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.