‘To be of use’

by Mémé

To be of use

The people I love the best
jump into work head first
without dallying in the shallows
and swim off with sure strokes almost out of sight.
They seem to become natives of that element,
the black sleek heads of seals
bouncing like half-submerged balls.

I love people who harness themselves, an ox to a heavy cart,
who pull like water buffalo, with massive patience,
who strain in the mud and the muck to move things forward,
who do what has to be done, again and again.

I want to be with people who submerge
in the task, who go into the fields to harvest
and work in a row and pass the bags along,
who are not parlor generals and field deserters
but move in a common rhythm
when the food must come in or the fire be put out.

The work of the world is common as mud.
Botched, it smears the hands, crumbles to dust.
But the thing worth doing well done
has a shape that satisfies, clean and evident.
Greek amphoras for wine or oil,
Hopi vases that held corn, are put in museums
but you know they were made to be used.
The pitcher cries for water to carry
and a person for work that is real.

This poem was read at a memorial service I attended recently, for an indomitable woman who spent the last 30 years of her life in making lives better for battered women and their children in many concrete ways. She was fierce, and never took no for an answer when government or recalcitrant donors or journalists or NIMBY types stood in her way.

I sat for quite a while after the final song. I am not ashamed of the way my life has gone – a few regrets at missed opportunities and personal failures – but I like to think that I continue to take good care of my family and with respect to the rest of the world I try to do what comes to my hand to do. But this woman extended her hand every day of her life.

Please share your experiences with this sort of individual or your own thoughts about your place in the wider world.


‘Indecisiveness is the number one reason for failure.’

by Mémé

“Indecisiveness is the number one reason for failure. Lack of ability to make a decision in a timely manner causes most people to fail with their projects and plans. Identify this challenge and decide to no longer let it be a setback from your success.”

I searched for a quotation to use as the opening for this post, and I got this from a motivational speaker whose book is titled No Excuses.

We often talk about the qualities we wish to develop in our children. Being Totebaggers, after the obligatory nod to future happiness, we usually rank conscientiousness before self actualization, grit before reliance on natural talent. Adventure is laudable in its (youthful) place, but making tradeoffs and being in an overall secure position are the way most of us have conducted our lives and we would prefer our children end up that way too.

In looking at my own life, I would like to propose another quality that is not usually mentioned – decisiveness. I do some vague thinking about what I might want to do at a future and foreseen decision point, but the time comes I take a shockingly minimal amount of time to act. In consumer matters, this is evident. When we bought the townhouse, I went onto the local real estate site, went out alone one weekend in our neighborhood, preselected 3 places, took DH the next weekend, we picked one and made an offer. Done. I was thinking about a new Camry so I put some cash in an account, a very short friend mentioned that she was getting a new RAV4, the lightbulb went off, I spent one evening on the computer and bought the car the next day. But in much greater matters as well. Going to grad school, changing jobs/retiring, getting a divorce (4 mos from move out to initial decree). Obviously not all of my hasty choices work out optimally, but I am always moving forward and if I turn out to be wrong I just pick myself back up and make a change if necessary.

So do you agree with the idea that decisiveness of this type is a positive quality? Can it be developed? Do you think that extended reflection or analysis paralysis is like other “innate” personality traits that are impossible or very difficult to change?

‘Am I introverted or just rude?’

by Méme

I don’t have to write a blurb – the title speaks for itself. The comments are mostly from introverts trying to figure out why it is considered rude not to be social. I think this might overlap with elitism for some – my time is too valuable to waste on you, your conversation is too plebeian, but for most of us (I am not an introvert, but I hate parties and chit chat) it is mostly just how do I want to spend my limited time.

Am I Introverted, or Just Rude?

