Retirement: beginnng year 4

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A teacher at HGP recently posted on FB that classes had ended.  A party was planned for retiring Marie McGoldrick Bliss at the Yardley Inn this week.  I realized I’d be ending the third of my “golden years.”  I retired In June, 2014.  There had been a nice farewell at the Yardley In for John Buettler and myself.

The same day a FB memory post reminded me that my surgery ended a year ago.  Maybe it’s time to reflect where I’ve been and where I want to go.  As if I don’t do that almost daily.  So far the retirement years might be labeled 1) Adjustment 2) Surgery and 3) Recovery.  I do remember someone, a doctor, technician or nurse last summer saying, “your recovery could take a year.”  I’ll give myself a few more weeks.

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As I’ve previously written, Year 1, the adjustment year was fantastic.  There was our regular two week Cape Cod vacation, archaeology in Montpelier, VA, two trips with Paglione’s, John and I building the slave cabin in Montpelier, several NE trips, D.C., the Blue Ridge, and PA cabin camping.   Finally my trip to Italy.  I was on the road over eight weeks.  We also purchased a new car, Toyota Highlander, and had the exterior of the house painted.

We even got a dog, Mister Mosley, terrier-schnauzer, that I was getting to really enjoy. Our garden was quite a success producing over 300 pounds of tomatoes.  There were lots of local field trips, theatre, activities and visits with Eli and Viv.  I sold 20 cartons of books for $350, at least starting the senior downsizing, purging process.

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Year 2, the surgery year started with a leak.  A fistula had developed in tissue weakened by the proton radiation I had for prostrate cancer three years previous.  My doctors at Pennsylvania hospital gave me the Cape Cod vacation before the first surgery.  It became the only travel for the year.  The surgery did not and will not correct the fistula.  And then a stress test revealed the need for triple bypass heart surgery.  A brief surgery in prep and then the major heart  surgery.  Finally  in May, another plumbing surgery to make my exterior pouches permanate.  I spent about 6 weeks in the hospital; 3 more in a rehab center.  It wasn’t how I had planned retirement. In between surgeries there were a few field trips, walks on the canal and drives through Bucks County and New Jersey — our food tours.  Sold another 20 cartons of books. Unfortunately Diane had to take Mosley back to the ASPCA.  He was too wild, independent, just too much to handle.

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Year 3 was the recovery year.  The fistula wasn’t repaired and developed into a uncomfortable leaking exterior abscess. And the pouches are permanate.  But recovery and life continues.  Lots of walking on the canal and our Bucks, NJ field trips.  I’d like to write a guide book about food in the Delaware Valley.  We have lunch out frequently; went to quite a few plays; and activities with the grand kids.  My strength returned if slower than expected.  We hired someone to do painting – some exterior and now interior.  As rooms are painted Diane likes to redecorate.  The front porch is redone with easy chair, small table, a perfect place for river watching in the morning.  In the front living room we now have a large flat screen TV.  I do a lot of book rereading before I sell books.  The photography collection is gone and I am working on film books and the children’s collection.

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With direction and help from our neighbor Chris Thomas, I set up several raised beds and I’m following a more “scientific” approach to the garden.  So far yields have been great.

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And we traveled, Cape Cod with the Kwait’s; Ann Arbor for Libby Paglione’s wedding; Maine, visiting David and Judy on Mantinicus island; Washington state visiting with sister Marylee;  New England weekends and most recently the Outer Banks.  Seven weeks; not bad.

I can’t say my recovery is complete. But I do need to set some goals for the coming year. Walking needs to continue, actually increase,  and I also need to do some upper body exercise and stretching, I won’t call it Yoga yet.  I am a random personality and it’s not easy for me to establish a routine.  I need routine.  It was discovered that I have sleep apnea.  So I’m wearing a mask.  But I am also sleeping too much.  Afternoon naps are common and I may be in bed over 12 hours some nights.  Need to exercise, stretch and cut back on sleep.

Expand the raised beds in the garden, at least four maybe six in the front. Plan for spring, summer, fall crops, multiple small plantings.  We are overrun with lettuce right now.  My cooking has been sporadic.  It needs to be more regular.  Bread, desserts, grilling, salads, using cookbooks, exploring new food.  Pickling, preserving, drying.  I want to continue to make kumbucha, start to make beer, and eventually.  wine.  More selective, limited eating and drinking should be part of the food goals.   There is little question we will continue to market-farm food shop and continue to explore new and return to favorite restaurants.  We both took cooking classes this year and enjoy the experience; more next year.

The great book reread and sell needs to continue.  Other “collections” that need weeding are music, slides, tools.  Need to have a yard sale, too much old furniture, children’s stuff in basement.  That needs to be soon.  I think I want to buy new camera equipment (Nikon) and get back to some more serious photography.  Since I’m reading about films, I want to watch more, not just new films, but classics I’ve seen and older films that are new to me.  I thought about approaching film study as if I was teaching or going to teach courses.  Transferring slides and movie footage to digital is a daunting task, need to develop a plan?  I may want to get back with the Yardley Photography Group I helped organize in year 1.

We should finish interior house painting this year.  I need to contact Bristol Fuel about the window replacement and check if roof work needs to be scheduled.  There will always be a need for maintenance — I should be able to restain the deck for instance.

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Then there is travel.  I need to try to ride my bike.  We need to take the kayak to local lakes or the Jersey shore. Local field trips should increase.  I could/should get back on the train to explore Philadelphia independently.  Better planned trips with Eli and Viv.  Theatre, museums.  We should make it to NYC several times during the year.

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I’d like a get away in the mountains (lake) or shore, someplace that is a sit back, legs up, slow walking, reading, reflecting escape.  Maybe a place we’d return to year after year.   Was hoping this would happen in June.   We have Cape Cod booked for 2 weeks in August.  We also have 3 nights at a Hilton resort in Myrtle Beach in September (will add some days to this).  But what else? Our typical New England, Eastern Shore long weekends are fine.  Should we travel to some Southern cities — Charlestown, Savannah?  Are there other classes, interactive, educational destinations?  I’d like to get back in a plane at least for a domestic trip — the Southwest?    The Caribbean?  I think that comes before an international trip.

Next step is to turn these ramblings into a list.  See what Diane would add to the list.  I think I’ve learned that it’s important to act on dreams and desires.  In a moment you may become incapable of doing them.  There are things I may have wanted to experience that are now beyond the pale.  Not sure what they are but I know they exist.  Priority!  Planning!  Serendipity!  Year four begins.

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