Retirement is a week filled with Saturdays and Sundays interrupted only occasionally by a holiday.

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Wednesday, January 31, 2007

A Blogging Blues Pep Talk

So my good deed for today involves my sister and her blog. A few weeks ago, Sis decided to start her own blog after hearing how much fun I was having creating and writing my blog. Like most novice bloggers, she was pretty shy about sharing her site with others, only revealing it to a few family members who have been diligent about reading and providing feedback by using the Comments feature. So last night Sis revealed to me that she was wondering whether to continue blogging since the only people reading it were just a very few relatives. Today I was over at her house and gave her a quick Blogging 101 lesson on how to attract readers to her blog. I showed her some of the blogs I read regularly and then my librarian-trainer persona took over and I steered her toward blogs I thought she might be interested in. My sister is Supermom, working part-time, taking care of her two kids, their dog, her husband, being our 85 year old mom’s primary get the picture. I encouraged Sis to take the time to search out other moms in BlogLand who I’m sure would be interested in sharing survival tips, hints and stories with her. When I left her house, she was busy logging onto her laptop in search of the Land of Supermoms in the blogosphere. So, if you’re a mom and you’re reading this, I hope you'll take the time to stop by and say “hi” to A Tired Mama.

Tuesday, January 30, 2007

How to Torture Your Husband

OK…I am soooo mean. My birthday is next month and my husband wants so desperately to get me a gift. Now we normally don’t exchange gifts for any occasion but, he bugged me so much at Christmas, I finally gave him “permission” to find something for me for my birthday. He’s been trying to buy fine jewelry for me for some time but I’m just not a fine jewelry type of girl (what can I say). So he has decided to buy me something else for my birthday with the help of one of our friends. Now this friend has a certain expertise in a certain area of interest so I’m pretty sure I know what I’m getting. And my husband has already told me he knows I’ve figured out what I’m getting. So…why am I so mean…because I’ve told my husband that I want to be “surprised” so he’s not allowed to tell me what I’m getting (even though we both know I know.) Are you following all this? So my husband is walking around the house bursting to tell me what I’m getting in great detail and I won’t let him. Keeping secrets is a really hard thing for him to do and I’m not making it any easier. Yes...that makes me a really mean person, I guess, but I really don't want to know the details...I want some element of surprise when I open my gift. Of course, won't I be shocked if it turns out the gift is something totally different. Surprise!

Sunday, January 28, 2007

Our Little Secret...

We just got home from taking my mom, sister and her family out for dinner. Finding a restaurant is always a challenge since my sister and her two kids are vegetarians. We usually choose an Italian restaurant because there's always pasta with marinara on the menu as well as pasta primavera and pasta pesto. Tonight we decided to take them to a Greek place we eat at occasionally which is close to our home. The food is good and their vegetarian selections are numerous. The place is small and almost never has more than a few couples dining at any given time. I made a reservation since we had 7 in our party (never thinking we'd actually need one) and it's a good thing I did! The place was mobbed with large and small parties...we were amazed. We even had to wait an extra few minutes until another table cleared so they could seat us all comfortably. What made it suddenly the most popular restaurant in the neighborhood? Well, apparently a few of the local and community newspapers decided to run very positive reviews of the restaurant recently and that's all it took. Now people are coming out of the woodwork wanting to experience this little dining gem. While we are thrilled for the owner and staff, we are worried that our once always available dining choice will be overwhelmed by the notoriety and we will no longer be able to just walk in and take a seat. Oh well...our little secret is not a secret anymore.

Friday, January 26, 2007

Not My Dream Day, Part II

Here's the followup...we're back from our trip to the storage unit and it was certainly "interesting." Things did not start off well when I tried to put the key in the lock only to discover it was too big. Ooops! That meant a drive back to the house to rummage through our drawers to find the right key. Then it was back to the unit and this time the lock clicked open and we were in. What we found was a small room filled with boxes of all shapes and sizes, my old guitar and case, a foot locker without a key, a bird cage stand (don't ask) and maybe a dresser mirror (it was hard to tell with all the boxes surrounding it). Anyway, we decided to take as many boxes as possible and cart them home, in our little sedan, to start the process of getting rid of things. So we just finished emptying the boxes and what a "treat."

