July 27, 2012

Digging into the Past...and Reflecting...Thank Goodness without a Mirror!

When retirement comes opportunity to do many different kinds of things and take time to do things that weren't possible in a busy, "full" life. I am currently in the midst of one of those opportunities visiting places that were special and important to me.

Looking SW towards the river
El Paso, Texas, was my hometown and I just spent about a day and half in the area for the first time in about 10 years. I didn't come with much of an agenda...more of a let-the chips-fall-where-they-may idea. I did want to take in the views from several vantage points and there was one cemetery I wanted to visit. Yes, that is weird I know, but I have always found them fascinating places full of interesting facts and stories. This spot was of a personal nature because, just recently, online I had uncovered my great-grandparents resting spot, one of many missing facts (to me) in the life of a somewhat mysterious couple as far as family history was concerned.

I-10 looking west to Franklin Mts.
I limited my visit to the east side of El Paso this go-around because I hadn't spent any time there in probably 25 years! My parents moved to the west side in the 1980s and my visits were centered from there. The Franklin Mts., the Rio Grande River, and Ft. Bliss (plus other military entities) make for an interestingly laid-out city!

The cemetery was not difficult to find...it just never had been one that I went by often. In getting there I knew the street and general area. Of course I verified my thoughts by looking at the online map...what any good librarian would do! And with online maps and reality, the two are hardly ever in sync! Major road construction that sent me around and about to parts of EP that I had not driven thru over 40 years! A pleasant secondary discovery was ending up on the campus of Texas Tech Medical School. I had seen bits and pieces of clinics, etc. around town but never the official facility itself. Although tightly spaced (unlike the university itself) it was a pretty set of buildings that reminded ME both of the Lubbock campus as well as the unique early beginnings of the local UTEP campus.   

If you are into historical information from the point of view of cemeteries, here is a blog posting about Concordia Cemetery I discovered awhile back while one of my many virtual journeys to random places in search of random information to support the many random thoughts I tend to have...regularly!

I "lived" under the "A"
A note about the "A"...stands for Austin High School, my alma mater. At one point, all high schools had letters, but as the city grew and the number of schools increased, plus the aspects of safety and preserving the mountain, city leaders decided that letters had to go. So they faded into the sunset...except the "A"...it's on private land!

And, wow, is this post an example of rambling reflection!!

Note: This post was written July 23, 2012. Lack of technology held up the posting.

Photos: Personal files of VWB

July 20, 2012

What a Difference a Year Can Make

A baker's dozen months ago, I started a radical and very different (for me anyway) way of life called retirement. Not only did I end a career lasting 36 years that I loved, but I picked up and moved to a new location, basically because of the "why not" notion. So many new "things" and people coming from many directions made for some tense moments...days...weeks. As scary as it was to make these major changes (and it was scary!), it has been a very good year.

As I have said many times in the last year to neighbors and old friends, I "bought" a lifestyle and a cute little house came with it. I live in an active adult community, aka a retirement community, and, as I and some in my circle fondly call it, the compound! Central Texas...on the edge of the Texas hill country is the location. Quite a departure from the Gulf coast area of Houston, my residence for the last 32 years. I spent a lot of the first year putting on the finishing touches to my house, creating a yard, and finding places for all my stuff while battling the effects of the worst drought seen in the area and the state in any one's memory! Just an added little extra all of us had to deal with in our various lives, wasn't it?!
Some of my Hill Country neighbors!
I took on some new challenges although none of them changed the future of the world or mankind. I promised myself I would do some new things so I played at things like jewelry making, growing flowers that would live longer than a month, and country line dancing. I "studied" and practiced square dancing, quickly realizing that it is a lot of fun for me, whether I get "good" or not, and it fits into my promise to get up and exercise more. I attend water aerobics at least twice a week (and there were weeks I went 5 times!) and I try to walk 2-3 miles every day.
Creating a colorful new yard
 My guilty pleasure that I added to my new life for no other reason other than I just wanted it is my golf cart named "Charlie Brown." I love riding around the compound with, or without, neighbors and friends. I can go to classes, do banking business, mail things, and visit with the four-legged residents of my neighborhood by just jumping in Charlie and pushing the go pedal. In a couple of months I will be able to visit Walgreens and all it may contain. Life would be perfect if I could just buy groceries...o, and visit the public library where I volunteer.  But that's ok...makes me appreciate what I can do by carting down the road. It is a good thing that since being retired, I am no longer in a hurry...especially when using my cart...it is not a souped up model. Sometimes when going up a hill, my passengers and I often question whether we might have to get out and carry Charlie up the hill. No matter, it's all a part of the adventure!
Charlie Brown & I take a spin
For most of my working days, I was knee-deep into the happenings of school libraries...working with students and teachers, administering the behind-the-scenes necessary tasks, and helping others accomplish the same kinds of things. It was a major source of my being so I couldn't completely walk away. Instead  because of the luxury of being retired, I only do things I want to do library-related. Over the course of this remarkable year, I have breathed lots of public library air doing various things for the wonderful Georgetown Public Library. Yes, I shelve books, but the addition of a bookmobile as the means to add a branch, gave me an opportunity to work in the technical services area of the library as well. I have even done some ride-alongs  on the WOWmobile and assisted patrons in obtaining cards and selecting books!
The Words on Wheels mobile!
Well, this stroll down memory lane of my first year of retirement has gone on long enough for now. I intended to ramble about a few other things, but the evening has slipped away and tomorrow holds another opportunity for new adventures. So that's all for now. I have a pretty good list of other things I want to share (and some of them have some "real" purpose behind them!)

