Tuesday, July 24, 2012

A Day in the Life

"Honestly, at this point I think your blog exists largely to taunt those who still work for a living."

A comment prompted by my last post. Harsh. What the commenter doesn’t realize is that being retired is no day in the park.

Unless, of course, you want it to be.

I am often asked how I fill my day. My friends ask because they feel that I’ve abandoned them and desperately need to know that I'm bored shitless. Strangers are just curious how such a dashingly good-looking young man could deal with not having important and productive things to do.

How do I fill my day? It’s a good question and one that I often have a hard time answering. Mary simply says “He fishes,” but there’s more to it than that. At least I think there is.

So, today, I’ve decided to keep track. I’ve purposely picked today because there’s nothing special going on to falsely impress you; no place that I need to be. It’s just another everyday Monday.

At least I think it’s Monday. I have problems with the whole day-of-the-week thing because, typically, it doesn’t matter a whole hell of a lot.

Anyway, here goes.

5:25a – Wake (five minutes before the alarm goes off) and roll out of bed. I don’t get up this early every day, but it seems a good one to wander down to the river before the summer sun gets above the treeline. A quick bowl of Honey Nut Cheerios, a Mt. Dew, a half-hour on the computer, feed the dog, and out the door. No gathering of gear necessary. My homewater stuff stays out and ready.

Three hours wading the Haw, pitching assorted bugs under the overhanging trees, unproductively. Summer’s finally baked the river into submission and perhaps it’s time to look elsewhere until September when the bass begin to reanimate. But it’s a nice way to start the day, fish or no.

Return home and spend a couple of hours moving mulch to the north slope – whittling down the twelve-yard pile (the second one) that sits at the end of the gravel parking pad.

Crank the chainsaw and section a fifteen-foot white oak trunk to be split later. Four others remain, all harvested during the clearing of a neighbor’s paddock, but it’s gotten too hot to mess with them. They’ll still be there tomorrow.

Retire to the side porch, strip to the skin, and sit and watch the hummingbirds dive-bomb one another around the nectar feeder. Text some friends about fishing tomorrow, giving them the bad news about the absent Haw bass, while Carolina wrens, goldfinches, nuthatches, phoebes, and titmice struggle to supplant the family of piggish mourning doves on the safflower tray. An incoming red-bellied woodpecker scatters them all, like bowling pins - the thunder of the departing doves’ wings, deafening.

Hang my fishing gear to dry. Toss my soaked and dirty clothes into the wash. Shower.

Eat some lunch - a BBQ chicken leg from the night before, some strawberries, and three scoops of vanilla ice cream.

Clean my mess on the deck. Gear, tools. Notice some tarnish on my Orvis Power Jaws forceps and polish them with a little Bar Keeper’s Friend. Thought I’d paid too much for these things several years ago but they’ve been everywhere, fresh and salt, hung around my neck for countless hours, and have become a fishing touchstone for me.

Make some sweet ice tea.

Sit on the porch and read, William Gibson, ice tea by my side, until Mary returns home from a celebratory lunch with a friend. (Happy Birthday Joanne!) She’s followed shortly by our neighbor Robin, necessitating that I scramble and put on more than my boxer shorts and Sanuks. Damn.

The girls make fresh basil pesto. I pour more ice tea and let the ice melt while I take a nap. Mid-day naps are the single most wonderful thing that retirement allows. I snooze, interrupted occasionally by the whirr of the Cuisinart and warm-hearted laughter that drifts from the kitchen.

Mary and I wander down to the pond and float for an hour or so, socializing with what neighbors show up. The usual suspects generally arrive around 5:00 to wash away their workday in the cool, deep waters. Your neighborhood probably has a pool. This community has the pond.

Home again for another quick shower and to start some rice for dinner. The next hour is spent checking the local weather, coming and going between the laundry, stove, and computer, penning a post for the blog, playing with some pictures.

Dinner (black beans and rice, homegrown diced tomatoes with CSA onions, and a shot of Texas Pete) in front of the TV - which we watch entirely too much of. At least we avoid the commercials. DVRs are heaven-sent. The Newsroom (HBO’s fantastic new series, the first ten minutes of the pilot are not to be missed), The Finder (the final episode, cancelled, dammit), and White Collar. Mary thinks Neal’s scruffy beard is cute. The jury is still out on mine. Been out for years.

Load the dishes into the dishwasher, take the dog out one last time, a final cursory look at my email, and head for bed. The Tempur-Pedic feels perfect after such a long, rigorous day.

That, then, is how I spend a typical day. Not terribly exciting, eh? So, in response to the cruel accusation that I use this forum to taunt those who continue to work, who continue to keep our economy alive, who continue to lead active and productive lives, I have but one word.



Matt Smythe said...

Great post, Mike.
I'll know to call in advance of any visit though - well in advance.

e.m.b. said...

Fantastic writing...and as I sit at a desk in a cubicle, I'm so completely jealous. ;-)

Clif said...

