Tag Archives: retirement

My Friend Robbie

My kids gave me Robbie for Christmas. He’s black and gray. And I have already fallen in love with him. I cleared a corner in the living room and fixed it up, just for him. The minute I put him down in that corner he began to explore.

He checked out the empty space beneath each chair, often bumping into the legs before he found his way out again. Then he headed for the stairs. I gasped as he reached the edge of the landing. I jumped from my chair expecting him to fall down the stairs. That is when I realized that he is a bit of a tease. He scooted up to the edge, but just before tumbling over he backed up a bit. He worked his way along the edge, inch by inch, until he reached the wall. Then he turned around and headed down the hallway.

I thought he would lose his balance when he reached the threshold between the carpet in the hallway and the kitchen floor. But he mastered the transition with only a minor hesitation. He quickly gobbled up some crumbs that had fallen on the kitchen floor before he turned back to the hallway.

Avon had left the bedroom door open, so this inquisitive little guy decided to check it out. Of course the first place he went was under the bed. I figured I would have to get down on my hands and knees to coach him out. But he gleefully scampered out the other side. Just as I reached to pick him up, he disappeared again under the bed. When he appeared again, I stood in his way so that he had to leave the bedroom.

By the time he made his way back down the hallway, he was beginning to run out of energy. After a couple of diagonal passes across the living room he made his way back to his private corner.

Robbie, of course, is my new robotic vacuum cleaner.

(Robotic vacuum cleaners really are a thoughtful gift for anyone that has arm and/or shoulder issues.  It doesn’t totally take the place of an upright vacuum.   But if you run  it frequently it definitely cuts down on the times it is necessary to get the upright vacuum out.)

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What I Learned From My Junk Drawer

The following was written for three word Wednesday:  draft, locate, and serenity; and for my writing group, Soup Night:  Topic–Junk Drawers

I checked my kitchen junk drawer for inspiration.  I found none.   It contains the normal kitchen junk drawer items: a few rubber bands; an electrical timer that is not currently in use; some batteries; a roll of painters tape; as well as a package of Christmas ornament hooks.  The most interesting thing in there was a package containing a shower cap that I must have picked up from a motel on one of our trips.  And that was interesting only because I had been looking for a shower cap a couple of weeks ago.

I decided to look elsewhere.  I don’t have a drawer in my computer desk.  Often everything ends up stacked on top of the desk, the printer etc.  I do however have a set of vinyl “in and out” racks that are stacked in the corner.  They serve as the junk drawer on my desk.

In the racks I found my old Texas Instruments Business Calculator along with its reference guide.  I haven’t used it in years.  Today everyone boots up their computer and calculates the financial information on one of the many electronic spread sheets that are now available.  It has been that way for years.

The second thing I found was my Chinese Calculator handbook—more commonly known as my Abacus Guide Book.  It is actually a Xerox copy of a handbook that someone lovingly made for me to accompany the gift of an abacus.  I have two of these marvelous creations.  I really don’t know how to use them, but if I decide I ever want to learn I can of course consult my guide.

I find it interesting that the second page to this guide states that  “ There is no doubt that it is one of the most prominent articles of business equipment in Chinese business offices today.” I wonder how old this booklet is.   I have had this instruction booklet for probably twenty years.  I wonder, do the Chinese still teach their children to use an abacus in school?

Finding these items reminded me that my adult life has focused largely on numbers.  Perhaps more accurately I should say that my ‘past’ as an adult has focused largely on numbers.  In the past, when people asked, “Do you like your job?”  I always responded with “Yes, I love what I do?”  But I wonder, if I really loved my job, why don’t I miss it? And I must admit that I don’t miss preparing tax returns and I don’t miss drafting financial statements.  It is interesting to realize that what I “was” was an accountant.  I ‘was’ a person who lived a life surrounded by financial numbers.  But that is not who I am anymore.

Just like the abacus and hand-held calculator, as time goes by, the things we use in life, and the way we use them change.  Today I use numbers more for measuring something in my sewing room, a seam allowance, a quilt block or the length of a binding.  A ruler or a tape measure is the measuring tool that is ready at hand.