Reconnecting with an old love

by Mémé

Every now and then I’ll come across an article that stirs a memory or just have a stray thought and search FB for a long lost friend. About a year ago I did that and found my first boyfriend from sophomore year of high school. His current picture was not much to look at, but I did see an old photo on his public page that reminded me of how handsome he had been. I sent him a message (which goes into Facebook purgatory unless you pay money) and said, well, if he ever finds it I’ll hear from him. He did reply six months later, we did a heartfelt “friend”, and I decided to schedule a meet up on my recent trip to DC.

We sat in a coffee shop for 2 hours and caught up on the 43 years since we last ran into each other. We didn’t reminisce much about high school because we only went out for six months and went on with our lives. However, he is the only guy other than my two husbands that is at the level of “in love” for me.

I am still processing the experience. I felt awkward after a while, not for romantic reasons, but because my life turned out so much better than his. There was no increase in heart rate, although at one point he cocked his head just so and I caught a glimpse of the boy inside the man. He has a quiet responsible life, late marriage with youngest kid 20 years old, not happy in his marriage, middle class and tied to working as long as he is able, but his conversation was full of regrets about the road not taken`, recounting all sorts of recent sad events – not bitter, just resigned and a bit hard on himself. He never finished college because he went off the rails at 21 for a year or two and was just afraid of risk after that. (I guess it turns out he is a depressive, too. I am three for three.) I took a 15 year hiatus from myself from age 26 to 41 and lived through some tough luck, but I got myself back. He just figured out how to get by. I did ask him if his grand passion, a fabulous artistic woman he fell for at 17 and whose eventual rejection sent him into a tailspin, prevented him from moving on personally. He loved her like a guy in a tragic romance novel to a degree I have never again encountered from a man in real life. He said to me, I don’t think so, that’s an interesting observation. Still, my wife did ask me to burn all the pictures from that era (he just hid them). Ya think?

Totebaggers, please share your experiences of going back to the past, happy or not. Do you have any desire to track down old friends?

What a drag it is gettin’ old

by Mémé

Many of us have older relatives who need nearby if not active supervision – not because they are demented or frail, but because the details of daily life have become too much to manage. Some of it is adjusting to modern electronics and communications. Some of is a result of spread out car dependent communities and a declining ability to drive oneself. But some of it seems to be avoidable.

One example, as described by this New Old Age column in the NYT, is medication management.

A Prescription for Confusion: When to Take All Those Pills

Lest you think this is an exaggeration, I present DH’s pill regimen. I am live-in, obviously, and manage it because even though he can still win regional bridge events, he can’t keep track of all of this, for example, the meds that have been eliminated but the pharmacy stills sends refill reminders, the varying dosages by day of the week. Or the generic supplier is changed and the refill is a different size and/or color. Or there are five white round pills that resemble each other. He has one of those 7 x 4 pillboxes I fill every Sun morning. The first pill was recently adjusted over the phone (did I mention he is hard of hearing and doesn’t wear his hearing aids around the house?) throw out old pills (trip to police station required for safe disposal). Get new pills different dosage (trip to pharmacy required.) I had to pry the phone from his hand to speak directly to the nurse.

Upon waking –
Thyroid – 1 pill 4 days a week, 1 ½ three days.

Breakfast – must wait a full hour after wake up pill
Diuretics (F & S)
Heart C (1 ½ pills)
Heart D (1 pill 4 days, ½ 3 days)
Vitamin D
Mood B

Dinner –
Mood B
Blood thinner – twice a month blood draws at the doctor’s office – dose then adjusted over the phone – sometimes just for a day or two

Bedtime –
Mood E
Sleep aid
Heart C (1 ½)
BP L ( ½ )

Totebaggers, what would you suggest to make life less confusing for elders (or children) and their caretakers? I also know that an orderly family life, even without elders in the mix, is made more difficult by seemingly artificial constraints relating to kids and school and work, but somehow we expect that children need help navigating and employers will be arbitrary.

