Saturday, 31 March 2012

#206: Gold Carded

Now that I am back in Ontario, I find myself thinking about one excellent benefit enjoyed by retirees in New Zealand.  And it is not just that NZ is the home of Kumpfs.  (Whoops – these super comfy, stylish shoes have been re-branded as Ziera, a name which suggests absolutely nothing to older feet, but that’s just me complaining….)

No, what I love is the Super Gold Card which provides seniors (65 +) with access to discounts and benefits from businesses and government services.  The savings vary, and sometimes they are considerable.  In Wellington I saw this card used by loads of older people every time I took the Johnsonville train into town.  I paid $7.00 for a round trip, but the Gold Carded passengers paid nothing.  During off-hours, they rode for free. Every time. No wonder the train was always full of seniors heading to downtown Wellington.

There seemed to be so many of them out and about that I assumed New Zealand has more folks over 65 than Canada.  But, this is not the case.  Fourteen percent of Canadians are seniors, but in NZ, they account for thirteen percent of the population -- in spite of the above average number on the trains.

The trains on that line were brand new and very flash.  So perhaps those older passengers were just going for a test ride.  But I prefer to believe that they knew enough to take advantage of a golden opportunity when it was going in their direction.

Friday, 30 March 2012

#205: New Directions?

There was a big send off this morning for Jim Curran, traffic guy for CBC Toronto's Metro Morning. He is retiring after 39 years, and it was heartening to hear all the tributes. Listeners and colleagues alike praised his warm, friendly manner and calm, reassuring voice.  Heck, for 20 years even I was happy to have Jim tell me how avoid a snarl on the Don Valley Parkway, and my morning route took me from Guelph to Cambridge!

Asked about his retirement plans, Jim said that he was going to follow the advice he always gave listeners when their usual route was closed:  try a different direction.  One of his radio pals suggested that Jim was "changing lanes".  I think I prefer that last metaphor -- it suggests purpose and determination, something all retirees can use.  Just as long as he stays out of the slow lane and avoids the off ramp.  

But if all these driving references work for Jim Curran, the retired traffic man, what about the rest of us? When computer programmers retire, do they re-boot?  Do retired teachers begin with a clean slate?

Me? I guess I could say that I have closed the book on my career, but I like to think that I have turned the page.

Thursday, 29 March 2012

#204: 67

So there it is: 67.  Retirement at 67 years, that is.

Today,  the Canadian finance minister Jim Flaherty delivered the budget and announced what has been hinted at for awhile.  The age of eligibility for Old Age Security will rise gradually to 67 from 65 starting in 2023.

No worries for those who turn 55 after March 31. But for everyone else, I have some advice based on my experience as a reluctant 67 year old retiree.

Make sure that you are in a job that you really, really love.  Then you'll hardly notice the passing years and OAS won't seem like such a big deal.  You might even want to work a little longer.

Wednesday, 28 March 2012

#203: Sweet Spot

Among the stacks of mail that awaited us on our return from holidays was an invitation to a Volunteer Appreciation Event at the retirement home where I help residents who like to read.

Actually, the home is offering a choice of three events-- a brunch, a drop-in social, and an evening of bingo -- and they are all "sweet" themed, because as the invitation proclaims, Your Volunteer Support Is So Sweet...

I may go to the Sweet Social since it is on a Tuesday and I am volunteering that day anyway.

I chatted with the volunteer coordinator and remarked on her clever theme that could be adapted to three occasions and a wide variety of volunteers.

Then it suddenly struck me that I had no such volunteer event to plan this April.  I hadn't wrecked the last week of my holiday agonizing over the hundreds of organizational details.  I didn't even know if anything like that would be happening, and I didn't mind a bit.

And that, I have decided, is a good thing.....sweet indeed.

Tuesday, 27 March 2012

#202: Bad Fog/Good Fog

Bad Fog:  Our return to Canada ground to a halt last Wednesday afternoon when the Wellington airport closed because of fog.  Our new reservation was set for Sunday, 4 days later.  Four more days in New Zealand!

Good Fog:  Our return to Canada ground to a halt last Wednesday afternoon when the Wellington airport closed because of fog.  Our new reservation was set for Sunday, 4 days later.  Four more days in New Zealand!

We moved back in with Jim and Margaret, got in touch with the friend who was going to pick us up in Toronto, and explained to my brother-in-law in Vancouver that our time with him would be reduced.

I had no need to contact an employer.

With a little help from friends, retirees can laugh off travel emergencies.

Four more days in New Zealand?  Yeah!

Monday, 26 March 2012

#201: Up? Right.......

Why, when we come home after a protracted journey (as I did at 5:30 this morning) do we say "I've been up for 36 hours!"

Up? Who are we kidding?

I am so not "up".  I am so far from up in my present blotto-state that I am hardly able to remain upright.

But as a retired person,  it doesn't really matter.  If I can hardly recall my own name, or if I have to sit down  to rest after folding the clean socks, who cares?  I am free to indulge my jet lag for as long as I want.  I can abandon that laundry, or check email tomorrow and no one will report me to the sleep police.

Besides, I've already made it to 9'oclock.

I'm outta here.   YAWN.....