Tag Archives: retirement activities

Show some appreciation

Due to a dream I had last night, I awoke thinking about a volunteer position I had many years ago at a local museum. (The museum is no longer in existence due to very poor fiscal management.) I did a one week stint as part of a teacher-in-the-workplace project. There were other places I volunteered in other summers, but this one stands out as I worked very hard, getting projects accomplished for staff members. One of the women for whom I worked thanked me at the end of the week, but that was about it.

I should have realized then that this would be a precursor to future volunteer jobs. I’ve done quite a few now, and I’ve come to the conclusion that organizations that use volunteers aren’t very good at showing their appreciation. In many cases, even though I have donated large amounts of time and talent, the organization wants me to also donate money to their cause. Often it’s in the form of a membership or raffle tickets. Sigh.

What has happened to thank-you notes? Or a luncheon for volunteers? Some small token of appreciation. The school chaplaincy provides a breakfast at each monthly meeting and a large Christmas dinner at the end of the year. This year, the chaplaincy also gave all school chaplains rolls of stickers to use with their students. We hear “thank you for all you do,” quite often, too.

So, if you are involved with an organization that uses volunteers, I hope you convince the powers who be to show appreciation to those who are giving of their time and energy. Or, that pool of volunteers might just dry up.


What you sign up for

Five straight days of busyness…this is like having a job!

Wednesday and Thursday I was at Columbia, reading to all the wonderful children who make me smile. Those days give me so much pleasure, and if I was smart, I would just be happy with them and not tag on another event at the end of the day.

Thursday evening I attended a workshop put on by the local paper about the north-south divide of our city and how the residents react to that belief of a split city. It was by invitation only. It was late in the day. It was at the church where Terry and I got married 43 years ago. I thought I could handle it. But it was at the end of the week for me. I’m not articulate and smart, even if the subject is something I’m passionate about, at 6 p.m. I gave it my best shot.

Friday I baked a bread pudding, using the trimmings from communion bread for the past two months. Then I went off to church to set up for a funeral luncheon for Saturday. Three delightful ladies joined me and made light of the work.

Saturday morning we were up at 6 to water the yards and go get our flu shots before going to church to serve the funeral luncheon. What I thought should be a 10-minute stop for the vaccination took 30 minutes instead. From 10 o’clock to 2:30 we were on our feet producing, serving, and cleaning for the luncheon. About 50 people came. They were a lovely group. When I got home I realized I still needed to do laundry. I had also brought home seven of the tablecloths from lunch but they would be done another day. I had hit the wall. Or, so I thought.

Sunday morning we were again up at 6 and at church shortly after 9. Terry had choir rehearsal; I  set up for coffee fellowship. I served the bread pudding I baked on Friday and leftover crudités from Saturday’s lunch. There was even enough makings left over for one pitcher of strawberry lemonade punch which was drank up immediately. It’s again hot here. That beautiful “SanDiego-like” weather has vanished.

Upon finishing the clean up, with Terry’s help, I realized I could go no further. It was a struggle to walk to the car. Fortunately Terry had driven so I sat, motionless, silent, for the ride home. Without undressing, I laid down on the bed and fell asleep. Five days is my limit. Heck, it’s probably over my limit. Someone asked today, someone who knew what my last few days looked like, why I was doing coffee fellowship.

“Because I signed up for it months ago. I didn’t know someone would die and it would be the same weekend as a funeral luncheon.”


When I was working full time, and only had the weekends to do my shopping and errands, I swore that upon retirement I would not shop or run errands on Saturdays, leaving the parking spaces and aisles to the working people. So far, I do pretty well keeping that promise. Today was an exception.

This past week was supposed to be an open, free week with NO PLANS. I looked at my blank calendar and smiled. I could stay home. I could go out. I could do anything I wanted. I especially wanted to work in the yard as the weather forecast was for nice temperatures. Then I got a phone message on Monday morning, early, before 10, asking about the use of the Calvin Room at our church. When I returned the call I learned that a member whom I have never met had lost her mother the previous week, and although the funeral service would not be at the church, they would like a memorial luncheon be served after the services. Yes, we could do that. And with that phone call, my previously open week filled quickly with tasks leading up to the lunch on Friday for 75 people.

