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.

Wednesday, 30 November 2011

#135: He and She, Retiree

I was in the Bookmobile yesterday collecting material for my nursing home readers when I happened upon the perfect book for me:  How to Love Your Retirement.  There was a lengthy chapter on "Living With Your Retired Partner", and I skimmed through it.

Wow.  So many retired couples say they get on one another's nerves. And the men are, reportedly, the worst; they have a tendency to hang out in the kitchen and offer commentary.  The poor guys clearly have nothing better to do.  One woman unhappily reported that her husband had even alphabetized her spice drawer.

Huh?  What's the problem?  Put those fellows to work if they are so interested.  Men can iron, bake and wash up -- and do a darn good job.

My husband is welcome to pitch in (and he does).  Have a blast, I say, but don't worry about the spice drawer.  Allspice, Basil, Cumin -- it's all done.  I'm not a librarian for nothing.

Tuesday, 29 November 2011

#134: Time to Talk

Early morning phone calls from friends and family no longer go to voice mail or get the brushoff as in: "I'd love to talk but I'm already late for work..."

Who knew I could be so sociable before 9.00 am?

Monday, 28 November 2011

#133: Holiday Greetings

How many ways can you say "Thank you!  You are a wonderful volunteer.  We especially appreciate the grand way in which you do xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx -- Happy (one size fits all) Holiday!"

Last year at this time, I was working my way through 130 unique, seasonal messages for 130 wonderful volunteers. In my time as the library volunteer coordinator, I must have written about 2000 such cards, so as December 2011 bears down it doesn't feel normal to have so many holiday card-free evenings.  Surely I will wake up in a cold sweat knowing that this task has not been completed.

I guess the only way to relieve my anxiety is to tackle my own Christmas card list ASAP.  And perhaps this year I can actually get them in the mail before the 25th.    

Sunday, 27 November 2011

#132: Deja Vu (sort of)

A former colleague and I went over to the library today at noon, just as we used to every Sunday when we worked together.  Back in the old days we took turns driving, and we would chat about everything under the sun as we travelled to and fro.

Same thing today.  I drove, and we headed off-- not to work-- but to the Studio Show and Sale at our former workplace.  We admired the crafts and art, made some purchases, talked to a few Sunday staff and checked out the renovations  (that library building is always being upgraded).   Then we toddled off.  They all seemed to be managing quite well without us.

We had done what we came for, and there was still plenty of time to stop at a knitting shop on the way back.  Our renovated Sundays have definitely been upgraded!

Saturday, 26 November 2011

#131: Cool Yule

On the strength of my working a few shifts as an emergency librarian, it looks as if I get to go to the staff Christmas party, in spite of being retired.

How cool is that?

Friday, 25 November 2011

#130: Cruel Yule

November 25.   Time to admit that Christmas is coming whether I like it or not.


Alas, being retired and having all that "extra time" to get ready does not help at all.

I still feel panicked, and now I have no excuses.

Thursday, 24 November 2011

#129: Shoe Envy

On the way to lunch, Millie (my Pittsburgh friend) and I made a side trip to Littles, a big shoe store in Squirrel Hill.

I remembered it from previous visits and knew it had a fabulous selection.  But we were not there to buy--we were merely lusting.  (I don't know what my husband was doing when we were being seduced by shoes.  "Just looking"  is not a concept he comprehends, at all.)  

Millie and I checked out the dressy, high end Thierry Rabotin and Taryn Rose pumps and a complete range of more serviceable sporty flats.  We fingered them, we admired them, and we put them down. But our footwear faves were not what one might imagine;  I wanted the pretty but impractical work-worthy shoes, but she only had eyes for the sturdy flats.

I assured her that retirement would provide more than enough opportunity for comfort shoes.  Be careful what you wish for.

Wednesday, 23 November 2011

#128: Night Work

Since I have agreed to do a 4:00 - 8:30 shift next week at a branch library I don't know very well, I decided to drop in for the last hour today to reconnoiter and check on their closing procedures.

I had my little visit, we locked up the library, and I returned to Guelph.  All good.  I can do this.

However.  As I drove back along Highway 24 in the dark at 8:45, I felt no nostalgia for the evening shifts I jettisoned when I retired.  I'm so happy I no longer work nights.

But giving a colleague the evening off so she and her family can watch The Christmas Train chug into town?   That's a different story.

Tuesday, 22 November 2011

#127: Cinema for Codgers

It was drizzly and damp in Pittsburgh on Monday afternoon so three of us went to a 2:15 movie at The Manor.

The theatre was practically empty, except for a handful of (what appeared to be) retirees.  (Full disclosure leads me to admit that our friend is looking forward to retirement, but is not there yet.)

Without preamble, J Edgar began. There were no trailers.  There were no ads.  Not one.  Not even a Christmas Coke commercial with a bunch of happy penguins.

Advertisers are missing a *golden* opportunity. Don't they realize the demographic attending afternoon films? A captive audience of older viewers is just waiting to be bombarded with marketing for Depends, life insurance, and those walk-in bathtubs where people always seem to wear housecoats.

An interesting idea, eh?

But let's keep it to ourselves.


Friday, 18 November 2011

#126: Endless Weekend

Perhaps it is inaccurate to refer to my upcoming trip to Pittsburgh as a "long weekend".

My life is a long weekend.

Thursday, 17 November 2011

#125: Una Birra?

We are toying with the idea of joining friends for a hiking holiday in Sicily next September.

This may be the incentive I need to break out the "Italian the Easy Way" CDs, dictionaries, grammar books, etc.

I abandoned Italian lessons when I was working and had no time for language learning, but the prospect of being able to order more than Birra Messina at the end of a dusty trail -- that's a retirement  project I can swallow whole.

Wednesday, 16 November 2011

#124: Sittin' on the Dock of e-Bay...

The way I see it, e-Bay is made for retirees.  Who else has the time to watch over a bid that is going to expire at 2:30 pm?