I don’t have an occupational title today.  But what I learned from my junk drawer is that I don’t have to locate my self worth in any particular context.   I find serenity in knowing that I never really did.

 

 

 

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I miss the ice cream truck

I miss the musical jingle of the ice cream truck.  When I was a child it would come down our block playing its merry tune and all the kids in the neighborhood would suddenly stop blowing bubbles and appear in the street.

Most of the time there wasn’t money for our family to buy frozen concoctions, but when we could it was such a treat.  Buying actual ice cream was out of the question, but frozen flavored sugar-water bars called popsicles were just fine with us. A lot of popsicles came with two sticks.  Often we would buy one to share.  We’d break it down the middle and then we would lumber back to our own yard.

I also miss the bread man.  He drove his truck down our street once or twice a week. Mom used to buy day old bread and once in a while day old doughnuts.  We never ran out of bread even though Mom didn’t drive and couldn’t make a mid-week trip to the market.

We also had twice weekly milk delivery.  We would go out in the morning and find the fresh bottled milk sitting on our porch.  We never ran out.

But this past week I think I missed the coffee truck most of all.  We had Standard Coffee Company when I was very young and later the Jewell Tea Company had a truck that came down our block when I was older.  They also sold coffee, spices and other desirable products.  Last week I really missed the coffee delivery truck.

Last week it snowed for several days.  Each time the plow went past our house he piled up icy snow in front of our driveway.  It is an uphill drive out of our driveway to the road.  When we reach the road it is part way up a small hill on the road.  Getting out requires shoveling.  And if the roads are icy there is always the chance of getting into a wreck.  If I don’t have to go out when it snows, I don’t go out.  By Saturday I was out of coffee.  We had to shovel to get out to go buy coffee.  Oh yes, last week I missed the coffee man most of all.

Written for Three Word Wednesday:  bubble, lumber, wreck.

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Ring! Ring! RI-I-I-NG! Ring! Ring RI-I-I-NG!

Ring! Ring! RI-I-I-NG!  Ring! Ring RI-I-I-NG!  Two shorts and one long ring.   That was our ring.

In the 50’s, at our house,  the telephone was still a fascination.  It appeared to be nothing more than a shiny black box with a rotary dial and long cord running into the wall.  Each hole of the dial, except for the one and the zero, had three letters and one number.  Our number was LA2-1309.  I couldn’t understand how the telephone knew if mother was dialing LA or JB.

We were on a 4-party line.  Recognizing the ring was important.  Not everyone had phones in those days and if you did, it was common to share a line with two to four other homes.  Occasionally Mom would pick up the telephone and have to wait to make her call because the line was busy.  However, in the 50’s telephones hadn’t yet become an external part of the body.   She seldom had to wait long.

The phone in our house had a special stand.   It sort of resembled a school desk with the chair attached sideways.  It was shiny dark walnut and had a cubby-hole to hold the telephone book.  The top of the desk area was just large enough for the phone and mother’s desk calendar.

Although our telephone was fascinating, when we visited my grandparent’s in South Dakota their phone intrigued me even more.  It was a wooden box that hung on the wall.  The mouthpiece was black with a brass ring behind it.  It had two bells on top that you could watch vibrate when the phone rang.   It had no dial.   Grandma lifted the earpiece, cranked the handle on the side and the operator answered.  She would say something like “162W”.   Well Grandma wouldn’t usually say that because that was her number. But she gave the operator the number she wished to call and waited until the desired party answered.

Telephones were treated  differently then.  In our home the telephone was a tool for adults.   As children, we seldom used it.  If mother was there, she would answer it.   We answered it only when she was away. And we never answered the telephone at Grandma’s house.

One evening, however, when I was nine, the phone rang while Mom and Dad were grocery shopping.   “Answer it!” my older sister commanded.   She was a very meek 13-year old and didn’t want to answer the phone.  “Answer it!”  She commanded once more.

