Random Moments

Dan had the day off to celebrate Canada Day yesterday. We did not do anything too earth shaking but we (mostly he) got a few things accomplished and we got caught up on a few holidays.

Dan got the water pump/fountain on the pond so the birds could drink safely.
Dan finished repainting our mushrooms
We found the solar cover for the pool.
I Miracle Grow’d the flower beds
And the vegetables!
We popped the cork on our New Year’s champagne and toasted my retirement at the beginning of June
And we feasted on Dan’s Father’s Day supper of steak, shrimp, corn, mushrooms and baked potato.

Wishing everyone a particularly special day today🌞

Good Enough

Why do so many people waste their lives trying to convince others that they themselves are ‘better’ ?   Or that others are ‘not good enough‘ ? Better than what – or not good enough for what? Why is life a contest and who made the rules? And why does our society seem to be getting so much worse and less tolerant?

I grew up in small town Saskatchewan.  People were not judged by race or sexuality. We were rather oblivious to the major global issues in those days before internet access.

That is not to say that there was no bigotry and ignorance.  People were judged by different criteria. From my earliest days, I was well aware of the judgemental nature of small town Saskatchewan.   I was French Catholic and to make matters worse, my family lived on the lower end of the economic scale of things.

My First Communion Day

I grew up knowing that I was not good enough.   From my earliest days, I did not understand why.   I was kind – certainly kinder than those who dismissed me or taunted me for being ‘not good enough’.  I was honest.   I was as smart as any child in our school.  I was always close to, or top of, my class academically.   I was as attractive as any of the other children in my school (at least in my mind).    I was physically challenged (I still am) – but who cares?  It was not like my goals in life ever revolved around how far I could throw a ball, how fast I could run or how high I could jump.   I did not understand why, but I was made very much aware that I was ‘not good enough’.

When I grew up I was often reminded that I was ‘not good enough’.  I married into an Anglo-Saxon family who felt they were very much ‘better’ than anyone and certainly better than my family and I. I was constantly reminded that I was not good enough for them. My mother-in-law felt badly for the way they ‘had’ to treat me but she did once tell me that I would understand one day when my sons grew up and married cheap tramps. (Jokes on herI have two daughters in law and both are amazing women – each in their own way!).

While there have been many good, kind people in my life, there has always been enough ignorant and judgemental neighbours, co-workers, employers, etc. around to remind me that I was ‘not good enough’. I do not know why I ever let them bother me, but I did.

It has taken me to retirement to realize I truly am done with people and their games and attitudes. I am happy living my little life of secluded retirement. I do not care who I am good enough for. I do not care about trying to be ‘better’ to meet their criteria for ‘good enough’.

I am good enough for my husband, my dog, and most of my family (depends on the day🙄). I am good enough for my current neighbours. I am good enough to enjoy the sun, clouds, rain, trees, flowers and rocks. I am good enough to enjoy the life that I am living. I am good enough to face myself in any mirror and know that I am a good person. I continue to learn and change as life goes on but I am now and I always will be, good enough for me!

For the Love of Trees

There are at least a dozen moments a day when I realize I am so absolutely happy to be retired. My favorite moment is when I walk out the door – any day, any time to enjoy my walk around our neighbourhood with Kat.

My favourite thing about our neighbourhood is the proliferation of trees. Trees do so much to dress up a neighbourhood and make it appear strong and healthy. I never get tired of the trees.

Trees forming an arch over our street🤗
Trees shading the basketball courts and the pool.
A little path between one of the ball diamonds and a row of trees. I can actually walk through there without knocking myself out on a tree branch.
Dan prefers this path – it is a bit roomier.
The city cut down dozens of trees in our little golf course last summer. I have no idea why these two were saved but they do stand out.
One little blackbird sitting in a tree.
A random group of trees we pass.

I have no idea how many trees we have in Regina – definitely thousands (several thousands). When settlers first came here there were zero trees – just flat land with a creek (Wascana Creek) sitting beside a pile of bones. (Which is why Regina was originally named ‘Pile of Bones’). I am not sure why the settlers thought this would be a good place to settle, much less be the capital city of Saskatchewan, but I am grateful that they were industrious enough to start planting the trees we enjoy today.