My theory was borne out when I successfully bid on an item, and then checked the profile of the seller.

He is a 75 year old retired pharmacist who overcame cancer three years ago but found himself depressed until he discovered the joy of e-Bay. 

I can now think of my purchase as contributing to his continued recuperation.  Retail therapy, indeed!

Tuesday, 15 November 2011

#123: Golden Girls

Eighty-ish Jean, seventy-ish Sondra, and moi (67) met for lunch today, solved several world problems, and then made arrangements for December.

We all got out our pocket calendars and wrote next to the chosen date:  12:00--Lunch with The Girls.

This is Jean and Sondra's label, not mine.  But I'll be a Girl along with these two any day of the week! 

Monday, 14 November 2011

#122: Lunch Bar

A Qi Gong friend and I have taken to having lunch together after the class.

At first we ate in the cafe at the seniors' centre.  The prices are very reasonable, and we love that the staff are likely much older than we are, and they are still going strong.  But in other ways, this venue does not measure up.  It is more cafeteria than cafe, so I feel like I am back at the nerd table in high school, albeit with a much, much older crowd.    And while I won't say that the food seems "elderly", it is predictable and uninspired.

I didn't know I was so picky.

So we have now taken to having our coffee at the Second Cup near campus.  Sometimes the students have eaten all the good wraps, the place is noisy, and because the staff forgets to close the walk-in fridge, there is often a cold draft.  (I just get up and close the door, and go back to my conversation.)  Our new hangout does not exactly raise the lunch bar, but for now it is OK.

And when I want a tuna fish sandwich and cream of mushroom soup, I know where to go. 


Sunday, 13 November 2011

#121: Reality Cheque

Note to self:

Yes, you enjoyed your Saturday shift as an "emergency librarian" but this was not a voluntary pursuit.  They will pay you.

But first you need fill in your time sheet.

Saturday, 12 November 2011

#120: Seniors Helping Seniors

My biggest grocery shopping challenge as a retiree (aside from dodging other retired shoppers) has been dealing with those darned flimsy plastic bags that are intended for loose fruits and vegetables.  I can't open them.  I finger the edges again and again, and they stay doggedly shut.  What is going on?

Are these new bags since last June?  A cost cutting strategy, perhaps? A ploy to keep me in the store for twice as long?   Because I now seem to take 2 or 3 minutes to wrestle just one little bag open.

Or perhaps it is my fault.  It could be that my aging fingers are becoming inept, or perhaps they are just really dry.  But I refuse to lick them in order to gain traction.

I was recently engaged in a power struggle with what was intended to be a carrot bag when a nearby voice echoed my frustration.  "I just hate those bags!" said the older woman on my right.  "So this is what I do", and she reached out to finger a wet bunch of parsley. Then she opened her bag.

Whatever works.  If you see me petting the damp veggies I'm not testing them for freshness.


Friday, 11 November 2011

#119: TechnoFreak

After two hours, I think I have figured out how to put an Overdrive app on my iTouch so I can read library ebooks on my little Apple device.

The secret (I think) is to first have an iTunes account and an Adobe Digital Editions account that recognize ones own iTouch. (Since it doesn't actually say this on the Overdrive website I need to be prepared to deliver this information, if required, to puzzled Library users.  Tomorrow.  When I work at Hespeler.)

Maybe, if I am very lucky, no one will ask about reading ebooks on their iPhone/iTouch, but if they do I don't want to appear too ignorant.

In the meantime, my 67 year old brain is overwrought and freaked out.  Technology is not my natural metier. But I'm sure all that brain scrambling is very good for me -- sort of like Qi Gong for neurons. 

Thursday, 10 November 2011

#118: Floss Boss

I had my teeth cleaned today for the first time since retiring.  When Heather, the dental hygienist, knew about my changed circumstances, she pounced on me.

Nancy!  Now you'll have more time to floss!

I hated to break it to her, but I've asked many, many people about their retirement plans, and flossing is not on anyone's top ten list.  Or their top 100, for that matter.

No one ever says, I can hardly wait to retire so I can floss as much as I want.

Wednesday, 9 November 2011

#117: Dress Up

No trip to Saskatoon is complete until I have visited "The Mendel", the lovely little art gallery that overlooks the South Saskatchewan River.

I always pop into the gift shop, and this time I overheard an older woman, a Mendel volunteer, admiring a display of hand-woven scarves.   These are lovely, she said, but I have so few opportunities now to get dressed up. 

Ah yes -- I surveyed my own ensemble -- the truth about retirement attire.

The good news:  you can wear jeans every day.  The bad news:  you can wear jeans every day. 

Sunday, 6 November 2011

#116: Laundry List

So far, one of the most interesting things that has happened to me in Saskatoon was my guest appearance on the community radio program, Laundry List.  The topic under discussion for this episode was....ta dah... Retirement.

Daughter Jenny and her friends Tracy and Brenda co-host this "anything goes"  program.  (That Saturday morning, they also recorded a second 1/2 hour item about home ownership.) These three young women have great rapport,  and it was fun to see them in action.  They are completely poised and thoughtful, and very entertaining.  

Me?  I was terminally boring.  I won't be looking to break into radio anytime soon, but why should I?  I'm retired.

Friday, 4 November 2011

#115: Crank

Here in Ontario, the leaves are still on the trees and the mums are still blooming in our gardens.  It is autumn, for heaven's sake!   But our stores seem to be consulting a different calendar, one where December 25 comes right after Halloween. 

Thus, I walked into the grocery store yesterday and found a huge display of Christmas flowers.  I understand the amaryllis which take 8 weeks to grow and flower, but who buys poinsettias in early November?  So I had a little rant (more like an annoyed observation) to the poor floral clerk who admitted that she also thought the store was rushing the season.

I don't think I would have sounded off about Christmas Creep 10 years ago.

Perhaps I am crankier now because I am retired?    That is such a scary thought that I bought 3 amaryllis bulbs and went home and planted them.

