Thursday, November 12, 2015

Falling Leaves and a Six-Month Update

It's been a long time since I posted to this blog. We were moving through spring and into summer, and I back then I was thinking about staying cool without air conditioning, as I've done for eight summers now. Turns out not to have been an issue. Happily, the shrubs and trees along the south-facing side of my lot have grown up enough to do a good job of shading the house and keeping it MUCH cooler. I was thinking it had been a cool summer until I checked the weather stats. It was actually a little hotter than normal. So it works! I had zero days last summer when I was uncomfortably hot.

My currently sodden pile of leaves...
and this is not all!
But... there is a downside to all that shade. Leaves. And now in mid-November, FALLING leaves. Lots and lots and lots of them. Fortunately my city does leaf collection, so I just need to sweep them over the curb, but they keep blowing back onto the sidewalk and I keep having to rake them back into the street. Inevitably, on the day the city leaf vacuum trucks come around, one or more of the neighbors will have decided to stay home and will be parked on part of the leaves, rendering them uncollectable. It's become one of those shrug-your-shoulders things... I've learned to stop fretting about it.

Many of the trees in my neighborhood are bare now, especially the tallest, and with the grey, gloomy, damp weather we've been having, things are taking on that dour, dreary, charcoal-drawing look that characterizes late November. Even though temperatures have remained fairly warm. My furnace has come on only a couple of times. I need to remember to change out the filter, though, before the cold weather hits later this month. Clean filters are worth the money and effort, since clogged filters cut down on air flow from the furnace, causing the furnace, and especially its fan, to work harder, translating into additional power usage.

I'm still tutoring (as a volunteer) too much - one of the reasons I've not been updating the blog - and have been increasingly conscious of a need to better balance my life. I have realized that while I still make time for my knitting and gardening and walks, I've been spending a lot more of my time with students than with friends and family. And students aren't really friends. They are nice people, and I enjoy them, but our relationship is not one of mutuality. I give and they mostly take. And I've noticed that while the newer students seem fairly cognizant that having a free small class and weekly one-on-one tutoring is an amazing privilege, students who have been in the program for a longer time start to take it, and me, for granted. You sometimes hear that people don't value things they don't pay for, and I see that being true in this case, at least for most. And I have to examine my own motives in spending so much of my time on this project, teaching newcomers to our country how to speak and write the language.

So I guess that can be a project for the coming months... restoring more balance to my life. Without the structure of a job to go to every day, I suspect that many of us retired folks do have to work at balancing the home, family, recreational, social, and volunteer parts of our new lives. I know I spent decades working too much and rarely finding the time to have an even marginally balanced life. Maybe, since that's practically all I knew, I found it comfortable to somewhat recreate it now in my retirement. And awareness is the first step towards course correction.

Well, the cozy inside days of late fall and winter are a perfect time for contemplation and planning. I turned 69 this year, which sounds very old to me, and I still have so many things I'd like to do. And I don't feel like the tutoring is really part of any of them. I need to deal with that.

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