Due to a change in plans, I never did any household shopping for Terry and me. Next week, starting on Monday, I have a full week of plans. One day I won’t have my car as it will be in the shop getting its 3000 mile checkup and making sure it’s ready for another hot summer on the road. I would have to renege on my pre-retirement promise and shop on Saturday.

Terry did the driving and came along to help me remember all that we needed as well as gather the items. It only took a couple of hours and we were done. We started fairly early–9:15–so the crowds weren’t too big that early. We quickly found the items we needed, checkout lines were short, every cashier super gracious. And I hope we didn’t get in anyone’s way, especially anyone who just finished a hard week of work and wanted to quickly get their shopping done and get home to do chores. Like I had been all those many years of working.

What do I do with all of my time?

The days fly by. Someone at Columbia asked me, the other day, what I did on days I didn’t come to the school. Good question. All the stuff I used to do on weekends and holidays when I was working. And yet, those activities now take days instead of hours. And I still run out of time to do everything I want to. There seems to always be a task or two left undone at the end of each day.

The new laundry equipment has been getting a workout. Of course, I’ve always given my laundry equipment a workout. I do A LOT of laundry. And yes, there is just the two of us here. I also wash some of the kitchen/communion fabrics from church. Then there are the cat beds. The new washer and dryer were delivered on Tuesday and I did five loads that day. Since then I’ve done about 10 more loads, trying out all sorts of things, like that forementioned cat bedding, and towels (which now dry in ONE load), and lingerie. I’ve been experimenting with the settings for knits.

I’m pleased with the quality of the work by the new machines. The one big disappointment is the lack of a buzzer on the washer, telling me that the load has finished. If I am standing right next to the machine, when the cycle is done, I get to hear a little tune, but it’s so faint that it cannot be heard just a few feet away and especially not in the house, on the other side of kitchen wall. The dryer has a buzzer that I can set to LOUD and it can be heard in the house when the drying cycle is complete. Wonder what the thinking was for no alert on the washer?

The forecast is for a rainstorm so powerful that Yosemite National Park has been closed down for fear of five foot walls of water coming through the Valley. It is a warm storm, called a pineapple express, so the rain will melt the snow as well as come down in buckets. It’s a quick-moving storm so should be gone by Sunday. We are getting some rain here in town, but so far nothing too drastic. There is a big bicycle race going through the city so freeways and streets have been closed for it, but it has not been cancelled due to the weather.

The one thing I have not gotten around to doing, and what is in dire need, is cleaning the patio after its long winter hiatus. The dirt and cobwebs have built up and need to be scrubbed off of floors, walls, and furniture. I did wash all of the fabrics (more trial and error with the laundry machines) and I swept the leaves away, but that is minimal to what really needs to be done. Our neighbor will be coming to feed the cats while we are away for a few days, and she will be aghast at how dirty I’ve left the patio. Like the lady at Columbia who asked the question, what do you do when you’re not at school, the neighbor may think the same thing!

Just because the week ends, doesn’t mean the work stops

As I wrote on my Facebook page, and also shared in a text to a friend when I had to cancel a meeting for coffee and catch-up, this has been the week when my plate was full and my cup overfloweth. I am never bored, and sometimes I think I take on more than a little old retired school teacher should attempt. But, the tasks keep coming, the challenges make their way to my door, I keep coming across needy souls. I cannot look the other way.

Unfortunately, one setback was a health glitch that had me frightened for a few hours and one that Terry insisted be checked out at emergi-care. The doctor was upbeat and positive and reassured me that this glitch appeared to be minor and I could go on with my life. Whew. I told him I was too busy to be waylaid with a health problem. “Aren’t we all,” was his response. The rest of the week was fine, but very busy. That’s why I cancelled that coffee date.

Today I will grocery shop before driving across town for Ladies Who Lunch. Funny thing, I drove the same route on Monday to deliver leftover Halloween candy to Blue Star moms to pack in boxes for the troops that would be sent out this past week. It’s a long trek to the other side of the city, and really to a whole ‘other world from where I usually hang out.

