Today was a very windy, somewhat showery day. There have been wind warnings and 21,000 homes in our area have lost power. I had no need to leave the house and thought I’d spend the time on a variety of activities, many of them overdue. One thing about re-wirement is you have more time to be an observer of life’s ordinary moments. Here are my observations of a day of being housebound. Fair to say there were 6 or 7 things I thought I’d get done today. How could the day be summarized?
Everything takes longer than you think.
A planned 30 minute DVD on exercise takes almost 60 minutes when I can’t get the DVD to play immediately. It may be a generational thing (i.e. I am, as some might say, getting long in the tooth). where remotes are not intuitive. I’d like to think it’s a technical problem, not of my making.
A plan to fill out a form online, a PDF form, ends up taking a looooooong time when I wasn’t able to enter any characters into the form. Off I go to Google to search what the problem might be. Look at the tool bar, look at the settings, look at things I didn’t know existed and in the end I gave up. Convert it to text…or was it Word and muddle through it.
I fell far short of the things I thought I’d get done today. I did a number of things that I hadn’t planned as one thing lead to another. A day is sometimes like picking up a thread and following it around corners and down stairs and into nooks and crannies when you should have just left that thread untouched on the floor.
Now that I think of it, this day is not all that terribly different from days in the workplace. At the start of the day you have great plans to accomplish a number of things but by the end of the day you realize a number of things will be carried over to another time. The beauty of today is I didn’t have to go out in the howling wind to be inefficient. I could do that without stepping out our front door.
Do you have advice for me on how to be more productive? Some tips and tricks you use in your daily routine?
I haven’t visited Simply Biscotti every week as I’d planned when I left full-time work just over a year ago. It’s a matter of only so many hours in a day and so many other things that can fill those hours. It’s a matter of expansion too. Visits that are frequent and always accompanied by eating would mean expansion to my waist line no doubt. It seems I didn’t factor calorie count realities into my post-work dreams.
No Fears of Expansion
We visited Simply Biscotti on a recent Saturday morning, we had a late breakfast and a little visit with Rosa, the owner. Rosa is expanding. There will be a second location in Westboro in Ottawa soon. As Rosa put it “a bit of Little Italy will be moving into Westboro”. Westboro is a bustling community west of downtown Ottawa. There are many independent shops, outdoor stores and eateries in the area. That doesn’t seem to faze Rosa. She’s settling into the midst of Starbucks locations, Bridgehead (local independent coffee/bistro) locations and several restaurants. Rosa has no fears of expansion by the looks of it-she’s ready to take it on! It’s refreshing to see and I wish her all the best.
We enjoyed a late (which for me is any time longer than 30 minutes after you get up) breakfast on Saturday. I dug into my Simply Biscotti dish with gusto and then thought “Ah, should have taken a picture”. Here it is then-partially eaten. It was a spinach-feta frittata. And it quashed a good appetite.
And a question for you. Have you seen/heard enough about Simply Biscotti? Should I wind up the project and the goal of eating my way through the dessert counter at Simply Biscotti? Or are you interested in what happens next…with waistline and location expansions?
If you are fortunate, you are able to experience many transitions in life. Infancy to childhood, childhood to the teenage years from there to young adulthood and so on. In addition to the transition from one age to another, we have many other life transitions. We start out totally dependent on others, move to complete independence and for some of us we may end up towards the end of our lives being totally dependent on others once again.
I have known some people who have had very clear ideas about their lives. As a child they knew they wanted to grow up to be a (fill in the blank), they wanted to buy a house, have 2 children, travel and so on. Lots of things to do, lots of things to accomplish and not a lot of time to do it, it seems.
My mother had many sayings. They are all indelibly burned into my memory. They should be burned in for we heard them over and over again! One of them is “everyone has to have a purpose”. It’s true and it’s plain speak for a life with meaning. We may feel we have more than one purpose but it or they are there somewhere swimming around in our conscious or unconscious selves. That purpose may be re-focussed as we go through life. While very young, perhaps our play was our work and purpose, then school, adult relationships, a family of our own and a career. Then comes a time when full-time work ends-for some they choose to say goodbye and for some the end is decided for them. There will be quite a bit of that in our city over the next few years as there will be downsizing in the federal public service.
