Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Retiring is re-directing.

Here I am, cooking at my son's house, and from the look of it, it will be pasta primavera, a dish that will fit in with my son's diet, and still feed the rest of the family, and something he can learn to whip up and make for himself as often as he wants. The dish is designed to be stored, eaten cold as a salad, or reheated, a true blessing when your schedule is tight.

As a working mom, I had no time to truly indulge in anything I enjoyed. My schedule was tight, and cooking was always the last thing I wanted to tackle at the end of the day. Now, in retirement, I look forward to trying new recipes, savoring the process as much as the end results.

I can now be the woman I wanted to be, contributing to society,spend a couple of weeks testing recipes that are easy to assemble and fit whatever dietary needs come our way.  If I had small grandchildren, I could easily spend a good portion of my time babysitting, cleaning and educating the little ones, with a lot more understanding and patience than I had when I was a mom myself.

Grandparents' primary role is to support the next generation; in a variety of ways and with whatever means available. Families who have grandparents around are stronger and happier than those who don't.  Why, the entire human evolution depended on the elderly providing support to the breadwinners, at a time when all their energy went to bring food to the household.

If we think of retirement as a time to indulge our fantasies, we'll never be satisfied. 

First, few have resources at this stage to indulge all their fantasies, and very soon, as money dwindles we'll have nothing new to do. But most have time and intellect and knowledge and wisdom to help families, neighbors, schools, hospitals...Becoming a volunteer will direct your energy into new areas; a volunteer is exposed to new people, new routines, new challenges.

As you plan for retirement, after figuring out what your needs are and how you will pay for them, figure out how you want to be useful; how you want to pursue that hobby or activity that you never had time for; how you want to belong in the new community you will relocate in; how you want your family to thrive with you around, or you long distance; how you want to contribute to the bigger good.

You really have to look at your next stage as carefully as you looked at all your life goals. This is the last chance you get to truly getting these goals identified correctly.

Friday, June 21, 2013

Everyone knows a fisherman.

Meet Carrie Courtney, a young researcher with POORT
right here in Port Orford. This organization's mission is to protect ocean resources through education and sustainable practices among all interested parties. Her project is to meet with everyone in town and ask them if they wouldn't mind posing with the sign that best describes them.

I chose the sign that said My Friend is a Port Orford Fisherman.

Read about the projects they are sponsoring, and then promote their work, even if you don't live by the sea, or have never known a fisherman.  The ocean nourishes us in so many ways, and this organization makes it their mission to spread the message.

Friday, June 14, 2013

My day.

What do retirees do all day?
I'll tell you about my morning so far. It is 9:30 am here on the West Coast of the USA, sunny and about 60F. I've been up for hours.

Three a.m or first light: Cat calls to go out.
Fifteen minutes later-cat continues to call. Irritated and sleepy, I keep one eye closed as I walk to the next room to open a window for her to crawl out of.
Four or so-cat is back in and plops down next to my pillow, trying to lick my hand. I tap the bed to indicate that she needs to lie down and do as I do, sleep. She does!!! And I take a few extra winks.

Five-cat is up again and meows to have her bowl and litter box freshened up.
Five-fifteen-I'm up, to the bathroom, void, take my pills, brush my teeth, drag myself to the kitchen and after I tend to cat's food dish and litter bowl, I make coffee.
Back in bed with trays of food and hot coffee, I set my three pillows up to watch the dawn wake birds and  seagulls  on the dunes. I can sit up like this and enjoy a cup of coffee and an egg on toast for as long as I want. Sometimes I see people walking the beach while it's barely light out there. Often, I see fishing boats returning to port, or lulling around pulling up crab traps.

Seven- Computer time; check emails; check Facebook; check blogs.

Eight- Hubby begins to stir back in the bedroom, and  I join him with a fresh cup of coffee. He too sits up to eat, and we chat about everything the world must do to get its act together. This morning, we discussed how our bacteria changed our evolution, a full half hour of evolutionary biology lecture free to those near enough to hear and appreciate all that jazz. My contribution? Why didn't that happen to other species? I got another lecture that was interrupted by another cat need. I know, she saves me at the right time!

Nine-Gardening or house chores until I'm too tired and worn out to stand and return to my computer as  Hubby goes through his routines and ends up at his computer in the same room.

