When I started this blog, almost ten years ago now, I called it 55 Days with Gwen. It was only meant to last for the duration of a two-month Balkan holiday with our neighbours and friends, nick-named Jay and Waddie to preserve their anonymity to a wider audience. I didn’t have many followers then, but some of those are with me still – thank you. A few months before, I’d lost my last corporate job, in a brutal way which has become the norm in our throwaway society, and when I subsequently decided to continue blogging, The Reluctant Retiree seemed an appropriate moniker. Sub-titling with Garrulous Gwendoline was a no-brainer, understood by anyone who has met me.
Yet now, all these years down the track, I have reached that stage of life where people wander around saying “I don’t know how I ever had time to go to work“. Is it that we are less productive? I don’t think so. But I don’t have an explanation for the time thief who sneaks in and fills our days to the brim.
Way back in March, I started blogging about the short break Bill and I had in the Hunter Valley. I haven’t finished that, and I must, must, MUST! Because how else may I feature him with a giant foam cheese wedge on his head? And you want to see that photo, don’t you? (Queue annoying survey here – Don’t you just hate those? You walk out of a store and receive an email, “Please tell us about your shopping experience.” I’m desperate to answer, “”Well…I needed to buy <insert item>. You sell <said item>. I went to your shop, selected it, took it to the cashier, paid, and left the store. JOB DONE. We don’t need a postmortem!!!!””)
Okay, I digressed. Regular followers know I do that. Let’s move forward to September. It was Bill’s 73rd birthday on the 1st. It is also the time when many of our neighbours have birthdays (must have been on account of that previous exuberant New Year’s Eve party when things got out of hand). For one of our neighbour couples, it was their 71st wedding anniversary. Every year, we have a big communal get together. It’s been raining since the 22nd February (go on – ask me how I can be so precise), but mercifully, it held off for the afternoon as we need to do it outdoors. A couple of days later it was a birthday party for our eldest granddaughter. She is now the mother of an adorable little girl baby – our second great-grandchild. Lots of cuddles and celebration all round. Then it was off to Jindabyne with a group from here. I wrote one blog post. There are six more in the wings. The day after our return, I conducted a memoir writing workshop with a friend of mine. It was in a local library, co-inciding with History Week, with the theme “Hands on History”. It was our first attempt and went off so well we are prepared to buddy up and do that more often.
Next up, two visits from tradesmen as I was doing a guest bedroom makeover, plus training orientation in preparation for the World Championship Cycle races coming to Wollongong. Squeezed in there was my monthly visit to Sydney as I am on the committee of the Society of Women Writers NSW. Then, the nine days of the cycle races and the contributions made by Bill and me as volunteers. At least I managed to post about what happened then.
A day free for washing, housework, shopping and guest bedroom preparation before we welcomed the visit of John Corden aka Paol Soren. I’m not going to “cut his grass” if you get the colloquialism, as I know he is keen to write his own stories on that short stay, the moment he gets a chance. John, loves, loves, loves feedback. So please, get on board and send him a message. You may make a friend for life, as we have done.
Having safely put John on the train to Sydney airport, the very next day I was off to a book launch that I had fostered. My buddy from SWW (see above), Anne Ring, had written a book called “Engaging with Ageing, What Matters as We Grow Older”. It was a perfect match for the organisation that has oversight of the over-55s complex in which I live. (And in case you’re interested – yes – it did rain that day. Thank goodness they had set up a marquee).
That, folks, took care of September.
And even October set off with a bang. We kicked off with Daylight Saving, which meant “someone” stole an hour from my life I won’t get back till next year. Then I had a lovely lunch with a group of intelligent, inspiring mature-aged women – my Last Supper – so to speak, before I had to start that restricted diet which precedes that invasive surgical bane of all of us. Here we call it a “top and tail“. Others call it a shish kebab. My last invasion was five years ago, and I kept waking up face down on the bathroom tiles, having fallen off the toilet (or “the loo” as we call it in Australia), so this time I was admitted to hospital the night before.
It was still raining folks, so here is a photo of Mount Keira, shrouded in misty rain, taken late afternoon from my hospital window.
All was well, so please don’t focus on this minor blip in the calendar. What I sat down to write about was the baby shower the next day. We await the December birth of a Principessa (little Princess) who will be our first great-niece. It was held at a country property, where part way through the event, we decided to move our car to higher ground, before the constant rain caused us not to be able to negotiate the dirt driveway (we had driven the 2011 BMW convertible that my brother bequeathed me when he passed, and I can’t bear to part with. I’ve written about Tammy before. You can read more here).
Then, the very next day after the baby shower, (which as above was the day after my hospital discharge), we set off for an Italian family reunion in Canberra. Come to think of it, perhaps that is what I sat down to write about in the first place. Oh well, another day of contemplation will give me a chance to decide which of the hundreds of photos on our Facebook group chat will best illustrate that event.
Bill is calling me now. He’s put many deposits into the emotional bank account today. Assembled some bedside tables ordered on the internet. Dropped me off to a lunch nearby. Accompanied me to the Post Office with a wieldy return. Delivered me wine and biscuits while I tapped away at the keyboard. And now he’s cooked a delicate fish dinner. “Dishing up,” he’s just called out. Gotta go, folks. Hasta la vista!
ps somewhere in that lot, detailed above, I did manage a walk on the beach, albeit, still moody and overcast, lacking its usual brilliant blue skies, yet still alluring.