So How’s Retirement, They Ask
I stepped aside from full-time, flat-out work just over a year ago. Here’s my take on this transition:
Rewirement is the word. We need to use a new word for this stage in life. The word is rewirement. Retirement might have started out as good term but now sounds too lethargic, too flat, too, well, too retired. I’m not retiring, I’m rewiring.
Everything takes longer than you expect. I thought I’d be a lot more organized than I am one year out. Boy it takes a lot of time
You notice more things. Not flying out the door to work early in the morning and returning many hours later day after day you have a bit more time to look at things with new eyes. How long has that bit of the house needed painting? Have I ever cleaned that closet?
Photos do not organize themselves. If you avoided tasks before you left full-time work, you will avoid them afterward.
Time and freedom of choice. Whether you take up some part-time work, immerse yourself in old or new hobbies, connect or re-connect with family and friends, the choice is yours.
The day in, day out routine. Don’t miss it one bit. The people yes, the routine of up and out the door day after day, no. I am fortunate to be doing some part-time consulting and find the variety and flexibility to be wonderful.
Connections are the key. Life is rich and purposeful when we are connected. Connected to our loved ones, our friends, a community. Connections can take many forms and they are what give us purpose. If you think others care a great deal about what you do or that it makes you something special, another of my mother’s sayings ring true. “The higher the monkey climbs, the more you can see his ass.”
A lifestyle to be highly recommended. Yes work is important and yes we get tied up in careers and things, however I would recommend life beyond full-time work for anyone who is able. It seems a bit backwards that when we are younger, perhaps raising young children and busy with so many things that we also may have full-time work in our day. It’s upside down, really. I believe many people would like to work part-time but circumstances don’t allow it.
Life can pass in what seems like the blink of an eye. Make the most of it.
Have you found your life stages unfolded as you anticipated? Do you have words of wisdom to share?
The reason things have been a bit quiet on this blog is the past 2 weeks I was hiking in England. Four of us (women friends) teamed up and after a few months of planning off we went! We hiked in Cumbrian counties (the Lake District)northwest England generally.
Two people in the group had hiked before and they gave the remaining two some great advice on what to pack and what not to pack. If I was going to sum it up it would be: pack light, take lots of things that can be layered, waterproof gear is essential and be prepared to wear the same things over and over again. There were no fashion forward sightings on this trip. And as the lyrics state in the song above, we did have knapsacks on our back.
We stayed in and visited the city of York, the village and surrounds of Kirkby Stephen (pronounced Kirby Stephen), the city of Carlisle the town of Windermere and the city of Manchester.
We did our own booking and basically followed the motto:
I thought I’d do a few blogs on the trip.
Stats and facts from our trip
Weather-wettest April on record (we did have many nice days too)
There is never enough room for luggage on the trains
Personal losses-one pedometer, one tip from a walking pole (in some awful muck going up a ‘fell’), one camera battery and no weight
Personal gains-getting to know people better, a new appreciation of waterproof gear, enjoying the hospitality and friendly manner of the Brits (speaking of hospitality, when I lost my pedometer Mary, proprietor of the Warwick Guest Lodge in Carlisle gave me hers to keep as she said she didn’t use it!), varied and beautiful scenery
We hiked a total of 157 km in 14 days-an average of 11.2 km/day.
Total steps 250,000!
And another thing that is important when traveling in a wet cool April/May in northern England is a hat that you can tie on! One that will remain down and locked when the weather forecast calls for “gale force” winds.
Do you have any retrospective advice for hiking in England in late April/early May? Or perhaps an experience to share?
Mankind is bent on discovering and labelling its activities and observations. Take the weather-and all the terms you hear now that you never used to hear. They aren’t necessarily easy to understand-a plain language course for some people who think these things up might be in order. Here’s a few in the weather vein (pun intended):
distant precipitation (aka I can see it’s raining over there)
micro-burst (aka boy, that was a short but heavy shower)
plough wind (aka a huge wind came through)
And so on.
Then there are terms for the human condition, for maladies, for behaviours. And if you look into the history of the condition, you can usually find who initially coined the phrase. I figure why should I be left behind. It came to me recently that I have a syndrome…it’s the Anything But Syndrome-shortened of course to its acronym ABS. I plan to bring this up at parties and family gatherings. It should flow nicely. A conversation often might move towards an illness (someone has RA-rheumatoid arthritis or have you heard about the increase in the diagnose of ADHD-attention deficit disorder) and I’ll slip in and say “and I have been having quite a time with my ABS”. I should get credit for initiating the phrase-I googled it and it doesn’t show up yet. So it’s mine. And the neat thing is the acronym is adaptable. It can have subsets.