Most of what we found were some clothes of mine from the 1980's (sizes 4 and 6), old dusty books, several years of old Road and Track magazines, and a few giraffe knickknacks (my husband used to make me collect anything giraffe). The books are already in the trunk of my car waiting to be donated to my old library tomorrow, the clothes and knickknacks are in boxes and bags waiting for my husband to take them to our local thrift shop, and everything else was laid to rest in the trash. Once everything is out of the house, we will make our second trip to storage to continue our cleanup. Oh joy...

Not My Dream Day

I'm home right now waiting for my husband to return from the gym so we can spend the rest of the day together. Most days, he goes off and does his thing while I do mine. This works most of the time but today I was really looking forward to actually having a day together. So what does he want us to do on this gloriously beautiful day? His plan for us is to go to the storage unit I've rented for more than 20 years, rummage through all the boxes, throw out all the useless stuff (which should be everything since I haven't seen or needed any of the things for 20+ years), move whatever we actually want to keep back to our house...all this in preparation for renting a new storage unit much closer to home. Doesn't this sound like a fun, romantic day? Yes...I know we need to do this in our quest to de-clutter our house but I'd much rather spend a nice day going for a drive, having lunch somewhere romantic, finding someplace fun to stroll along...hmmm. Instead, I am sure I will come home exhausted, covered in dirt and grime, and thoroughly disgusted with the amount of clutter we still have. Oh well...

Monday, January 22, 2007

Clean Sweeping, Part II

I’ve created a monster…oh yes…a monster. I was at work today (my very part-time training position with the Library) when I called my husband to remind him I would be home an hour later than usual since I went out to lunch with some of “the girls” in the unit. So what does my husband tell me? He tells me he’s been doing more house de-cluttering and, BTW, he’s cleaned off the top of my dresser (yes, MY dresser) and he’s found a drawer of scarves under the platform bed in the front bedroom (where he's planning to store our too-large CD collection) and I really need to decide what to do with those scarves. Geez…I thought I’d already decided what to do with them ages ago…that’s why they were neatly folded in that drawer. And the top of my dresser…OMG…what the heck was he doing rummaging around my stuff?!?!? What did he throw out? Where did he put things? And why did he do this…because my dresser is the perfect place to set his soon-to-be-purchased 32” HDTV for the bedroom. So…now I’m home, staring at rooms filled with “debris,” trying to remember what I had on my dresser and what I need to look for in the trash. And this is all because I bought that damn 20” HDTV for the den last week. Grrrr…

Sunday, January 21, 2007

Clean Sweeping, Part I

OK…so today my husband and I began the overwhelming task of de-cluttering our home. Now you should understand that we have been talking about doing this for months (maybe even years) but what finally motivated my hubby to start the process was his desire to replace our old TV in our bedroom with a brand new 32” HDTV. In order to make room for a larger TV in the bedroom, we have to move things around, necessitating the de-cluttering of more than one room. While this will be a multi-day process, Day 1 turned out to be more productive than I ever imagined.

The first thing we tackled was our DVD/video collection in the den. We still have a number of videos and, although I couldn’t get him to get rid of all of them, we did make a sizeable dent in their number. I wasn’t too successful with the DVD collection however. We started the day with 228 DVDs (yes, what can I say) and I managed to get him to agree to part with seven titles…yes, only seven. What’s worse is that I cannot get him to curb his need to buy almost every new DVD which is released for sale on Tuesdays. Oh well, eventually we will truly run out of room and then he will have to make the hard decisions. I bagged all the videos and DVDs and plan to take them to my former library where they can either add them to the collection or, more than likely, sell them in the Friends of the Library continuous “book” sale. Along with the DVD/video collection, we also managed to take six bags of clothing, four boxes of shoes, a golf bag with 2 clubs, and our old TV from the den to the local thrift store for donation.

Whew…I thought we were done but I was wrong. When we got back from the thrift store, we decided to tackle the boxes of Christmas and Chanukah stuff in the garage. We actually threw out a number of old ornaments and decorations as well as boxes and boxes of old holiday cards we never sent. I’d say we cut the number of decoration boxes in half which helped us move some stuff from the house into the garage for storage. What finally made us end our cleaning day was the realization that we’d filled our regular and recycle trash bins to the top and Trash Day isn’t until Wednesday. Oh well…at least it’s a start!