Who’s Your BFF?

by Mémé

It is fashionable these days to designate your spouse/partner, if you have one, as your best friend. I certainly feel that way about my husband, although I do have a female friend for the past 15 years who fills the role of “best girlfriend”. She and her husband also married later in life, there are no children on either side, and their marriage is even tighter than mine, so the friendship works for both of us as another place to share.

I still think there is another sort of relationship with a traditional best friend that I don’t have and that has great value for adults, partnered or not. Almost everyone has the real or faux mom/dad or work friends. Some have a long history with college or childhood friends, maybe not one special but a special group.

Totebaggers, please share your thoughts and experiences. And your opinion – can your partner really be a best friend?


Recycling made hard

by Mémé

We have been in our townhouse for 8 ½ years, and this winter’s task has been to declutter and divest of old furniture, financial records, and inherited junk. In the course of that I have come across many items that have to be discarded, some under hazardous waste or special recycling protocols. Since this is a northern climate, for many things the monthly drop off Saturdays are only scheduled from April through November. So I have quite a pile in the corner of the utility room.

My complaint is that the sorting and disposal process is extremely complex. It is not helped by the fact that we don’t have a municipal culture of putting stuff out and having it scavenged within hours, and the additional hassle of living in a condo development without public street frontage.

The items awaiting disposal. (Paper, glass and recyclable plastic are taken on trash day.)

  1. Old but functioning oil filled space heater. Technically a “white good.” Requires a special call to hauling company, payment of fee, scheduled pickup. Not clear where we are supposed to leave it – on condo property or on the street in front of someone else’s house. Winter pickups unreliable. I am going to make my son take it to his town dump. I’ll pay the white goods fee.
  2. Lots of old pills. Police station lobby in town.
  3. Paint thinner and similar waste. Special drop off Saturdays in warm weather to the county disposal site in the next town. Our town has a designated week, other open Saturdays are not permitted and I have to bring a property tax bill with me. (Our town will get charged).
  4. Electronic waste, small appliances and computer stuff. Progress made here. Town DPW will take any of this during weekday business hours (open one night till 7) and one Sat a month in warm weather. For weekday you have to go into the office up the stairs to bring some stuff, register and pay the lap top or tv fee. You have to be able to remove the stuff yourself from your car without town help.
  5. A mercury thermostat. Some batteries (rechargeable, button, lithium) are in category 4, as is all mercury.
  6. Backup battery from FIOS box. This is in category 3, not 4.
  7. Fluorescent bulbs. One of the hardware stores in town.
  8. Hard plastic and Styrofoam – not required to be recycled, but if I want to do it I have to bring it to the town DPW on the designated warm weather Saturdays.
  9. Old latex paint . Can go in regular trash if I leave cans open to dry out or use the powder to quick dry them. Need to carry them up to the attic to let them dry out– no private outdoor open space and basement is finished.
  10. Large trashy furniture items. Cannot go in condo dumpster. If we had street frontage we could put them out. Will give to son and pay his local fee as with white good.

I am just too cranky about all this? I want to follow the rules, especially with respect to hazardous waste, but how does someone who doesn’t have a car manage all this? Four different sites for various types of waste and limited hours? What is your experience with gov’t mandates (trash or otherwise) that are not user friendly?

Hot political issues

Today’s post includes two submissions, both offering the writers’ perspectives on what they consider crucial issues surrounding this year’s presidential election.


by Sheep Farmer


Our recent discussion on health care made me realize how important this issue is in this year’s election cycle. For me, it will probably be the deciding factor as I head to the polls for my state’s primary next week. My family has benefited greatly from the Affordable Care Act, and I would hate to see it dismantled. The ACA is a great start, but as shown in our discussion last week, health care in this country is still too expensive and complicated. It is an issue that needs to be addressed. The economy, government spending, social issues, foreign policy, and immigration are all issues mentioned regularly by the candidates. If you are headed to the polls in the next few weeks, what issues are driving your decision?


