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April 28, 2010

Ho Hum, What Shall I Do Today?

Being retired is such a responsibility. When I was working full time, I had no trouble deciding what to do. I had little time to myself and that easily got filled up with chores and things saved to accomplish. It is harder in retirement. I have an entire list of things to do, but sometimes get stalled just trying to decide what to do when.

On Tuesday mornings, Katy takes me to breakfast in Fairhaven. I guess it is part of her rent for staying with me three days each week while she teaches voice at Western. Since we didn't go yesterday, we got up and went today. We have our favorite waitress and our favorite food -- mine is scrambled eggs with cheese and sliced tomatoes. Now, I'm home and trying to decide what to do next. Yesterday, after a dentist appointment, I had lunch with my former secretary, Nancy, who will be going to Squalicum High next year as secretary to the Principal. Then, I went to church and Barb and I finished up the book display for the rummage sale. Then I came home and got my class organized for the week. That means that I have today to spend however I want. Ah! That's the rub. When I was busy yesterday, I contentedly did all that I needed to do. I am much happier and responsible with an agenda. Why am I so scattrered without one?

I'd like to garden, but it is cold outside. I may tackle my closets. Maybe I'll clean the attic - I'm going to have company next month and the attic is awash with toys and clutter. I should write, and I do have to make some appointments with the eye doctor, the skin doctor, and other miscellaneous checkups. Why do I get stalled just when I have plenty of time to do what is necessary? Maybe I just want to veg out when I have the time free. Am I naturally lazy? I don't think so since lazy doesn't make me happy unless I'm on a self-proclaimed vacation. Perhaps the work ethic was ingrained in me early since I've had a job forever.

When I was 14, my parents and I were walking through Ivers Department Store in our small section of Los Angeles called Highland Park. Betty Ivers suggested that I come to work for her. She probably didn't realize that I was young since I was tall for my age. In any case, I began working in Sportswear for three hours on Friday night and all day Saturday. I made $1.00 per hour. I was a hard worker and had that job on and off throughout high school. I quit a few times and then went back when I needed money. Betty offered to train me as a buyer for the school, but I had my sights set on higher education. I also worked on and off through college and began teaching when I graduated. Except for time off when I had little children, I've brought in a paycheck most of my teen & adult life. And, when I didn't, I had a family to tend and that certainly was a variation on work with a non-monetary payback unless you count my children's ability to support themselves.

Leisure is easier for me when it is a break from work. I guess my best bet today is to make a plan and pretend that I have things I have to do. Funny world I live in!

Posted by Marilyn at 9:56 AM | Comments (0)

April 23, 2010

Lawnmowers and Stuff

Several years ago, Don and I bought an electric lawnmower at a big Black and Decker "green living" sale. I absolutely love it because it is just enough power after charging for my little front lawn, it is easy to push, and it is fairly quiet. About five years ago, I called Ace Hardware in Anacortes (repair place for Black and Decker) to bring it in and have the rotors sharpened and to check out the battery. I found out that my little mower had been recalled to be retrofitted because it was a potential fire hazard. So, I took it down and came back with a completely rebuilt electrical system.

At Jeni's garage sale, I noticed that they were selling the same mower, but larger than mine. It was $10.00. I suggested that Dani buy it and we hauled it home. However, Jeni and Ron hadn't known about the recall -- but they were concerned that it needed a new battery. So, I called that same lovely Anacortes Ace Hardware and asked if they were still doing the retrofits so many years later. "Sure,"they answered. "Just bring it in." So we are going to do that - and it also needs a new battery and new tires - but when that is done, Dani will have a great little mower that will be perfect for her back yard.

We all joined Jeni and Ron at their garage sale last weekend. Martin and Christine brought some things to sell as did Eulalah and Keith. Saturday was drizzly and slow. It doesn't help that their home is at the end of several twists and turns off of a main thoroughfare. However, Sunday was beautiful and Jeni reports many more people and lots sold. I came home with a new bedspread and shams for my guest room. Dani's dog, Lucy, chewed my old bedspread and I am a bit embarrassed for guests to sleep in a bed where their feet can pop out of the covers. It didn't seem to faze Patti and Ralph Rea when they visited several weeks ago from Mammoth Lakes, California. But, maybe they were just being polite. Patti even suggested that she thought I could cut and patch the old spread. But, I think this new one will be better.