Thursday, 3 November 2011

#114: Info Service

While I was at the preview night for the Friends of the Library book sale, I encountered one of the organizers, a retired librarian, standing by the exit with her smart phone.  "The reception is better here, so I'm looking up an author for someone" she explained, adding  "You never stop being a librarian!"

Too true.  I've just spent an hour putting together a rather involved answer to a reference question for a friend.

I was glad to do it.  "Can you find out something about....." is a request I cannot ignore.

But now the information desk is closed and I am back to packing for my trip to Saskatoon.  I'll get to hang out with my librarian daughter, talk shop, and no lieu time or holidays days were required.     

Wednesday, 2 November 2011

#113: Trekking

In our neck of the woods Star Trek is on at 12 noon, so I occasionally join my husband for lunch with Captain Kirk.

We saw all these programs and loved them when they originally aired back in 1966, but I remember none of the details-- just the characters and a few tag lines like "Beam me up Scotty".  Watching the reruns is like seeing them for the first time.  I have no idea how each episode will unfold.  My fellow Trekkie, however, recalls all the details and doesn't mind sharing.  "This is where the bad guy from the penal colony arrives."  "Here's where Kirk is at the OK Corral".

I enjoy the commentary, and the company.  The closest I got to Star Trek while at work was once a year when I turned up in my "Information Officer on the Enterprise" Halloween costume.

Tuesday, 1 November 2011

#112: Early bird

Why do older folks take advantage of restaurants' early bird specials?  I would like to think that it because a 5 o'clock meal guarantees more time for evening activities such as movies, concerts, dance lessons, or book groups.

My book club meets tonight and I am so happy that this is no longer an after work activity.

I now have time to prepare dinner from scratch, eat it, and get out the door in time for the 7:30 meeting.  I will even be able to quickly review the book which I read about two years ago and have totally forgotten.

On second thought, I should planned an even earlier dinner -- 4:00, or maybe 3:30?

Monday, 31 October 2011

#111: Hallowe'en (at the Home)

A Hallowe'en party was in full swing when I arrived at the retirement home today.  There were costumes and snacks, and a lot of bored and bemused 80 and 90-year olds.

A guy in sixties garb was playing his guitar and singing music that was very me.  Simon and Garfunkle.  The Mamas and the Papas.  I could have rhymed off his play list by heart.

He was pretty good, but I decided not to stay in case I embarrassed myself.  I appeared to be the only person in the entire room who knew all the words to California Dreamin'.

I'll have a lot of fun at Riverside Glen in about 20 years.

Sunday, 30 October 2011

#110: Senior Moments

Last night at the dinner table one of our guests had a brain freeze.  The name of a film escaped her.  She couldn't recall the actors or any words from the title.  The movie may have taken place in Nepal, but she wasn't sure.  Five of us tried to prompt her with "twenty questions" that were intended to unlock another clue, but none was revealed.

I have this happen all the time, and it is particularly weird when it involves a group .  My book club (all older women)  is reduced to giggles when --each giving it our best shot-- we fail to recall a book title. Shouldn't 12 reasonably intelligent (but older) brains be able to conjure one bit of information?   Not necessarily.

But, thank goodness, the senior "moment" is usually just that -- a limited phenomenon.  Older brains have the time to cogitate and eventually the missing word, phrase or movie title is unearthed.  A bit late for the dinner table, perhaps, but on the tongue at last.

I fully expect an email from my dinner guest with the subject heading: Eureka!

Saturday, 29 October 2011

#109: Vintage

In spite of two groups of dinner guests this weekend, I managed to organize myself so as to attend a big sale of vintage clothing in Toronto with my daughter. 

It was fun to stroll down memory lane, or "memory closet" in this case, but no vintage items were purchased.  I certainly bought nothing for myself.  I figure that if you remember wearing something, you've had your turn. 

If you are vintage, you  probably shouldn't wear it.

Friday, 28 October 2011

#108:The Zen of Zehrs

Zehrs is our local Loblaws grocery store -- not my favourite destination, but a much pleasanter place to be now that I have time to find what I need.

So what if I forget the lemons and have to walk back to produce?  I'll retrace my steps and call it exercise.

So what if older folks are clogging the aisles with their slow moving carts?   I'll smile and breathe deeply and I won't look at my watch.  Just Breeeeeathe.....that could be me in a few years.

Thursday, 27 October 2011

#107: Perception

It beats me why at 7 am, it is now so very dark outside.

Much too dark to get up.  Way darker than the same day last year, I swear.

The retired brain must perceive light differently.

Wednesday, 26 October 2011

#106: Tea and Company

It was a toss-up: go hiking in chilly drizzle or stay home, before the fire, tea in hand.

Having picked the latter two rainy weeks in a row, I put on my rain gear and headed out with the ladies.

Good choice.  I was rewarded (eventually) with Shirley Ann's fire, her tea and fresh baking, and the company of witty fellow walkers.

A sunny Wednesday would have been nice, but today's default was more than acceptable.

Tuesday, 25 October 2011

#105: Thanks

I wrote a note today to a former volunteer whose husband has just been diagnosed with ALS.  What rotten news.

I would have certainly have sent a card while I was working, but I would have done it "on the job".  I'm glad that I now have time for this sort of thing without millions of other tasks shouting for my attention. Today I could simply reach out to her as a friend.

Her situation reminds me that life is precious. Every day with our dear ones is a gift.  

Monday, 24 October 2011

#104: Flu (Shot) Flew

2010 Flu Shot:  40 minute lineup at public evening clinic + 2 minute injection + 15 minute post-injection wait =57 minutes. 

2011 Flu Shot:  1 minute in doctor's afternoon clinic waiting room +  2 minute injection + no post-injection wait = 3 minutes.

Sunday, 23 October 2011

#103: Hooky

More time with the people we love should be one of the benefits of retirement, so we have cautiously planned a weekend getaway down to Pittsburgh to see an old friend.  Go down on Friday, come back on Monday.