Friday, January 19, 2007

Instruction Manuals Have a Purpose

So today I learned a valuable lesson…do not come home just before dinner with a brand new 20” HDTV in the back seat of your car. Sure as shootin’ your husband or boyfriend will insist on setting it up right away because it will only take “just a couple of minutes.” Three hours later, you’re now pouring through a stack of instruction manuals (which your male counterpart refused to do at the start) for the new TV, the old DVD player and the even older VCR, desperately trying to find the secret for getting the TV signal to mesh with the DVD player, the audio to actually work when the DVD player is playing and the VCR to work with the TV. In all fairness, my husband did hook up all the components correctly. What he didn't count on was that hooking up the components in the new digital mode required changing the setups of the older equipment. Now I know “real techies” do not read manuals but, when you’re about to faint from hunger because you’ve missed your dinnertime, there is nothing wrong with admitting defeat and reading the instructions. Sure enough, I managed to find the answers to all our problems (that’s why I spent 26 years as a librarian) and I am now blissfully watching our new TV in our den while I eat my less than satisfying microwaved rice bowl which I dragged out of the freezer. And will my husband learn from this experience and at least glance at the instruction manual when we buy our new ginormous flat screen TV for the living room sometime in the near future? Hah!

Thursday, January 18, 2007

One Word Meme

Since I have nothing to write about tonight, I thought I’d do this one word meme. Thinking of one word is about all I’m worth tonight. The rules are simple: only one word for each selection…no verbosity. So here goes…

1. Yourself: bored
2. Your spouse: articulate
3. Your hair: thinning
4. Your mother: forgetful
5. Your father: missed
6. Your dream last night: none
7. Your favorite drink: Diet
8. Your dream car: Acura
9. Your bedroom: small
10. Your fear: aging
11. What you want to be in 10 years: alive
12. Who you hung out with last night: hubby
13. What you’re not: working
14. Muffins: chocolate
15. Time: evening
16. The last thing you did: ate
17. What you are wearing: sweats
18. Your favorite weather: crisp
19. The last thing you ate: pasta
20. Your life: happy
21. Your mood: blissful
22. Your best friend: hubby
23. What are you thinking about right now? words
24. Your car: Honda
25. What are you doing at the moment? typing
26. Your summer: hot
27. Your relationship status: forever
28. What is on your TV? forensics
29. What is the weather like? cold
30. When is the last time you laughed? dinner

That’s it! Oh, and a “big thanks” to the Itinerant Librarian for this meme.

Wednesday, January 17, 2007

The Pool, the Dog, and a Blog turned out to be an eventful day...finally! I've spent the past few days just lolling around the house with no particular place to go. That's what happens when you're long for just about any chore that will give you a sense of purpose and today I actually managed to find a few.

Since it's Wednesday, I took my mom to the YMCA Arthritis aquatics class. Last week I complained the pool was too cool. Today, miraculously, the water was listed at 90 degrees and I believe it. Surprisingly, it was actually the perfect temperature...none of us felt parboiled or even remotely too warm. Instead, we all felt cozy (can you feel cozy in a public pool) as we stretched and marched and exercised in relative comfort. Yeah!!! After class, my husband and I took my mom out for lunch and, as a treat, she ordered the filet mignon lunch special. Yum.

When I took my mom home, my sister was driving into the garage with her dog in the van. Poor Amber (that would be the dog)! Over the weekend, she tore her cruciate ligament while running in the park with her dog friends and yesterday was her TPLO surgery to repair the tear. My sister and her family truly love her...the procedure costs $3600 and this was her second procedure...she tore the ligament in her other hind leg a year ago. This costly surgery is to ensure that she doesn't suffer this type of injury again and my husband has taken to calling her "Robo-Pup." Today, I would call her "Dopey-Pup" as she was sent home with a morphine patch to keep her free from pain for the first 5 days. Lucky her. Hopefully, she will heal quickly without any setbacks so she can be released from her crate where she must remain until she is better.

Wait...there's more stuff to write about. While at my sister's, I helped her create her very own blog. She's been talking about it for a while (or rather I've been encouraging her to do one) and today she mentioned that she might do one to chart Amber's progress so that other owners, considering this surgery for their dogs, will see what to expect. Taking that as a "yes," I immediately set about helping her create and design her blog. Right now, she would like to remain relatively anonymous until she feels more confident about it so I've promised not to announce her blog site to anyone. We'll see...