I'm trying to decided if I want to have a garage sale this summer. I'm trying to (little by little) go through possessions. I would love to have an art and book sale for lots of stuff that I have had lying around for years -- prints, unframed art, posters, etc. I haven't a clue how to price them however, I just know that I have many more things than I want and many things my kids don't want. I'm still working on Don's books -- but have not done much of late. A garage sale is a lot of work for not a great deal of profit. It can be fun with the whole family involved - but the potential is always greater than the actuality.

I've been working on the church rummage sale, so I do know what I'm talking about. Of course, after years of doing so, we now have people dropping stuff off all year and our basement is bulging. Last year we made a whopping $7,000 to give away to charity. I'm sure we have more this year. Jeni had a pre-sale for her garage sale, invited friends and served them champagne. We do the same thing at church - have a pre-sale party on Thursday night (coffee instead of champagne), sale on Friday and Saturday, informal "take what you want and give us a donation" after services on Sunday. It gets more lucrative every year.

Oh well -- I think I will stop this blathering and go read John Steinbeck for my book group I'm even boring myself today. Sorry!

Posted by Marilyn at 2:39 PM | Comments (0)

April 14, 2010

Back to School

Yesterday I went up to the Western Washington University library to borrow a wonderful film, "You Must Have Been A Bilingual Baby." When I first began teaching my Child Development class at Skagit College, I found some great films at Western. Since then, Skagit has bought those films for me. But, three of them have disappeared from my box - two on the theories of Child Development and this little gem about multilingual children. I'm not surprised this one got borrowed and not returned. It's so good, I would have hoarded it also if the library wouldn't have charged me an arm and a leg for not bringing it back. Somewhere at Skagit College, someone is refusing to let it out of their sight.

So, I once again trekked up to my neighboring campus and borrowed their copy for my class. I love going up to Western. It is only one mile from my house, and it is such a lovely addition to our town. I think it is one of the prettiest campuses that I know. It is certainly the nicest of all the Washington State colleges. It is beautiful in every season because of the plantings and the interesting sculpture as well as the old buildings. It is a friendly campus (if you don't count the parking problems). I have reciprocal library privileges since I teach at another higher level institution.

My library card has to be updated every year, but unfortunately it was issued when I first came to Bellingham and it no longer works. It pre-dated the computerized cards and is now a relic. So, yesterday I had to sentimentally give up my old card when they reissued me a computer friendly Western card. The people at the desk hadn't ever seen a card like mine. I also get this at the city library because my card was issued to me years ago when I was on the board of trustees. The library director had eight special cards made in honor of a big author weekend that we put on for the community. I must have one of the only ones left judging by the puzzled look on the checkout person's face. Fortunately, I often use the automatic checkout and avoid the questions.

Schools and libraries - two dear institutions in my life. I can't even imagine life without them. Both enhance my mind, give me hours of pleasure, and feel like home to me. I'm so fortunate to have them available and close to my heart.

Western Washington University in the Spring

The Library at Western

The Performing Art Building with DeSuvero's "Handel" Sculpture

What Other School Can Match This View?

Posted by Marilyn at 10:56 AM | Comments (1)

April 9, 2010

Teaching Child Development

I was reading a news article about Hal Prince who is still producing Broadway shows at the age of 82. "I'm not the retiring type," he said. He obviously loves what he does. Well, I guess I'm not the retiring type, either, since I am once again teaching my Skagit Community College class on Child Development as well as supervising interns for City University. The fact is, I like to work. It makes me feel good about myself. I think I have something to offer students. Of course, my remuneration is not anywhere near Prince's, but I even still like getting a paycheck. I call it my "mad" money because it is over and above the retirement that I live on.

This is by far my most curious class. I have four international students - two from Japan and two from Hong Kong. One hasn't yet shown up for the first two sessions of class. These students are very young. Then, I have two grandmothers in the class - who look young, but are not in their twenties. I have only 10 students. In the past, I have had many students who work in the schools as aids or who are going on to a four year school to get a teaching degree. Most of my students this year are hoping to teach pre-school. One already has a BA in Psychology.