What? Our friend was puzzled.  Two measly days?  If I take Monday off, surely you guys can do the same.  Aren't you retired? 

She has a point.  I guess I can play hooky from Qi Gong.

Saturday, 22 October 2011

#102: You Look.....

What do people say to a recent retiree when they haven't clapped eyes them since the great event?

You look rested

At least that is the comment I hear most frequently.

Does that extra half hour sleep I now permit myself really make that much difference?  And what the heck did I look like during the previous 22 years?

Friday, 21 October 2011

#101: Serendipity

Having completed The Big Weed, I need to add new books to the retirement home collection but I only have a budget of  $100.

Fortunately, the Friends of the Guelph Public Library book sale is now on. One hundred bucks buys a lot of gently-read suitable titles in largish print, and when I help tidy up on Tuesday, there may be leftovers.  In addition, my own (not Guelph) library system is letting me help myself to their book sale offerings. 

My (volunteer) stars are definitely in alignment this weekend. 

Thursday, 20 October 2011

#100: Retirement Is

There is a greeting card that proclaims:  Retirement is when you wake up with nothing to do and go to bed not having done it.

That was my Thursday.  My to-do list of trivial "nothings" is no-where near completion, but fortunately, there is always tomorrow.

However did I manage get things done when I was working?   

Wednesday, 19 October 2011

#99: Come for Dinner

I can't believe that I've just issued a Thursday night dinner invitation to some neighbours.  When does one ever entertain on a Thursday?

It turns out they can't make it.  So we have settled on Sunday, and even that seems fairly extraordinary. Isn't  Sunday evening when I am supposed to be ironing and making a big pot of soup for the rest of the week?  

Tuesday, 18 October 2011

#93: Weeds

Librarians weed books.

We refresh a collection by removing the worst items -- anything that is tatty, out of date, or unappealing.  In the absence of a circulation record, the best we can do is handle each item and make a gut decision.  Would I want to read this?  Is this a book I want on my bedside table? 

That is exactly what I have been muttering to myself as I deal with the contents of the "library" of the retirement home where I am volunteering.  But some books are easier to discard than others--those published in the 60s, with yellowed pages and squinchy little print.... in Dutch, for example.

I guess I am doing an OK job because the recreation staff seems pleased that everything looks more appealing.

I sure hope there isn't an aggrieved elderly Dutchman looking for a shabby old copy of
Hans Brinker, of De Zilveren Schaatsen.

Monday, 17 October 2011

#92: Clock Watcher

The clock on my dressing table, the one that governed my life for the last 20 years, has stopped.

I think this happened about 2 weeks ago.  I'm not sure.  I doesn't seem to matter that much now since I no longer have to leave the house at 8:47 on the dot.

I think the clock has figured out that I am retired.

Sunday, 16 October 2011

#91: Seduction in the Stacks

Every once and a while, there is a call-out for stories of library romance, and I always intend to write about mine.  But I've never had enough time! The deadline would pass and the tale of how Bruce and I met when we were both working in the closed stacks at the Rutherford Library of the University of Alberta, would go unheralded.

Then I noticed that The New Trail, the U of A newsletter for graduates, is celebrating  the 100th anniversary of The Rutherford Library and they are looking for "library tales".  I can do better than that.  How about a library love story?

And, what's more, I happen to have a bit of free time in which to dash it off.

Saturday, 15 October 2011

#90: The Why of Work

As I got ready for my afternoon shift at another unfamiliar library, I contemplated my reasons for offering to work as an "emergency librarian".  Is it to keep up my skills? For the money? To hang out with staff and patrons? Or am I really looking for the endorphin rush that comes when one is flying a wee bit blind and there is the possibility of a real emergency.

I admit that I am a bit of a thrill junkie;  I love the hum of a busy public library where, quite honestly, anything can happen.  But now that the shift is over, I can report that no-one was looking at internet pornography, there were no patron temper tantrums, and the Phantom Urinator (a.k.a.PU) did not strike, although I was duly warned.

But I had fun anyway.  And there's always next time. 

Friday, 14 October 2011

#89: Flight Plight

Once again, Air Canada  flight attendants and I are counting on being in the air at the same time.  At least I hope they have everything settled before I take off for Saskatoon in a couple of weeks.

I love having the flexibility to pick the cheapest and most convenient times and flights. (It was the subject of my very first blog post back in June.)  But I hate the thought that for a second time I might have a quick trip to the west compromised by AC management's hard line.  Does their aggrieved staff know when I am visiting my daughter and do they plan their workplace protests accordingly? 

If my trip is spoiled, however, it will not wreck my holiday plans irrevocably.  We retirees can be flexible up to a point.

The kid I am visiting (who has to get special time off) might not feel so sanguine, of course.   

Thursday, 13 October 2011

#88: Calendar Geek

So eager was I to replace the inadequate pink pocket calendar that I went out today and acquired a better, thicker (but still compact) one in red.  The problem is that I can't use it until 2012.

Did I really think I could buy a calendar that conveniently begins in October 2011?

So for the next three months I will need to use tiny, tiny print in the space-challenged pink calendar.  Or I can go electronic and put the calendar function on my iTouch to work -- after I figure it out.

What fun..... another opportunity to build new neural pathways.           

Wednesday, 12 October 2011

#87: Calendar Girl

Back in June when I left my job, I was delighted to leave my giant daytimer behind.  My new life would not require anything half so large.

Ha!  The little pink calendar (just the right size for purse or pocket) that I confidently purchased as a replacement is totally useless. I have been driven to jotting notes in adjacent spaces and drawing arrows back to the correct date. 

It is not that I am busier and need more space.  I need that extra room because my schedule is more varied and unpredictable than it ever was while I was working.  Every day is a new combination of activities; there are endless screw-up possibilities.

Another trip to Staples is indicated.  I will bring the pink calendar along for scale.


