It’s coming up to 3 years since I retired and 4 years since I downsized to my pocket handkerchief sized home.
Do I miss working? Not on your freakin’ life! I’m busier than ever pursuing my own interests. The Pandemic may have played havoc with retirement travel plans but my appreciation for my own country and its history gained from travel around my home state has more than made up for any disappointments.
Even my weekly evening walking group has me learning about new nature reserves and parklands within a 10 km radius of my home which I never knew existed previously.
My only issue with retirement is that the cycle of waking up with the chooks continues. I’ve stopped fighting it and now just tend to enjoy the mornings with an early pot of tea and listening to birdsong. Btw, have you met Max?
I had a skip bin over the weekend to help with the decluttering. Four years and I already needed to offload 4 cubic metres of “stuff”. Whatever….
So now I have a Craft Room/ Sewing Room as is expected of retired ladies, except that I neither craft nor sew. Whilst I was in Mary Kondo mode I came across some cute jars that I had been hoarding, possibly one of the kids school projects, I’m thinking.
They are now the vessels for homemade Rosemary and Garlic infused oil which I think will go down nicely poured over fresh baked bread and a glass of dry, crisp white.
I failed art at high school. It harks back to those first years of formal education back in the early 60’s when teachers would rap you on the knuckles with a ruler for colouring outside the lines. This torture continued as I progressed to learning cursive writing using a slope card. Do you remember them? If you failed to negotiate the appropriate guidelines you copped another slap on the wrist. Add this to learning to write using an inkwell and having to earn your “pen licence” and I was petrified throughout most of years at primary school. No wonder I never took to art…….(Don’t even ask how arithmetic classes affected my mental wellbeing, especially with an overachiever accountant as a father.)
Years later in my own home I rebelled and let loose developing a keen eye for colour : colour and art works by developing creatives. Treated myself to a piece of art every year for years. Lost them all in the divorce from a man who only liked the interior walls of a house to be beige. Beige is Boring especially in the days when Mission Brown was splattered across every neighbourhood in Australia.
So I celebrated by painting my house feel good colours, colours that added warmth to my life, such as Sunflower Yellow and Budgie Green. Real Estate Agents laughed at my colour scheme, but it was I who had the last laugh.
In retirement, and with these days of Covid isolation and reflection, I have rediscovered the benefits of art. I still lack any artistic talent but creating something tangible and playing with colour has kept me sane. I’ve completed a couple of Paint By Number Kits ( never again, thankyou, fruit of my loins ) and successfully completed two Art Therapy study programs.
Last week we attended a guided paint workshop under the marketing umbrella of Paint And Sip. All very casual and social where you receive instructions on how and what to paint whilst grazing on BYO nibbles. Loved playing with the paints and mixing colours so much so that I will investigate local classes. It was also interesting to see that although everyone received the same instructions all results were different. Here’s a case in point :
Pablo Picasso once said ” Art washes away from the soul the dust of everyday life.” I’ve got a damn lot of dust to get rid of yet………
To end, here are five fun facts about colour:
Mosquitoes are attracted to blue
There’s a name for the colour you see when you turn the lights off, just before it turns dark – eigengrau
3. Red is the first colour a baby sees.
4. Pink can curb anger. Pink prisons, do you think?
5. Colour can affect taste.
And from my very own Natural Therapist, did you know that there are 66 different shades of green and that the state of your health can be determined by the number of greens you can see?
I failed Domestic Science at High School. The only F I ever received on a report card. I knew better than to enrol in Sewing Classes after having received a D, in a scale from A to D, at Primary School. My mother, a seamstress who could turn a parachute into a wedding gown during the war years, was appalled. She gave me her first Singer Sewing Machine thinking that it would provide encouragement. Never switched it on and it later became a garden ornament alongside the gnomes.
Unable to use a needle and thread the only thing I used a needle for was removing splinters out of little fingers when the children were small.
Knitting, crochet, and quilting were never options though I’ve always been pretty handy with a paintbrush. Over the years I have painted both the exteriors and interiors of several houses. Unfortunately, often in colours that have had real estate agents cringing. My last house I opted to bulldoze and redevelop after comments about my sunflower yellow and budgie green colour scheme.
