Tuesday, March 29, 2011

My Retirement, Ready, Set, Don't Go

Germ Free and doing OK

Disappointed with Spring

About three weeks ago my friend Barbara and I attended the Philadelphia Flower show which this year was an exhibition of French spring gardens.  The show, which is held annually is the largest in the world and covers over 33 acres.  They kept to the theme and daffodils, tulips and lavender permeated the air. You entered through an Eiffel Tower structure and from there the artistry of France was combined to transport you to April in Paris. 

Those who know me accept me as a flower nut who, at times, goes over the top.  I am always looking for that "different" flower, the one that is new, unusual and not your ordinary plant.  I search catalogs, nursery centers, flower shows, and formal gardens for that "something special".  What I have learned is that sometimes they are not always what they said and photos are not always real-life; what is shown is usually more than the best-case scenario.  They insinuate that plants will grow in your zone and look just like the picture, unfortunately, they don't say your garden needs to be on a south corner in Borneo on a semi-warm day, with a  banana tree to the right, no wind but a light sea breeze and 4.5 worms in the soil to get that result  So I have been misled a few times and been disappointed, but it is always fun growing new plants and seeing the results, good or bad, it is always an experience I am glad I tried. 

After the flower show I was stoked.  Unfortunately, instead of it being April in Paris, it is March in Pennsylvania.  It looked like we might have an early spring as the temperatures had been in the 60's and had even sored to the 70's for a few days.  Of course, we all relied on Punxsutawny Phil, our resident groundhog and the official spokesman for the coming of spring.  He told us on February 2nd that it would be a short winter and we believed him.  After all he, like so many of our politicians, is a rodent and lives below the earth, he would know and would not lie to us. We noticed the daffodils and crocus sprouting out of the ground and saw that as a sign that Phil was right on the money.  Then, then, then, ..... cold, hail, snow, and nothing. Spring stood still.  My beautiful Weeping Willow whose buds were visible and whose yellow hue was turning to light green looks the same as it did two weeks ago.  Some bulbs have bloomed and I see colors of purple and pink in some neighbor's yards, but so far, nothing in mine.  What happened?  After thinking about it, I realized that this month in Pennsylvania is barely spring.  The early warmth, so unlike normal March temperatures, duped us.  We all wanted to be deceived though, we had that taste of spring in February and why should we not expect shorts and tee shirt weather in March.  What is true though is that April is right around the corner and with that will come better garden weather and more outdoor time.  Mother Nature knows when she is ready, I just have to have some patience.

Waiting, waiting, waiting.

So, I will plant pansies; they can survive happily in the cold.  They are one of my favorite flowers and adapt well to not-so- favorable circumstances.  I need to learn that lesson.

Friday, March 25, 2011

My Retirement - Down and Out

Bad week, but I'm doing OK.


There is nothing so wonderful as feeling good after feeling bad - really bad.  Something hit me on Sunday evening and had me to my knees screaming for my mother to please help me.  I can be overly dramatic!  At 8 pm that night I was fine and eating a helping of store-bought potato salad, by 10 pm I thought I was in the bowls of hell. I was convinced it was the salad and I had food poisoning.  The next three days had me moaning, looking like I felt, and wishing tomorrow would come quickly.  Hubby brought back the salad to the store and they are doing tests on it and will let us know the results.  However, now my granddaughter Emma has come down with the same symptoms, so maybe it is just a nasty bug that has invaded our systems.

Now I am feeling better and life is so much brighter.  I woke up this morning feeling like me and jumped out of bed (an exaggeration).  I saw the sun and thought "what a wonderful day", and just assumed it must be warm out, even though we got hit in the backside yesterday was some light snow.  Unfortunately, it is only in the low 40's, so there is no reason to put on a sundress yet.  Then came the highlight of my day.  I got on the scale and I was down six pounds.  That is 3 weeks of a diet that I planned to get on   Four days of  lo-cal ginger ale and saltine crackers paid off, although it was a very distasteful experience.  So, now I have a kick-start, my appetite for the sweet things in life has not come back yet, and maybe it is time for me to begin one of my manana goals.  Because of my walking everyday (always followed by a reward), I have not gained any weight during these past retirement months (even lost a size), but I want to keep my health and energy level and losing ten pounds will help.  Twenty pounds would be better, but that won't happen, so better to be realistic and proud.  Besides, the weight would come off my face, my jowls would hang even lower, the creases would be deeper and my eyelids may cascade over the top of my cheeks.  Even as we age, we ladies still have our pride.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

My Retirement -An Accounting

Spring has arrived and I'm doing OK

Getting my move and groove on.

