Day 9: Mostly Lists but [Trigger Warning] a Spider Too!

I am going to have to figure this retirement thing out. While I forced structure on my work life when I first began working from home in 2003, that never spilled over to my non-work life and I flitted from task to task, often finishing none of them. That’s what happened today (despite the list I mentioned below). I fear this is what retirement will be like — a whole bunch of unfinished tasks.

I make lists nearly every day to help me keep on track. My lists have always included some work-related tasks in addition to home related tasks. This morning, as I made today’s list, I was delighted to note that my lists would never again feature work-related tasks (unless of course I do some side PDF gigs) (and I’m not counting volunteer tasks as work).

Other delights included:

  • The blue jays, Carolina wren and crows that provided background music for my morning coffee in the lodge — formally known as the screened in porch until it became a three-season room.
  • My camera arrived!
  • I found an extra 32 gigabyte SD card for my new camera
  • The camera takes better photos than my phone (Neither photos on this page are very good, but the bottom shows the hairs on the legs of the spider)
  • The huge spider who built a web outside our kitchen door
This was taken with the new camera (the top photo was with the phone).

Day 8: Mostly Birds and Bugs in the Backyard

Today was more productive. I organized the freezer, noting what was in there on an app I have used for years, but never kept up with it. Maybe this time. I also made hamburger buns and filled the hummingbird feeder. And finished laundry from yesterday.

Today’s delights included:

  • The first really ripe fig that the birds did not find first that Dean and I shared for a lunch treat.
  • The glorious weather! I think the Capital Weather Gang called it delightful (and if they didn’t, they should have).
  • The way the hummingbird patiently waited on a nearby branch of the rose of sharon while I poured nectar (one part sugar four parts water, NO DYE!) into the feeder, then flew to the feeder as soon as I was back in the house.
  • The cicada that landed in the same rose of sharon while I ate my oatmeal this morning, close enough for me to see its black eyes. It seemed to listen as I told it I was very much looking forward to its red-eyed cousins’ visit next spring.
  • The oddly large splotch of rainbow all the way across the room from my large faceted crystal that sits on the window sill.
  • The goldfinches feasting on the spent zinnias (glad I didn’t deadhead them today like I planned).
  • The PDF of the Mura board that Tim sent today with all the kind words from my colleagues.
The file is here if you want to read the notes, but don’t feel obligated.

Day 7: The First Day (of Retirement)

I didn’t get much accomplished today, cleaned a couple of shelves in the fridge, enough to make room for groceries we needed. I did organize my Feedly feeds though, so now it will be easier for me to read blogs I follow. I also read and commented on a few entries. I thought for sure I’d be full of enthusiasm about organizing something real, like a cupboard or drawer. Instead, I pretty much lazed around.

Today’s runner-up delight was brought to us by a former hurricane named Laura. RAIN! The plants needed to be watered and Laura’s remnants did that for us. I only wish she’d not been so destructive before she watered my plants.

Today’s main delight is a vinca vine that found its way through a tiny crevice around the basement window above Dean’s desk. It’s about two feet long now and, against the white wall, lovely.

I imagine that if our house were abandoned, all sorts of vines would come in through various crevices in the walls.

Day 6: The Last (Work) Day

Wrapped up clearing my computer, had one last meeting with an on-going project, returned my computer via FedEx, completed and sent paperwork. Signed my time sheet and approved Susan’s. Done! (delight!) I’d been worried during my trip to and from the FedEx place to return my computer that the feeling I was experiencing (mild anxiety) was what I would feel when I finished my final task and was officially retired, but that was replaced with relief as soon as I signed Susan’s time sheet and logged out of the ICF servers.

Dean and I took a 10 minute “victory lap” (as he called it — it was more like a brisk walk) around the block when I told him, at 2 pm, that I was done. It was very warm, but delightful nonetheless.

Susan (my former direct report) came over for afternoon snacks — she brought a variety of sweets. We had a nice chat. I know she’s anxious about the future without me at work, but she will be fine. We can be friends now (delight!).

Andrew (my son), Alex (his partner) and their former housemate Marissa stopped by for a retirement celebration, arms loaded with champagne (the real stuff), sweets, and gifts. We had a delightful time, masks and all. Alex and Marissa, both Montessori teachers, told us about their first week teaching virtually. I cannot imagine what it is like, especially for Marissa who teaches preschoolers.

I sent a photo of me in my new Kate Bush mask to Clare and she made an Instagram story of it. That delighted me.

Clare’s Instagram Story for this day

Day 5: The Last Thursday

The penultimate day of my working life. I have to say this week is the longest I can remember. It feels a little like purgatory or a sort of no man’s land. Every week usually introduces new projects, but not this one. I’m just wrapping up my existing projects and some and helping transition them to other people.

So many retirement related delights today:

  • Unexpected flowers from work
  • More sweet notes from workmates
  • A truly delightful virtual retirement send-off from a number of colleagues

The final delight of the day was a mushroom pasta recipe I made based on one Jeremy’s wife, Frances, makes. It was delightfully delicious (despite the fact I am not a huge mushroom fan). Frances’ recipe is purely vegetarian and I would have used vegetable stock, but had none so I used chicken stock. Also hers is much more healthy than mine, calling for whole wheat noodles and low-fat cheese, water instead of wine and hardly any oil.