(Personal Note : That’s what comes of living with someone whose life is coloured by beige).
So I’m a little surprised with two new hobbies I’ve picked up since retirement. Having the time to explore new interests truly is one of the positives of the finality of a working life. No guilt whatsoever. Loving it!
Mind you, I’ve had some EPIC fails. Like square dancing. Who knew it was so hard to differentiate between your left and your right? The popularity of using the clocks on our electrics as opposed to a watch has only exacerbated this issue (for sum of us). And those flouncy skirts were cute when I was six, not so at sixty.
What I am enjoying is an online Art Therapy study program. I’ve done collage, meditation to promote creativity, learnt about colour therapy, created my Tree of Life, and am currently working with clay. Well, plasticine really – it’s less expensive.
Art Therapy is used as a healing process. I was creatively stunted when I was young and perpetually fearful of having my knuckles rapped with a ruler by over zealous teachers when I coloured outside the lines. A bit like Harry Chapin’s song :
(Personal Note : Probably accounts for Mr Beige).
My search for Trailblazing Aussie Women is proving fascinating. I started with names of well known women but this exercise has led me down a rabbit hole and I have stumbled upon an 8 year old who walked the Kokoda Track and proceeded to climb Kilimanjaro and Everest, an Indigenous woman with a degree from Harvard, and a lass who has been working on the Mars Mission.
LIFE LESSON : You can teach an old dog new tricks.
One of the projects I’ve undertaken recently came to mind during Lockdown. I’de been reading a lot, particularly on social media, about the wonderful deeds of women in the past, particularly women from overseas. The Americans and the English seem to honour and celebrate the achievements of both their men and women whereas we Australians tend to be a little too “laid back”.
My friend Bernadette studied History at University. I opted for Geography and mostly courtesy of those great movies and television series during the 1960’s. Johnny Weissmuller’s Tarzan was all I needed to pass exams about the Amazon and John Wayne movies filmed in Monument Valley also contributed greatly to my success in the subject.
Together we thought we should highlight our Aussie women, past and present, who have done so much to change our landscape. Today, after four days of continual rain I am thankful for Myra Juliet Farrell (1878 – 1957) who came up with the idea for an indoor folding clothesline.
It’s been a busy year and though I’ve been retired for coming up to 2.5 years I don’t seem to have learned that whiling away the hours sitting on my backside is acceptable. I still ask myself before bed each night “ what did I achieve today?” And more stupidly, I still need to be challenged.
Today I potted thirty passionfruit plants which I hope to sell to raise funds for Wounded Heroes, attended a Workshop and cooked a roast dinner. My Fundamentals of Art Therapy course was completed in six weeks as opposed to six months and a friend and I are in the midst of getting a project of passion off the ground.And guess what? I’m not one of those “ladies who lunch”.
Without it being planned I’ve read a lot of books by Aussie Authors of late including The Light Between Oceans by M L Stedman. Picked up the DVD last week at a charity store starring Michael Fassbender and his wife in real life, Alicia Vikander and featuring Jack Thompson, Bryan Brown, and for those familiar with Tasmania, The Nut at Stanley. It is not a fun movie, but it is eerily atmospheric and does the book justice with themes of love and hate.
With so many Victorians and Sydneysiders spending a motza on real estate in Queensland I did consider selling up relocating to Stanley with a few bob in my pocket. I’ve since been told that any spare change would be spent on heating because northern Tassie is freezing. It does look pretty wild with those winds off Bass Strait. Just watching the movie will have you reaching for your cardigan…..
Haven’t managed to stay up till midnight for over forty years. It’s one of those quirks for being a bright eyed, bushy tailed morning person.
Don’t set New Year Goals nor Resolutions though I am ruminating about some new projects. Despite being retired I like projects. I have a need to achieve or create. Little things. Little things are okay.
“Throw your dreams into space like a kite, and you do not know what it will bring back, a new life, a new friend, a new love, a new country.” – Anais Nin
So let’s share something chilled and wet to bring in the new decade together. Join me at my local waterhole, the Grand View Hotel in Cleveland, Queensland.