I have been retired for almost 4 months now and am taking inventory on what I have accomplished.  I had this mental list of cleaning out the basement, the closets, the cupboards, painting, volunteering, putting my affairs in order and having an organized life;  you know, the fun stuff.  I was beginning to feel a failure as little of that had been accomplished.  I did go through some closets and put together four or five bags of clothes that I would never wear again and had hubby take them to Goodwill.  I started working on the basement and assembled some groups of good stuff I did not want anymore and bad or old stuff that no one would ever want.   I then pointed hubby to it and asked him if he would dispose of them when he had time.  He has done most of his part, and only about 1/4 of it  remains. Of course this is just the tip of the iceberg of the basement, but it is a start.   As for all the other things on my list, they still remain as goals.

I was speaking to my friend Kathy last night and we were talking about my post on the perks of being over 60.  When we spoke about the things we needed to do, the word and song Manana came up and we both remembered this from our youth.  While we congratulated each other for "remembering" something that old (no problem with that, it's 5 minutes ago that I am having trouble with), we laughed at it's meaning.  I have fond memories of my mother singing it often, "The window she is broken and the rain is coming in, if someone doesn't fix it, I'll be soaking to my skin.  But if we wait a day or two, the rain may go away and we don't need a window on such a sunny day, Manana, manana, manana is soon enough for me."  It is a happy tune, and might I add, words to live by. 

I have accomplished some things though but most important,  I have learned how to breathe - an all important factor of life they say.  Through my walking every day (formerly jogging - my lofty ideas have had to come down a notch due to injuries and age) has built up my stamina and my energy level  is so much better (once I get myself going).  Last year at this time a walk around the block would tire me out and I would be panting; now I can easily do six miles and feel fine.  I have also become somewhat adjusted to the solitude I find myself in now.  My life had been about social contact with people as I had worked a great deal of my life and raised a large family.  For the first few months I mourned that loss and it was very difficult.  Now I am getting out more and am pushing myself to start a brand new life.  I know that with spring and more sunlight to inspire me, I will start to bloom.  I have also learned to appreciate my "alone time" and I am looking at it as a gift to enjoy.

So, four months in and my scorecard is really not too bad.  I have written this blog that I have enjoyed (it is my journal), and I have met some new and interesting friends through it.  This transition has been healthy for me.  I still aspire to accomplish many of my goals and do more planning (and follow-through) on my future, as after all, manana is the future.

Friday, March 18, 2011

My Retirement - So, you're over 60

Warm and Wonderful here and I am doing OK


- Knowing your life is better than Charlie Sheen's.
- You never have to worry about getting acne anymore.
- Your grandchildren like being around you more than they do their parents.
   The junkfood you gave them and the money you slipped into their hands has
   paid off.
- There is time to smell the roses and appreciate the smaller (and better)
   things in life.
- You no longer have to be a slave to fashion; it is more about comfort.  Oh,
   the joys of elastic!.
- Things you once deemed important, are not.
- You are no longer a fussy eater and most things taste good
   (maybe not brussel sprouts).
-  Generic Drugs
- There is more time to garden.
- You know what love really is and recognize it is not always easy and that is OK. 
- Some things are just so much funnier.
- Acceptance, and peace with it.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

My Retirement - In an Instant

The week of spring, I am doing OK

Life changes so quickly!

I have been trying to write something for days but what has been happening in other parts of the world leaves me numb.  It does not feel right to me to chatter on with my silly little ramblings.

No one can look upon the pictures we are seeing of the earthquake, tsunami, and nuclear disaster and not feel deep emotion for these people and their beautiful country. One moment they were going about their business and in the next second came disaster of  immense proportions. The news keeps getting more ominous and horrific but in the midst of it comes miracles of people finding loved ones and the outpouring of  kindness shown by others.  We want this terrible thing to stop and go away and for them and us to go about our normal lives, but it has changed for them and for us all. We are all neighbors in this world.

Most of us have had to face an instant turn of events in our lives.  It leads us down other roads, roads we might not have chosen before, however, is it the road we were destined to follow.  Japan has not only suffered though events of nature, but also the technology of man.  Maybe we can learn from this, but maybe not. 

