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

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Sunday, August 31, 2008

Combination Lock Users Beware

Here's a scary followup to the theft of Rick's money and watch on Friday. It should be particularly unnerving to all the parents out there who send their kids off to school each year with combination locks for their school and gym lockers.

Yesterday, Rick went to the YMCA (the scene of the crime) to do his normal workout and the very nice young man at the reception desk (whom we'd spoken to on Friday after the theft) immediately came over to speak with him. Apparently, this young man went home on Friday absolutely believing Rick's contention that his locker had been securely locked during the theft. This young man decided to help Rick figure out how someone could breach the combination lock that had been used. Leave it to the expertise and inquisitive nature of young people. Sure enough, this young man found hundreds of websites detailing various ways to crack the combination of these much-used locks. Yikes!

What makes this all seem so surreal is that, after the theft, Rick and I went to W*lm*rt to buy a brand new lock to replace the breached one. When we got home and opened the packaging, lo and behold, we discovered that the new combination was exactly the same as the one he'd been using for three years. Now...what is the likelihood that, with all the locks out there in the world to purchase, we would find one that had the same combination as a 3-year-old lock??? So now we are wondering whether this lock manufacturer uses only just a few combinations and that the thief simply tried combinations until he found the right one.

In some ways, Rick feels a bit better knowing that it is absolutely possible he did not fail to lock the locker securely before going off to work out and that the thief had used a devious method to gain entry. scary is it to be reminded that, while the Internet provides an incredible amount of worthwhile information, it can also be used by criminals to commit evil acts against innocent victims?

Friday, August 29, 2008

There Is No Safe Haven

This has been a tough day for Rick. He went to our YMCA this morning for his usual 3 hour workout. When he went into the locker room at the end of his workout, he discovered that someone had entered his locker; $130 was missing from his wallet; and his very valuable Breitling watch was gone. He was devastated...not only at the loss of his beloved watch but also at the thought that a community institution such as the YMCA is not the safe and secure place one would hope or expect it to be.

How did the thief manage to gain access to the locker? Rick is not sure although our guess is that either someone was surrepticiously watching him use his combination or the lock hadn't been latched properly. either case, Rick knows that, most likely, he is at fault for not being more security conscious and that only makes him feel more responsible and imperfect.

He reported the theft to the YMCA staff and then went immediately home to cancel all his credit cards since he knows that at least one of his cards was removed from its slot and replaced backwards. His concern is that his card numbers were compromised and could potentially be used by the thief to make purchases online or by phone. Then he went to our local police station to make a formal police report.

Neither of us believe in our hearts that the thief will ever be caught or that the watch will be recovered. We know that, in the grand scheme of things, this crime is miniscule compared to the violent and major crimes that go on in this city every day. Rick keeps trying to remind himself that the money and his watch are simply "things" and that nothing is more important than his safety and his well-being which thankfully remain intact.

I think what is saddest for us is that this crime took place at a YMCA where they strive so hard to impart their "6 Pillars of Character" (trustworthiness, respect, responsibility, fairness, caring, and citizenship) to people who walk through the door. Apparently someone at our YMCA just hasn't gotten the message.

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Who Exactly Am I?

For some time now, I have been thinking about changing my blog identity. When I became the "Erstwhile Librarian" almost three years ago, I'd been retired only two years and was working part-time as a staff trainer for the library. Images of me sitting at the reference desk or walking through the library stacks with patrons still permeated my dreams...and nightmares.

How things have changed. On Tuesday, my friend Sherry and I stopped by our former library on our way to lunch with our also-retired friends. Walking through the front doors of the library where I'd spent so much of my professional life was an entirely different experience. I knew practically no one at the Circulation Desk and most of the librarians were strangers to me. I passed by the office where I once spent so much of my time and felt not one pang of sadness or even recognition. It was as if all those years of library experience had simply vanished from my life's resume.