Stay tuned!

P.S. Gee, it has only taken me a year to get some pictures into this blog...I did say retired life means slow life!

Images - personal files from VWB

June 13, 2012

We Will See...

What Would You Like A Little More Of in Your Life?
The statement made by the presenter I am currently  listening to.

My answer: Blogging!
Yes, 10+ months  since my last post. There are many reasons why and I won't necessarily go into them at this time! Suffice it to say, I am going to post today. I intend to get back into the blogging saddle but... We will see...

#1 In the months I have been away, Blogger has undergone some major format changes and I don't even recognize the backside. A learning opportunity for me! I am trying to look at this change positively. That is what the speaker wants us to do. Not sure this post will be fancy (i.e. pictures and links)...might be too much for my brain to take in all at once! We will see...

#2 Time. Believe it or not, I haven't had a whole lot of time to blog. Retirement is a full time job these days...don't have time to compose a worthy message although I have had LOTS of random thoughts that I would say to myself would be good ideas for posts, but those moments flew away as quickly as they came. Maybe I will be able to recapture some of them. We will see...

#3 A VIP in my life has challenged me to write again...and since I always have done what he has told me to do...here I am doing what I was told! How well I do it (as in how often), well, we will see...

Ok, so now a little more meat in this post.
The second session speaker's quote that caught my attention:
Are we like the "frog in the bottom of the well?" 
Of course that caught my attention because of the frog part, but if you think about the statement itself, is your view of life limited to only what you see through a narrowly focused "lens"? Something for you to think about within your own framework.

Another interesting term from this speaker...
Did you know that as a Librarian each time you meet with a teacher one-on-one, you are doing conceirge professional development! I like that thought...positive term, point-of-need, personal time kind of idea.

Oops, one more
There are many ways to be a leader. But BEING A LEADER is not negotiable. (Emphasis was the speaker's.) Most folks in my circle are leaders these days, and good ones, and came to the position in a variety of ways. There are a few who are reluctant to take on the position and it is a difficult place to be these days. That's my observation only.

Where am I getting these kernels? I am attending my favorite library event...Texas Association of School Library Administrators in Austin this week. A whole room of school librarians and their brains! It is always such a good learning (and often by accident) experience. Yes, I'm retired, but the need for knowledge doesn't stop...and I'm not the only retired person in the room!

If you want more information about the speakers:
Sandy Slough from Region 20 ESC talked on Coping Skills for Today's Challenges
Kristin Fontichiaro, Univ of Michigan School of Information, Envisioning Solutions and Translating Ideas into Strategies....more specifically,  Growing Schools with PD, Librarians as Professional Developers. The first link is her slides, the second information she co-edited.

An interesting question just posed by Kristin.
How many of you were trained in how to present professional development? A room of about 60-70 library leaders... ONE hand went up...mine! Wow! A very interesting result to me.

Another hummm...
She spent a few minutes talking to the group about the 23 Things model of PD...
Might need to get my hands on the book and read that chapter!

Ok...enough for my first time back...that and the fact that this post is rambling. I will do better on my next one...there will another one...now when and what it will be about...we will see!

September 11, 2011

Reflections of a Personal and Historical Nature

Over the last few weeks, because of personal changes and events, tragic and scary current events, and historical markers on the national calendar, I have spent a lot of time reflecting on change in my life, my family, my neighborhood, my country.

I am a student of history and the events replayed and reviewed in the media the last few days about the events of September 11, 2001, got a lot of my attention. Although the terrible events did not touch me personally, I was affected by what happened and the changes on my life. I remember 10 years ago wishing above all else, I could gather my girls around me. Neither were in harm's way, but both were too far away for me that day. One was merely across the district in a different school building from me and the other was only down the road, but for most of that day, they might as well have been on the moon. I reached other family members by phone pretty quickly JUST to hear their voices, but only started breathing once I could hug the stuffing out of one daughter at day's end...and finally get the other on a long distance line. I can not measure what those most directly affected in such terrible ways that day felt. I only know how I felt when I could not be with my family simply because of distance and time.