Back to work

I have received notice that I am scheduled to return to work on June 8th. Since I am retiring on July 24th, I could easily refuse. There is no benefit for me to return, other than a few weeks pay, which we could survive without. There are several reasons not to return – most, but not all, health related. The dust, the air conditioning and the stress in my office all aggravate my asthma and that is something I do not need, on top of my other respiratory issues right now, particularly considering the current Corona virus situation.

Be that as it may, I have agreed to return to work until my official retirement date. I have been with this company for almost sixteen years. I have a lot of time and effort invested in it. I have built up a number of client and supplier relationships that I do not wish to see the company lose. As much as I know things will ultimately be done differently when I retire, I want to make sure someone is ready to take over where I leave off.

In the meantime I have two weeks left to enjoy my pre-retirement break. Today I am cleaning our patio set and getting it ready for resting and relaxing once I do retire for real!

Getting My Retirement Back On Track

The closer retirement gets, the more it looks like an unavoidable train wreck.

In July 2019, I decided that I would retire on my 65th birthday (July 2020). This was not a rash decision. I gave it a lot of thought and took a number of factors into account.

1. I wanted the opportunity to spend more time with my husband. With his 24/7 shift work and my 9 to 5 Monday to Friday, our together time was limited.

2. I wanted the opportunity to spend more time with my sons and daughter and my grandchildren.

3. Although I have always seemed more youthful than I actually am, and felt I could easily work for a few more years, I decided I wanted to retire when I was still felt young enough and strong enough that I would have the energy to pursue new interests.

4. There were situations within the construction industry and the construction company that I worked for that made my job stressful and frustrating. I did not want retirement to be about getting away from what I was doing but I was ready to leave it behind.

5. And, last but not least, I wanted the opportunity to start enjoying the retirement life that my older siblings were already living. 🧘🧚🏄👩‍👧‍👦💃

I discussed my decision with my husband, my children, my boss and my siblings. Everyone was on board and encouraged me to do what I felt was right. I threw myself into preparing for retirement🥳

That was then, this is my now:

1) In recent weeks my husband seems to be less enthusiastic about my impending retirement. He has to work for another four years to get his full pension and he seems to resent that I will not be slogging it out with him. I get it. I really do. But I know this will be better for both of us. We will have more time to spend together. I will be able to carry more of the household workload. We will both be able to live around his schedule. I want to do this, but I do not want to go into this feeling guilty and resented.

2) I will no doubt have the opportunity to spend more time with my sons and their families. That will be nice. In August, my daughter kicked me to the curb and banned me from seeing her children. To say that I am devastated from the loss is a total understatement.

3) I am definitely not feeling youthful. I have been sick since October and I am exhausted. I look old and I feel old. 👵 Retirement, as I see it now, is the opportunity to nap – a lot.

4) Even though I was definitely ready to leave my job, I wanted to go out feeling really good about the job I did and the contribution I had made to the company I worked for.  Things get worse every day.  I do not care how I get out. I just want to get out.   That is not how I wanted to begin my retirement.  I did not want it to be about getting away from where I am.  I wanted to be excited about where I am going. 

5) Finally, my siblings and the retirements they were enjoying.  I have a sister two years older than me.  We practically grew up as twins.  We have been best friends before bff’s were even a thing.  She had a kidney transplant last March.  She still, and will always, takes a handful of pills every day.  The side effects are brutal.  She was always the bright one, the quick one, the happy one. Now her life is so hard. My oldest sister has always been large and in charge. Not do much large physically, but definitely in charge. She has always been a hoot. She has been dealing with recurring cancer for years. She has been keeping it at bay and living a good life. She has been sick since before Christmas. She has been exhausted and losing weight, confused and weak. Last week she was diagnosed with aggressive, advanced Alzheimer’s. We are all heart-broken for her, for her family and for us.