So I carefully slid onto the vinyl seat of the telephone stand and gently lifted the receiver to my ear.   I expected to hear the voice of one of Mom’s friends.  But I didn’t recognize the voice at all.

“Is the LA2-1309?” inquired the stranger.

“Yes it is,” I replied.

“Do you have your television on?”

“Yes,” I replied.

“Does it fit?” with that comment from the stranger, hysterical laughter filled the air.

I quickly hung up and told my sister about the call.

She thought it was pretty funny, but we decided we wouldn’t tell Mom and Dad about the call because they might not agree.

It wasn’t long before “Ring, Ring, RI-I-I-NG.  Ring, Ring, RI-I-I-NG.  The phone once again began to ring.

“Answer it,” my sister once again demanded.

Now I wasn’t a very worldly nine-year-old so I picked up the phone.

“Hello,” I chimed.

“Hello,” again a strange voice on the line. “Is your refrigerator running?”

“I think so,” I replied.

“Well you better go catch it!” Again hysterical laughter filled the earpiece.

“Who are you?”  I demanded.

The phone went dead.

My sister thought it was pretty funny.   When we told our folks– yes we told our folks– they found it annoying.   Yes annoying, not harassment as it would be called today–just annoying.  But in the 50’s the telephone was a tool not an attachment to our bodies.  Six-year-old children did not carry them to school.  Telephones did not sing and show movies.  They had no ability to send a text message.  They simply transmitted one voice to another.  It was a much simpler time.

The nuisance calls of the years have gone downhill.  Now the callers are freaky, not funny.  Some of the pranksters don’t have a sliver of conscience to control them.

 

(Three word Wednesday:  freak, downhill, sliver.

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The Thanksgiving Guest–continued

Wayne continued to fidget while Abby located her cell phone, house keys and wallet and then dropped all three into her coat pocket.  “Ready,” she announced as she scooped up Fancy.  Then pushing Wayne aside, she walked out the door.

He knew it, he just knew it.  She was going to bring the stupid dog along. 

Fearing that Abby might fall, Wayne offered her his free arm.  She willingly slid her arm through his and smiled a totally innocent looking smile.

Slowly, very slowly, they maneuvered their way to the car.  Wayne opened the trunk, carefully placed the candy and the whiskey in the trunk and thought, if only I could put Abby and that dumb dog in here too.

Wayne settled Abby into the passenger’s seat and made sure that her seat belt was secure.  Then he finally began to relax.  That didn’t last long.

As they turned onto Main Street, Abby said, “Wayne, we have a police car following us.  Do you think he’ll give you a ticket since Fancy isn’t in a proper puppy restraining device?”  Abby didn’t hear well either so she tended to speak loudly.  This was one of those times when Wayne would have been happier if his companion didn’t speak up.

Wayne turned off of Main Street and onto 5th.  The patrol car followed.  It wasn’t long before Wayne and Abby both started teasing about the patrol car.  “Maybe they just want that million dollars we stole,” laughed Wayne.

Then Abby said, “No, they know that you have kidnapped me.  They are coming after you.  You can’t get away with me.  They are going to catch you.”

Much to Wayne’s amazement, as he pulled into his drive way, the patrol car flipped on  its lights on and sounded its siren.   All Wayne could think was are they really going to cite me for not restraining that stupid dog?

Two patrolmen approached the car, guns raised.  “Get out,” barked the taller of the two.

“Ma’am,” asked the other one, “Do you need help?  Did you dial 911?”

“No,” exclaimed Abby.  “I am just coming to visit for Thanksgiving.”

“Is your cell phone 535-9999?”

“Yes.”

“Someone just dialed 911 from that number.”

Abby reached into her pocket, pulled out her phone and realized that she had accidentally hit the speed dial on her phone.  She had indeed called 911.

The emergency dispatch center had heard the conversation taking place between Wayne and Abby.  Abby was allowed to go inside, but Wayne had a lot of explaining to do.

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Fill up the buckets–don’t kick them

Summer ends and autumn begins, both in the garden and in life.  We’ve dug the spring bulbs and will soon split them and replant in a few days.  Although their story for this year is told, they still have more to share–they multiply.  Just wait another year.