So now I am thinking that it is time to change my blog title. I've been sitting in front of my computer trying out new blog names and URLs. So many of my creative choices have already been taken so I am still trying to find one that will carry me through the years to come. And this exercise has made me sit down and think about who I really am now and how I want others to view me. This self-analyzing stuff is really hard...

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Who Said Retirement Would Be Boring?

Whew...I'm in the middle of another busy, busy week. Yesterday I spent the day with Mom; today it's lunch with some of my also-retired library friends; tomorrow it's golf with Rick and some friends; Thursday it's a morning dentist apppointment and then the movies with Rick; Friday it's a fun day with another retired friend. I promise never to complain again that retirement is anything but stimulating.

With all these activities, I've been pretty negligent about my health. I haven't been to the YMCA for several weeks (except for my tap dance class) and I really do need to set some time aside to go and do some cardio and weight work. And then all the lunchs with friends and Mom have put a kaboosh on my diet. I've been trying to stick to salads with lo-cal dressings and I have managed to stay away from french fries and other salty dishes but I can't say the scale has been very cooperative. Sigh...

On another note, Rick and I were pleasantly surprised to see New Dad, New Mom and Kaitlyn at church Saturday evening. At 6-days old, she was as cute as can be and so well behaved...not a peep out of her during the entire mass. We've been invited to Joey and Kaitlyn's grandparents' home for a BBQ on Sunday and we are so looking forward to seeing the two young cousins together. Get those cameras ready!!!

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

I Should Have Stopped After 9

Today Rick and I played our first round of golf together in 5 weeks...since my orthopedic boot ordeal. Although we've been to the driving range a few times, I've been a little nervous about how my swing and fairly new clubs would work once the boot came off.

We've been playing this summer at a course near the beach since I absolutely melt when it gets hot. We try and play early in the morning when there's a nice fog bank to keeps things cool. Today was not that kind of day although the breeze did keep things from getting blazing hot. did I do? My front 9 was the absolute best golf I've ever played. I shot a 47 and hit my driver, woods and irons extremely well. Even my putting, which has always been the bane of my game, was outstanding and I made some incredible putts. Geez...I even chipped in from off the green on one hole. that was the front 9. Apparently, a whole different person showed up to play the back 9. I couldn't seem to make my swing work and suddenly balls were veering off to the left, to the right, dribbling along the grass. Sigh... Let's just say I had an 11 on one hole and a 9 on another. My back 9 score was 22 shots more than my front 9...a whopping 69.

Now every golfer will tell you that their very first goal, when learning to play, is to shoot under 100. If I'd only played as well on the back as I did on the front, I would have shot a 94! Instead, my score was a disappointing 116. But the good news is that my game is coming along and, somewhere out there, is my very first round under 100. We did make a tee time for next week after our round was over and you just never know...

Monday, August 18, 2008

In Her Own Time

Yesterday now seems like one long blur as our entire day was spent at the hospital awaiting the birth of our friends' first grandaughter. Rick and I arrived at the hospital at 9:40AM followed shortly by the anticipating grandparents and great-aunts. We spent the morning and early afternoon in and out of the soon-to-be-parents' room. Then it was time to get down to business so we took our places in the labor and delivery waiting room. And we waited and waited and waited. Rick's contact lens began to bother him big time so he left for home around 8:30pm. The rest of us hung in there until the happy end.

I won't go into all the details but let's just say we were extremely relieved when one of the nurses finally made a rocking-the-baby motion with her arms, sometime around midnight, to let us know that, yes indeed, Baby Girl had arrived. I guess it's the hospital's rule that only the new dad can make the announcement to the waiting family so we had another long wait before New Dad came out with the joyous news. Baby Kaitlyn was born at 11:10PM weighing in at 6lbs 15oz and 20 inches long. We finally got to see the new bundle of joy around 1:00AM and she indeed is one beautiful little girl.

So now Rick's grandgodson Joey has a new baby cousin and Kaitlyn is one very lucky little girl to join this incredibly loving, warm and close-knit family.

