Friday, June 30, 2006

A quiet read in the winter sun

Warmth coming in through the north facing windows, catching the sun's rays as it sits low in the sky, warming my feet and legs as I sit and read, until I've finished the book, not needing to wait until evening when I'm tired. A pot of tea on the table (bush tea, reminding me of the wonderful No. 1 Ladies Detective Agency series), time to drink a pot of tea if I want to.

What was I reading? That's almost beside the point today, but just for the record, Alex Miller's Prochownik's Dream, about an artist trying to identify himself in his art and in terms of his relationships with family and personal and professional friends.

First week - flew by!

I know it's too soon to start comparing perception of the passage of time pre- and post-retirement, but I can say that this week flew by just as quickly as all the weeks seemed to during my working life. I have been busy, and can see that I'll still have need of a diary, although from next year I won't be buying a large one, two pages to a week, with a space for each half hour of the day. No, those days are definitely behind me.

New days ahead though. This morning I went to my first Friday morning aerobics class since I was on holiday in February. I've got my aerobics week all worked out which will allow me to do the four classes I want to do, rather than the ones that I can fit around a work schedule. That also means that I don't have to do ones just because I'm free then. There are some classes where I get so annoyed because the instructor forgets the sequence she's been teaching us. I mean, c'mon! Last time I went to that class and that happened, another student and I simultaneously yelled out the step - heh heh, felt good!

Thursday, June 29, 2006

Pizza-phined again!

How DOES this girl manage to get through a medium sized pizza so quickly? I think she was regretting not having ordered the large size. The photo below shows how her empty plate was already taken away while Ange and I were valiently trying to finish our pizzas. Meanwhile Phine was planning dessert. But I think I know her technique: head down, utensils firmly held and working at frantic speed, and a really serious expression on her face. This is about the only time I have known her to be serious and, what is really unusual, NOT TALKING.

Tuesday, June 27, 2006

Coptic binding

Today I attended a workshop on how to make a book using coptic binding, an ancient Egyptian art. This book took a number of hours to make, but the time and effort were well worth it.

Monday, June 26, 2006

Weekend in Castlemaine

After picking up the MWC at the airport we drove up to Castlemaine. Settled into our upstairs room in the heritage listed Campbell Street Motor Lodge (built in 1886). It's a family run place, welcoming and comfy, one that I'd feel perfectly at ease to stay in by myself. And I may do that too this winter - take the train up, wouldn't need a car, everything of importance within walking distance: restaurants and cafes, the Restorers Barn for browsing an odd collection of secondhand stuff, a number of art galleries, and of course the library. Yes, I will do that!
A bit of indulgence: reading in bed in the morning.

On Saturday evening we ate at Edda's, a small restaurant in what was once a mortuary, built in the art deco style. Yesterday we did a two hour walk on Mt. Alexander, found the track that we had missed the last time we walked on the mountain, worked up an appetite and later had dinner at Saff's, which is also the place to go for coffee and VERY GENEROUS portions of cake. Spent an hour in the library this morning before leaving town. On the way home we made sure we were passing Malmsbury at lunchtime so we could have one of the superb steak and kidney pies you can get at the bakery there. Today the pastry was exceptionally good, you could taste the butter, and it was still flaky. Is food important to us? Oh yes. A nearly 35 year marriage has been built and nurtured on food.

Oh, and today was the first weekday of my retirement!

There's the marker we missed last time when hiking on Mt. Alexander.

End of the walk, the car is just around the bend.

Saturday, June 24, 2006

The aftermath

My last desk shift, closing up the library yesterday at 6 p.m., done that how many times before? Yesterday of course there HAD to be a hiccup. The main doors couldn't be secured due to some repair work being done but not completed. Meanwhile I had all this stuff to carry out to the car. Fortunately Phine and Jenny were there to help, but it was a half hour before we could finally make our way out to the car park. This was to be the much anticipated last "walk and talk" Phine and I have enjoyed over the years, and it was overshadowed by the Famous Door Disaster of 2006. Rather an anti climax. And then there was another loss at the footy...

However, not one to dwell on the negatives, today is another day, the first day of my retirement! I'll be picking up The Man Who Cooks at the airport, and then driving up to Castlemaine for the weekend. Coming back on Monday, don't have to go to work! I insisted on staying at the comfy and reliable Campbell Street Motor Lodge in Castlemaine rather than on our bush block - it's too damn cold!