I am less than six months from retirement. I should be more excited and relieved and happy everyday that it gets closer. I should be, I want to be, but to be honest I am struggling. I definitely do not want to stay in the workforce but these days I do not know if retirement is going to be any better. 🚂

Renovations Part 2

With my husband on a mission to clean and organize our garage, I am once again feeling the renovation bug. Living in a normal house, this wouldn’t be a huge deal. We don’t live in a ‘normal’ house. We live in the house my husband’s family lived in before he was born sixty years ago. Renovations in an older home are a big deal – a huge deal.

When I met my (second) husband, I was renting a duplex for my three teenagers and myself. After my sons graduated from school and moved out, Dan decided we should move into his house. Dan, my daughter and I, living in his house. The first couple of years we worked on the interior of the house to make it a bit homier – a bit of paint here, new sink taps there, some new flooring. We did things in manageable projects and worked as a team.

With the interior of the house coming together, we felt it was time to start working on the exterior. Nothing heroic, a little fresh paint on the window frames. This was when Dan decided to educate me on the real challenges of renovating an older home.

Apparently, one could not just paint the exterior window frames. First they had to be scraped and sanded. These were not normal windows. These were windows made up of a number of small, framed panels. I started with the living room window. Having broken several of those miserable little panels, we decided it would be easier to just replace the entire mess with a new picture window. Dan scraped and sanded the rest of the windows, saving me the aggravation of fighting with them and us the cost of replacing any more of them.  Now they were ready to paint – or so I thought.

Dan decided that before we painted the window frames, we should paint the house. That made sense, as painting the house later would risk getting paint spills on the freshly painted windows.  Now it was time to call in my son Mark, to help me tear all the eaves troughs off the house, as one does not paint an old house without replacing the eaves troughs.

I don’t remember why we had to cut down the twenty foot tree in the back yard, but it had to go. The stump is still there. Every summer it becomes host to a huge patch of mushrooms which we dig out only to have them magically re-appear. However, with the tree gone, we were ready to paint the house – as soon as Dan repaired a few cracks in the stucco and brushed any dried paint flakes off it.

Fortunately, by the time we had the house prepared and painted, the window frames painted and the new eave troughs installed, winter was well on it’s way. The new roof, garage and garden shed had to wait for another round of ambition that hit us a few years later.

There are a few projects we would still like to tackle. It would be nice to finally have that home gym in the garage. Would it really be worth it? That is questionable, but we will see how we are feeling after Dan finishes his cleaning and organizing.

Travel and Grandchildren

Genie At The Wheel

Two of the greatest pleasures of retirement are the freedom to travel and the time to spend with grandchildren. This summer, we were fortunate enough to combine the two. We packed ourselves and our teenage granddaughter into our new Jeep and set off on a trip to see my sister and her husband, and my son and his family, who live en route. Genie would travel with us as far as my son’s and spend some time with her cousins while we went on to our ultimate destination. We would pick her up on our return trip.

Since Genie had recently gotten her learner’s licence, Grandpa thought this could be a good opportunity for her to gain some on road experience. I had some reservations. We briefly discussed the matter but with Genie already buckled in behind the wheel and Grandpa firmly wrapped around her little finger, there was no turning back.

Saskatchewan does not have the most challenging roads on the planet. Genie was easily able to pull onto the highway, get up to speed and engage the cruise control. It soon became obvious that she has her mother’s confidence behind the wheel and the natural ability to keep it between the navigational lines. By the time she had a few miles under her belt and proven she could competently pass the slower vehicles on the road, we were all starting to relax. The time and miles passed.