It is difficult to understand exactly what to teach a class of such eclectic students. The class is a Hybrid class (1/2 in the classroom and 1/2 online). Oh, I have a curriculum that I use, a textbook, and I'm set up for the online assignments that I have used in the past. But, there is such a wide range of experience and prior knowledge. Also, the person who teaches the Child Development I class on infants and toddlers (that precedes mine) decided to change the text and throws in some stuff about older kids (which impacts on what I teach).

So, I am wading through the muddied waters trying to discern what part of the curriculum would be most helpful. I'm only in the classroom eleven times during the quarter (two hours each time) and the rest is online. Not too time intensive with only ten students to grade -- and I just found that I got a raise between the last time I taught and now. The trip to school takes about 1/2 hour and is very pleasant. It's sort of the best of all possible teaching jobs.

It is fun to lurk on the email sites for both colleges without feeling any obligation to be a part of the politics of the places. I read the notes from both presidents, what is happening on the various campuses (CU just has learning centers), and realize that each school has its own culture that I am free to ignore. But, I find that the people at Skagit are very, very accommodating to those of us that are adjunct faculty. From the librarian to the IT people, help is always at hand when you need information.
I like the fact that Skagit College is racially and economically diverse and has quite a few international students.

In any case, I am grateful that I can still dabble in teaching. I thought that I would dabble in counseling more when I retired, but I find teaching much more stimulating and not as emotionally draining. I don't carry around other people's angst or stay awake at night worrying about clients. Teaching takes more physical energy, more preparation, more paper pushing, but still an opportunity to help students and watch them learn new skills. I like that. How fortunate I am to like what I do.

Maybe I can work as long as Hal Prince. I'll bet he makes as much money on one show as I did in my entire lifetime.

Posted by Marilyn at 5:18 PM | Comments (0)

April 5, 2010

Easter After

If you call the day before a holiday an eve, what do you call the day after a holiday? An after? Confusing. It was a lovely Easter as family Easters go - That is, not perfect, but what is perfect? Missed Martin and Christine, Ron was in bed with the flu, Nico was fed and bedded early so Dani could enjoy dinner (only to awaken much later and think he'd had a nap), James and Charles were in Hong Kong -- so, yes, the day could have been different, but it was still very, very nice.

This harsh critic declares that the Easter service was magnificent! Kent's sermon quoted Don's. He had chosen the title, "Yes," and then he found a sermon that Don had preached on that same theme. Of course, I was touched, but it wasn't just Don's words that made his sermon really good - Kent is a talented preacher and we are lucky to have him. He has again filled our service with music and a sense of wholeness as a theme runs through pulling all the elements together. When Don first went to FCCB, people said, "We need Kleenex in the pews." Well, we again need Kleenex in the pews. And, what a wonderful gift.

Kent asked one of the boards to have a finger food potluck at the beginning of the morning, so there were goodies to eat before the service. The place was packed. After, brunch at Keith and Eulalah's is our tradition that we share with good friends and family. More yummy food. Then, Jeni, Dani and I began the meal here for the evening - lamb, shrimp, potatoes lyonnaise, asparagus, and Marilyn G. brought a yummy cheesecake. Kent and Robert joined our extended family for the meal. They remained when everyone left, Nico got up refreshed, Keith & Eulalah took Cathy home, Jeni drove her ailing family to Redmond leaving the truck because Ron was sick, Dani and I talked to Robert while Kent played the piano and they stayed until midnight. Unfortunately, Dani went home but Nico was so wired from candy that she got her dog and came back to spend the night. That developed into Dani and I driving around Bellingham a bit before 1:00 a.m. trying to lull Nico into tiredness. It worked and we got about 6 hours sleep before he was raring to go at 7:00 this morning.

After tea and toast, they left for home and I am cleaning, relaxing, washing sheets, and generally recovering as best I can from a full and busy day. Here are a few pictures I snuck in with my iPhone during the service.

Kent (in black) Talking to Some of the Ushers Before the Service

Judy Playing An Interlude With the Tulip Hanging Don and I Gave to the Church

The Choirs in Their Full Regalia - With Children and Bells

Posted by Marilyn at 9:14 AM | Comments (2)