Since having retired last October, I have on more than one occasion been chided for being on “perpetual vacation.” To that, I say, “What the heck’s wrong with a perpetual vacation??” After all, I worked long and hard to earn “time off for good behavior.” So why give it up so soon? Maybe I will get to that point eventually, but for now, I still enjoy “vacation mode.”
Yes, I know, many would say, “But you should give back! Do something to support the community! The environment!” Think of the children!” 😉 But working for a corporation like American Express for 24 years, “giving back” was a requisite part of our culture. I crawled over construction sites for Habitat for Humanity. Collected used coats and blankets for New York Cares. Helped build playgrounds, participated in reading programs with underprivileged inner city kids, and did a weekly stint reading for the visually impaired at Lighthouse for the Blind. That is not to mention the all-but-enforced charitable giving campaigns.
On a side note, of all the volunteer jobs over the years, none touched me like my time at Lighthouse. I was assigned a visually impaired “partner,” an elderly man who opted to have me open his mail each week. It was always gut-wrenching to see him caress the envelopes, run his calloused, weathered fingertips across the front, and try to guess what was inside. “Open this one first. I think it is a card from my daughter.” “No sir, I am sorry. It is only an invitation for a Platinum Card.” Nothing like spending an hour with someone who has no sight to make one appreciate their own, albeit tear-filled. But I digress.
Two months and counting “down on the farm,” and I vowed not to leave until Mom said “We’ll be okay.” I am fortunate that my mother has always understood my need for independence, and my Dad has always understood my need to wander. They understand, because I inherited both traits from them.
So how to pass the time in rural Texas where entertainment venues are 30 miles away? Projects!
I hauled off enough dead limbs and cut trees to build a “burn pile” in the Back Forty higher than my head. Higher than my Dad’s “tall version” golf cart!
I rented a 20 yard roll-off container and hauled off 2.57 tons of junk left behind by former tenants who abandoned my parent’s rental property last December. (That’s 5,140 pounds that I single-handedly loaded into the container.) And that is not counting over 100 cardboard boxes that I burned.
I oversaw the cleaning out of the septic tanks. This was always Dad’s job, but sadly, he had forgotten where the tanks were buried. So I had to help the guy try to locate the openings. I now know what it must feel like to be in a chemical gas attack! No matter where I went on the lawn, there was no escaping the fumes!
I helped “re-home” a bee hive, an event worthy of its own blog post.
I retrofit my Dad’s gas cans (which involved drilling vent holes) to the pre-2009 ruling of “safety nozzles,” none of which my Dad could figure out how to open. The “eco-intent” of having them be spill-proof was negated by his inability to get them open, breaking the parts, and leaking gas all over the lawnmower shed.
I got rid of junk through the local “free cycle.” Cleaned out the gutters around the entire house. Disassembled two old swing sets and one above-ground pool. And mowed their gigantic lawn several times, including a portion of the “Back Forty” so my nieces could shoot off fireworks.