Soon we were pulling into Saskatoon. There are two major cities in Saskatchewan, both with a population of about two hundred thousand people. We live in Regina and Saskatoon is the other. Genie had taken driver’s training in Regina. She had driven around the city with her driver trainer and on a number of occasions with her father. Since she had done so well on the highway, we were not worried about her driving through Saskatoon. We should have been. The first stretch was uneventful enough, Genie did fine inspite of the somewhat heavy traffic and the volume of vehicles merging into our lane. We were still at highway speed as we were taking the city bypass. Then, we took our exit and entered the actual maze of city streets. The speed limit dropped to fifty kilometers per hour. Genie did not. She was on a mission to get out of the city. She blew past our exit, so Grandpa had to guide her back through the traffic. He was doing a great job of keeping calm. Even when she inadvertently turned into a Costco parking lot, still going well over the fifty kilometer speed limit, Grandpa kept calm. Fortunately, all was well and she safely brought the Jeep to a stop. Once Genie and Grandpa had a chance to regroup and make a new plan, we were back on the road. Genie had the speed under control, she exited the parking lot, followed Grandpa’s instructions to turn left and drove straight ahead – oblivious to the red light in front of us. Grandpa convinced her to stop before she made it into the roadway. He was no longer quite as calm. I was on my last nerve but we reached our exit and soon we were out of Saskatoon.

An hour of open highway to North Battleford and we were ready to stop for lunch. We had the better part of an hour to relax and enjoy each other’s company before heading out. When we did, we came to a consensus that it was time for Grandpa to take the wheel – with Genie at his side, acting as chief navigator. Normally this would not have been an issue. Unfortunately our normal route out of town was under construction so we had to follow a somewhat confusing detour. After circling the construction site two or three times Genie successfully navigated Grandpa out to the highway.

The rest of the trip was enjoyable and uneventful as far as driving went. On our trip back it was obvious that Genie was too tired out from her visit with her cousins to drive so Grandpa drove the distance. We look forward to more opportunities to travel and spend time with all nine of our grandchildren once we are fully retired. Are we likely to put them all behind the wheel on our travels? That remains to be seen. However, this was certainly a special trip and one that we will always remember.

Aging Gracefully

A few years ago, when I turned fifty-nine, I created a vision board for myself. I had a passport (check), new SUV (check), pictures of a happy and growing hoard of grandchildren (check), an exercise routine (semi check) and a picture of a svelte woman – stylish white hair, perfect nails, perfect petite eyebrows, perfect tailored outfit and an overall look of confident and mature elegance. My husband asked who the woman was and I declared, “that is the future me”. He seemed skeptical but I had a plan to pull it all together.

My first step was to get my eyebrows under control. I went to a spa, explained to the cosmetologist that I wanted my eyebrows waxed and most importantly, that I am seriously allergic to tea tree oil. Four hours later, I came out of the emergency room with a bottle of antihistamines, a bottle of steroids, steroid cream and a couple of extra asthma inhalers for good measure. When the swelling went down and my eyebrows grew back, my daughter-in-law suggested I get my eyebrows threaded. That went well until my ‘threader’ finished my eyebrows and wiped my entire face with tea tree oil. Needless to say, the eyebrows are staying.

Next, I decided to focus on the svelte body. I exercised faithfully, invested in gym equipment and followed a great diet plan. I had two results. I lost ten of the forty pounds I needed to lose and I shrank down an inch and a half. I did, and still do, have the overall classic body structure of a Cabbage Patch kid.

With little graceful aging happening on the body end of things, I decided to work on my hair. It should be white, it would be white, had I not gotten into a serious relationship with Miss Clairol long ago. I warned my husband, who once again seemed skeptical, but said it was my hair. I warned my boss, who looked at me and asked what I planned to do with my eyebrows. Seriously? Anyway, I went home to Google ‘how to wash decades of dye out of ones hair’, as I was reluctant to go to a salon to be exposed to strong chemicals or, heaven forbid, tea tree oil. The short answer is, you do not wash decades of dye out of your hair. I tried a number of methods that weekend. I am pretty sure, my hair got darker. I finally broke down and went for a simple haircut, which somehow made me look less mature than when I started this make-over.

I still have the nails and wardrobe to work on. I am waiting for winter for the nails. Currently, I spend too much time digging in dirt with my bare hands to maintain a manicure. I could check out a new wardrobe anytime, but every time I go near a shopping centre I end up spending my money on the cutest clothes and footwear for my grandchildren. To be honest, at my age, do I really need to be trussed up in tailored, dry clean only, outfits? I rather enjoy my long sweatshirts, leggings and sneakers.

