Today is Wednesday, June 26, 2019


Fred's Views

The Retirement Blues

It's hard to believe that I've been retired for nine years. Where has the time gone?

Now, I'll be the first to admit that I had a “cushy” job. While some of my colleagues put in long hours preparing lessons, marking papers, filling out reports, etc. etc. I had few of these duties. I had time, in fact, to keep most of my web sites up to date. I would write an article almost every week; I'd have a new picture posted every day; I'd put up a new quiz every week; and I spent numerous hours updating and refining my “UsingComputers” site. And I did much of it during work hours. Of course. I used the computer site as part of my job, so that time spent, at least, was justified.

Now as I look back over the last nine years I am flabbergasted at the state of my sites. The picture a day has gone. The quizzes have received almost no update in all this time. I can probably count on the fingers of one hand the number of new articles that have appeared. My “UsingComputers” site has not changed one whit in all that time. It's true I no longer have any necessity to update the computer site but, nine years?

Have I lost interest? Have new interests eaten up my time? Have I spent the last nine years trotting 'round the globe?

I can't deny that the fun and excitement of designing and maintaining my web sites has ebbed somewhat. But I still enjoy it, although it is harder to get myself enthused. But the real reason is that so many other things have intruded into my life. When I was working, I could always claim that I was too busy at work (or too tired from a long day at work – all five hours of it) to do the work that needed to be done around the house. What excuse can I use now? Believe me, I keep racking my brains to come up with some new excuse. The simple answer is that I didn't retire from a job I could tolerate to be stuck doing jobs that I hate. My wife doesn't buy it.

[I have recently discovered an excuse that at least has the virtue of being partially true: Our Bichon-Poodle dog has now entered her nineteenth year (that's people years not dog years). She's blind, deaf, and I'm convinced quite senile, but she keeps on going like the Energizer bunny. She has developed a most annoying habit of barking or whining. Presumably she wants something, but no one, including herself, knows what. The one thing that usually satisfies her is for her and I to take a little nap. I place her at one end of the couch and I squiggle into the remaining two thirds. Within a few minutes, she's usually fallen asleep. Sometimes I have too. When my wife complains about things not getting done (She's still working), I point at the dog.]

There are other reasons. In addition to my own somewhat abandoned sites, I have three, possibly four other sites to maintain. These do get much more attention than my own sites, but even these have been ignored more than they should be. I started out creating and maintaining a site for our local Scouting Area. Bit by bit, I'm getting pushed back into Scouting. I now even have a uniform – which is now being phased out in favour of a new, updated look. Most of my activities are behind the scenes: helping the leaders who then work with the kids. I've done KP duty, I've scrubbed floors, put up marquees and towers, and disinfected bathrooms (that's another story).

I was also asked if I would be interested in taking over the web site for my College's Retirement Association. How could I refuse? Soon I was also doing its newsletter and became a member of the board.

We have a large training and general camping use facility about an hour's drive from home. For years, we went there each September for a reunion of Scouters who had reached a certain level of training. For years, it meant sleeping on hard ground in tents: men in one area, women in another. Finally, my wife couldn't take sleeping on the cold ground any longer and we stopped going. Well, ten or so years later we started going back. There are a number of buildings on site and delegations were allowed to rent them. So now we could sleep on cold, hard bunks – but at least we were off the ground. (Other things had changed as well: men and women were no longer segregated.) Anyway, at one of these reunions I was approached to take over the website of this camp. I did so.

As a result, we came to know one of the camp committee members much better than we had previously. She invited us to a meeting where she was going to become the new national head of an organization made up, essentially, of retired Scouters and Guiders. She then asked me to take over editorship of the organization's newsletters.

Although both organizations only publish a few times a year, I do have to spend quite a bit of time getting each issue ready and, in the latter case, stuffing newsletters into envelopes and mailing them off. (Fortunately, we do not mail to individuals only bulk mailings to each local organization.)

All told, that takes a fair bit of time. (Much of a week is used up for each issue.)

There have been several other demands on my time: Since my retirement, both of my wife's parents have died. They had previously sold their house and were now renting it, but it was full of a lifetime accumulation which my wife and I and her two sisters had to clean out the house. We still have boxes in our basement that we need to go through. Last year my Mother died and we had to go through the same process again, this time with my sister and her family. Not only did we have a house-full of stuff, we also had to renovate the house to get it ready for sale. Needless to say, this was time-consuming, using up almost all of our summer.

Still, if we move on down to the bottom line, there is still a lot of time unaccounted for. Well, except for the time spent playing literally thousands of games of Free Cell and other “simple” computer games.

All in all, there is nothing quite like retirement, as long as you follow the golden rule: Never do today what you can put off 'till tomorrow – unless it's something fun!

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