Tuesday, 11 October 2011

#86: Currently

Today, I listened to an entire one-hour segment on The Current, CBC Radio's excellent morning radio show with Anna Maria Tremonti.   This particular item was a fascinating interview with Shannon Maroney author of Through the Glass, an account of her marriage to a sweet fellow who --it turns out--just happens to be a kidnapper and violent sex offender.

If I were still working, I would have been turning off the engine in the parking lot outside the library just as Shannon began to recall the bloody crime scene she encountered in her living room...  

Monday, 10 October 2011

#85:Tulip Time

How much time does it take to plant 50 tulips?

Lots. There are weeds to pull, beds to edge, flowers to dead-head, and then one gets around to the tulips.

No wonder I've been putting off this job for 20 years.

Sunday, 9 October 2011

#84: Present From the Past

Another retirement project beckons.  I have uncovered a cache of old photographs-- a couple of cardboard boxes containing every Kodak slide we ever took.  It's all there -- a complete family history from 1966 to the early 90's.

I get to view, sort, discard, and eventually scan the best of this treasure trove.

I suspect that vacation adventures are the primary subject, and no doubt there will be a lot that fall into the "Why did we take that?"category.  How many pictures of Mount Rundle did we really need?  But I am sure other gems are waiting to be discovered.

They will all have to wait until we acquire a slide projector.

Good thing I'm making my once-a-year pilgrimage to the Antique/flea Market this afternoon.

Saturday, 8 October 2011

#83: Saturday Epiphany

I recently signed up for several Saturday shifts at one of the branch libraries.  The manager apologized.  "I'm so sorry they are all on Saturdays!"

"No problem", I assured her.  "I'm retired.  Every day is Saturday."

Friday, 7 October 2011

#82: Tofu or not Tofu?

I took up the tofu challenge and made an "Asian Stir Fry" (although how Asian can a recipe from Canadian Living really be?)

It was OK.  Not marvellous, but not so awful that we traded it in for peanut butter sandwiches.  So it moves to the second round, and I will continue to experiment, as time permits, with a more authentic recipe.

Not this weekend, though.  Tofurkey is not on my Thanksgiving menu. 

Thursday, 6 October 2011

#81: Tofu-y

One of my vaguely stated retirement challenges is to expand our culinary horizons beyond three or four familiar, easily prepared after-work favourites.

I could have gone wild and crazy with kale or lentils or quinoa, but they seemed a bit tame.  So I brought home a really large chunk of tofu.

I have no idea what to do with it.  I have 14 days before the sell-by date to figure it out, and if I get it wrong, we will probably never eat tofu again.

Hmmmmm.  Looks like win-win to me.

Wednesday, 5 October 2011

#80: Busted #2

When one happens to be at home for lunch, one has the opportunity to check out the bird feeder to see who  else is lunching.

Oh Oh.  That's no chickadee. 

A big, black squirrel has climbed up the pole,  jumped to the perch, and is clinging on precariously.  And  *whomp*  there he goes.  And there goes the perch.  Is there any point to  re-assembling it? Again?

Time to discuss the "Squirrel Buster" with my local bird seed distributor.  Just who/what is being busted?     

Tuesday, 4 October 2011

#79: Book Group Goodies

Knowing that I would have loads of time to prepare for a book group meeting on a Tuesday night, I cheerily offered (back in May) to host the October meeting.  I did  have plenty of time.  I got the book read, I tidied the living room,  I arranged some flowers, I moved some chairs around, I bought some de-caf coffee beans, etc.

I would have made treats, too -- I don't mind baking every couple of years.   But my resident houseboy asked if he could make a banana loaf and some lemon squares for the occasion.  And would that be OK?

He was a man with a plan:  butter up your wife and the cake pans.  Bake what you love and make sure there are lots and lots of left-overs.

Monday, 3 October 2011

#78: Out Early

When your retirement shift is a short one and you leave early, you can get up to all kinds of mischief for the rest of the afternoon.

Me?  I came home,  made a cup of tea and read my book.  

Sunday, 2 October 2011

#77: Tulips

I'll be darned if I am going out today in the rain and the cold to plant 50 tulip bulbs purchased in the knowledge that for the first time in 20 years, I have time to refresh my spring garden.

Next week's weather forecast favours Tuesday. That should work for me.

Saturday, 1 October 2011

#76: May I Help You?

Whew!  It turns out I have not forgotten everything I know about working in a public library.

I spent this afternoon filling in at the information desk at one of our library branches and had a good time in spite of my anxiety.  When I reported this to my husband, he observed, "It must be a bit like looking after grandchildren".

I know what he means.  I was a bit out of practice, but I did have fun with the patrons.  And at the end of the day I got to send them home. 

Friday, 30 September 2011

#75: Life After Work

The Globe and Mail (Report on Business) has confirmed that I am on the right track with my retirement.  Today's sizable article recommends that new retirees "stick with what [they] know".  Their expert observes that "people make the most successful changes when they keep one foot in what's familiar". feels as if I have both feet and at least one arm deep into what I know. Perhaps I'm overdoing it.

At least I appear to be observing another bit of G&M retirement advice:    "Now's not the time to do something you hate."

Thursday, 29 September 2011

#74: Deja Vu

I just spent the afternoon with a former colleague who is taking over my job at the library.  She will be interviewing, organizing, team building and taking volunteer services in a new direction.

We talked about her new responsibilities and about ways to grow the program.   I walked her through some of  the many files and documents that I had once used daily and hadn't thought about for months.  Sigh.

All those wonderful volunteers, all that opportunity, all those decisions......all that work.

She'll do a great job, and I am happy to wish her all the best.  I'll do my volunteering on the other side of the desk.

Wednesday, 28 September 2011

#73: Looking vs Seeing

I have just returned from my Wednesday afternoon with the women's hiking group.  We were on a trail I am familiar with  only because I have often driven by on my way to work.

Walking in the afternoon sunshine, we passed a tiny lake and wildflowers -- tall purple asters and whole fields of goldenrod that were close enough to touch.

Surely I have looked at that view before, but today I actually saw it.