At the end of the day, I am not the woman in the picture on my vision board and I doubt if I ever will be. I am not svelte or elegant or perfectly coiffed. That has never been me, so why now? Retirement should be a time to be active and happy and comfortable with who one is. This is me and I am comfortable, so that is what I am going with.

Autumn in Saskatchewan

Autumn is bearing down on us in Saskatchewan. The days are shorter, the air is cooler and damper, the leaves are falling, and the trees and grass are fading to greige. For those not from the construction industry, ‘GREIGE’ is a color created by some sick bastard who thought grey and beige were not dull and depressing enough on their own. He, or she as the case may be, combined the two and greige became the official color of autumn in Saskatchewan.

Anyone not from Saskatchewan, could easily believe winter would be our toughest season of the year, That is not the case, at least not for me, and I have lived here for 64 years. Winter can be harsh, with our minus fifty days, but the majority of winter is spent indoors or in vehicles and we do have coats, hats, gloves and boots to protect us from the elements when we must venture out. Icy roads may be difficult to navigate, but to be honest, the ice pretty much brings traffic to a crawl, so driving is not as treacherous as one would expect. As for the mountains of snow, yes it is more than an inconvenience, as it tends to fall or drift where it is least welcome, but at least it is not greige. So, there is that. For those who are inclined to participate in winter sports, such as hockey, curling, tobogganing or cross country skiing , winter in Saskatchewan is probably a joy. I am not one who is so inclined, but I can deal with winter.

Winter has one absolute advantage over autumn. As we struggle to keep warm and mobile throughout a Saskatchewan winter, we know there is a light at the end of the tunnel. We know spring is coming, with blue skies, green grass, and warm sunny days. In autumn, we know that the only thing at the end of the tunnel is a Saskatchewan winter.

This autumn holds a special place in my heart. This will be my last autumn before I retire. This is the last season, where it will truly matter to me if the days get shorter and the nights get longer, if the air gets cooler or if the province is covered in a shroud of greige as I travel back and forth to work with the masses. Next year, when autumn arrives, I will have the option of curling up with my dog and a hot cup of tea in my cozy little home, ready to ignore it to my heart’s content.

Home Renovations

Early retirement is a time to rework our priorities. For most people, managing with less money and more time becomes a preoccupation of sorts. There is time to do many things we enjoy, but we have less money to indulge in them. On the other hand, while we have less money, we have more time to invest in cost saving ventures.

There are many ways to save money, if you are so inclined: home cooking, gardening, vehicle maintenance, and the ever popular home renovations. Most people have at one time or another been swept away by the call of paint or wallpaper, possibly new flooring or even a major landscaping project. A stroll through Home Depot or an hour watching the Home and Garden channel makes it appear easy and satisfying. Who couldn’t create a new set of cabinets with the help of a table saw and a good router? My guess would be about ninety percent of the living population, including myself.

There are some truly questionable home renovation projects out there. Wallpapering without removing electrical plates? Painting without taping around windows, doors, ceiling fixtures, and the like? Replacing eavestrough, without adding a drain pipe? They are out there and exemplify the difference between a successfully completed project and a renovation fail.

Tools are a crucial part of any project, and there is always a right and several wrong ways to use them. Ladders are a basic for most projects, yet people tumble off of them on a regular basis. There is a three point contact rule for ladders, use it. Be sure the ladder is anchored correctly and move it as often as required. Likewise, do not grab a running drill by the bit, operate an electric saw without a safety guard or use a grinder without proper eye protection. The proper tools can help bring a successful and professional completion to any project but they must be used correctly and safely. Read the instructions and follow them – especially when using a tool that you are not familiar with.

I do not anticipate investing a lot of time, or saving a lot of money doing home renovations when I am retired. Over the years, I have learned that paint, wallpaper and caulking are not my friend. Tape is definitely not my friend. To be honest, I am not on particularly good terms with tools, either. However, for anyone so inclined, retirement can be a great to tackle those home improvement projects, to save you money and to give you that sense of accomplishment you may be missing since retiring.