Thursday, July 2, 2015

Retired ... but Busy!

     I have to make a conscious effort not to roll my eyes when retirees complain that they have nothing to do, and then they whine, "So how come we're so busy?!?"

     When a retired person says something like that, it makes them seem a little ditsy (dare I say senile?), and not in control of their own time or their own life.

     However, be that as it may, for the past few weeks, I want to say: If I'm supposed to be retired, how come I'm so busy?!?

     Well, there was the wedding. B's son got married last weekend -- everything went off swimmingly; the ceremony was sweet, the reception was fun, the family all got along together. The preparations and the event itself took up a lot of time and mental energy, even though my responsibilities were fairly minor. My chief role in the wedding was to carry copious amounts of Kleenex and parcel out sheets of hankies to B immediately upon her frequent requests.

     Okay, I might make fun of her. But it is an emotional time. Besides, I admit, I'm jealous. My own two kids are older than hers, yet they don't have any wedding plans on the horizon, or even (as far as I know) over the horizon.

     But it's not just the wedding. I bought a new car. Actually, I leased the car, since that required a smaller outlay of funds and seemed to be a better deal in the long run anyway. But it takes a lot of time to do the research and visit the car dealers and then do more research and visit more car dealers and then make a decision. (I got an Acura TLX which, so far, I'm liking very much.)

     Then I had that eye problem. I made and kept a doctor's appointment; and even though he said my floaters were routine, he wanted me to come back. And when I did go back, a few weeks later, he said he wanted me to make yet another appointment. Everything looks fine, he said, but I have some little spots of blood in the fluid in my eyes and he just wants to check them out one more time.

     Then I had to get a crown on one of my teeth. I was getting a cavity, and there was already a large filling in the tooth, and the dentist said there wasn't enough tooth left to add another filling. And of course, it turned out the crown needed some adjustment, so it was back to the dentist again for a little extra drilling and buffing.

I tutor here at the community college library
     All those medical appointments. They take up a lot of time. But I guess I'd better get used to it. I'm not getting any younger.

     Then I joined a golf league, which plays every Monday morning until mid-August. So that takes pretty much one whole day out of the week (because, at my age, after 4 - 5 hours on the golf course, in the heat, all I want to do is come home, lie on the couch, sip iced tea and read the paper or watch TV.)

     And then, after taking almost two months off from tutoring, I've signed up for the second summer session. Three hours, twice a week. Plus the commute. Plus fielding all the emails from the tutoring coordinator, who seems to have not much to do but write emails to her volunteers.

     And in the midst of all this, what should happen? A former colleague called me up. Do I have time to take on a job? Yes, of course, I said. Because if you're a freelancer, and you turn down a job, you're afraid they'll never call you back.

     So you see? I'm a very busy retired person! But please don't roll your eyes. Just answer me this: Can you retire from retirement?

Friday, June 26, 2015

Getting Married

     B and I have four children between us. Tomorrow, the first of them, her younger son, is getting married. At age 23, he is the youngest of the four.

     That seems a little young to me, in this day and age, but he and his bride seem mature for their age, and well suited for one another. They grew up together, went to the same high school, and started going out together when they were freshmen in college. She transferred after her freshman year, in order to be closer to him, and now they've been living together for almost two years.

     Some people balk at the idea of two people living together before they get married. But B and I are hardly ones to object, since we have been living together for eight years without benefit of marriage.

     But, for us, there is no benefit of marriage. At least not financially. Neither one of us needs to piggyback on the other's medical insurance; and we'd have to pay more in taxes if we got married. We won't be having any more kids; so we don't need to make it official for that reason. In fact, if we were to get married it might just complicate things for our kids.

     But B and I might get married anyway . . . eventually. Even though we're not raising a family, there's still something appealing about marriage, making the relationship official, for all the world to see.

    Anyway, we're going off to watch our little boy (well, not my little boy, but I've known him since he was in 8th grade) march down the aisle.

     They're doing it up pretty big -- with a minister, at a fancy wedding venue, expensive rings, with a rehearsal and rehearsal dinner and roughly 150 friends and family at the wedding. Flowers, professional photographer, gift bags, bachelor and bachelorette parties. All the women in the wedding bought a new dress for the occasion, and they are going together to get their nails, hair and makeup done.

