God doesn’t play golf

So, what’s all this about being “retired? Retired from what, I wonder?

In case you haven’t noticed, I haven’t written a word on my blog for about ten months. I’ve noticed, though. Each time that the thought of writing something, anything, would materialize into a vague urge, it would disappear only to mind-creep again into some form of consciousness. The fact is,  I didn’t have much to say, or write. It was a time to think. And, so I did. thinking monkeyIn no particular order my thoughts ranged from: Was I happy? Was it a mistake moving to Florida? If it wasn’t a mistake moving here, was it working out as I had hoped? What was I supposed to be doing with my time, my life? Aren’t retirees supposed to play golf? I don’t play golf. And, I doubt God will hold that against me. He didn’t either, I think. 

The happiness question was a tough one to figure. Am I ecstatic? No, or at least rarely. Am I unhappy? No, I’d say it’s more that there’s a feeling of being unsatisfied or unfulfilled. Hmm, after six months or so of “deep thought” this was the best I could do? Oh, well, it was a start.

Now, The Move thing. Was it a mistake? No, of that I’m sure. If we hadn’t left Connecticut life probably would have been more difficult and certainly more unpleasant. Florida has been good in a number of ways. I obtained my commercial driver license and became a Licensed Tour Guide in St. Augustine. And drove The Red Train! That was mostly interesting and fun… until the heat became a bit much.

First day giving tours (576x1024)We also turned a somewhat wreck of a house into a really beautiful home that became a favorite gathering place for the friends we made here. That was fun, interesting and a useful thing to do.aquiline11818 drone2

And, we made some nice acquaintances and friends here. Some are gone. Some moved on. But, the really special ones, the true friends, will remain an important part of our life. But…here it comes, the heat. Who wudda’ thought? My DNA, my genetics, whatever, are just not capable of enjoying 6 months of what I consider summer and 3 more months of what can best be described as, “The Nether World”. devil picOther than that, it’s great! And, that heat did something I did not expect. It took away my desire to do much, especially outdoors. It and I just weren’t working. And that brought me to my next Big Question: What was I supposed to be doing with my time and life?

Surprisingly, that was the easiest question for me to answer. Simply put, I was meant to work; to do something that mattered – to myself and maybe to others. I enjoy working. Really. And so, over these past 10 months I’ve pondered, along with my Redhead, as to what to do. We travelled some distances, too: Tennessee, North Carolina, and South Carolina. Searching to find a place that better suited us and we it. We searched these areas several times and came pretty close to deciding upon Greenville, SC as being our new home. But, in the end, each had some shortcoming (for us) that we wanted to avoid: too much development, too remote, too hot (that was a deal breaker for several places), too costly or too kooky (and believe me, I know kooky)! And, then, an unexpected, but entirely welcome, event happened and it gave us reason to check one more area in our quest – Virginia. I resisted at first. My impression of Virginia was that it was too hot and too close to DC. I guess some geography lessons in grammar school were for naught. After lots of research, we became intrigued by the Shenandoah Valley area, particularly the Staunton area. The climate seems agreeable: moderately warm summers and with lower humidity and cooler night temperatures than here in Florida, real winters with snow, but perhaps a bit shorter in duration than Connecticut winters. Our adventure up there during July was very pleasant – jeans during the day and a light sweater some nights. Also, for me, the allergies that plague me here in Florida were welcomingly absent in the Staunton area.

There are a number of other things about the Valley that appeal to us both, but one in particular calls to me: auctions. Yes, auctions. Because, back in Connecticut, it was at small town auctions that I discovered some of my best antique and vintage furniture finds. And that was the foundation of my passion – taking old, sometimes just plain discarded furniture and restoring it and finding it a new home. It was work. And it mattered to me and to the many people that wound up with a piece of furniture from Redeux. Bill in workshop20121010

And, so, this week we placed our beautiful home on the market. Within a few hours (and after praying for God’s guidance and St. Joseph’s intercession) we had an offer. In two months we will say goodbye to Florida. 

Ying Yanged

(20171016Litchfield CT

For the first time in almost four years I went North. Back to friends and places once familiar. Back to changing leaves and temperatures and shifting feelings. Funny that I chose October, the birthday month, the time for reflection and deflection.

I was not myself. A mood that had crept into me for several months came along for the trip. And ghosts long thought banished popped up for a pre-Halloween surprise.

