Tag Archives: retirement

As the Condo Turns…

Standard

This condo life’s the life for me,
But I have issues…you will see,
With old farts on a condo board,
Who make suite owners feel ignored…

Opening Scene: If you’ve been following my blog, you may remember that we recently Downsized and moved to our first condo. It’s been nearly two years since we took that giant step into this community-type living arrangement. And we’ve met a whole gaggle of cotton-heads – all waddling into The Scary World of Aging along with us. So at least we have that in common, which is necessary when you live in a complex chock-a-block with wrinkled has-beens.

Cast of Characters: Oh get a grip! I’m not trying to bust your blogroll with that last comment. But when people age, the world at large tends to think of older people as just that – old people. But we all used to be something else in the world, before we got to retire and enjoy the good life here in this adult lifestyle complex. We represent every walk of life in various eras gone by, and now we get to be free agents. And that’s a wonderful thing.

Lifetime Performances: Old corporate dogs never die – they resurface on condo boards! Sometimes these retired pinstriped suits love to continue on in positions of power after getting the golden handshake. Consequently, some choose condo board positions to exercise the old school ‘mushroom style of management’ that was in business vogue back in the good old days. And now many condo residents suffer the ill effects of these fungus management techniques.

Great Actors: In my professed limited experience, I have found condo boards only pretend to be open for suggestions. But deep inside their cold little grinchy-hearts, they don’t like change, they discourage communication, they isolate potential status-quo-shakers, and they prefer an autocratic system of control. There’s no doubt these board members (mostly male) like to rule with a bony arthritic fist! And preferably in a locked room away from the rest of the annoying pesky suite owners.

Change the Scenery: I realize it will take time for the old guard to move on and allow the newer residents to sit in the power seats. It’s a trust issue as well. And they definitely have done many good things to date. But there’s more to modern-day condo living than bridge games, jigsaw puzzles and an anal-retentive book of rules. This isn’t an old folks home. And it’s not a place where dusty doilies go to die. We need new blood to make this a community for everyone to enjoy; not just the long time residents who hold on to ‘the way it’s always been’ with a death grip.

Happy Ending: But saying all that, I still love living here. Condo life is definitely the right life for Hubsey and me at this stage of our lives. Some of the rules are dumb-ass stupid, and we may not feel part of the decision process yet, but I know someday that will change. I need to be patient and it will come.

12 Things I’ve Learned About Condo Living

1. You can’t always get your own way.

2. You can enjoy the snow without shovelling it.

3. You can’t play your music or TV too loud.

4. You can feel safe and secure.

5. You can’t renovate without condo approval.

6. You can go swimming in the winter.

7. You can’t have deliveries outside approved hours.

8. You can always find someone to talk to.

9. You can’t expect to know why decisions are made.

10. You can expect to be frustrated when decisions are made.

11. You can’t wash the outside of your windows when they’re dirty.

12. You can ignore the politics and enjoy the simple life.

So all in all, this is a new lifestyle in progress. Stay tuned for the next episode of…As the Condo Turns.

So that’s my rant – that’s all she wrote,
What if they read my blogging note?
While condo rules may well restrict me,
At least those old farts can’t evict me…

Pat Skene

Head Games

Standard

I rant therefore I amBloggers Anonymous

Silver & Gold Spring Issue

  
           BOOMERRANTZ in Print


“Pat’s Boomerrantz” is now appearing in Silver and Gold magazine. My first column Arriving Naked is in the new spring issue. It can be viewed online by clicking on the magazine cover to the left…page 38. It’s all about, “Is there freedom after 55?” You’ll need to zoom in to read the text.

 

So with that news out of the way,
I have a few more things to say,
About this ‘Freedom 55’,
And all that mumbo-jumbo jive…

Hard-wired: Moving out of our fifties into the Scary World of Aging is about dealing with change and shifting gears with as much grace as we can muster. And nothing’s easy, because that’s life. In today’s troubled world, these worn out freedom 55 ideas about retirement have had their day. But like a manchurian candidate, we’re well programmed and continue to recite the marketing mantra.

All sizzle: So what’s it all about – our obsession with this freedom by 55 thing? This thing that we measure ourselves by? This thing we use to determine our success and failure? It’s simply a clever marketing slogan dreamed up in a corporate boardroom to make lots of money! Marketing is all about head games. It’s about re-wiring our brains, so our hearts and wallets will follow…like lemmings to the investment pool.

Clean sweep: So let’s keep it real people. Life isn’t a TV commercial. It’s time to stop the race toward this artificially inseminated perception of middle age. It’s time to pop the freedom 55 myth like a nasty zit. It’s time to sweep all these worn out notions into the dusty archives – along with moldy marketing slogans and other antiquated words like foolscap, hearken and slacks.

Enough said: Freedom is where it’s always been; right here, right now, everyday for those of us fortunate enough to live in a free world. So that being said…let’s get on with it.