Saturday, August 16, 2008

Our Version of "A Baby Story"

When we got home from church this evening there was a message on our answering machine to call our friends B and J. To recap...B and J are really close friends and their #2 daughter is Rick's goddaughter and her 2-year-old son Joey is Rick's grandgodson.

Since their #3 daughter is due with her first child in 10 days, I was pretty sure the call had something to do with it. Sure enough...when I called I found out their daughter is in the hospital and the doctor will be inducing labor.

When Joey was born two years ago, we had to make a beeline run up to Northern California to be there for his birth. This time things are much more convenient. The hospital is only a few miles from our home which means that we can drive at a much safer speed to get there when it's time. Joey's Grandma has promised she will call us when she gets the call from her daughter or son-in-law that true labor has started. I've instructed her to call us no matter what time of day or night so this may be an interesting rest of the weekend.

We are hoping all goes well and I will let you know when Baby Girl arrives.

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Busy, Busy, Busy

It's been a busy week so far. On Monday, I spent the day with my sister Lynn, Mom and the kids. Maybe it's me but, whenever I spend the day with my niece and nephew, I come home exhausted. I guess it's because, having never had children myself, I'm just not used to the level of activity and noise kids produce. I did complete one task that I've been promising my niece I'd do for her. I taught her how to make (and eat) chocolate chip cookie dough. For some reason, she has always been fascinated with my story of how I made it through graduate school by studying with a friend while eating uncooked cookie dough and now Elle knows what it tastes like. Mission accomplished.

Tuesday was a Mom day and, as usual, I took her out for lunch and then to her Fall Prevention class. Next week is her 8th and final class where the seniors will be re-tested and then gather for a little potluck goodbye party. I'm in a quandry as to what to bring. The class starts at 2:00PM and I need something that can sit in a hot car (in a cooler if necessary) while we go to lunch first. Any ideas (and recipes) would be greatly appreciated.

Yesterday was very busy. Rick and I went to the YMCA in the morning where I tested my newly healed foot on the treadmill, followed by some work on the weight machines and then part of an Aqautics class. Then he and I went out for lunch and to a golf store to buy him some more golf balls.

In the afternoon, we attended the funeral of a 59-year-old friend who passed away after a long courageous battle against cancer. Craig was a runner, writer, a true Renaissance man, and the nicest, gentlest man I've ever known and we (his friends and family) will miss him greatly. He is now the third friend who has passed away after the discovery of a melanoma and I urge everyone to make sure that all family members (particularly youngsters) take great care to protect themselves from the sun.

Friday, August 8, 2008

The Unveiling

Yippee! I went to the Podiatrist yesterday and I am now boot-free. Of course I have to be careful with the foot, not to re-injure it, and I need to work on restoring the flexibility I lost while it was basically immobile for the past four weeks but I am so happy to finally be able to wear shoes on both feet.

There's no way I can describe the look on his face or the heavy sigh when I asked Doc if I could take a tap dance class. But after a few moments of composing himself, he did say I could try it and see what happens. He made me promise that, if I felt the slightest pain or discomfort, I would stop immediately.

So off I went last night to my tap dance class. I made sure I had lots of padding in my new tap shoes but the bottom of both feet did bother me during class so I was good and sat out some of the more ballistic dance steps. I had a great time and I'm hoping that, over time, my feet will be more cooperative and let me make it through the whole routine. Shuffle, shuffle, stomp!

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Erstwhile Yet Again

Some of you may remember my little staff trainer job with my former Library Department. To refresh anyone's memory, I was asked to come back in late 2005 from retirement to help train staff, on a part-time basis, in the use of the Library's computer system. I worked fairly consistently during the first several months but then slowly my hours dropped and I've worked only occasionally over the past year or so.

Well, today I finally went in and signed my release papers and turned in my ID and building entry cards. I'm done. The Library now has a new computer system, fully trained new trainers and staff and I am an anachronism. So it was time to let go. Am I sad? Absolutely not! I've found that the longer I've been away from the Library, the less I identify with my role as librarian. Now it's the "erstwhile" part which seems to define who and what I am.