Friday, January 12, 2007

My Poor Car…

My poor car has been violated...whimper, whimper. Now you have to understand…I’m the kind of person who parks her car in the far reaches of any parking lot rather than subject it to some thoughtless person who might swing open his door right into its side or some shopping cart which might go racing through the lot directly into any car in its way. Yes…my husband and friends make fun of my car obsession but I don’t care. For the past 2 ½ years, I’ve managed to keep my car bright and shiny and unscathed.

Earlier this week, I took my mom to the YMCA and then out to lunch at our favorite deli. I love taking my mom there because her handicap parking placard allows us to park in the widest spots in the lot right in front of the entrance. So, imagine my chagrin when we walked outside after finishing and found big black smudges on the already dirty front passenger door. For the life of me, I couldn’t figure out how or why this could happen although it did occur to me that the passenger side was unprotected since there was no parking space directly on the right. Along with the black smudges were white paint chips and my shrewd detective brain deduced that something white (perhaps another car) had somehow tried getting out of another spot by turning into my door. I looked around but, of course, there was no note left by the offending individual. Why was I not surprised? I rubbed my finger on the door and was delighted to see the paint chips fall away and I assumed the black smudges would disappear when I next had my car washed.

Today I took my car into the dealership for its regularly scheduled service. One of the perks is that they wash the cars once the service is complete. When they drove my car out into the driveway, I was devastated to see a very clean and shiny car with a very noticeable dent in the passenger door. Apparently, all the dirt and smudges had masked the actual damage which occurred that day in the parking lot. Yes, yes…I know it’s only a car and the dent is only a cosmetic certainly does not affect the car’s real purpose which is to get me from one place to another. And I know I will eventually come to terms with this but, until then, I’m angry that someone would hurt my beloved car and not even take responsibility for their actions. Grrr……

Wednesday, January 10, 2007

Retirement, Work, and Technology

So…today I went to work…that’s right…work. It all started 14 months ago when my friend called to ask me to come back to the Library and work part-time in the same Training unit I worked in during the conversion to an automated circulation system in 1989-1990. Department retirees with “special skills” can return to work as temporary part-time employees as long as they do not exceed 960 hours per year. The unit was down to one trainer and my friend asked me to come back and train until new full-time trainers could be hired and trained. Since the one remaining trainer happened to be a friend and my experiences in the unit, so many years ago, were among the happiest in my professional career, I agreed to come back. It also didn’t hurt that, by working part-time, I could earn additional Medicare quarters which I need to do before turning 65.

So, for the past 14 months, I’ve been working part-time. It started out as two 7-hour days per week and, with the hiring of new trainers, it now averages approximately 14 hours per month…which is just fine with me. The pros are that I get to work with really nice people, my schedule has been made as flexible for me as possible, I get to keep my brain from totally rotting away, and I earn a little extra money for traveling. The one con is that I have to travel 40 miles one-way to Library Headquarters to do this but my schedule does allow me to miss the most horrendous commute times.

Anyway, along with my part-time trainer position, I’ve been elected to serve on one of the many committees now working towards the migration to a new ILS system sometime in 2008. Since our system is so large geographically, they are experimenting with using teleconferencing as a method of managing committee meetings. So today, instead of driving the 40 miles to our Library Headquarters, I drove the 19 miles to the library I worked in for most of my career to participate with another committee member in the teleconferencing meeting. It was an interesting experience. What I immediately noticed was how little participation there seemed to be amongst the committee members. The head of the ILS unit presented his issues and had to continually prompt participants for comments, questions, etc. I’m not sure whether this was a function of the faceless nature of teleconferencing or whether it had more to do with the personalities of the committee members. Whatever the case…I’m just glad I didn’t have to drive an 80 mile round trip for a meeting which lasted exactly one hour. Let’s hear it for technology!