So all these rantz inside my pantz,
Are music for my freedom dance,
Sometimes I need to shake it out,
That’s what this blog is all about!

Pat Skene

A Blemish in My Garments

Standard

The first year after I retired,
I felt renewed and so inspired,
Then housework soaked my spongy brain,
And made me go a bit insane…

The year I left my busy working life to run free in the pastures of retirement, I was overwhelmed with an anxious energy to do everything I had missed out on in my life. I had no bucket list back then, just a longing to fill a whole bunch of empty spaces.

But that kind of desperate enthusiasm scrambled my brain and caused a few synapses to misfire. As it was happening, I wrote an article about my experience, which was published in several newspapers. The letters to the editor led me to believe I was not alone in my irrational behaviour.

It’s been nearly 14 years since I wrote that article. Keep in mind that I was in a quixotic state of divine domesticity. I have since reestablished my raison d’être and properly restored my sanity. Here’s my story…
——————————————————————————–

At Last, I’ve Found the Kitchen by Pat Skene

Toronto Star – 1998

“Success in housekeeping adds credit to the woman of intellect, and lustre to a woman’s accomplishments. No matter how talented a woman may be, or how useful in the church or society, if she is an indifferent housekeeper it is fatal to her influence, a foil to her brilliance and a blemish in her garments.”
THE HOME COOK BOOK, Toronto Rose Publishing Company, 1877

“Give her a wide berth,” I heard my husband whisper to my daughter, as I breezed through the kitchen to check on the contents of my new slow cooker.

“Mom bought a crock-pot?” she said, as she lurched backwards to get out of my way and slammed into my new rack of stainless steel cookware. “Where did those come from?” she complained, holding the side of her head.

Breathless, my husband continued as though I were not in the room. “And that’s not all. She has two boxes of mason jars in the basement. She wants to ‘do
down’ dill pickles and tomato relish. She’s been out everyday driving around the country roads, scouring the farms for fresh produce.”

“Geez, she’s even wearing an apron,” was all my daughter could say, as they stood in silence watching me with their eyes locked on my every move.

Poor things, this was all so sudden. It started very innocently really, when I bought a new dust mop and ironing board cover. I felt so harmoniously domestic after ironing my tea towels, that it spurred me on to clean behind the refrigerator and try out that new miracle floor cleaner I ordered from a home shopping catalogue.

This uncharacteristic burst of domesticity appeared suddenly in the first year of my retirement from corporate life. After many decades of being an exhausted working mother to my daughter and often-distracted partner to my husband, I left the rat race to preserve my energy, my health and to pursue my passion for
writing.

Like many working mothers, I still sported all the guilty baggage that busy parents usually bear well into their golden years. I worried about the scars my daughter had carved into her childhood, from deprivation of home cooked meals and the long-term effects of latchkey after-shock.

Instead, she managed to survive with professional parents who adored her and she became independent and self-sufficient at a very early age. In other
words, my baby grew up while I wasn’t looking and in spite of my lack of domesticity.

My husband banned me from the kitchen a long time ago, when he witnessed me teaching my daughter how to make a Christmas Meat Pie. He threatened to get a court order to stop me from teaching her how to cook.

So there I was, with my adult daughter and retired husband – ready to do the wife and mother thing – and all they could do was stare at me all goggle-eyed like kitchen road kill caught in the scent of my boneless rump roast.

As my family continued to tread softly around me with suspicions that it was just more Menopause Madness, I continued on my domestic journey. I washed the linens in logical color combinations, organized our kitchen shelves, cleaned out closets and dusted every piece of bric a brac I could find. All this, while my stuffed green peppers bubbled deliciously in my new state-of-the-art crock-pot.

I approached my household responsibilities with the same appetite as I did my career. I savored the goodness of field-ripened tomatoes and the emotional harmony that flowed from a clean, organized home. Simplicity in a world of complications seemed to take on a rhythm of its own.

Unfortunately, while I harvested these revelations along with my bounty of summer vegetables, my family suffered future shock from my sudden coming in and out of the broom closet.

Was I morphing through a type of corporate decompression chamber? Maybe. I’d come to accept that I couldn’t rewind all the days I wasted away, the days I took for granted, the working weekends, the conferences, the cold dinners and the baby-sitters. But I needed to believe that it wasn’t too late to start paying attention to the things that mattered most and to some things that never seemed to matter at all.

I busied myself with long neglected writing projects and I enjoyed being a friend to my daughter, not to mention a new and improved partner to my husband. And in between the exciting chapters on my word processor and the scary experiments in my food processor, I might even try my hand at making Christmas gifts this year, if it doesn’t push my family over the edge. (September 1998)
——————————————————————————–

So read the quote above in blue,
And tell me, what’s a gal to do?
That ‘blemish in her garments’ threat,
Is something I cannot forget…

Pat Skene