Monday, August 4, 2008

Catching Up...

It was a busy weekend for me and this is the first free time I've had to post. My once mundane life has suddenly taken a turn and now it seems there are things to do every day...and that's just the way I like it.

Let's see...Saturday I went to a baby shower for Rick's god-daughter's sister who is due near the end of August. Just to refresh your memories, that would make the honoree's mother my good friend "Joey's Grandmother." Yes...I know it's all very confusing. And, now that Joey will have a new baby girl cousin soon, I'm thinking I need to rename his Grandma since she will now be the grandmother of not one but two.

On Sunday morning, Rick and I went for our monthly golf lessons. Surprisingly, I hit the ball really well with the orthopedic boot protecting my right foot. Hmmm...maybe all I need to do is put spikes on the bottom of the boot and try a round of golf.

In the late afternoon, Rick and I met another couple and their nephew and we all went to the theater. We saw a really funny troupe of performers whom we've seen in other productions. They normally satirize works of Shakespeare, turning his plays into hilarious musicals, but this time they took and twisted Lewis Carroll's "Alice Through the Looking Glass." It was a truly wild and funny evening.

Today was my much awaited return visit to the doctor for a blood pressure check after a month of watching my diet and taking the new medication dosage. Sigh... She and her nurse took a total of three readings during the exam and each one was worse than the last. Now Rick has to take my pressure at home every day so I can chart the results for several weeks and then drop them off at the doctor's office so she can decide whether to change my medications again. The good thing is I'm expecting that the Podiatrist on Thursday will tell me to get rid of the boot and then I can begin the next step in my health rehab...exercise!!!

Finally, tonight we went over to Joey's grandparents' home and then out to dinner with them. Rick hadn't seen his grand-godson on this visit and we wanted to make sure Rick had the chance to see him before he and his mom (Rick's god-daughter) leave later this week for their home in Northern California. It's hard to believe that Joey has just turned two (where has the time gone?) He proudly recited his ABC's and numbers 1-10 for us and Rick was the hit of the evening with his oh-so-very talented ability to make authentic pig noises. Joey roared with laughter and now I'm thinking Rick will forever be the "Pigman" in Joey's mind...oink, oink.

Tomorrow it's lunch with Mom followed by her Fall Prevention Class. See...I told you my days are now filled with "stuff" to do.

Friday, August 1, 2008

Shuffle, Shuffle, Stomp

I have a little secret. Ever since I retired four years ago, I've wanted to do two new things in my life...learn to play the drums and tap dance. I've talked about both activities over and over but just never found the time or energy or will to do anything about them.

So a few weeks ago I was at my YMCA when I noticed a sign announcing a new class starting on July 31st..."Tap Dance for Adults." My heart skipped a few beats as I suddenly saw an opportunity I just couldn't miss...until I looked down and realized I was standing on a "damaged" foot sporting a big black walking boot. Damn!

So what did I do? I immediately went home, turned on my computer, searched my favorite shoe buying website and ordered tap shoes (in a narrow width). They arrived, they fit and they are sitting on the floor of my den.

Last night was the first class so I went over to the YMCA and explained my predicament to the instructor before class. She suggested I sit in on the class and assured me she'd let me into the already full class once my foot healed.

I purposely left my tap shoes at home fearing I might suddenly decide to throw off my boot, put my shoes on and join in. It's a good thing I did! The class was incredibly fun and the students were all ages...from teens to seniors. Some admitted to taking tap classes when they were young while others were first-timers.

So yesterday I learned some of the fundamentals of tap while sitting on the sidelines. Oh wait...I guess you could say I took a "Chair Tap Dance" class because there I was sitting in a chair moving my feet (boot and all) just like all the rest of the students learning the various tap steps and dance routines.

I go to the Podiatrist next Thursday and I'm expecting he'll tell me that my foot is healed and I can stop wearing the boot. I'm sure he'll urge me to wear really supportive shoes and go easy on my foot for a while. So what do you think he'll say when I tell him I'm planning to take a tap dance class that night?