Built in 1851 the Grand View was added to the Queensland Heritage Register on 21 October 1992. It is well regarded for its views overlooking Moreton Bay to beautiful North Stradbroke Island ( AKA Straddie – because we’re a lazy lot), and its alfresco dining in the beer garden, regularly voted one of the best in the state. The tucker passes muster too.
G.J. Walter Park is situated between the Grand View and Toondah Harbour ( where the ferry terminal carries passengers to Straddie) and is one of Queensland’s oldest parks being gazetted as a public reserve in 1889.
This area is home to koalas and many bird species that depend on the mangroves and mudflats for survival. Of course this means that it has been targeted by Developers for the construction of 3600 units and a water park. Apparently this is called progress.
Said farewell to 2020 at lunch with my youngest daughter sitting amongst the frangipanis. She reminded me that I’ve always been one to question progress. Sounds like another project, doesn’t it?
I downsized prior to my retirement from a 1300 sq metre property with a pool to something less than half that size with less maintenance yet enough room to enjoy a garden. It’s a lovely position which affords me my independence and backs onto a nature reserve with far less work and expense. Isn’t that what retirement is all about?
With COVID my neighbours have been working from home even though in Queensland our borders are now slowly reopening and our infection rate is low. ( 6 deaths. Too many but ?) Half their luck.
Earlier this week the neighbour baled me up whilst in the back garden. When I say baled me up, I couldn’t see him behind the fence because we’re both short but I could most certainly hear him screaming at me.
For the second time of late I was reminded that they are “both gainfully employed whilst I am retired” with the inference that I sit around on my backside and watch The Bold And The Beautiful all day long.
I received a five minute scolding about : ⁃ talking to the wildlife ⁃ just talking in general ⁃ making funny noises whilst working ( sorry, carrying 30 kilos isn’t as easy as it used to be and there may be the odd groan) ⁃ and saying good morning to the garden each day really pisses him off apparently.
The conversation ended with a “you’ve been warned”. In capital letters.
Firstly, I am retired, not dead.
The reason I retired young was because I worked hard for forty years and lived simply. I earned it in sweat, blood and tears.
I am busy most days which requires no further detail. Let’s just say that I believe retired folk are undervalued. Without their contributions many organisations would not exist, so lets start reframing the language and calling it what it is : pro bono work.
I would spend only an hour a day in the garden, perhaps double that when I mow the lawn.
My noise output is minimal. There is no motorbike in my garage nor do I have teenagers coming in and out at all times of the day and night. No pool, dogs, nor kids. I don’t even have a leaf blower. Old school, I use a broom.
I do have a courtyard that I look forward to using for entertainment purposes during Spring and Summer. Does this mean I should not be entertaining friends during the week, but only on weekends when the neighbours aren’t working? I’m not sure how to navigate these new living arrangements……….
What really irked me was :
You gonna bitch don’t do it hiding behind a fence. Wuss.
Employment status doesn’t make you a better person than the next.
Don’t even start me on Agism
The old bod has worked hard in its day. I can’t physically do what I used to do thirty years ago but I give it a try. This is not Russia. You just can’t shoot me.
My property. My house. Not ladylike but **** Off.
My apologies for the vent.
Tomorrow I will wake up feeling much better and say good morning to the garden as usual. Pity I recently sold the daughter’s drum kit………..
I’m very much an accidental gardener with a tendency to kill all indoor plants which explains my preference for native shrubs and trees : you simply ignore them and they attract bees and birds.
My vegetable garden provided much pleasure over recent months providing both occupation and produce. I claim that my unexpected weight loss over Isolation – despite way, way too much comfort food – was because of the produce straight from the “paddock”. It was satisfying to swap produce with friends as well: some tomatoes for Anzac Biscuits, chillies for home made tomato sauce.
So I’ve been encouraged and have recently planted a variety of Brassicas for winter. My thoughts have even turned to reforming my minuscule front yard into a garden plot for citrus trees and a variety of herbs.
Which has led me to reading about Victory Gardens :
During 1942 food shortages had an impact on the Australian home front with massive labour shortages, a severe prolonged drought, and major shortfalls in imports of seed stock and fertiliser.