Nine-thirty: Serious writing time for me and for my husband until lunch time, unless we have scheduled doctors' visits or  runs to pharmacy,drug stores, groceries. Since these are all out of town, we anticipate that lunch will be eaten out and that our morning or afternoon walks can be accommodated one way or another in this time frame. We park as far away as possible, and walk to the stores. We walk the beaches, the river, the parks available around our errands. We try to challenge ourselves this way and maintain our physical abilities. If we leave town, we may not return until late afternoon or early evening. This happens more often that we try to admit. Most of our doctors are specialists, three hours away, for which occasion we need to make arrangements to stay overnight, and to have someone care for the cat and the house.

Noon-two- Lunch is usually our big meal, and it consists of a salad, cooked veggies and a protein. After lunch, television is turned on and we watch old movies or series we have recorded and nap to our hearts' content.

Two-five-Volunteer activities. We may have to switch our appointment times sometimes, but having a place to be in the afternoons adds interest and challenges to our schedules. I run the Arts Council, teach a couple of writing workshops, sit on the School Board, perform at an open mike cafe once a week, and meet with writing and reading groups regularly. I had not done any of these activities before I retired.

Five- Dinner and news.Dinner is a soup, or salad, a half a sandwich and fruit. Many times, I cook extra food for lunch. If a neighbor has no plans for dinner, they join us. I love to have impromptu get together.

Six-nine- Television, necessary chores, more computer time.

Nine- Bed time.

Sunday, June 9, 2013

Public Servants

Port Orford/Langlois 2cj school board, and superintendent, 2009.

Four of the seven members are still on the board this coming term. With each member, we gain new insights and perspectives, but we lose history and understanding of past issues.  Being a member of a school board is probably the first public elective office most people experience.

This job will open your eyes about what public servants endure as school teachers and administrators,

Some members of the board  will run for other offices and continue a political career they started at this level. Others have children in school and their interest is to see that their children get the best education possible. It will take a few years, studying many issues, before the complexity of the job and the enormity of our responsibility are understood.

Working with limited budgets, dwindling enrollment, a national agenda that has emphasized assessment rather than opportunities, a public disinterest in taxing itself to improve the common good, a public servant has an uphill battle to fight at all levels of politics.

Add to this mix the fact that for decades, at the national level, the trend to dismantle public education in favor of charter schools, or to support and encourage independent schools run by for-profit corporations with public funds and no public oversight, all of which is sold to individuals as the only way to improve public schools, all of this means trouble for public entities. We have already dropped our financial support to a point where school buildings are crumbling, buses eat up a big chunk of the budget, and local municipalities are scrambling to pass bonds to maintain basic services.

If you add health care woes and a citizenry that is getting grayer and less concerned with the needs of the youth, problems will never be addressed by the local politicians.

Who is to blame? Why the employees, and their unions, who dared to ask for raises and for a duty-free half hour lunch! Not!!!

We have forgotten that public servants have a vested interest in their jobs,  committing their own money and resources to support their classrooms, and who, when they retire will live on a meager pension that was never enhanced with bonuses, stock options, matching 401K investment funds.

Does the public understand that these folks were serving them loyally for decades, often just earning enough money to skip over the poverty line, paying off their student loans slowly, taking summer jobs to live to September, and when everyone was gloriously cashing in their bonuses and paid vacations, they lived on a meager salary that paid them only for the nine months in front of children, and not for all the preparation time that it took to collect materials and organize lessons.

Ask your local teachers how much stuff of theirs is stored in their garages. Every teacher I know has boxes and boxes of materials and lesson plans stashed away in their homes, books they bought to enhance reading, workbooks to assist with math, projects for science and history, and innumerable stashes of supplies for those days when the office runs out of everything, sometime around March.

One of my children has been teaching over twenty years, and his salary was less than what his younger brother was offered on his first job. Teachers, on the average, make less than twenty dollars an hour.

If we just remember that every one of our citizens has a vote in this country, we should be concerned about his literacy and thinking skills, his commitment to the public good, his understanding of what a community can be if everyone is equally involved and equally educated.

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

On writing memoirs.

"I had never thought about these things until I wrote them down..."

Writing your story is like standing under a big rock that had been there all along and just now, in this moment, you see all its fissures, colors, fossils embedded deep in its veins. As the water laps in and out of sight, you notice the intricate ecology all around, and you marvel at how much history reveals itself once you stand still and wait and pay attention to the minutiae.