In these times of human suffering, we want to open our hearts to help in any way we can, whether it be through prayers or actions.  When I think of kindness and goodness, I think of the Dalai Lama and his words of great wisdom.  Tenzin Gyatso, the 14th Dalai Lama said, "This is my simple religion.  There is no need for temples; no need for complicated philosophy.  Our own brain, our own heart is our temple; the philosophy is kindness." For these people of Japan, many of whom are Buddhist and live by this doctrine, the world will be there for them, our hearts overflow.

Thursday, March 10, 2011

My Retirement- Where'd it go

Wiff  of spring and doing OK.

My mind and what happened to it.
Photo: Lateral view of human brain
Looking back at it, I first started feeling signs of senility creep in when I gave birth.  Those four little beings sucked the brain waves right out of me.  It was subtle at first but when they became teenagers, it accelerated.  I knew I was a-gonner when the first one reached 12 and their one eyebrow lifted every time I spoke.  To them, having to put up with a parent was such a chore.  Poor souls, they had to deal with me, like it or not.  My oldest child was 11 when the youngest was born so it was a long haul getting through them all.  Mind you, they were good kids, all of whom I am very proud, but raising children is not an easy task. Sometimes I look back at it and am amazed at how much patience I had (at least in my memories), and wonder how I was capable of doing it all.  I now have the joy of grandchildren and yes, they are so much easier and have no faults. All those years though of bouncing so many balls in the air, including family, jobs attending college, and  trying to get everything done and be perfect at it (again in my eyes)  took a toll.  I think I lost about 25% of my brain cells during that part of my life.  So at around age 50 when two were out of college and on their own and I was rounding the bend with the other two, I took a breath and tried to regroup (my midlife crisis). I can tell you there is no regrouping in motherhood, it is a lifelong journey where guilt and fear for their safety never ends.  They did not ask for this, I just took it upon myself to be a forever worry-wort when it comes to my brood. Take another 10% off of my brain cells for this.  If you are counting, you will see I am only 65% "with it".

I have come to the point of my life where I spend quite a bit of my time looking for things that I know I just saw or had.   Some thoughts and words just pop like bubbles from my mind.  Where did they go; I know they are still there as the memory comes back to me some time later, but they are not there when I want them to be.  My friends and I compare notes and laugh about our senior moments.  It is a sisterhood of the brain cell deprived.  I wish there was something that we could do or eat to rejuvenate our minds, but so far there is only laughter and that gives us comfort. 

The other day I was sitting in my office which is a front room of my home.  I was looking out the window and suddenly a thought came upon me that I wanted to share with hubby and my daughter who was visiting. I got up, walked 2 rooms away into the family room  and announced to them " I am so glad that...., oh gosh, thought gone.  They stared at me while my mouth hung open with no more words coming.  Something popped again. The positive part is that I was glad about something, and that is a good thing.  I did remember the next day and it had to do with my front garden, but it did not redeem me in hubby's or daughter's eyes.  However, I was relieved it popped back in and what the heck, it was not important anyway.  That's my version and I am sticking with it. 

Small thoughts matter not!

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

My Retirement - Grumpy Old People

Looking forward to spring and doing OK

Woe is me.

We have a section in our paper called "Sound Off" which allows people to call in, air their complaints or even say something nice without giving their names. As you might guess, the former is more likely to happen.  To my great embarrassment, most of these people are seniors.  I know this because they either sign off as "A Senior Citizen", or have it somewhere in their rant.  They complain about their neighbors, their neighbors dogs and cats, politicians, public officials, teachers, other people's religion, illegal aliens, pot holes, people's driving, laws, no laws, the country is going to hell in a hand basket, and anything negative one could imagine.  We all have opinions and strong beliefs, but expressing your thoughts in a column where you don't have to take ownership of them seems cowardly to me.  With all this said, I have to admit that it is the first thing I read even though it is on page 2.  I compare it to watching a car wreck; you know what you are going to see will not be pleasant, but you look anyway.  Some people have legitimate griefs but they are not going to do anything about it except whine, whine, whine. One of the continuing subjects has to do with people not putting on their car lights when it is raining, a relatively new law.  A few of these S/Cs actually gave a count of the cars passing by their house that were disobeying this law. Imagine spending your limited time on this earth looking out your windows, watching your neighbors driving habits and accusing them of being terrorists of the roads.  Some of these sound-offs are fear-based and I understand as I have some of these concerns myself, but I can do nothing about yesterday, tomorrow is always a day away and what little I can control about my life (which includes my mood) is up to me. These people sometimes sign off with names like "Jeez Louise',  "Sick of it all",  and of course, "Disgusted Senior Citizen",  and I wonder if they ever have a good day.   I am not discouraging activism, as I am all for that, but being petty is so unattractive.