Tuesday, 27 September 2011

#73: Still Addicted

One of my great pleasures while working was the opportunity to listen to books as I drove back in forth in the car every day.  One hour of listening covered several chapters' worth of entertainment so I didn't mind the trip at all.

Retirement has been a bit like cutting out carbs or only having one cigarette after dinner.  I don't drive nearly enough now to satisfy my audio addiction, so the craving is unabated.  There is no point to putting on an audio book that I have to hear in tiny bits.  What am I to do--drive up and down the local expressway listening to my CD player?

So after a difficult start, when I had to learn how to keep the story from shuffling, I have learned to love audio books on the  i-touch.  I hook it up to a portable speaker and carry it to any room in the house; I am able to peel carrots, brush my teeth, lift weights, apply make-up and "read".

And I can walk with earphones and the i-touch to my heart's content.  It's a good thing I don't have a dog.  He would be exhausted.

Monday, 26 September 2011

#72:Life Lessons

Chances are I will learn something positive about aging every time I visit my readers at the retirement home.  But, having signed a confidentiality agreement,  I can't really talk about individuals.

Nevertheless,  it is probably acceptable to say that the most optimistic and cheerful person I have visited so far is also the one with the severest mobility and vision challenges.   "Alice's" enthusiasm and love of life is a tonic and  inspiration.

Unfortunately, she doesn't really need my services.  Her daughter keeps her well supplied with audio books.

But maybe I can just drop in on Alice for a chat--whenever my spirit needs a lift.  Every couple of days?


Sunday, 25 September 2011

#71: Being Mum

Retirement means having more time for one's children.  A recent late night phone call with one daughter did not have to be interrupted because I did not have to make lunch and get ready for work the next day, and a shopping trip with the other could be enjoyed today, a Sunday, because I did not have to be on the job.

I am a fortunate mum.

Saturday, 24 September 2011

#70: Fling/Fling in the Sunshine

It's a sunny Saturday, perfect for two things: walking in the country and cleaning the kitchen.

Since the desire to scrub sweeps over me so rarely,  I am acting on the latter.  It's not too often that I have the time and the natural light required to actually eyeball messes and do something about them.  Cleaning up in the kitchen on a gloomy day, I am like a blind person as I swab the counter top with my soapy dishcloth.   If it feels sticky/lumpy/crumby/wet, I wipe it down.  But I can't actually see a thing. I'm doing it all by Braille.   

Sunny day ....different story.

And this afternoon, I will go for that walk.  I can do other Saturday chores on a weekday.

Friday, 23 September 2011

#69: Homebody

On this wet and gloomy afternoon, I am happy to be at home.  I've been at the computer for a bit, and now I am going to read.

I wouldn't want every day to be like this, but once in awhile, it is acceptable.

Thursday, 22 September 2011

#68: One Book Event

 I may not have completely embraced retirement since I very nearly answered the phone this afternoon with the cheery greeting "Information Services".   But at least I knew that I didn't have to go to work on a Thursday evening.

That meant I could drive to Cambridge for an entirely pleasant event,  the One Book, One Community author reading by Louise Penny.  I hated arriving at these OBOC evenings, after my shift on the Information Desk in time for the final question.   But tonight I got to hear the whole thing --the readings, the questions, the complete and entertaining package.  She was wonderful!

Wednesday, 21 September 2011

#67: Take a Hike, Mum

Where have all the mothers gone?  (The other mothers I knew when my kids were in school, that is.)

A fair number seem to belong to the local Canadian Federation of University Women's walking group and today as their newest member, I became re-acquainted with women I haven't seen for years.  We caught up on family news as about 10 of us hiked in the rain along the Kissing Bridge trail. 

This weekly afternoon CFUW group has been on my radar for years, and now that I have Wednesdays to spare, I can join them regularly. Bonus points that I know so many of the other walkers!

Tuesday, 20 September 2011

#66: Important Stuff

I confess that squeezing in time to drive over to Cambridge today to keep a lunch date with  former volunteers Sondra and Jean was a challenge.  What with driving back and forth plus our visit, I was later than  intended for my afternoon volunteer commitment back at the retirement home in Guelph.  But it was OK.   I stayed later and got everything done.

I'm glad I can be flexible enough to fit in the important things like catching up with these lovely women and sharing a laugh.  It was worth the drive to hear Sondra 's comment about Qi Gong: " that sounds like something you would smoke".

Monday, 19 September 2011

#65: Soundtrack

For years I have declared that retirement homes need better Musak if they want to lure me as a resident.  No Five Foot Two, Good Night Irene or Toot Toot Tootsie for me.  A Beatles soundtrack would be acceptable, however.

The Village of Riverside Glen must have seen the memo because strains of very orchestrated Yesterday greeted me as I arrived for my volunteer shift today.  I hate to think what this implies.

Regardless, I have no intention of moving anywhere for years and years.   I'll just appreciate inoffensive, familiar  background music as I cull their library collection.


Sunday, 18 September 2011

#64: Usher Failure

Work-free Sundays mean that I can help out at church, so today I was available to "usher" and pass the collection plate.  Too bad that I somehow skipped an entire row.

But it was church, right?  So I'm sure I was forgiven. 


Saturday, 17 September 2011

#63: Busted

Scene/seen in our backyard:  3 chipmunks and numerous birds happily frolicking and scrounging under the broken "Squirrel Buster" bird feeder.  The special weight-sensitive perch is lying in pieces in a new hole that has appeared in the flower bed under the feeder.  The hole is full of seeds.

How did this happen? How did it happen twice?  And what does this tableau have to do with retirement?

A working woman would retire the bird feeder!  The retired librarian patiently re-assembles the feeder, fills the hole, rakes the flower bed......and plans a stake-out. 

Friday, 16 September 2011

#62: Balance

You know that concept of Work-Life balance?  I have just figured out that it no longer applies to me.

Take today:  a meeting about library service at the retirement home, a walk in the country, a bit of gardening and then wine group (where we attend, not where we host).