In January 1942 the Prime Minister, John Curtin, launched “Dig for Victory”, a publicity campaign urging householders to grow their own vegetables as a contribution to the war effort.
Many Australians were already keen home vegetable gardeners, being self-sufficient, with fruit and vegetables and a “chook shed” down the back. Others took to the idea afresh and turned over their whole front and back gardens to vegetable production, often selling excess produce to raise funds for the front. Some people formed neighbourhood gardening groups as a means of feeding their families. Others formed gardening collectives, specifically to raise funds for the war effort.
I grew up on a quarter acre block with vege gardens, fruit trees and the chook shed way down the back ( with the cubby house, cowboy tent and rope swing).
A girl always needs a project so I think this is next on the list – incorporating a sleep box for the ducks, of course.
Yes, I know. Such a bizarre world we are living in right now, and yet I have more good news. Except that I read today that Dan Murphys has a shortage of rum across Brisbane. Just as well I only like rum on bananas en flambe, or poured over ice cream.
The Lockyer Valley is an area of rich farmland that sits between Toowoomba and Queensland’s capital city Brisbane. Farmers in the valley produce around 95% of winter vegetables that are supplied across Australia.
I was recently invited to travel across the Lockyer Valley in a tour hosted by celebrity chef Alastair McLeod, Ambassador for this area for some years. McLeod, some of you may know, is of Irish/ Torres Straight Island descent and has a passion for fresh produce. One evening he cooked for the group utilising the produce from local butchers and farmers where we had stopped along the way. One thing I took away from meeting McLeod, other than his sincerity in pushing fresh Australian produce, is that good meat doesn’t have to melt in your mouth. “It’s ok to masticate”, he said. And that he likes a red with his beef.
My travels across the Lockyer indicated lots of new growth with undulating hills covered in various shades of green and parklands fresh and full of new life. But looks can be deceiving. The Lockyer Valley is in “Green Drought” mode which essentially means that although the area has most certainly benefited from recent rainfall the moisture hasn’t soaked deep into the earth. Our farmers are still battling. When our farmers hurt, their communities hurt. And they need help.
Blogs covering my experiences in the Lockyer Valley will be published elsewhere in coming months 🙂
As a fellow blogger recently stated, thank you Karen J Schoff for the inspiration, “Sometimes we can be so keen to explore the rest of the world we can overlook the places and history that is just around the corner”.
Ever so grateful for such a wonderful opportunity in retirement, on so many levels. Sending a rude gesture to the schmuck who berated anyone over 45 for wasting space. Don’t come anywhere near me if I’m holding a golf club ya dipstick.
My eldest daughter, Pocohontas, thrilled me with the news that Bentley, my Grandfurbaby, is going to have a sibling in Spring. The two legged variety.
Of course I’m excited, though also living in trepidation. You see, I’m too young to be a grandmother according to my head. The calendar may suggest otherwise but I’m definitely no Nanna nor Grandma. I think I will be a Meemaw
I do not knit or sew. Since retirement I’ve been very fortunate to attend numerous Workshops to learn new skills. Like making gravy boats out of clay and building bee motels and fantasy writing workshops. I have no compunction whatsoever to learn how to use a crochet hook or a sewing machine.
I do paint ceramics. But how many egg cups does a child need?
I like painting and working with colour though am not good at it and blame those early school years when the teachers used to hit us on the knuckles with a ruler for colouring outside the lines.
The old brain is creative enough, it’s just that my body parts don’t seem to connect. A platter I painted as a wedding gift makes a fine dish for their pot plants.
She sent me a copy of the scan to put on the fridge door. We didn’t have scans back in the day. They were the days you could eat Camembert cheese and eat shellfish which was just as well as I craved prawns. It was an expensive pregnancy.
Apparently, it’s unacceptable to proclaim “ oh, so you’re having a penguin”.
So when I asked my daughter if it was acceptable to start a collection of Errol Flynn movies for the imminent eminent she said “ of course Mo, Errol and Audreys please. You can never start with the classics too soon”.