By Mémé

Why I fear a Republican President

I put this post off for a long time because I didn’t know how to say what I meant clearly without giving possible offense to other members of our online community. But after a couple weeks of pointed political discussion in our new and less timid iteration of the Totebag, I have decided to go ahead.

It comes down to one word. Religion. The conservative religious supporters of the GOP have been loyal for 30 plus years and have received little or nothing in return. The bill for services rendered will be presented to a Republican President and Congress and it will be paid. (The Supreme Court without Scalia, even if the new Justice is appointed after the election, is always a wild card. We could get a corporatist or even a true libertarian.)

So why do I care? Plenty of economic but not social conservatives, including non Christians, are not particularly bothered by the idea that so-called individual religious liberty will become the first criterion in determining the hierarchy of civil rights when there is a conflict. That government will be forbidden to enforce any law or regulation that anyone objects to on religious grounds. Social moderates often assume that the inability to enforce will lead to lifting of legislative and regulatory mandates, so that the market and common social norms will be decisive. It will require adjustment from people (usually not “people like us”) whose current rights and freedoms (many of which were established over the past century, bit by bit) will as result no longer be guaranteed. They will gradually take their business elsewhere or move to more hospitable localities or home school or find workarounds or accept the conditions that their forebears endured – after all, many of the things the social conservatives want to see changed resulted not only from changing social standards but also from government granting and enforcing rights that the conservatives consider immoral or that impinge on their personal freedom. And this does not even take into account the likelihood that the legislative legacy will not be entirely libertarian/reduced government, but will also include new morally inspired restrictions (and more government interference) on personal freedom that is deemed to have crossed over into immorality or socially destructive behavior.

Ross Douthat, in a column on Islamophobia sets out the terms of the ideological conflict from his conservative religious point of view. “[C]osmopolitan liberals… are also convinced that many conservative Christians are dangerous crypto-theocrats whose institutions and liberties must give way whenever they conflict with liberalism’s vision of enlightenment.”

I really don’t see how a requirement to serve all comers in a public business or gay civil marriage or Season’s Greetings means that anyone’s institutions or liberties are being constrained. Please, conservative Totebaggers, explain this to me. I do from my own people’s experience see how religion has been used for millennia as an excuse to limit personal and property rights or worse – periods of acceptance/inclusion/honor alternating with periods of actual persecution, so I don’t buy the argument that the march of progress and economic power means that it won’t happen again.

High deductible plans = fewer, not cheaper medical expenditures

by Mémé

A widely reported study last fall, summarized below in a Vox article, found that high deductible plans do not lead to cost shopping, but to lower utilization of medical services.

This study is forcing economists to rethink high-deductible health insurance

The researchers had a particularly fortunate natural testing pool. A corporation changed from a Cadillac plan to a high deductible plan, and deposited 3750, the amount of the deductible, into a Health Savings account for each employee. Economically, the fact that a formerly fully covered service would have a visible cost should have had no effect on behavior. (The article does not state whether the company provided a medical credit card that would draw from the HSA account – I suspect that cash outlay was required followed by reimbursement.) However, people reduced costs by simply not going to the doctor at all, even those with chronic conditions who would easily blow through the deductible quickly and re-enter the fully covered stage early in the year.

I personally noted a change in my behavior – when I have to pony up the “full” health plan reduced cost (I never reach the deductible) for something, I don’t bother to consult the doctor and just use Dr Google and non-prescription remedies. I can certainly afford it – I have a self-funded HSA with a Visa attached. But it just seems wasteful to spend 150 just to be told to put liniment on an aching joint. I used to go to the company nurse for minor complaints when it was free or to the HMO when it was just a small co pay. Last fall I could not shake a cold/bronchitis so I spent the money and went twice. (She finally suggested a Neti Pot. One look at it and the how to video and I was “healed.”) In Sept I start with Medicare advantage and I assume my behavior will change back to my old habits.

For those of you with high deductible plans, do you comparison shop or forgo non-emergency visits? For those who don’t have high deductible plans, is that a conscious choice because of actual usage, or perhaps because of the psychological issue described above?