I've spent that last five minutes trying to formulate a comment that didn't sound jealous. I'd hate for you to have that satisfaction too.

Jay said...

At least I start my day with the same breakfast of Mtn Dew and Cheerios a lot of morning... it's just the rest of the day where we differ.

Hippo said...

Officially I have retired too... to build a restaurant (ho hum) and lots of people are wondering how I managed to do that at 53. I look at them with their glod (sic) Rolexes, designer clothes and smart cars on hock and don't bother to answer 'cos I'm a grumpy old bastard and if they can't figure it out for themselves...

I spent this morning doing nothing 'cos the builders haven't turned up. After a couple of hours of that I got bored so made a venison stew for lunch. Then I drank a beer. Now I'm writing this.

Day before yesterday, though, I shot two bushbuck which required me to spend hours stalking through the bush and then 'cos I'd shot two, struggle for more hours to get them back to the truck and when I got home Marcia insisted I butcher them straight away. I was all for just jamming them in the freezer overnight before they went stiff and couldn't be folded anymore.

You see, most people don't realise that work is generally an unpleasant and time consuming activity undertaken to provide the financial means to do what you really want to do.

I am, and I guesss you are too, doing just that, what we really want to do.

Sanders said...

Retirement is not for the faint of heart...my cubicle walls keep me in check, probably for many more years. All I can do is thank the man for giving me the opportunity to daydream.

can't say I'm not a little envious, hope you have a great afternoon nap.


Mike Sepelak said...

Don't worry Matt. There's an half-mile of unpaved road and a hundred yards of gravel driveway leading to the house. I'll hear you coming in plenty of time to get respectable.

Your jealousy falls on deaf ears, Erin. I know where you live.

You're a spoil-sport Clif.

The breakfast of champions, Jay!

I am, and I guesss you are too, doing just that, what we really want to do. Spot on, Hippo.

Sean, we need to break you out of that space, if for but just a little while - need to share a stream again, the sooner the better.

TC/Trout Underground said...

Wow. I had no idea things were that taxing. That your day piled up on you like cinderblocks from a dumptruck until the final jackhammer blows of the uppermost blocks felled you into your NASA bed.

In the interest of not making you blush I won't ask how often you discretely schedule in a $125/hour therapy session to help you cope.

When you need a break from grueling routine, we have a guest room -- a chaotic sanctuary from the organic food and cicadas, one offering you the comfort of frequent diaper changes, fighting children and regular deadlines.

Endeavor to persevere, Mike. Endeavor.

cofisher said...

I'm not jealous...I'm not jealous...the hell I'm not. I've unsuccessfully retired once. I failed miserably. I'm looking forward to a second chance.

Mike Sepelak said...

I'm trying as best I can, Tom. As best I can. And take care with your guest room invitations, my friend. You never know. And there's always a room at this hell hole for you as well.

Try, try again, Howard. I know you can do it.

Anonymous said...

Being recently retired, I am just getting into the swing of things, IE: (remembering what day it is, liking the fact that I can actually take an afternoon nap etc.) Looking forward to following more of your tips on how to enjoy geezerhood!

Mike Sepelak said...

Geezerhood is where it's at, Mel. Enjoy!

Arizona Wanderings said...

Sounds a bit like heaven. 26 years and counting...


Mike Sepelak said...

Sounds a bit like heaven.

Only because it is, Ben. But don't be so quick to wish away those 26 years. They are your best.

Unknown said...

What about a dump run?

Oops, sorry– I mean a run to the landfill?

Don't necessarily need to hear about your daily dumps.

Mike Sepelak said...

HA! I know from whence that question comes, Kirk. Actually, dump runs are on Tuesdays, done in concert with:

a) our weekly produce pickup at the biofarm CSA
b) visit to the post office
c) grocery store stop, if needed
d) the occasional ice cream at S&T's

It's a VERY big day.

Ken G said...

Hummingbirds are mean little bastards, aren't they? No concept of sharing.

I need to to mix up some basil pesto, been too long. Got to get some pine nuts for it.

What was all that other stuff you mentioned? My mind wandered off...

Nice hat.

Mike Sepelak said...

Ornery little cusses indeed, Ken. And good call on the pine nuts. Better than walnuts, hands down. And that Adidas hat? A dear, dear friend, once pitch black, giving you some idea of how many sunburns it's saved this ol'e noggin from.

Thanks for the comment. I know how much you hate the captchas...

Ken G said...

"Thanks for the comment. I know how much you hate the captchas... "

HA, got through it on the first one. Guessed on a couple of letters and somehow got it right.

Everyone needs a reliable hat. My next one is going to be a sombrero.

Steve Zakur said...

Jeez, I could have written that comment though I'm more likely to stop by and live vicariously through you. Coming back from this last trip is is more difficult than any other in recent memory....

Back to the email backlog.

btw, I may be in Asheville in September. Somewhere around the 10th or 11th.

Mike Sepelak said...

I'm sure it's tough coming back, Steve. And email is the worst!

And keep me in the loop on that Asheville trip!