How to approach this Post (Part II) has caused a lot of thought because there is so much history involved however, I thought a very brief overview would suffice to set the general tone!
My life in general has dictated much flexibility. My first choice of careers was blocked, and my second choice dissolved as a result of a medical condition. My relationship choice presented me with a surprise (a skeleton in the closet) after 3 years which was very challenging. I “accommodated” it for another 22 years before opting out. That decision left me with some clothes, a few personal things, a Chevy Astro van and, fortunately, my job! There was nothing for me in the bank except a small overdraft!
When retirement was on the horizon, I was renting a small apartment and saving as best I could as I did not want to be retired and still renting. It made no financial sense to me as a long term strategy. Just before I retired, I bought the home that I am in now. It was rather neglected (albeit structurally sound) and was in a “not too nice ” part of Oakville. It was however, what I could afford!
Moving into retirement, one major plan was to gut the inside of the house and rebuild it as/when finances permitted. My early retirement days were therefore heavily committed, but I did manage to run regularly, and play my guitars. I also had a garden to salvage and I wanted to get back into cycling. When Carol became part of my life, the house was semi renovated and she agreed to buy into it which allowed me to speed up the various projects.
She was also interested in running and cycling which was great, but there were two problems. I wanted a really good bike, and they were expensive. The solution was to offer myself to the service area of our local bike shop, but I did not want to be paid! What I wanted was to build up credit until I could afford a really nice bike! They agreed. The second problem was that they had a Sunday morning cycling group which had no functional leader, and was therefore rather unreliable. The solution was to offer to lead their Sunday group which was not much different from coaching the running group some years earlier. They accepted and we all had a lot of fun times and some very long rides together!
The house was a long job, and with running, cycling and music, my days were pretty full. Initially, Carol was still working so I also took on the routine housekeeping tasks!
As a boy, I loved trains… and still do! After moving in here, I was in a video store and saw a train simulator game which was a clearance item, so I bought it. Once I saw what it could do I was quite impressed, and its “nostalgia value” was huge. The only area that it fell down badly was the trackside scenery. It was very “cartoony”! I thought that I could probably do better than that, so large chunks of time were suddenly allocated to learning about the software and seeing if I could improve on the gaming company’s routes. It was not difficult to make huge improvements so I progressed to making my own routes, which were uploaded to the company’s site so that other users could download same and enjoy them. A route typically takes 300-400 hours of work so it severely impacts my available time. I soon got myself into a habit of getting up at 5:00am and therefore found 3 hours of route building and/or playing time every day of the week!
The running was being sidelined a little, but we were still cycling. I was still playing my guitars and now experimenting with muti-track recording, but I really needed some professional guidance. The solution was to take guitar lessons and so, once a week, that time was committed!
Ray presented a major challenge in many ways, but all could be addressed with time. The cycling was not possible for the two of us together because we could not leave Ray on his own. Our running was also put on hold for much the same reasons. I was able to continue with guitar lessons; the house renovations had progressed very well, and I still had my 3 hour early morning time slot to work on the train simulator!
After 18 months of working with Ray, I wanted to share his story and this Blog was started. As most of you fellow bloggers know very well, an effective blog can take a considerable amount of time out of one’s day. I then decided that I could probably write a book about the first 18 months of living with Ray, being the time prior to this Blog. That was a very time consuming project which impacted a number of other areas, the main one being my music.
It wasn’t long before I introduced some of my poetry into my blogging and, on the strength of some positive feedback, decided that I could put together a book of poetry (which is virtually complete). I still had my early morning “train time”, but other things were impacted. Cycling was still on hold, and running was limited to irregular time on a treadmill in our basement.
This past Spring, we decided that our front garden (predominantly grass) which had always struggled due to being overshadowed by a crimson maple tree, should receive a major makeover. We had an intense time of work, during which very little else was done as we took up all the grass and replaced it with shrubs and a winding pathway!
More recently, I offered to help out a friend with a couple of childrens/adult childrens fictional stories for her Blog (she was sick at the time), and that looks like developing into a co-author arrangement to write a book of such stories. However, I still have my daily 3 hours for train work!
The problem now is accommodating doctors, dentists, medical specialists, classical concerts, and a myriad of other necessary commitments. I need to visit my kids in Vancouver periodically, and perhaps visit England one day. A social life could be pleasant as well, and there are still a few jobs around here that need to be done … and then there’s my “new” grandaughter, and friends that I have not seen for a long time. How on earth can anybody balance everything?
Retirement really is hard work!