     It seems a bit over the top to me. But then, I got married in 1973 in a little church in the country with about 15 guests, and my bride wore flowers in her hair and we all went out to lunch afterwards. We were together for 28 years, raised two great kids, and had a pretty good run.

     So if that simple little ceremony was good for 28 years, then B's son and his bride will be married forever.

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Don't Overdo the Pills

     I had a little medical problem yesterday.

     For the most part, I feel fortunate because I do not take any prescriptions on a regular basis, while most of my friends seem to be on all kinds of medications -- for cholesterol, high blood sugar, and who knows what else.

     I'm basically healthy, but I do still suffer a few aches and pains. I have a bad knee from an old sports injury and a bad ankle from a car accident I was in when I was a kid. My back acts up occasionally, which I attribute to 30+ years sitting behind a desk. Then sometimes I get a headache -- when I get tired or dehydrated, or when I have a drink.

     On Sunday, which was Father's Day, B and I went out to dinner, and we each had a glass of wine. When I know I'm going to have a drink, I take two Advil before I go out, then another two Advil before I go to bed . . . to prevent a headache.

     Then yesterday I played a round of golf, and afterwards I felt a little crick in my back. So I took another two Advil.

     I guess, between my aches and pains, and then occasionally taking an aspirin because it's suppose to help your heart -- and I've read it may even help prevent cancer -- I pop maybe six Advil and two or three aspirin a week.

     So yesterday afternoon, after I got home from golf, and took the Advil, I sat and relaxed for a while watching TV, made myself some iced coffee, then went up to take a shower. I was standing in the shower when I suddenly noticed a big bump in my hand. It hadn't been there ten minutes ago. It was dark colored, almost purple. As big as a golf ball. I felt it, and it wasn't hard. It moved a round a little bit.

     I thought of the sci-fi movies where snakes and worms come crawling out of people's skin. It looked like I had a giant slug buried under the skin on the back of my hand.

     I thought, maybe I ought to get this checked out. We have a walk-in clinic in our town. I've never been there before, but I figured this might be the time to try it out.

     I called them up. Yes, the woman told me, they take Medicare. She said to come right in. Fortunately, they weren't crowded at 6 p.m. on a Monday. A very nice nurse took my pulse and my blood pressure. The doctor came in and examined me. I showed him my hand and explained that it had come up very suddenly.

     It didn't take him long to figure it out. He told me a blood vessel had burst in my hand. It's nothing to be concerned about, he said. Did I injure my hand, or hit it against anything?

     No, I replied.

     Have you taken any aspirin lately?

     Yes, I told him. I take an aspirin, probably one every few days. And I use Advil for pain.

     Have you taken Advil recently?

     Yeah, I took, um . . . four yesterday. And actually, two more today.

     That's likely the cause, he said.

     Well, I know aspirin thins the blood, I said. Does Advil do that as well?

     Oh yeah, he replied. Aspirin, Advil, Motrin, Tylenol. They all do.

     I see, I acknowledged. But I've been around for 60 years. It's never happened to me before. Why would I suddenly burst a vein?

     I can't answer that, he said. What I can tell you is that this is nothing serious. Your body will reabsorb the blood. He suggested that I ice my hand, and then starting tomorrow, put a warm washcloth on the hand, a couple of times a day for a few days.

     Then he looked up and down my arms. You have a few other bruises, he said, pointing to one on the inside of my wrist and another by my elbow. So don't take any aspirin or Advil for a least a week. It takes that long for it to get entirely out of your system.

     And so now, in addition to not taking any prescriptions, I'm off the painkillers. Who would have thought? But I guess even mundane medicines like Advil and aspirin have side effects.

     The doctor also did a blood test to check my oxygen levels and my clotting factors, just to be sure. He told me to come back if it gets red and painful. It's possible it could get infected, but he didn't think that would happen.

     He didn't tell me I could never take aspirin or Advil again. But I got the message: Don't overdo the pills, even if they're as common and mundane as aspirin or Advil.


Sunday, June 21, 2015

Let's Hear It for Summer!

     Welcome to summer . . . to those of us north of the Equator.

     Laura Lee Carter is blogging today, wishing everyone a Happy Summer Solstice, which, as she reminds us, heralds the beginning of summer in the Northern Hemisphere. This year the solstice also happens to occur on Father's Day. She hopes the arrival of summer will offer an opportunity for fathers and families everywhere to venture outside today (and maybe get some healthy exercise). And for inspiration she offers some photos of Colorado wildflowers gone wild.