Ten years later, because of events in my personal life, I have spent time with both of my girls in the last few days, and with other members of my family. I am glad about that. I spent today itself with one daughter doing unimportant things, but loving every minute we had together. Yes, we reflected on the importance of today, how we felt about certain stories we had reviewed over the last few days, but also included thoughts about things more personal that had occurred in our own little world.

Because of where I now live, and her current location, I have spent a lot of time recently watching the skies, smelling the air, and keeping an eye on what I might need to grab quickly. For many years, I had practiced hurricane preparedness (and put it into action a few times.) Now because of a new address and the severe and historic drought and record-breaking summer temperatures, we have had a new concern--wildfires. I had been following them from a different spot in the state and was very worried the evening of Labor Day when I realized some were very close to where both of us lived. Once again, time and distance separated me from my children and I really did not like it. As the parent of grown children, you get used to them not being around every day, but there are many days you don't have to like the idea.

We were and continue to be fortunate that we have escaped the fires...so far, but I checked in with her today...yes, both of us remain on alert...just in case.

Because of retiring and moving to a new community, I have spent a lot of time going through personal belongings and remembering the occasions behind items and in particular, family pictures. Also because of the freedom of a retirement schedule, I had the opportunity to spend time with other family members, my older daughter and my brother and sister. Once again the opportunity to indulge in "do you remember" conversations and reflect on how life has changed over the last few years came my way.  I was very happy to have the chance to share this time...definitely one of the benefits of cutting loose of a demanding work schedule. The ability to "go" pretty much at the drop of a hat IS a nice retirement perk!

But I also found out how much, in such a short period of time, I have become accustom to my new little routine and my quiet, slow, small-town life. I missed my daily routine, my cute little new house, and my comfortable old bed while I was away having a bit of an adventure. I was glad to go, but ever so glad to get home. My time away allowed me the luxury of appreciating my life and counting my blessings.

However you spent today, whether reflecting on its significance, or not, I hope it was a good day for you full of people and pleasures that bring you joy. It was a good one for me, one among many I have found myself enjoying recently for a variety of reasons.

Hope you can count tomorrow among the good ones for whatever reason.
See you sooner next time!

August 19, 2011

7 Weeks: The Pieces Are Falling Into Place

Seven weeks ago I came home to my little hillside retreat and opened the door to retirement. I spent the month of July putting my household and, therefore, much of my life back together. I had lived in flux since January and was so happy to finally get things unpacked and organized (sort of). Dealt with all the requisite things associated with a move involving changing cities. There is a lot more involved then when you move a mere 5-6 miles across town. I had forgotten some of the finer details since it had been 32 years since I had changed locations! The house needed a bit of tweaking but nothing that required anything more than a bit of time by several pleasant and helpful workmen.

Of course, moving in the midst of a history-making heat wave added a bit of a curve ball to some of the plans. My newly planted grass is hanging on by a thread. I stand out and admire how well the weeds are surviving...in fact, I let the yardman start just so he could make the weeds look well-groomed! And my garage is still pretty messy and unorganized. It is just going to have to get cooler before I can attack the mess successfully.

So the boxes are unpacked, the furniture is in place, and I have only reorganized two drawers. No, the pictures are not hung yet...that is always the last thing I do. Just hate to poke holes in the wall so I try to be absolutely sure before committing myself!

Ok, July was busy, but then along came August and I started one of my major objectives...getting involved in the lifestyle available in my new community...a major reason I chose to come here. I literally jumped into water aerobics and I go 5 days a week. Am considering adding some more classes next month. Water zumba! Why? Because I like the music they work out with.  My new neighbors and old friends attend some of the classes so that doubles the fun.

I have joined the line dancing class along with four of my new neighbors...we have really bonded over this adventure. It is fun, but I also refer to it as torture..not the physical kind...torture of the mind. My head, not my feet, hurts after each class. Even with tutoring, both class and personal, I have only managed to mangle two out of the four dances set for the next social. O well! Can't wait to see what gets added next month!

I have signed up to be a volunteer at the city library...a really nice facility that is actually available SEVEN days a week. Having come from a major city that practically has no services on weekends (and hasn't for several years), I am so impressed that my new little town sees the value of its bricks and mortar service to the community. I have made several visits to check out what's available and to get back in one of my favorite library things...reading ALL the magazines! I am sure I will have tales to tell once the volunteer sessions get started.

And I really went off in a very different direction by joining the Fabric and Fiber group to participate in the beadwork SIG. I am NOT artistic at all, but I have wanted to mess with artsy stuff for some time and beading holds an appeal. I have wanted to do stained glass for years through the community education division of the school district I just left and never could work it into my schedule. I see that possibility on my radar here in my new community...after I get more comfortable. These artsy folks are SERIOUS about their creations and I figure I can do little damage to myself (and others) by starting small.