Anything But Syndrome (ABS)
It’s not clear just how long I have lived with ABS. My life now-beyond full-time work has granted me opportunities to observe things I haven’t observed before. There just wasn’t time before to notice it. It hit me like a plough wind recently. My cousin Cliff and I decided it would be fun and high time to hold a family reunion. We got together in November 2011 and I agreed to do the next bit-contact some family members from each of the branches on the family tree and so on. It wouldn’t take long. We thought August 2012 would be a good time to hold the reunion. And I had LOTS of time to contact people…there are 9 months between November and August.
ABS- in this case it’s ABR
I didn’t forget I had committed to contact people. I thought of every other thing I could instead. I asked people about their experiences in organizing reunions (let people know early , they said). I didn’t have phone numbers, there were other things to do and so on. The months passed and finally one day when rolling out of bed, I thought-there’s only 6 months left before a reunion no one knows about! I had a full-blown case of ABS..more specifically ABR- Anything But Reunion. That got me going and to make the rest of the story short-planning is underway and hopefully we will have a good turnout-despite one of the organizers’ living with ABR.
Over the years I now recognize several subsets of ABS in my own behaviour. I have lived with ABC (Anything But Cleaning), ABS (Anything But Studying) and ABP (Anything But Practising) for as long as I can remember.
I am likely not alone in living with ABS. Perhaps we could start a support group. Do you think you might be touched by the syndrome too?
My plan to eat my way through the dessert counter at Simply Biscotti is still in play. I met friends there recently and we each enjoyed a sweet after lunch. Two of chose the dacquoise, one of their new desserts. Have you ever heard of a dacquoise? I hadn’t. If you look around on the internet you will see multiple types with different fillings and toppings. It is a general term for a style of cake of merinque layers with cream or other fillings basically. Here’s just one of many:
I read about someone who saw Julia Child making a dacquoise cake on her television show. It was iced with buttercream. She said the joy of the cake was you could slice a piece off the end and enjoy it, then re-ice the cake and your guests would be none the wiser.
At Simply Biscotti, you are served an individual dacquoise, the layers of meringue with praline cream filling. The topping is lightly toasted almonds. The result is a variety of textures, some sweetness, some crunchy, some creamy and all very good. This dessert might have to be tested twice. Only because I want to report accurately. I now plan to make a dacquoise. It will likely be a cake where you can eat some before company arrives and then cover it up. Have you ever had or made a dacquoise? What did you think of it?
Happy New Year one and all! Time to pull out the pants with the elasticized waist bands and to consider the purchase of an elliptical trainer or a long-term gym membership.
WordPress sent me an “annual report” for the past year…well it’s actually 3/4 of a year since the first blog was March 31st. The report follows. Thank you for reading the blog. I really appreciate comments on the blog-some come via the comment section and some come direct to me as email. It seems this year people were particularly interested in the retirement blogs and the matching of scotch and chocolate. I won’t be able to repeat the retirement from an almost 40 year career in 2012 while another go at the scotch and chocolate thing is much more likely.
The WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2011 annual report for this blog.
Here’s an excerpt:
A New York City subway train holds 1,200 people. This blog was viewed about 5,600 times in 2011. If it were a NYC subway train, it would take about 5 trips to carry that many people.
Not all that long ago we took a road trip. We journeyed quite a distance into and across the states of New York and Massachusetts. We were well inland during the trip. It was late fall and there was some colour left in the trees-all in all a pretty drive. Parts of the drive that were not so scenic were the many deserted warehouses and factories-sitting derelict and sometimes vandalized. They tell of a time, decades ago, when those building housed vibrant industries and employed many people. One building that has been rejuvenated and beautifully so is the former factory that now houses the Massachusetts Museum of Contemporary Art or Mass MoCA in North Adams, MA. It is the largest museum of contemporary art in the United States. The museum is on the site of a former textile printing factory. As you walk up to the museum you come upon trees in an unusual spot.
There are several buildings and floors of exhibits. The exposed brick and hardwood floors provide a wonderful background for art.