 No Work, all Life.  But not a bad balance.

Thursday, 15 September 2011

#61: Compromised?

Am I failing to embrace my retirement by agreeing to pick up the occasional shift at my former place of employment?

Maybe. Just a tiny bit. But not enough to matter.

I prefer to think I am taking advantage of an opportunity. 

Wednesday, 14 September 2011

#60: Housework

One would think that having more time to do housework, I might actually do more.  But it doesn't work that way.

For some reason I am doing less.  It could be that I am busier now with activities I enjoy;  I don't think about the other stuff  because I can always clean the bathrooms/do the laundry/vacuum the stairs "tomorrow".

When tomorrow never comes, I feel a bit guilty.  Then I remember Dorothy (my esteemed mother-in-law) telling me that she wasted half her life with housekeeping.  And I go outside and fill the bird feeder.   

Tuesday, 13 September 2011

#59: The Fix

Even when my day seems to be going nowhere, a couple of hours of "yardening" seems to set things right. 

Too bad everyone can't take a mid-day break to go dig up a rose, replant it and imagine how much happier it will be in its new location. 

Monday, 12 September 2011

#58: Trifecta

Qi gong classes began today, and as I might have predicted, I am a complete klutz. I am gangly, awkward, and I can't follow directions.  (If animals did qi gong, James our instructor might be a sleek and graceful tiger,  whereas I would be a stork who doesn't know left from right.)

But I am delighted to discover that learning qi gong's "18 postures"  is a challenge.  Its difficulty makes it an even better retirement activity.  I had anticipated that my morning with James and his class would allow me to fulfil some of the usual recommendations for retirees.  "Get exercise" (check).  "Make friends" (check).  And now, knowing how much my brain and body will struggle with this new pursuit,   I get to add  "Master new skills" (check, check and double check).

Monday morning qi gong? -- win, win, win.


Sunday, 11 September 2011

#57: New Trail

The first Sunday after Labour Day usually found me driving to Cambridge for my four-hour afternoon shift at the library. 

Today I also headed for Cambridge, but on foot.  I took a meandering path through the woods along the river.  I admired the tall, pink, Joe Pye weed, the purple asters and fields of goldenrod.  And when I came out later on the Niska Road, I turned around.  I didn't need to go 26 kms.   No-one needed me to open the library, clear the book drop, staple the newspapers and turn on the computers.

My retirement has been a bit like that walk. I'm heading in the same direction, but my path is different and I'm in no hurry.  I'll take time to enjoy what I experience on the way.

Tomorrow is my first day as a library volunteer at the Riverside Glen retirement home.

Saturday, 10 September 2011

#56: New Look

Yesterday I culled my closet. The scratchy tweed pants that only looked good from the front, the skirt-suit that proclaimed "I'm a librarian and you're not", the celery-green tunic sweater that seemed like a good idea at the time -- all gone off to the consignment store, along with other assorted work-wear.  This shop is picky, but nothing was rejected.  Perhaps librarian-chic is the coming trend.

Meanwhile I have room for other garments if I so choose, but I'm not sure I need them. Not yet. I have a few pairs of jeans to wear out first.

Friday, 9 September 2011

#55: Frabjous Day

Thank you, Summer.

You have not deserted us, and offered up a glorious, warm September Friday.

Best of, I got to enjoy every minute, because I was not at work.

Come back tomorrow if you can.

Thursday, 8 September 2011

#52: Togetherness

Occasionally I am thankful for something I don't do with my partner in retirement. Square dancing.  Bowling in matching his 'n her shirts.   Collecting golf balls.

While running an errand in the car today, we passed the spot where a guy sells used golf balls and Bruce recalled having seen an ad on TV for special ball-finding glasses.  The second pair, for a limited time only, was absolutely free!  I briefly imagined the two of us wearing hideous glasses trudging toward the 18th hole, lugging a bag of balls.  We agreed  that this was a retirement activity that might appeal to some, but not us.  Lord, no. 

But I'm not so certain about my husband and metal detectors.  Do they come in pairs? Should I add to the "don't do" list?

Wednesday, 7 September 2011

#51: Arty Party

Best thing about today for this retiree?

Time to attend the celebratory launch party for the Grange Prize for Photography at the AGO in Toronto.  Daughter Keri is the project manager for this competition so it's about time the proud parents put in an appearance.

It sure beats a Wednesday evening shift at the library.

Tuesday, 6 September 2011

#50: Book Group Day

I am responsible for leading the discussion at book group this evening.  How is it that I am able to do my research on a leisurely Tuesday morning? 

Surely I was supposed to be online last night, searching for reviews at 10:30 p.m. sometime before getting ready for bed and making my lunch for the following day?

Monday, 5 September 2011

#49: New Year's Day

It is Labour Day, a holiday that always seems to me like the start of the real New Year.

It is a time to plan ahead, and this time last year I was doing just that, thinking about the need to compose the volunteer newsletter, plan a workshop for my visiting library volunteers, and create pathfinders /book lists for the library website.

This year, I am contemplating different activities:  sorting books for the Friends of the Guelph Public Library,  weeding and organizing the library at The Village of Riverside Glen (a retirement and nursing home), and interviewing Riverside Glen residents about their reading choices so that I can help them make better use of the Guelph Public Library Bookmobile.  Almost forgot...I offered to help a high school librarian friend re-shelve her collection.


Are all librarians so predictable?  Maybe I should sign up for that bellydancing class as well.

Sunday, 4 September 2011

#48: Lick It and Stamp It

I just wrote a letter in pen and ink (well, ballpoint actually). It was a real letter that I put in an envelope and carried to the post box.

I have a friend in New Zealand who is not on email, and I wanted her to know we are coming her way early in 2012. As a very happy retiree she will also be interested to know how it's going for me. I was able to tell her that, among other things, I hope to be writing more real letters to friends.

Better add that to my growing "to-do-in-retirement" list.  