Colorado wildflowers
     But as a warning to those of you planning to phone your fathers today, Rita Robison of The Survive and Thrive Boomer Guide reports that the FCC Plans to Fine AT&T $100 Million for misleading customers about unlimited data plans. The Federal Communications Commission alleges that AT&T severely slowed down the data speeds for those with unlimited plans, and that the company didn't notify customers that they could receive speeds slower than those AT&T advertised.

     I don't use a lot of data myself, so this wouldn't affect me (I have a Verizon plan anyway); but it does seem to me that any company ought to be straightforward with its customers. Regardless, I hope I don't hear that excuse from my own kids about why they couldn't call me on Father's Day!

     Meanwhile, Meryl Baer of Six Decades and Counting offers up a tribute to her dad, who grew up in the Depression, served in World War II, made a career in advertising, and by all accounts, proved to be a great father and grandfather. She recalls some nice memories in Happy Birthday and Happy Father's Day, Dad, who, as she says, "Is not around anymore to celebrate with us, but his spirit is."

     Finally, in her blog Smart Living365 Kathy Gottberg says that she doesn't know any woman who doesn't care, at least a little bit, about how she looks to others. But hopefully, she continues, "By the time we get to our age, we care less about how other people judge us, and equally important, we stop letting the opinions of others make critical life decisions for us."

     That sentiment led to her recent decision to purchase and wear hearing aids, which, she says, is, "One of those moments when my perception of myself changed."

     For an account of her whole life-changing experience check out Do My Hearing Aids Make Me Look Fat? Which I did, and to which I respond . . . Kathy, you don't look fat to me!

Tuesday, June 16, 2015

Are You as Smart as a 5th Grader?

     While everyone else is reading The Girl on the Train (billed as the next Gone Girl) and The Boys in the Boat (about the Univ. of Washington oarsmen who rowed for the U. S. in the 1936 Berlin Olympics), I've been reading something entirely different.

     As anyone who visits this blog knows, my beloved B, aka Bridge, is a librarian. She spends her days in the children's room reading to kids, helping them find books, and creating all kinds of programs to engage their interest, enrich their minds, and . . . well, to be truthful, keep them out of their parents' hair for an hour or two.

     So last summer, and again this summer, B is involved in The Battle of the Books, a competition that involves kids from our library facing off against kids from five other local libraries. There are two levels, based on age. So our library has a 4th and 5th grade team, and a 6th and 7th grade team. They will meet the other teams sometime in July for the actual contest. In the meantime the kids are reading the books, studying them, going over practice questions.

     Each group has five books they will be asked questions about. I'm not sure exactly how the competition works; but basically, the team that gets the most questions right, or makes the fewest mistakes, will win some kind of prize.

     In the meantime, someone has to select the five books for the battle. And the librarians running the program have to read the books and come up with questions for the kids to answer.

     So B has asked me to help her out with the 4th and 5th grade team by reading one of the books, Escape from Mr. Lemoncello's Library by Chris Grabenstein. I have to generate 60 questions based on the book. Many of the questions are about the plot or the characters. For example: How old is Kyle, the main character?

     But other questions involve general information that gets woven into the story in one way or another. So, go ahead, take this test . . . and see if you're as smart as a 5th grader.

     1. What's a fancy word for library?

     2. What's the shortest distance between two points?

     3. What two coins add up to 30 cents -- but one of them can't be a nickel?

     4. What US Navy ship was once captured by the North Koreans?

     5. What did Apollo 8 accomplish that had never been done before?

     6. What's the nickname of the state of Indiana?

     7. Who wrote Around the World in Eighty Days?

     8. 0 +27 + 0.4 = ???? (but don't use math)

     9. What was the name of the gleaming white elf-horse that carried Frodo Bagins across the River Bruinen?

     10. Who said, "Knowledge not shared remains unknown."

Answers, according to Chris Grabenstein:

     1) Athenaeum; 2) A straight line; 3) A quarter and a nickel (one of them is not a nickel); 4) USS Pueblo; 5) It was the first spacecraft to orbit the moon; 6) Hoosier State; 7) Jules Verne; 8) 027.4, the Dewey decimal no. for library information; 9) Asfaloth, from Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring; 10) Why . . .  Mr. Lemoncello of course!