One more note this go-round. I am here to be involved, but to be involved with people. Moving into a brand new neighborhood still under construction. Only seven houses on our small street are currently occupied so we are all in the business of getting to know each other and help each other adapt to this new lifestyle. I have an old friend and new old friends who live around the community and that has been fun mixing with them and the neighbors. And most importantly, I have old friends (and family!) who have come to visit..for an hour, a day or a weekend. I really like that part too!

Yes, I will get some pictures going soon. Gee, did you notice, I finally added hot links. I am on a roll!
Hopefully, I can report next time from the porch!

July 13, 2011

The First Month

It's been a month since I signed my life away and became the owner of my little hillside vista. But only 14 days of actually living here so I get a pass on not being totally unpacked and organized! Of course the fact that I can't decide where to put some things and the fact that there is no space for some other things has nothing to do with the continued chaos I find myself living in! Time, just a bit more time, and this part will be a mere memory.

I have had family come see me and that has been great! Both girls have been twice. I reallllly want that to happen more often. It was fun planning for them and spending time with them on simple tasks and mindless conversation. I have missed that a lot.  Another part of my little family made an impromptu stop on their way from point A to B through the state and I was so glad I was home when they called. I want those kinds of visits to happen too!

And now a Houston friend is coming tomorrow for an impromptu albeit quick visit. She is moving far away shortly and I am really glad to get this chance to see her before she takes off!

And I went to Austin on Saturday to do a little library-related volunteering. Will write a little more about that later. Am waiting for some info to share!

I am trying to develop my routine despite the unpacking and the fact that my days and nights are somewhat confused. I was warned that would happen, and it does cause the need for a little afternoon nap sometimes! O dear, having to work in a nap...such an interruption in my busy day!

I have started my walking routine and walked to the activities center the other day...even tho' 2 neighbors were concerned about the heat. No problem...a lovely breeze and smooth sidewalk. I have done orientation so I can now officially start using the facilities and take some classes...one small problem...need to finish the unpacking first!

Did make the farmers' market on Tuesday and got some lovely off-the-vine ripe tomatoes and great potatoes. Think I have missed many of the other vegetable opportunities because of the heat and lack of rain. But it was fun to come home and cook up a skillet of sliced potatoes and onions and eat those with a fresh sliced tomato. Reminded me of what we used to do when the girls were little on our visits to Hawaii back in my other life. Good eating!

Have enjoyed several days of beautiful skies filled with clouds making for nice sunsets, but NO rain from the back porch. Thanks friends to the south for sending them this way but could you manage to leave a little water in them. My grass really would appreciate the drink and it sure would help with the lovely dust created by the construction guys...especially when they are using the giant rock cutter...it makes such a lovely fine white dust!

Ok, no pictures AND no links...this might be a record of some kind for me. No camera access yet and there just is nothing to link at this point...breaks one of my cardinal rules...should always have links! O well, maybe next time.

See ya on the porch.

July 6, 2011

Turning the Page to a New Kind of Adventure

Ok, I finally am getting this reflection of my new retired life started...and yes, I am sitting on the back porch while I do so!

I closed the book on my long-time professionally-related blog (but retain the right to go back to it whenever the spirit moves me.) This blog will reflect more of my personal thoughts about all kinds of things. I am basically doing it a  a record for myself, my children, and the few friends who will give up a few minutes to see what's going on in my new little corner of the world.

There is nothing significant about today's start date...except that I am starting. I had grand plans of journaling about the building of my new house as a part of this new chapter but that didn't happen. The girls and I (and other interested parties) got to share enough of that either in person or in bits and pieces on FB.

Today is officially the 6th day of my retirement and it is pretty much been a quiet time. Just trying to get my "house" in order as a result of my wayward life over the last few months, be it the actual house or the loose ends related to ending a job multiple decades old!

I have moved into a brand new neighborhood where the construction teams outnumber the residents at least 10-12 to 1!  I enjoy watching all the comings and goings and watching the other houses in various stages of completion...my second time in life to be a part of a new growing neighborhood. One of the best benefits is that ALL the neighbors are new and many of us are working hard at getting to know each other...not always the case in more established places. Yes, I know..we have one pretty important advantage...we are all retired and have the luxury of time!

No pictures yet...too many cardboard boxes still sitting around...and no camera at the moment. Darn, they make you turn in all your toys when you leave a job!

So, here's to the first post. Not really what I had thought I would write when I first envisioned this new adventure, but it is what it is.

Oops, the sprinklers are coming on so I have to go in...and the bunny who regularly stops by to nibble of the excellent crop of weeds and crab grass that has sprouted up in my yard has scampered off home as well.

See you (maybe) around the back porch as I explore this new adventure.