I wonder what happened to these people to make them so negative and mean-spirited.  Bad moods are something we all suffer, but when we let that and fear take over our lives, we miss so much.  This week I am going to go to the Philadelphia Flower Show which is celebrating French gardens.  Aah, there is nothing so lovely as a garden, it is so full of promise and joy.  Maybe I will call into Sound-Off and tell them what a fun day I am having; I am sure some grumpy old people will call in and say "Why aren't they celebrating an American garden."

Take the time to laugh today, it is good for the soul.

Monday, March 7, 2011

My Retirement - Reasons to Drink Wine

Winter is gone (I hope) and I'm doing OK

An appreciation of Vino

1)   It is celebratory.
2)  The glasses are elegant.
3)  Goes well with cheese and chocolate, the foods of life.
4)  Good for your heart.
5)  Calms your nerves.
6)  Promotes better brain health, although not necesarily in the hours after you
     have consumed a bottle by yourself.
7)  It denotes a certain sophistication and when you use words like woody, bold,
     complex, smokey, and  full  bodied, people will look at you and pay
      attention. You will "think" they are impressed.
8)  Sometimes a moderate price wine tastes just as good as the more costly one.
9)  It can become a religious experience.
10) Helps you love everyone.

James Thurber cartoon: Three people at a dinner table look quizzically at their host, who has a glass in his hand and a manic look in his eye, saying, "It's merely a naive domestic Burgundy, but I think you'll be amused by its presumption.

I say, it is nice to sit down with your family and friends, look around the table and smile, have a good meal and enjoy a moderately-priced, fine wine together. 


Wednesday, March 2, 2011

My Retirement - Ain't Necessarily So

Third month and I'm doing OK


As much information that we have now at our fingertips, how much of it is real?   P/R execs, commentators with their innuendos, overblown advertising, and even lighting and airbrushing have taken (a small) part of the truth and made us believe that what we are hearing and seeing is absolute. Everything is targeted at specific audiences and then expounded upon thru the media.  The truth is no longer black or white, but multicolored with many layers. 

Years ago TV advertising mostly consisted of soap products, cars, kitchen appliances and over-the-counter drugs like Alka Seltzer.  We all used soap, homeowners like shiny new appliances, cars were everyone's dream and we all had gas once in a while.  Now, cars are still a big draw, soap products are not promoted as much, the amount of refrigerators advertised has gone way down, but the corporations can still count on us all having gas.  The products marketed  have changed so much in the past ten years, especially with all the new technology offered and the speed of which they have evolved.  High tech is marketed to the very young and the very hip.  That leaves me and the millions upon millions of other boomers out.  The only thing hip about us are our titanium ones.  This brings me to what seems as the #1 product advertised, prescription drugs.  Half of the diseases I have never heard of but after seeing them over and over, I am not quite sure I don't have them.  TV ads can be very convincing.  A few years ago they were airing a commercial about having shaky legs and it seemed ominous.  It was called RLS.  It became a topic of conversation in the workplace and among my friends.  At least half of us were sure we had this frightening ailment.  Doctor's offices must have been flooded with patients inquiring about this syndrome.  I always shake my legs, but I thought it was because I am annoyed at something or anxious (my middle name). My mother always did this also and my siblings and I knew that when her leg started moving, we should all run for the hills. Now we are told it is RLS, the disease du jour in 2008. I looked it up and although it is somewhat real, it is uncommon and usually associated with severe kidney disease.  It is rarely listed as a diagnosis. It is not so much an ailment as it is a symptom.  How could this be when a drug company was spending millions to advertise their medicine and scaring thousands of gullible people.   Maybe this drug helped some but I am sure the ads caused more heart palpitations when people noticed that they were swinging their legs around and became convinced that it was a sign of impending death.  I have not noticed this ad in a few years, so maybe it didn't sell.  I am sure though that in some board room there are a bunch of executives going through the alphabet thinking up a new acronym for a new disorder to sell to us boomers.

BTW, we no longer have gas, it is SAR or acid reflux - so much more acceptable.