After lunch, when I would like to just sit on the couch and recall my day and week, I will fix a dinner to take next door to my neighbor who broke her hip last Sunday while playing ball with her grandson. I made beerocks, bean soup, and enchiladas earlier in the week, but the family ate everything I made in one day.

I’m also in the midst of planning a funeral lunch for one of our church members whose family has decided the Saturday after Thanksgiving is the best time for the family to gather for the memorial service and lunch. Most of the people who work on these luncheons will be out of town or spending time with their own family. I’ve made an executive decision that the meal will be catered. Easiest thing I did all week.

Somewhere in there I will do laundry and some housecleaning. It has finally rained and the yards need work, but that might just wait until another time. I am very thankful, at this season, that I am not working any kind of job that would require my presence every day.

Sunshine, beautiful sunshine

Friday’s weather was delightful. No wind. Lots of sun. I went to lunch with The Ladies Who Lunch and Terry worked in the front yard.

There were eight of us at lunch yesterday. Biggest group ever. Our one friend who had back surgery in December was able to rejoin us. She brought her x-rays and showed how the surgeon had literally screwed her back into place. Rods, pins, and screws now hold her upright. She even gained a few inches in height and has lost 30 pounds since she can now move. We were all thrilled to see her back in operation. She loves to drive and the doctors have released her to do so. No stopping her now.

Another retired co-worker joined the group, for the first time. Nelva was the attendance secretary at the large inner-city high school where we all worked. She has been retired the longest of all of us, since 2001. She would be one of the first people I would see each morning when I went to the front office to get our mail. She now attends church with one of the other Ladies Who Lunch so she asked if Nelva would like to join us. She was delighted. Because we were such a large group yesterday, and we met at a very noisy cafe, I wasn’t able to talk much to Nelva, but did learn that she is the aunt to another friend of mine. She had noticed that we were friends on Facebook. Isn’t Facebook just the most amazing device for connecting people? I love it.

Because the cafe was so noisy, and we had met early, some of the ladies decided we should move on to a quieter coffee shop to continue our monthly gabfest as the afternoon was still young. My throat was tired, and I had leftovers to take home, so I declined and headed home. Besides, I also had five loads of laundry waiting there for me.

The sun is so bright this morning, I had to draw the living room drapes to see my computer screen. Not complaining, though. Even with the drapes closed, the room is light and bright. Sure makes me feel better. I’m planning to work in the backyard today. With all the rain, everything has grown like crazy and needs lots of pruning. I told Terry I’m not in any hurry to get out there, though. I don’t have my usual get-up-and-go. He said, “it’s more like sit-and-stay, huh?”  Yep, it sure is.

Because it’s a holiday

It poured rain all night. I could hear it lashing against the bedroom window. This storm is a bit colder than the previous ones. Maybe we’ll get more snow, less run-off. It’s the run-off that causes the flooding in our local foothill communities.  However, the large amounts of water cause problems on the flat valley floor, too. Not only flooding, but causing trees to come down. The ground is soaked beyond capacity. We have now had over the normal amount of rainfall for an entire year. More rain is in the forecast.

It was raining at 5:15 when I first awoke. I could have gotten up had there been any need, but it’s a holiday, it’s raining, I’ve been up early and busy the last few days, so snuggling back under the covers and falling back to sleep seemed the best thing to do. We finally got up at 7:30 and I’ve started doing laundry. Laundry never takes a holiday.

I’ve not been to Columbia on a Tuesday, to check in with the older students, for two weeks. The cafeteria manager informed me they have been asking for me. My bag is packed with pencils, stickers, and books to hand out to various classes and kids tomorrow. I will eat lunch with the third graders who beg me every week to eat with them, but I have to leave to read to the first graders, my primary responsibility as school chaplain.

I’ve cleared my calendar for the next two weeks to be at Columbia on Tuesdays. Not only for the older kids, but because I have become friends with the librarian and she informs me that she hosts a parent coffee time each Tuesday morning and would like me to come. I would like that, too.  There will be no sleeping late on those mornings, though, as her meet and greet starts at 8:30. It’s a good thing I’m retired.


I must make an addendum: Terry tells me this storm is very warm, a pineapple express storm blowing in from the Hawaiian islands. Then why do I feel cold?