Frances Burgoyne’s Mushroom Tagliatelle (the unhealthy version)

Note that I guessed at the amounts of ingredients below

  • 1 red onion (about 3 inches in diameter)
  • 8 oz. mushrooms, sliced (all I had were portobello)
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 – 2 T. olive oil or butter
  • 6 (or more) oz goat cheese (I used Humboldt Fog)
  • 6 oz stock (I used chicken made from a concentrate)
  • Fresh spinach (a couple of handsful)
  • Splash of white wine (red might be okay too)
  • 8 oz tagliatelle or other wide pasta (I made mine from scratch because I have an automatic pasta maker)
  • Salt and pepper
  1. Slowly saute onion in oil or butter until soft and nearly caramelized.
  2. Add garlic and cook, stirring, until fragrant. (be careful not to burn it)
  3. Add mushrooms, season with salt and pepper, and cook, stirring often, for a few minutes, until mushrooms are beginning to soften and stick to the pan.
  4. Throw in generous splash of wine and scrape bottom of pan until browned bits and pieces of onions, garlic and mushrooms are no longer sticking to pan
  5. Add stock and let cook for a few minutes to soften mushrooms
  6. Add half the cheese and stir, turn heat way down and cook until melted and the liquids have melted
  7. Cook pasta according to package or recipe directions
  8. Add pasta to mushroom mixture
  9. Toss in spinach, stir, and cover the pan until the spinach gets wilty
  10. Add more cheese if desired

Day 4: The Last Wednesday

I finished moving files off my computer to my work OneDrive — something I should have been using long before now. There’s not a lot of work left to do, and I am required to work all day Friday. I have two meetings tomorrow, well, actually one meeting (overhead) and one goodbye Zoom-ish meeting.

I find dreaming a delight, unless it is a nightmare, then that is the opposite of a delight. I’ve been dreaming a lot lately about travel; either being somewhere other than here, or being at an airport or on an airplane. Although in my waking dream this morning my cousin, Beth, and I went to prom together, or we were planning on going to prom and were in the middle of prom practice. All of these dreams could have been delights, but Covid-19 influenced all of them. In these dreams I either forgot my mask or people around me were showing symptoms of the virus. So, although these dreams were not quite nightmares, neither were they delights.

I remembered one delightful dream I had exactly 4 years ago, though:

I flew to Illinois when my brother called and told me that the visiting nurse said our mother had only days left to live. I arrived around nine at night and after sitting next to my mother’s rented hospital bed in my brother’s dining room for a few hours, we decided we should move into the living room and try to get some sleep. I slept fitfully at first, hearing the raspy sound of my mother’s breathing, the death rattle. Finally I slept, and dreamed.

In the dream, my mother tried to get out of bed but her pastor (not Pastor Keith, but the one who took over for him) pushed her back onto her bed and enlisted us to help. Mom (now a slender, black-haired teen again) pushed past those of us trying to keep her in the bed and ran to the window, stood on her tiptoes and fluttered her hands behind her. She did this with every window in the room (which was a huge room full of many windows), like a moth to a flame. The pastor was still insisting we put her back into bed. As she passed me I grabbed her and tried to hold her in a tight hug but then she dissolved into hundreds of sparkles of light and I felt a shock of electricity fly up my arms and into my heart. The sparkles of light flew out the nearest window and I briefly woke up and could no longer hear my mother struggling to breathe in the next room.

When I awoke again later, my brother told me Mom was gone, but I already knew it because I saw her spirit become part of the air.

Teenage Patsy in Two Rivers

Day 3: The Last Tuesday

Today was my last Tuesday at ICF. Tuesdays usually are very open, I have no regular meetings. Today, however, I had three meetings. One to record a video about creating accessible PowerPoint templates, one to explain a project to someone taking it over and one to help my direct report with a PDF file. Not too many delights there, except when the video recording session was over, the relief was delightful.

The biggest delight was listening to Ross Gay read his book this blog was influenced by. I have the ebook, hardback and audio book of The Book of Delights. Each has its place, but I think I prefer the audio version since the author reads it himself. When he says “delight” he often says it with a delightful voice.

My new camera (paid for by ICF’s incentive program points) shipped today, according to an email from the incentive program folks. Delight!

Another delight was seeing that Mali commented on my first two posts. Thank you for that Mali.

I made dinner while listening to Ross Gay. Both Dean and I had busy days, the kitchen was a mess, we had no leftovers, neither of us had the foresight to take anything out of the freezer for dinner and Dean had back to back meetings until 7:30, so getting takeout was not a convenient option. So I made packaged mac and cheese* with tuna fish (delight) and a salad.

The final delight of the day was watching a rom-com on my tablet. These are guilty pleasures to me (guilty delights?)

Oh, and that zinnia. Zinnias are easy to grow, constant delights during the summer.

*Most packaged mac and cheese is not a delight, but I discovered Fishski Provisions Hatch Chile Cheddar Mac and Cheese about six months ago and declared it to be the only packaged mac and cheese I would ever buy again. The directions are to only add water, but I add butter and yogurt instead. I also like their grits and I thought I hated grits.