The exhibit One Floor Up More Highly by Katharina Gross was housed in a space that is as large as a football field.
Three floors in the main building displayed wall art conceived by Sol LeWitt. The exhibit will be at MASS MoCA for 25 years-you have plenty of time to see it. LeWitt‘s wall drawings were usually executed by people other than the artist himself.I compare it to designing Vogue sewing patterns and then others make the outfit. He would use teams of assistants to create his works. Between 1968 and his death in 2007, LeWitt created more than 1,270 wall drawings. The art and the manner in which it was created is remarkable. We thoroughly enjoyed the museum and plan to return to MASS MoCA. A good to do that might be after May 2012, there will be an exhibit of Canadian contemporary art – Oh, Canada . If you plan to go to North Adams, let me know, we have some thoughts on accommodation.
Have you ever seen Sol LeWitt’s art? I think we may have seen it in other galleries.
Yesterday I read an interesting viewpoint put forth by Margaret Wente of the Globe and Mail. She wrote the article after 92-year-old Andy Rooney died one month after leaving work. I must say I was a bit disappointed in her take on things since she appears to be saying that people are only fulfilled when working flat-out. And basically they should do so till they die. So many people don’t bring home a paycheque-by design or by destiny. What of them?
Being beyond full-time work means not having to rush off to work with a response to an interesting media bit in your head. It sits there and likely dissolves quickly as meetings and commitments and work things trump the outside world. A couple of responses to Wente’s column were published today (mine included). It’s important to plan for life beyond full-time work-no argument there. There are many ways to lead a fulfilling life and contribute to society. It is an individual choice (if you are fortunate).
And While I’m At It
Today is our wedding anniversary-number 37. Yesterday I got a letter from an institution that had requested proof of marriage stating they don’t recognize the only document we have had for all those years. It is a certificate from the church. That certificate has been used and accepted whenever it was requested for almost four decades. So off we go to swear an affidavit. I did call customer service at the institution-they answer quickly and they are courteous. He did give me some rationale while I relayed my perspective. He thanked me for “complaining in a classy way”. Funny how you know nothing will likely change but you are glad to be heard.
My husband said, with this opening, perhaps he can get out of being married. I gave him one of my mother’s lines: “You never had it so good.”
The International Writers Festival wrapped up recently in Ottawa. I took in several events. It is wonderful to have some time to do that sort of thing when one is beyond full-time work. I have eyed the events at the Festival over the years and always found reasons why there didn’t seem to be the time to attend. Now, I have scads more discretionary time-ah, it’s heaven.
University of Saskatchewan, college days
As an undergrad student at the University of Saskatchewan many years ago, there was a period over a couple of years when a group of us hung out together. Some of us were in the College of Pharmacy, one in the College of Engineering and another was pursuing a degree in history. The fellow who was in history came with a nickname, a self-proclaimed nickname, he was “Cleveland Thomas Ohio”. We called him Cleve. Our group enjoyed going to movies, drinking beer, playing cards and shooting the breeze. We had a great time together. I distinctly remember how Cleve regaled us with stories of kings and queens of long ago. He put them into a tale where he made the past come alive. I recall thinking “why can’t I see that when I read history” for I was one who had to memorize history for it would lay flat and lifeless on the page and it wouldn’t stick in my brain.
Life and careers
Cleve continued and earned a number of degrees at the U of S. For a time he was a teacher. I saw him a few times over the years and would hear of his growing accomplishments as a writer over time.
Ottawa International Writers Festival 2011.
And so it was that this college friend from decades ago came to our city to read from his latest book, A Good Man. I combed through photo albums to find pictures of those days so long ago. The best I could do were pictures from a Hallowe’en dress up party (I hope it was Hallowe’en-either that or we had a weird sense of fashion). Our youthful visages did not yet show the lines of life we now sport. I made copies of the photos and off we went to event. It was delightful to be at the reading and listen to the interview that followed. As he read I saw the accomplished novelist and short story writer and I also remembered the undergrad student. Afterward we had a little visit, the author and me. Cleveland Thomas Ohio is no more. He is the winner of two Governor General Awards and he has been made an Officer of the Order of Canada along with many other recognitions that former history student, Guy Vanderhaeghe. He’s still full of good stories and good humour as you can see.