The lessons of Prohibition

by Mémé

The popular view today of Prohibition is that it was a failed attempt by a repressive, primarily religious segment of society to legislate morality and conduct for the entire population. I decided to look into the historical record in relation to some serious concerns of mine about the current national political landscape. I read many articles on the era from all across the spectrum (from Cato Institute to Mother Jones), but here is a balanced one from the AJPH that might be of interest

Did Prohibition Really Work? Alcohol Prohibition as a Public Health Innovation

Key takeaways from my reading are the following:

Alcohol consumption, primarily beer after the waves of German immigration, was a serious public health problem in the 19th century among men of the laboring classes. Alcohol was not consumed primarily in the home, but in saloons which were usually established by liquor manufacturers. Men spent time there instead of at home, often with pay envelope in hand, and had ready access to all of the manly vices. Wives and children suffered poverty and abuse with no recourse.

The origins of the “dry” movement were in white evangelical old stock Protestantism, primarily in the Midwest and the South, and women were a major force. The early movement was very successful on a local and state level in creating dry zones outside of the cities in those regions.

Around 1900 reform minded men, many of whom were not themselves dry or evangelical, redirected the movement toward the goal of a national ban on saloons and alcohol production. Their idea was to improve by legislation the social condition of members of the lower and immigrant classes who lacked the bourgeois virtues of restraint and delayed gratification, to use a modern phrase. They allied themselves locally and strategically with every possible progressive and regressive movement from the NAACP to the Ku Klux Klan. Opposition at a national government level waned with the imposition of the income tax. Prior to that, liquor taxes were a principal source of US Govt revenue. President Wilson imposed a wartime prohibition on manufacture supposedly because grain was needed for other purposes, and anti-German feeling was whipped up to add one’s Lutheran neighbors with their beer to the previously targeted big city Catholics with their whiskey (Irish) and wine (Italian). So the 19th amendment was ratified very quickly. Huge numbers of people were thrown out of work, but that was collateral damage to the national reformers, many of whom fully intended to keep consuming alcohol in middle class moderation in the privacy of their own homes.

The most interesting thing to me is that despite the religious overlay of the long standing temperance movement, the forces that actually achieved a national ban on liquor were do-gooders who thought that they knew what was best for other people. The fact that the wets were either sophisticated high church Protestants or city dwellers/ immigrants / Catholics made them “other” and eligible for loss of personal liberty.

Totebaggers, what parallels from this piece of history do you see to current differences in outlook between the regions, or to movements to impose one region’s views on another? Do you agree with libertarians that Prohibition was the camel’s nose under the tent that established government, especially Federal, power to regulate the daily lives of citizens? Do you think that legislated public health or moral/religious concerns should curtail individual freedom of choice? What if the freedom being curtailed for a secular purpose is indirectly religious in nature?

‘Do your job’

by Mémé

We don’t have many small business owners with employees among our active contributors, but at least one of the farmers has often commented on the difficulty of finding reliable employees at the fair wage offered. Yesterday I had to stop in at Petco to drop off 24 cans of dog food (no dogs in our house) that had been included in our regular repeat order of cat food. My order was complete, I wasn’t charged for the extra stuff, but it was not the first time that my order had been incorrectly picked at the warehouse. I gave the box to the store manager and she said she would donate it to a local shelter. She also said that it was a known issue – she rarely got the correct inventory shipments herself. I asked if the company used contract job fillers – we have had local exposés on the practice of bringing a van to a neighborhood of poorly documented non English speakers and charging for transportation even if there is no work for the day when they arrive at the remote warehouse. She said, no, we hire our own employees, information I confirmed by some simple internet sleuthing.