It is difficult to explain except, perhaps, through metaphor. When a ship sets sail into rough water it had best make sure its ballast and cargo are balanced. Mine was not. My Ying was Yanged. And, like an unbalanced ship, I rocked this way and that. I complained that the New York traffic bothered me, when in actuality I normally couldn’t care less. The heat in Florida is terrible, I complained (what a news flash that was!), ditto the traffic here and the crime 10 miles away. Had I become a kvetch? Oy Vey! 

kvetch

But, what was the problem? It has taken me these past two weeks or so to settle and reflect. The problem is me (Isn’t it always?). I don’t like being retired. I’m not even sure what I’m retired from! From two professions it could be said that I’m retired. A third was more a passion and an unfinished work, one that I thought I could continue here in Florida – restoring antique / vintage furniture. It hasn’t happened for a number of reasons. And, not making excuses, they are legitimate reasons. Truth be told, however, I like working. I need to work, again. Volunteering hasn’t been successful (still trying, though) and my one job experience here was a mixed bag (see my post, Charlie, September 2016).

It was while visiting Tiverton, one of my favorite areas up North that I again visited the weaving studio and shop of Amy Lund. I had met Amy a few years past when I had my shop, Redeux Vintage Furniture, in CT.

redeux store front

While visiting RI we made a “field trip” to see some craftspeople and Amy’s shop in Tiverton’s Four Corners is a favorite. Her enthusiasm and love for what she does is inspiring. It was a treat to visit her again, to see her work and to make a small purchase. If you’re ever in that area of RI stop into Amy Lund’s weaving studio  . 

After leaving Amy’s shop I knew I had to again work. It’s a matter of having a balance in  life. And no one wants to be unbalanced!

20171014 Amy Lund (2) (704x1024)

So, what’s next? Another trip North! Well, kind of North – North Carolina and Tennessee to be exact (not sure if they’d like to be considered Northern States!). We’ll visit friends and view areas not visited before.

Thanks to all my friends up North for their welcome and patience with my “Yanged Ying”. Thanks, too, to HM for her special prayers. And to Geraldine Wahlgren, “that German Lady”, who took a chance 51 years ago this month and opened her heart and home to two young boys. I will never forget.

After the Storm

irma2

You know it’s coming. Will it be the end of everything as we know it?  What happened to all the assurances that we were in a safe place? 

Like an unwelcome relative that insists on coming for the holidays, Irma, with potent unpredictability, smashes and wrecks and ruins everything she comes near.

We pray. At home, at church, together, by ourselves. Please, Lord, let Irma turn toward the ocean and let every sailor at sea escape her wrath.

First, it’s the islands of the Caribbean. Devastated. Then the mainland. Northward, then west. Please, spare the Gulf, we pray. She straightens. Northward, again. We’re assured she will weaken.  Every bully does. Eventually.  Toward sparsely populated areas she sets her sights. And, then, she sees her prize to the east. She wants to visit the City of Rivers. It’s been such a long time. Hasn’t it? I’ve missed you. Let me visit. Not a good time? Oh, I insist. Irma comes through the back door. But, not before first waking the dead of St. Augustine. Then, it’s over the rivers and through the woods to Grandma’s house she goes. And, to ours. She has misplaced our address. For now. But, like a raging drunk at midnight, she shatters the peace of our neighbors. Trees crash into homes, roofs are ripped, windows are shattered. And, too, are so many lives.

irma1

We are now three for three. This yearly upheaval has stirred up something within. Of smashing. Of terror in the night. Of trees strewn in the front yard, albeit now ones without lights.

A prayer, once said for many years, comes to mind: Lord, let me know what You want me to do, and give me the courage to do it. Amen

Best Foot Forward

So, you’re retired?

Yeah, kind of.

From what?

Well, I guess from a few things.

How do you like it?

I’m looking to be un-retired.

This conversation, with several variations, has been happening with me more and more frequently. I wonder, am I looking much older than I feel? Do I have that look of being part of the leisure class? Does my latest fashion statement that I consider to be a combination of bon vivant and bohemian nonchalance really signal that I am not reporting to any legitimate work anytime soon? Upon viewing a picture of this outfit, emailed by The Redhead, my buddy, Maryellen, called to tell me that I needed an intervention.

fashion statement

Maybe, I just need a job.

For a few weeks I have attempted to volunteer my time and whatever talents I may have to several area charities and non-profits. Phone messages remain unreturned or the person that I do get to speak with tells me to go online to get information and to leave a contact number. But, I’m speaking with you now, I tell him. No, you have to go online, he says. I do. But, after I fill out the online form a window pops up telling me it’s best to directly call the office.

Yes, maybe I just need a job.

So, what to do? I’ve told myself no weekends. No nights. No holidays. Last week I was told to not put so many obstacles in my way in finding a job. Good advice. After all, it’s only part-time work I’m looking for.

I’ve made a mental list of what I have in the past liked to do and what I can now still do. Several things have come to mind. A business that we’ve had dealings with recently seemed that it might be a good resource in locating a lead. I called and explained that I was planning to un-retire and wondered if they might know of any similar business that might require part time help. As a matter of fact we do, they said. Us.

I’m putting together a resume this weekend. And Monday I’m going to put my best foot forward. But, guaranteed, no matter what the outcome is, that best foot forward won’t be wearing socks and sandals. At least not black socks!