A glorious bouquet, and me wearing the Iron Chef apron that arrived just in time for my last day. The gifts and celebrations just kept on coming! In addition to some well chosen wines, I also received a very generous gift certificate for the exquisite paper shop Zetta Florence, which will be very handy for my bookbinding and photo album projects. Thanks, everyone!

Friday, June 23, 2006

Thursday, June 22, 2006

Farewell lunch

It was such a fun and happy occasion. Colleagues had put in a lot of thought to what I would like. Much evidence of the Carlton Football Club, giraffes, trams and trains. Wine, food (even pumpkin pie!), and a powerpoint slideshow to summarise my working life in the library. Found out they've been getting ideas from this blog. For that, they get to be in my blog, here are just a few of the photos. Even Denis Pagan was there to wish me well.

Wednesday, June 21, 2006

My last Wednesday off!

What has kept me sane over the last few years is the fact that I worked a 4-day week, having every Wednesday off. I've always thought about it as a mini weekend in the middle of the week, and normally wouldn't have to work more than 2 days in a row. In my bad old days though I'd often use the Wednesday to catch up with work, or use the peace and quiet of my home study (a marked contrast to my workplace) to do some creative planning, to present library skills classes in new and different ways. Later I came to my senses, and realised that I needed that day for myself, to recuperate so I could go back to work with renewed energy. I gradually was able to get through whole Wednesdays without giving too much thought to work. From next week however I will have 6 Wednesdays and a Sunday in my week.

Here are some photos of my workstation, NOT A WINDOW IN SIGHT. On the back of my chair is my "emergency cardigan" for when the temperature would be just too low for comfort. I was the only one to put in a table with tablecloth and lamp, and a rug. Sometimes I'd take time to catch my breath and look around, and to add a bit of warmth to the place I'd turn on the lamp. It was always so cheerful. The last two photos were taken after I started the clean up process, removing things from the walls.

Sunday, June 18, 2006

Life in Retirement (thanks again, Jude!)

Jude has been following my blog, particularly what I've been writing on retirement. Today she published a lovely post for me, and I like it so much that I want to encourage you all to read it too - just follow the link above.

It will be very interesting to compare my experiences as they unfold with that of others. And you know what? That is really made easier by blogging, as we can connect so quickly with people in similar situations. Blogging will definitely continue to figure large in my retirement activities.

I love this clock that one of Jude's children gave her. It says "Who cares, I'm retired" Excellent attitude towards time. Click on it to see more detail.

Saturday, June 17, 2006

Last minute doubts? No way!

Over the past few months I've wondered whether I'd wake up some nights in a cold sweat, remembering my decision to retire, thinking "What have I done?" On the contrary, almost every day brings me new confirmation that I am ready for this change, and that my timing is excellent. Apart from a desire to get onto other things and in my own timeframe (and don't I LOVE the first Q.&A. in my previous post: The retiree's week? 6 Saturdays and 1 Sunday), I am feeling more keenly being cooped up in a small workspace, where due to an open floorplan with high sided dividing panels I am simultaneously cut off from colleagues yet still do not have a quiet space. And then there's the issue of no access to windows - as I sit here in my study at home, looking out onto the garden, being able to see the sky, I will really appreciate being able to do that, day after day, and going outside into the day, into the garden.

And the public workspace is getting noisier : mobile phones, laptops booting up with the sound on, large groups of students speaking loudly (yes, I am talking about a library). Mooted changes to that workspace in the coming months do not bode well for improvement, and reinforce my choice of retirement date as well-timed. I'm outta here! (well, in a week's time anyway).

I know there will be adjustments to lifestyle to be made, but that will be dealt with just as motherhood was dealt with, and still dealing with. That doesn't stop, does it! I've appreciated the comments and emails I've received from people on the topic of retirement. Thanks! I am looking forward to sharing this stage of my life with not only people I see, but also with what I call my blogger buddies. Some of you have embarked on retirement already, and it's good to exchange experiences.

Thursday, June 15, 2006

Q. and A. for Retirees (Thanks, Jude!)

Jude left this in a comment but I thought it was too good to hide away.

Q. and A. for Retirees:

Question: How many days in a week?
Answer: 6 Saturdays, 1 Sunday

Question: When is a retiree's bedtime?
Answer: Three hours after s/he falls asleep on the couch.

Question: How many retirees to change a light bulb?
Answer: Only one, but it might take all day.