That got me thinking about pride of work and the nobility of labor. A lot is made of the precipitous decline in work opportunity and wage levels for men with no more than a high school education. There are also stories of wage theft, demand scheduling and other abusive employer practices. But that doesn’t explain why many workers who have jobs do sloppy work, don’t arrive at work on time, why they don’t get any satisfaction out of doing their job well.

Totebaggers, do you think that the cultural denigration of hard work with one’s hands plays a large part in this? Is it just the relatively low wages? Is the decline of organized labor related to a lack of respect for jobs which by their nature do not require or even permit self-direction or entrepreneurial spirit?

Life grows bigger, then smaller

by Mémé

When I retired, Rhett was very worried about what I would do all day.
I quickly found plenty to do, taking up or increasing time spent on hobbies and activities, helping out with my grandchildren, and making plans for lots of travel. I had money, energy, time, and my sweetie. Then a young family member got sick and I had to keep my time flexible for most of a year just in case. When that passed my husband was diagnosed with a serious heart condition and exotic travel is no longer on the agenda. Managing his medication, rest, and diet in addition to running the household, the calendar and being his companion, uses up a lot of time and mental energy. The dear cats we adopted have increased in importance from cuddly greeters when we got up or got home to our full-time furry roommates. We are still planning to travel, but in geezer class, not active retiree class.

I don’t have any wisdom to impart from these life developments beyond carpe diem. I have a good life and the ability, at least in decent weather, to engage in solo outdoor activity for both physical and mental health. I guess it is a bit like waking up a few months or years after the children are born, especially if one or more has serious issues or if other life events intervene– elderly parents or tragedy or divorce or job loss – and realizing that although your life is different and in the long run good, it is even less in your control than you expected or imagined it would be.

Today as the days shorten I am just feeling the little losses. By the time the post goes up I’ll be restored and bubbly and positive, I am nothing if not resilient. (I am editing the post the day after initial composition and just the writing of it has given me an idea. I am going out, in the car, to purchase a wheeled shopping cart so that I can do my local grocery runs on foot.) So please share encouragement or challenges or hopes – whatever you feel today – about how to hit the curveballs of life.

My new favorite things

by Mémé

These are a few of my (newly acquired) favorite things….

In addition to posts on a specific consumer topic, rarely a day goes by that someone in hijack form does not describe a new acquisition or activity, or ask for advice on how to do something or on a purchase,.    I noticed that this year I had come across a number of small items that have improved my day-to-day life.  So I will list my modest household acquisitions from 2015 in no particular order, and invite you all to do the same.

  1. Free programs to change the hue and intensity on all electronic devices with time of day. Read, work, or play games closer to bedtime without blue screen stimulation.   I use f.lux on my laptop,  Twilight on my android phone,  still trying out the somewhat limited offerings on the Kindle Fire.
  2. “No Cry” kitchen gloves. This is something I read about on the Totebag.  The various graters and the mandoline have been retrieved from the back of the cabinet and are in daily use.
  3. Teak shower stool. When the shower was constructed during the master bath reno 6 years ago, I made sure that there were grab bars and enough space for a stool, but never purchased one.  I finally did after DH got home from the hospital.   I can’t recall anymore how I washed my feet or shaved my legs without it.
  4. Apple peeler/corer/slicer – simple hand-operated machine that attaches to kitchen counter with suction. DIL has one.   Lots of apple desserts for the winter.
  5. Nonstick Egg/pancake rings. I saw them at my daughter’s house and make perfectly sized pancakes or uniformly cooked whites on fried eggs on my griddle.
  6. Wireless charging pad for the Samsung Galaxy.    The charging port was going to give out far before I was ready to trade in the phone
  7. PVC woven placemats – I use attractive gray ones matching my kitchen color scheme on top of my need-ironing midcentury table cloths. Apparently they are okay right on wood as well

Duds –  Fitbit, TV-advertised headlight wipe cloths.

2015 also saw the acquisition of many 50s vintage decorative items and pricey kitchen machines that give me great pleasure and use, but it is the little handy things that sometimes cause me to slap my head and say, why didn’t I get that before?

