I wake up, the sun is lower in the sky.

I seldom check clocks and I don’t wear a watch. If I need to be somewhere, I leave early enough to get there. My bedroom has a clock because once in a while I need to set the alarm, usually to meet friends for breakfast. My den has the clock on the cable box. I check it to make sure to watch a particular TV program. I think this dislike of clocks and watches comes from my life having been driven by time. I had to get up in time to have breakfast and to walk to school, later to catch the bus to school. Ghana was where time was of the least importance, but I still needed to know when my class was starting, and I had to set the alarm to catch an early bus. Beyond those, time meant little. You waited until the lorry was filled before it could leave. Nobody knew how long that would take. People arrived whenever which was defined as Ghana time. I got used to that. I learned to wait, to while away the time.

When I got home, I was again ruled by clocks and watches. Wasting time was sinful. It was the alarm clock every morning and bells all through the day to start and stop classes. Buses and trains left on time.

Retirement is glorious as time is of little importance. I go to bed when I’m tired and wake up whenever. I list appointments on the desk calendar, the one with Jeopardy questions, the one my sister puts in my stocking every year. I don’t keep a daily calendar in my bag the way I used to when I worked. I am a lady of leisure who has no need to know the time.

“Write it on your heart that every day is the best day in the year.”

February 25, 2014

The cold weather is back and snow may be on the way tomorrow, but I, however, am finally resigned to winter now that it is nearly over. There is no sense complaining. It just makes me grouchy and serves no purpose. Over the weekend it was 50˚, and I got to thinking ahead to barbecue and beach weather. Spring will eventually come. It always does.

My life has a routine. It has always had a routine, but the routine has changed as I have changed and grown older. The longest routine was during the thirty-three years I worked in the high school. I got up the same time every day, came home around the same time and spent my evenings in the same way as I had the day before and the day before that. I never thought of my routine as a rut. I liked my job though for all those years 5 o’clock always struck me as a barbaric time for waking up and getting out of bed. I don’t do that any more. This summer I will celebrate ten years of retirement. The only time I set my clock now is on Mondays for breakfast with my friend at nine. It’s a wonderful thing that I have to set the alarm to get out of bed by eight. I like the routine I find myself living now.

This morning the paper had pictures of purple croci ( I had four years of Latin in high school so I’m going with first declension masculine plural on this one). They are a hopeful sign as are the green shoots in my front garden. I saw a few more this morning which had been hidden under the snow. They made me smile and forget for a moment that it’s cold and a bit raw today.

The world continues to amaze me. Sometimes I am stopped in my tracks. There we are, Gracie and I, just riding along when all of a sudden I am struck by the beauty of the marsh or the colors of the sunset. I’m usually moved to talk out loud and use words like wow or oh my God. It doesn’t matter how many times I have seen the sheer beauty of the ocean or the glory of a sunny day or a sky lit with stars. I can’t help but be overwhelmed. I think it a wonderful thing that we can live years and years and still be moved by the every day.

“Everything you can imagine is real.”

May 20, 2013

Last night it rained, not a furious rain falling in sheets but a steady drop by drop rain. I had my bedroom window opened, and I fell asleep to the sound of the drops. This morning when I woke up, the day was cloudy and damp. Since then the sun has taken over the sky and brightened the day. It’s a pretty morning.

The window view from here in the den is one of my favorites. The branches of the tall oak tree fill the window, and I get to watch the tree change every season. The leaves now are young and a bright green. Hanging off a couple of the branches are bird feeders, and I get to watch the birds zoom in and out or stay for a while at the suet feeder. The winter view through that window is bleak. I can see only bare branches and dead leaves fluttering in the wind. When the first buds appear, it’s time for a celebration as I know the tree will soon be full and beautiful. It’s almost there now.

Sometimes I ponder my life and every time I do, I realize how lucky I have been. First of all I had great parents though I didn’t always appreciate them, especially when I got sent to my room or yelled at or had a slipper thrown at me by my mother who had absolutely no aim. She never once got any of us. We always ducked if it came close. I got to wander my town and go to the zoo or the swamp or play in the woods. I had a bike which took me even as far as East Boston to see my grandparents which scared the bejesus out of my mother as we had to travel on Route 1A, a busy highway which didn’t always have sidewalks. That bike was one of my childhood joys. My parents took us to museums which developed in us all a love of museums. They let us dream our dreams. I went to college and had no debt when I graduated because my father thought it was is responsibility to pay for school. My parents once told me they never thought any of their kids would go to college as no one in our whole family had ever gone. They were thrilled one of us did and so was I as I had chosen well. I loved Merrimack. The Peace Corps was the defining moment in my life which gave me a love of teaching, two years living in Africa of all places and friends for life. 

I have traveled many places in the world and have filled my memory drawers with those adventures, those vistas, the bumpy roads and crowded busses, the tastes of unknown foods and the joy of seeing all those pictures from my geography books come to life. Every year I went somewhere foreign, somewhere to satisfy my wanderlust. I got to retire early and since then have been to Africa three times: once to Morocco and twice to Ghana. My retirement has been so much fun: greeting the sun on the first of spring, sloth days, game nights with my friends, sitting on the deck doing absolutely nothing, movie nights and on and on and on.

Every now and then, like today, I give thanks for the life I have been privileged to lead. I don’t ever want to forget that. 

“Time you enjoy wasting is not wasted time.”

November 27, 2012

The weather is back to cloudy, grey and bleak. Rain is expected here while off-cape will be getting a little snow, an inch or two. I figure it’s just enough to remind people that winter is impatiently waiting in the wings. Yesterday I actually did some cleaning, a bit of polishing and dusting. I also filled all of the bird feeders and put out new thistle and suet feeders. Today I have to bring up the laundry from the cellar and do a few errands. Gracie will be glad for the errands. I’m not so glad about the laundry.