Saturday, 3 September 2011

#47: Advice

I love it when my horoscope reflects my real life and not some fantasy existence.  In today's Globe and Mail, I was advised not to "get carried away with new ideas...there is really no need to rush".

Have all the Capricorns retired?

Friday, 2 September 2011

#46: Shuffle Demon

My chosen "retirement exercise" is walking, and since I also enjoy listening to audio books I can combine these two pleasant activities when I hit the trail with headphones and my new itouch.

Too bad that I am having major problems following my story.  Hard Time, my Sara Paretsky download, seems all mixed up.   It could be a "Shuffle" glitch  ( I know that much), so I reset that function, or think I do.  Find my place. Begin listening.  Become aware that the story is still crazy.  Check Shuffle.  Find my place again. Listen. Aaaaagh!  I swear that I hear the same altercation between V. I.Warshawski  and Officer Lamour eight times while Shuffle and I battle it out.  Then I  lose the story completely as my ears are filled with a Dvorak cello concerto. What is going on?  I attempt a fix.  It's no good:  Shuffle...Warshawski... Dvorak.... Shuffle..... Warshawski.... Dvorak. Dvorak wins.  I am out of good ideas and I stomp home in frustration.

My in-house consultant points out something interesting about my device.  There is also a "shake to shuffle" toggle and it is ON.

I guess that means that my pocket was not the best place for the itouch.

But now I know.  It's not too late for this retiree to become more tech-savvy.


Thursday, 1 September 2011

#45: September

Is September1 looking decidedly autumnal, or is it my imagination?

Never mind.  It is still officially summer for three more weeks, and since I am no longer tethered to a computer (except by choice)  I will have lots of time in which to take advantage of whatever summery, sunny days remain.

I'll deal with September 21 when I absolutely have to.  

Wednesday, 31 August 2011

#44: The Best Thing?

I have a friend who says that what she likes best about retirement is having time to read the newspaper, the entire paper, on a weekday morning while enjoying a cup of coffee.

Not sure about "best", but I definitely now enjoy reading more than the headlines with my morning cuppa.

Ask me, for example, about that quintessential Canadian crop, canola.  I can tell you why it is suddenly so cool, and a lot of other things besides.  (Or take a look at today's Globe and Mail Life section, page 1...)   


Tuesday, 30 August 2011

#43: Conversation

He:  It's really nice out.  Do you want to walk downtown after lunch?
Me:  I'd love to.
He:  We can drop books off at the library and then get your watch fixed.
He:  Maybe stop for a drink...check out Carden Street.
Me: Sounds good.
He:  We can do stuff like this all the time now that you are retired.
Me:  (Smiling) I know. 

Monday, 29 August 2011

#42: Gong Show

Went to the Seniors' Centre today to take out a membership.  Yikes.  The Seniors' Centre.

The place was full of really nice people-- nice, old people actually.  Some of them will very likely be in the class I signed up for: Qi Gong.

I suppose that embracing, or at least not running away from my age, is a good thing.  Besides, Qi Gong is a great way to maintain strength and flexibility. I will try to think of it as an investment.  

Sunday, 28 August 2011

#41: Funday

We joined a friend and her husband at a local jazz club this evening.  Her son's band was playing so we enjoyed the music for a couple of hours and had a drink. 

Another guy was at our table, and when I found out that he was retired, I asked him what he liked best about his new status.  His emphatic answer was "It's Sunday night, and I don't have to work tomorrow!" 

What a great concept.

Saturday, 27 August 2011

#40: Retirement Project

Retirees are just naturally expected to have a few projects-- scanning old photographs or cleaning out the basement--that are fall-back activities in case there is nothing else to do.

I would gladly ignore these boring-but-worthy tasks except that disorganization offends some basic bit of librarian DNA. So today I started with the garage, a manageable mess, and realized that one hour of sorting, cleaning, and discarding is all I can stand.  At this rate, the garage will be clean by Christmas.

Good thing retirement projects have no deadlines.   

Friday, 26 August 2011

#39: Woody 'n Me

It is tempting to celebrate retirement simply for the opportunity to work in the garden all day while in the company of woodpeckers.  Amazingly, they seem not to notice the lady in the big hat pulling weeds in a flowerbed two feet away. 

Thursday, 25 August 2011

#38: Booklust

Who reads a chapter or two in the morning before she even brushes her teeth?

A retired you-know-who.

Wednesday, 24 August 2011

#37: Play Any Day

I have just finished organizing my fall and winter schedule for the Tarragon Theatre.

For the first time in ten years, our chosen evening is Wednesday.   The midweek cost is less, parking is easier, and restaurants don't need reservations. 

So many reasons to treat Wednesday like the weekend! 

Tuesday, 23 August 2011

#36: Hang It and They Will Come

The Twittersphere has spread the bird word...

Both feeders had visitors today, and so did I.  My neighbour appeared in my garden to check out the birds,  show me her knitting projects, and tell me about her trip to Stratford.

Did she know that "get to know neighbours" is also on my "things-to-do-in-retirement" list?

I guess it is too late to add "Win Lotto 649".

Monday, 22 August 2011

# 35: For the Birds

I can now cross off one of the items on my to-do-in-retirement list:  get a bird feeder.

The Squirrel Buster awaits feathered diners.   My binoculars are ready.

Sunday, 21 August 2011

#34: Wrinkled

It's Sunday, ironing day, and I forgot.

I'm taking this retirement thing far too seriously.

Saturday, 20 August 2011

#33: Mistaken Identity

One of the pleasures of being retired is that occasionally you are mistaken for someone who isn't.

As in:  Nancy and Husband are approached by Marketing Person at The Shaw Festival.  "Can I interest you in season's passes?  You'll save a lot because the season isn't over yet!  You're not retired, but if you were, you would save even more!

This happens to us, in different ways, quite frequently. 

Am I deluding myself?  I fear that out there in Marketing Land there is probably a handbook with the heading: Flattering the Young Aged for Profit.

Then again, perhaps I'll take my flattery where I can find it.