Question: What's the biggest gripe of retirees?
Answer: There is not enough time to get everything done.

Question: Why don't retirees mind being called Seniors?
Answer: The term comes with a 10% percent discount.

Question: Among retirees what is considered formal attire?
Answer: Tied shoes.

Question: Why do retirees count pennies?
Answer: They are the only ones who have the time.

Question: What is the common term for someone who enjoys work and refuses to retire?
Answer: NUTS!

Question: Why are retirees so slow to clean out the basement, attic or garage?
Answer: They know that as soon as they do, one of their adult kids will want to store stuff there.

Question: What do retirees call a long lunch?
Answer: Normal.

Question: What is the best way to describe retirement?
Answers: The Never-ending Coffee Break.

Question: What's the biggest advantage of going back to school as a retiree?
Answer: If you cut classes, no one calls your parents.

Saturday, June 10, 2006

Missing in action

One whole week since I've posted, where has the time gone? And will it go this fast when I retire?

As I approach the big day (see my little train chugging towards its destination), I am asked by all and sundry what I'll be doing. I have a growing list of things I want to do in addition to gawking from trains and trams, and think I will have to keep track of them in a book, a handmade book of course! In fact, making my own books is high on my list, having done that weekend course in oriental bookbinding in April and now wanting to get stuck into it. Some of my time has been spent constructing books for Mom for Mother's Day, a book of recipes for friends who invited us to dinner and for a friend for her birthday, plus practising the various construction techniques. But I've had to sandwich that around my work days. It will be so much better to have a whole day to cover the kitchen bench with papers and tools and spend as much time as I like on this new hobby of mine.

My first week of retirement is actually rather activity-filled: we'll be coming back from the country on the Monday, for the Tuesday I've registered for a one day workshop on coptic binding (the photo at left is an example I found on the web), Wednesday we'll be going to the ballet, and Thursday I'll be having pizza with the Popes, Phine and her sister Ange that is. My aerobics schedule is already mapped out: 9.15 aerobics classes four mornings a week. Looks like I'll still have to keep some sort of diary going!

Of course, there will be time to be at leisure (am I being too optimistic?), and I will be able to sit and read a book in the middle of the day when I feel like it. Had a good dose of that on Wednesday, my day off: sat in an easy chair bathed in brilliant winter sun coming in the north facing window overlooking the garden. Read and read and read. Had the house to myself. It was quiet. I was in heaven.

Saturday, June 03, 2006

Public transport for spills and thrills

Just as I announce what I thought was a unique way to enjoy some of my leisure time in retirement, in today 's edition of The Age newspaper Kate Holden writes about her adventures and misadventures on London buses (sounds frightening). But she also talks about doing serendipity bus trips in South East Asia:

A friend and I used to play "adventuring" on Saturday afternoons when we lived in South-East Asia. Take a couple of coins for buying tickets, hurl yourself on the next bus that comes along, then the next, and see how far you can get in an afternoon. No distracting fixation on destination, no worries about getting home (taxis were cheap).

All around town we would scoot in a kind of peaceful trance, watching the city through dusty windows. Past financial centres, dusty street markets, suburban housing estates, historic monuments, over bridges and down back lanes. Sometimes dull and sometimes enthralling, these erratic peregrinations took us to places no tourist would ever see.

It seems that attaining the sublime confidence of the regular passenger is a matter of either strict planning, grim experience, or simply going along for the ride. It doesn't do to be too fixated on destination. Public transport is, like love and life, about not only anticipation, but surprise.

Ah, someone after my own heart. Read the whole article here (but I'm not sure how long they'll allow free access).

And just to finish off what has become a transport theme this week, there is currently the Public Transport Challenge being staged in Melbourne. It is an orienteering event for teams of high school students using trains, trams and buses to reach destinations quickly and efficiently, and gathering points which will determine the winning team. Sounds like fun!

Thursday, June 01, 2006

How life revolves and...

...sometimes completes a circle.

This week my colleague is sorting through books donated by a lecturer whom I've known through a library position I held 30 years ago, my first library job. As many of the books are in German, I've been helping out with translating the titles. (Have I mentioned that before becoming a librarian I used to be a German teacher?) I come across a book that had been weeded from that library's collection and then donated to the lecturer as it matched his teaching and research interests. There is the "withdrawn" stamp, which I would have stamped in that book, and when I turn to the back, there is the accession number 76-685, oh so neatly written in my hand, 30 years ago.