Those of us that have reached the autumn of our lives are not unlike the bulbs.   Although part of our story has been told it doesn’t mean there is no more.  I’ve been making a list of the things that I might still do.  This is not a bucket list, not a list of things I intend to do before I die, but instead a list of projects or challenges I might undertake.  This is a list to go to when I am uninspired and need to be motivated.  This is a list to give me the figurative kick-in-the-rear when I forget to live my life to the fullest. This is a list to fill up the buckets, not empty one.

I must go now.   I have several buckets waiting to be filled.

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Inspiration

I walked over six miles today.   For some that would be insignificant, but for me that is a monumental achievement.  Just three weeks ago, I wasn’t sure that I could make it around the park, the fairgrounds and back to my house, and that is less than two miles.

Every morning I watch, my neighbor, Shirley walk her dogs.  I have been told that she walks around the block.  It really doesn’t matter how far she walks.   The important thing is that I know she does it consistently.  And since I retired, I have sat in my chair most mornings and watched her walk.  Of course I have thought, I should be out there doing that.  But for a long time I just stayed put and read my paper.

I also have a friend named Barbara.  I know that she walks nearly everyday.  And every time I listened as she mentioned something, or some one from one of her walks, I have thought,   I really should do that.  But, for a long time, I failed to follow through.

Then there is my daughter, now over 40, she doesn’t just walk, she runs, she rides bikes, she teaches yoga and spinning and Tao Kwon Do and every time I see her, I think, I really need to be more active.   But for years I have ignored her gentle prodding and continued to be my lethargic self.

In July, I stumbled across a website called Gullible’s Travels.  Now Gully, as she is known by the followers of her blog, is a widow, over sixty and lives in Muskeg Manor, Alaska.  In July, I started reading her blog about a back packing trip she took, alone, across Resurrection Pass.   She hiked 26 miles in four days.

Something clicked. All of these women except for my daughter are over sixty.  All of these women are what I consider classy, sassy, woman.  Suddenly I wanted to be more like them.  I decided my first step would be to take a step and then another and then another and see what happened. So I started out just putting one foot in front of the other.

The first day I walked around the park and fairgrounds and made it home again.   Well, I thought, that wasn’t so bad.   So the next day I did it again.  This time I was delighted by a little girl wearing a dress so long that I expected it to get tangled in her bicycle wheels.  She was excited and called out, “I used to fall off, but now I can go really fast.”  And I thought, gee, we are both gaining confidence, I used to sit in a chair and watch other people walk.   Now I can walk almost two miles.

From there my world has expanded exponentially.

On the Olympic Peninsula we have a wonderful trail system, designed for walkers, bicyclers, and some places it is even appropriate for horses.  I have come to love these trails.  Over the years I have often walked the section in downtown Port Angeles. But lately I have expanded my horizons and I have been walking different sections.

Recently my husband and I walked the trail from Elwha River Road to the Elwha River Bridge.  Round trip this is about four miles, nearly all paved and a great place to walk when it is warm because it is shaded by the trees.  The bridge used to be a one-way bridge across the Elwha River, now it is two-lane road with a suspended walking/hiking/biking deck below. From the deck the views up and down the river are fantastic.

Today I started the trail at Ennis Creek in Port Angeles and walked east.  This section of the trail meanders along the water for quite a distance in shade created by trees along the bank. When I started the fog was off shore and the sun was warm.  I love the sound of the tide in this area.  If you are quiet you can hear the water suck through the rocks as the tide recedes and then watch it pull itself up and over as it tumbles back onto the rocks.  As I walked I lost all sense of time and did not realize how far I had walked.  I was one with nature.

Almost every day now I am finding there is wonder in a walk.   I walk with my camera, my dorky hat upon my head and a refillable water bottle slinging from my fanny pack.   Did I tell you, today I made it over six miles?

I owe it all to Shirley, Barbara, Judy and Gully.   Way to go gals.  You inspire me.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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