Sports Betting vs Daily Fantasy – What’s the Difference?

by  Mémé

Here is one of many recent articles prompted by the deluge of DraftKings and FanDuel ads during fall sports broadcasts.

Why Betting on Fantasy Sports Is Legal But Betting on Regular Sports Is Not


1. Do you play fantasy sports (in the old sense of a league among friends/colleagues with modest cash prizes and a lot of beer, pizza and bragging rights)?
2. Do you play daily fantasy games?
3. Do you place bets with a bookie?
4. Do you see any difference between 2 and 3?
5. Do you see a difference between betting on sports and other gambling activities?
6. Do you consider gambling a victimless crime and think it should be legal across the board?

Or do you just dislike (as I do) the proliferation of shows and segments and ads ads and more ads focused on fantasy not actual games?

The dance recital

by Mémé

We often spar on the Totebag about what is Middle Class, invoking regional and educational differences in raw income numbers and in cultural markers of that status. But recently someone remarked about dental health that an astounding percentage of US kids now have braces at some point in their lives. So straight teeth are a fairly universal middle class marker.

I recently had the opportunity to observe another of those universal middle class markers. The end of year Dance Recital.


A neighbor suggested that they take my eldest granddaughter to dance class along with their same aged girl. Her Cambridge/Portland alternative style parents had no idea what they were getting into. Coco and Ella (assumed names) ended up on stage for 130 seconds of a 2 ½ hour extravaganza in 50 dollar gold and sequined tutus stomping their tap shoes to a cover version of The Lion Sleeps Tonight. I knew enough to bring several wrapped and beribboned roses for presentation to the young performer.

The school is clearly the secondary “fun” one in their area – the only marginally competent numbers were adult tap and the break dancers. But all was forgiven after the chubby mentally handicapped teen with glasses and a diaphanous gown glided across the stage with her group as best she could to Every Little Thing You Do is Magic.

Totebaggers, please share your recital stories from your children’s or your own life. Parents of physical or mind sport athletes, feel free to weigh in on sports banquets and the like.

Coping With Fatigue And Frustration

by Mémé


Twenty one months ago I took down my shingle for good. Rhett (and several of my children) were sure that after a few months I would go stir crazy and want to get back to work, or failing that descend into some twilight state on the recliner with HGTV on continuous loop.

I am happy to report that I am usually busy when awake. Sometimes it even feels like too busy.

Prior to retirement I never understood how people who had very hectic lives while working suddenly felt so busy when 30-50 hours per week were eliminated from the schedule. I now know the reason. Any time I put on shoes and venture off my own property, it counts as a half-day. Not in real time, but in psychic time. When I was working full time, if I took off a morning I crammed in grocery shopping, haircut, maybe a doctor’s appointment too. If I only had one of those things to do, it was an hour’s add-on to a full work day, perhaps time shifted a bit. No longer. The one- to one-and-half-hour errand is it for the morning or the afternoon. If I actually spend four hours on an activity, I often add late lunch or a short errand on the way home. That counts as a full day.

Of course the most precious regular activity is taking care of my grandchildren. It appears that what works best is for everyone is for me to be the go to sitter for those random but constant short time slots when mama can’t be in two places at once. We have arrived at the point where Nana is just one of the regular adults who might or might not be the one to show up at preschool pickup or meet the school bus. This is beyond price.

The one concern I have is sleep. Not that I don’t now have plenty of time to get it, but after years of running on fumes I was not expecting the degree to which I can’t really do well with the slightest unplanned deficit. It takes all of my adult self control and then some to keep my patience if a last minute grandma call, especially to watch all three kids, means that I have to get up two or three hours early.

Totebaggers, how do you cope with schedule disruptions, especially those that make you tired and strung out? Do you have any tips or restorative foods or back up plans that you go to when your fatigue and frustration makes likely an imminent explosion or serious error or words you can’t take back?