Wednesday, August 05, 2009

I'm not the only one getting older

The granddogs have been staying with me since last Thursday afternoon, when Kim and some of her friends took their Harleys and left for Sturgis, South Dakota. Her little dogs and my big ones are used to being together during the daytime, but it’s been interesting to watch them adjust their nighttime routines to accommodate each other.

My Kadi stopped sleeping with me about six months ago, preferring to sleep on the cool floor of the hall just outside my bedroom. Kim’s Lucy, on the other hand, thinks sleeping in the bed with me is a great idea, and Kadi isn’t willing to let Lucy have the spot that used to be hers. What neither Kadi nor I knew was that things have changed in the last six months.

Kadi can no longer jump up on my bed. She tried twice and failed both times, hanging on with the nails of her front paws while her back feet tried to gain some purchase to help her pull herself up. The expression on her face when she couldn’t do it made me feel sad for her.

So, for as long as Lucy is here, and longer if Kadi wants, our bedtime routine has changed. After the goodnight treats, after the last drinks of water, I climb into bed and Lucy jumps in after me. Butch makes a few circles on his bed, then settles down in the middle of it. Winston searches over the entire bedroom, trying one spot, then another, before finding the perfect Yorkie-sized nook beneath the window. Kadi stands in the hall, watching everybody get comfortable. Only then does she approach my bed and focus intently on my face. That’s my cue to get back out of bed, put Kadi’s front paws on top of the mattress, hook my arms together under her Big-Bertha butt, and boost her up.

She doesn’t stay long, half an hour maybe; the hall is still her favorite place to sleep. She just needs to be in my bed long enough to make her point, and I need to put her there so she’ll know she doesn’t have to handle her infirmities alone.

Monday, August 03, 2009

Retirement: beginning the settling in phase

Retirement feels weird so far. As much as I've looked forward to it, now that it's here I feel like I'm cheating. Playing hooky. Shirking responsibilities. There's just something about the concept of never going to work again that's mind-boggling.

Maybe this is just a transitional phase, a rare period of time in which the final paycheck overlaps the newfound freedom. Right now I'm not experiencing any consequences of walking away from a perfectly good job. Maybe in a couple of weeks, when penny-pinching becomes my full-time occupation, I'll struggle at least enough to feel as if I'm paying a fair price for the privilege of being a woman of leisure.

I have big plans for the month of August. I'll schedule appointments with the dentist for a cleaning, the women's clinic for a mammogram, and the orthopedist to see for sure if I need knee replacement surgery. My family doctor urged me to take care of those last two items way back in March, and I no longer have an excuse not to do it. I'll also drag my reluctant behind to the gym to explore the idea of setting up a series of exercises to strengthen my upper leg muscles in case the knee surgery becomes a reality. I'm not looking forward to any of those things.

One immediate project that does excite me is the plan to clean out and totally restock my pantry so I can start cooking and baking again. Years ago, when I was a stay-at-home mom, I enjoyed the creativity of planning interesting, tasty meals, and I think I'll enjoy it again. Cooking for one won't be the same as cooking for a family, but it's bound to beat the frozen and take-out dinners I've become used to in recent years.

Prolonged grocery shopping (or shopping of any kind) does a number on my knees, so the plan is to break down the grocery list into several parts and string out the shopping over several days. One day I'll buy canned goods, the next day I'll buy spices, the next will be baking ingredients, and so on. My theory is that shopping this way will allow me to go to a single location in the store, gather up the items on my abbreviated list, and check out in the 20-items-and-under aisle. Today was dogfood-and-treats day (because we were out of rawhide strips), which has made me fairly popular with the pups this afternoon. I'll let you know how the rest of this plan works out.

There are some long-term projects that excite me, too, but they'll have to wait until some of the more immediate stuff is out of the way.

And there was one more goal, an important one and a big motivator in my decision to retire, that I hoped would be an easy one to achieve. Since it's after six p.m. and I won't be going out again tonight, I think it's safe to consider it already accomplished: I've made it through this entire day without once feeling the urge to call someone an a$$#ole.

Hmm. Maybe I can get used to this.