I’ve been asked that question more than a few times. When all you know is work, retirement can seem a pretty foreign concept.
I guess it’s best described as a permanent vacation. You wake up when you want, and do whatever you want… pretty much every single day. Everything just sort of blurs together; on most days, I have absolutely no idea what day it is.
But people shouldn’t retire without some interests or things to do. I mean, The Price is Right is definitely worth spending 8-10 hours a day watching, but after a couple of years of that, well, you’ll probably see nothing but caskets dancing in front of your mushed-out brain. At least you’ll have a good guess as to what they’re worth. I doubt they even show it in Portugal, but if they do have a Portuguese version, the prices would be in euros for heaven’s sake. Who can guess prices in euros? So, with our first choice off the table, we decided to take up some hobbies.
One of which for me is doing a bit of gardening. I think it’s a good idea to know how to grow your own food, and the Portuguese climate seems very fertile for growing. Most of our neighbors have crops of some sort in their yard. We have mostly rocks and concrete in ours, so I set up a table (which is handy because I don’t have to bend over), and planted corn, tomatoes, melons, spinach, and peppers. Being retired means I can tend to them every day, and I already have at least a dozen regular tomatoes growing on a single plant, with a bunch more cherry tomato plants on its heels.
I also bought myself a telescope. The air here is so clear and it’s almost always cloudless (we do get mist once in a while; we are very close to the ocean after all). And of course the air is warm so you can be out at midnight without a coat and enjoy the stars. Thus far, the moon is too bright to see some of the planets and galaxies I want to see, but it allowed for some great shots of the moon, shown here at the right. I also posted some at the bottom of this blog entry.
Otherwise, duh, I have this blog. (Trust me, it takes me a lot longer to write it than you to read it. Especially since so many people I know just read the headline and maybe look at some of the pictures. I know I’m providing for a lost art: reading. Congratulations, though, you’ve proven to be a reader. Now we can make fun of all of those other people. Most of them have breath that smell of cod and wear ill-fitting shoes. Ha!)
Personally, I still read a lot of news. The U.S.’s political situation has devolved into a 24/7 reality show, which makes sense because we elected a reality show host as President. I’m about ready to try to find a no-politics filter though, because it has become really very tiresome; although that comes at the risk of being exposed to more news about the Kardashians. I’m not sure which is worse.
I also take long walks and get workouts ala our Wii Fit. It’s a pretty good program that not only provides yoga with a balance board –so there’s no way to cheat and have your balance off– but it also works up a sweat with runs and balance games and boxing and more.
And let’s not forget our Portuguese lessons. We meet with our tutor once a week, but we also try to get on memrise.com once a day in order to enjoy a half hour or so of the computer telling us how bad our memory is.
And that doesn’t even take into account our occasional forays to the beach where we can watch great sunsets like this, as well as our explorations of Portugal. We haven’t even thought about getting to the rest of Europe yet, one of our main reasons for coming here.
What’s amazing is that with just those limited number of things to do, there are many days when we just can’t get to them all. That said, it’s not like we’re running from one thing to the next out of fear of a boss breathing down our necks. Especially since in between some of those activities there’s always the heavenly naps. And laying by the pool. Man, all of a sudden I’m tired recounting all of this! I think it might be time for a nap.
Now that I’m all rested again, I will add that Carolyn was so happy to get her old reliable sewing machine delivered in good shape with the rest of our stuff from Oregon. She hemmed all the drapes (when do you haw by the way?) and made some pillows as well as a special outfit for me to wear while watching the stars. I guess she has a ways to go on that one.
She has also taken up painting with acrylics. She wants me to emphasize that these are her very first efforts, and were only posted with a very reluctant blessing. I mean, this is the first time she’s even picked up a brush to create a painting. I may be prejudiced, but I think she has some talent! We’ll revisit a few dozen or hundred paintings from now, but I’m confident that her art will grace our home in no time.
She also stays very busy keeping the house pristine. She’s a laundry-hanging maniac now too, which is funny because she was so insistent on having a dryer when we moved over here. I suppose when you live in rainy Oregon, hanging out clothes just isn’t an option. But in sunny Portugal, it saves money and energy, and it’s a lot easier on the clothes. Plus, when you’re retired, you have all the time in the world!
Which is one of the best things about retirement. Now, no matter what we do, we take our time. It used to be that I would maximize every second of my time with every little task at hand. For instance, if I was dragging a garden hose across the lawn and it caught, I would tug and pull and do everything I could to avoid walking back toward where it caught to untangle it first, even at the risk of tearing the hose apart. Now, I just meander back, unstick it, smell some roses (well, tomatoes) and meander back to the front of the hose as if I had all the time in the world. Which I do, I guess until they bury me in one of those “$6,250 dollars Bob!” caskets.
(In the meantime, I have plenty of time to take pictures of sunsets and the moon!)