When I worked, I was able to fit in all the errands and chores despite the long work day. Weekends were filled with laundry, grocery shopping, cleaning and a run to the dump. I was usually in bed on school nights by 10 as the day started around 5:15 or 5:30. The alarm went off at 5, but I always hit the snooze button so I could feel as if I were cheating the clock in some small way.

Since my retirement I have noticed strange phenomenons. Though I have all the time in the world, I don’t get a whole lot done. I procrastinate as there is always tomorrow or the next day or the next, on and on. I also noticed I have become protective of my time. The phone gets answered reluctantly though I’m okay if it’s a friend or a family member. I hate appointments. They usurp my time. This week I have two, both of which I voluntarily made: one is to have my car checked for servicing and the other is stuffing envelopes at the museum where I am a volunteer. Based on past performances, I’ll regret having made them and will have to force myself out the door. I’ll whine and curse a bit.

When I was a kid, if my mother put on lipstick, it was a signal she was going out, and we always wanted to know where. I usually wear slippers around the house. If I put on shoes, Gracie is on the alert. She knows I must be going somewhere so she  plants herself by the front door. Lipstick meant a complete change in routine and now it’s slippers. I guess I just don’t go out often enough or I should wear shoes inside more often.

“Diligence is a good thing, but taking things easy is much more restful”

July 26, 2012

The last few days were lovely, but now the air is thick with humidity. I could feel it as soon I woke up so I closed the upstairs windows, came downstairs, closed the rest of the windows and turned on the AC. I gasped when I went outside to get the papers. Gracie, a bit of a barometer herself, spent little time outside this morning. She came in quickly and collapsed on the couch in the AC. She is now deep asleep and snoring.

The older I get the more my life seems, in different ways, to get easier. When I first lived here, I didn’t even have a fan. When it was really hot, I just slept downstairs with the back door opened all night. When I bought a standing fan, I used it down here and then carried it upstairs so I’d have a breeze all night. I couldn’t sleep without it. It was just too darn hot. Finally I got a window air conditioner for my bedroom. The afternoon sun pours in there, and because it is on the third floor, it stays really hot. I used it at night all summer and many times in the afternoons if the heat felt unbearable. On those afternoons the dog and I would go upstairs in the cool air where I’d stretch out and read. The both of us usually napped. Now I just turn the thermostat and the whole house gets delightfully cool.

My lawn gets mowed every week by my landscaper’s crew. I used to mow it myself on a late afternoon or a Saturday. It is amazing how many chores and errands I used to squeeze in on a weekend when I worked. Now I don’t even enough time over the course of a seven-day week to do everything. I keep telling myself I’ll do it tomorrow. My house gets cleaned every two weeks though I do some spot cleaning in the meantime. I used to clean my house every weekend. The only chore I still consistently do is the washing but no longer do I need to iron a single thing. Wrinkles are perfectly acceptable. I do turn on the dishwasher, but most days I hand wash the few dishes I use. I look out the window as I wash and I do some of my best thinking. Most days I make my bed. It makes my bedroom look neater, but if the cats are sleeping on it, I wait, and if they sleep on the bed all afternoon, I don’t make it at all.

I make no apologies for my sloth. I earned the right to do nothing after all those years of working and getting up at 5 in the morning. My new motto is whatever makes my life easier is just fine with me.

“The less routine the more life.”

January 3, 2012

It’s cold. 32° cold. I have my Christmas tree to take down today so I won’t be going anywhere. I’m always sad when the tree goes. I miss the aroma of pine and the beauty of the lights. My living room reverts to drab and ordinary.

The tree disappeared magically when I was a kid. It was there when I went to school, but when I got home, it was gone. I guess it was like the Elves and the Shoemaker.

At first I struggled for something to write. That happens sometimes. I thought a while and all of a sudden I was inspired.

Elementary school was my first introduction to the routines of life. Every day, Monday through Friday, was the same. I even ate the same breakfast: cocoa and toast and oatmeal if my mother made me eat it on the really cold days. I wore the same outfit, my uniform: a blue skirt, a white blouse and a blue tie. I had a pair of school shoes, and I wore them every day then changed them when I got home. I carried my lunch in a lunchbox. The lunch varied from day-to-day, but I could always count on a sandwich and a dessert. Back then I didn’t realize I was part of a dress rehearsal.

High school was also a routine. Up early, eat on the quick and hurry to catch the bus to the town where I attended school. The bus came at 7:05. I wore a uniform: a plaid skirt, a white blouse, a gray vest and blazer, nylons and black loafers. I carried a school bag, one of those green ones which had to be pulled to close and could be carried over the shoulder on your back. It was required, and it was ugly.

In college, I could wear what I wanted as long as part of it was a skirt. That changed sophomore year when it was so cold we were allowed to wear pants, and once they had opened that door, it couldn’t be shut. I had a schedule of classes, and my friends and I met every morning for coffee, and we had a contest each day as to who could finish the crossword puzzle the fastest. It was a routine of sorts but far different than those of my childhood. College was the freest of times.

Once I got home from Ghana and started teaching, I was back to a set routine: getting up early, having a cup of coffee, going to school, teaching five classes, coming home, changing out of school clothes, preparing classes, correcting papers and then having what was left of the day as mine. There was never much left.

People cautioned me about my early retirement. I didn’t get what they meant at first. I hadn’t stop to think that my life had been a series of routines, and here I was starting a life without one.

When I run into people now, they always ask what I’ve been doing as if doing is so important. I always figure they ask because they’re still in the routine stage of life when doing is most of all there is.

I guess I do have a bit of a routine. I drink my coffee, read my papers and then write. That’s it. That’s all I have left of routine.