Monday, January 8, 2007

A Very Cool Pool

Today my mom and I went to the local YMCA for an Arthritis Aquatics class. I try and bring her to the Y at least once a week but neither of us has been for at least three weeks…I blame it on the holidays although, in reality, I just needed a break. Anyway, starting in November, all the class members began complaining that the pool water was too cold. Now the average age of the class participants is probably 75 and I know most of them would like the pool kept at an almost sauna-like temperature. Me…I am probably the youngest member of the class and I feel like a cooked lobster when the pool gets too warm. So I was thrilled when suddenly it seemed the Y staff was keeping the pool at a cooler, more refreshing temperature. Today, however, even I began to shiver when we entered the water. The temperature written on the wipe-off board on the wall indicated the pool temperature was 85 degrees. No way!!! My teeth were chattering, my goosebumps had goosebumps, and, no matter how much I moved around, I just couldn’t get warm. It felt more like the lake I swam in during my youthful summers rather than a YMCA pool catering to older members. Anyway, I do feel sorry for the YMCA staff. While this particular aquatics class is geared for elderly members, other pool classes have younger attendees and there are always swimmers in the two lanes available at one side of the pool. I’m sure these folks complain when the pool is too warm. Oh well…you can’t please all the people all the time…but, when I’m cold in the pool, then you know there’s a problem.

Wednesday, January 3, 2007

Skinny Body Parts…The Bad

OK…so what woman wouldn’t kill to be able to wear a size 2? I certainly would be thrilled. But my waist and/or hips are not the topics of this post. Rather, the only parts of my body which anyone would call “skinny” are my feet. That’s right…my feet.

Ever since I can remember, I’ve worn narrow shoes. I have my Aunt Freda to thank for this. She wore a 4A width (that’s right…AAAA) shoe with a 5A heel and I wear the same width. Now…in her day, narrow shoes were readily available at department and shoe stores. Those days, however, are long gone. Today, medium and even wide shoes are in abundant supply. Narrow shoes, however, are almost non-existent. At one time, I could rely on Nordstrom’s to find shoes. Yes…I’d pay an exorbitant price for shoes but at least I could find some styles which fit. Nowadays, however, even Nordstrom’s narrow shoe selection is just that…narrow. Yes, maybe I can find a dress shoe there and even a casual style once in a while. But my choices are almost always limited to one or two styles and even those tend to be what I call “old lady” shoes. Thanks to Zappos, I’ve managed to find a slightly larger selection of narrow shoes but buying shoes on the Internet is a lesson in patience and requires a great deal of planning to ensure that I have just the right shoes for any event.

So here I am pleading with shoe manufacturers to think about the “skinny footed” customer when planning their collections. I cannot be the only person on this planet with narrow feet. I know I’m not. I read the Customer Rating/Review section on the Zappos website when selecting a style and there I find a large number of customers who have narrow feet. So…shoe companies…listen up! We’re here; we’re ready to buy…so bring on those narrow and extra narrow shoes!

Monday, January 1, 2007

Happy New Year

Yesterday was a whirlwind of social activity. It started with a New Year’s Eve potluck brunch at our friends’ home. Now…anyone who knows me knows I can barely find my way around the kitchen. If it weren’t for my husband’s culinary skills, we’d starve. But I decided to be responsible for preparing our contribution to the meal. Now I was stumped…what would be an appropriate dish for breakfast that would travel well…certainly not an egg dish which would be cold and rubbery by the time it arrived at our destination. Thanks to the wonders of the Internet, I found a great (make that “easy”) recipe for a cappuccino bundt cake. It was perfect…pleasing to the eye, tasty and, most important, easy to transport. We had a wonderful time and I was pretty proud of myself for actually preparing a dish that was neither burnt, underdone nor falling apart.

After the brunch, we headed home, prepared our hot artichoke dip, packed up all the chips, dips, and other treats and headed for my sister’s house for our traditional New York New Year’s Eve party. We do not live in the Eastern Time Zone but, each year, we all get together and toast in the New Year by watching the New York Times Square feed on TV. It started when the kids were young and unable to stay up until midnight to welcome in the New Year. By celebrating New York New Year’s, the kids could drink their sparkling cider, blow their party horns, kiss their parents and then go to bed a few hours before midnight. As we’ve all gotten older (and more decrepit), the adults have really come to appreciate this family tradition. So we had our “food intense” celebration, drove home and made it to bed just before midnight. Whew…

I wish everyone a Happy New Year and I hope that 2007 brings health and happiness to all.