I know, it’s an oxymoron. The terms “retirement” and “work schedule” don’t often collide in the same sentence but in my particular case that is exactly how it has panned out. A number of years ago when my retirement from education was looming I had visions of eternal golf and fishing dancing about in my head. My long-term recipe went something like this: Get up whenever I felt like it, have a leisurely breakfast, go for a long walk and then head out to the golf course or fishing hole on alternating days.

Right.

Upon further review it was revealed that a more realistic viewpoint should be taken into consideration. We still had a house payment to make and numerous other bills to pay on a maddeningly regular basis. I thus needed to figure out a way to actually increase my income over and above the newly minted pension check in order to pull my weight in the family finances.

Now my wife still works and works very hard at her job so one of the first revelations was that I would need to take on the job of housekeeper. I have discovered to my dismay that it is a very demanding occupation requiring stuff like washing dishes, washing clothes, cleaning bathrooms, and vacuuming the house to name just a scant few. Additionally it requires numerous trips to various stores in order to take care of the family shopping needs. All of these things take a large bite of time out of one’s day and can severely curtail golf and fishing opportunities.

In addition to keeping a tidy home it is also necessary to maintain our outdoor area which is a considerable task in itself. Our little patch of ground includes eight lovely acres and so in order to keep it lovely that job entails such chores as mowing the grass, weed-eating vast areas, picking up all the fallen limbs and keeping fresh pine straw in the appropriate areas. In the winter it includes keeping the lawn free of leaves and cleaning up old trees that have outlived their usefulness. In summation the job of keeping one’s yard and grounds in good order is also one that requires regular attention and further reduces my recreational time. Although both of those tasks are necessary they don’t help to improve our family financial situation because neither of those two jobs include a pay check.

And thus I write for my paying gig.

Ever heard the term “starving writer”? I now know the meaning of that phrase. I have discovered that you have to do a lot of writing just to buy a can of beans so it takes an inordinate number of words in order to actually pay for, say a new lawnmower or purchase a second-hand vehicle.

So I write football history books for schools around the state along with columns like this in order to help pull the financial wagon – and that takes up another chunk of time.

Thus my “retirement” work schedule is just brimming over with stuff to do and I just plug along doing the best I can to keep a clean house, a tidy yard and churn out books and articles. Still, there is a definite up-side to my schedule. It is called flexibility. If one of my buddies calls and wants to play golf or go fishing I just drop my broom, lay down my weed-eater or shut off the computer and roll. Flexibility is a wonderful thing.

I’ve discovered other perks as well. I no longer eat lunch with three hundred loud freshmen milling around me. That’s a biggie. Additionally I’m no longer a slave to the 12-hour school work days nor a school calendar which beckons for tasks to be performed each and every month of the year – with no flexibility whatsoever. So there are some definite plus factors to the new world in which I live.

To be completely honest it is a refreshing change. After having done the school thing for 36 years it’s somewhat invigorating to take on a new set of challenges. Vacuuming our house, cutting grass or facing a deadline without a clue about what to write can all be challenging — especially when the sun shines brightly, the fish are biting and golf courses are calling my name. So as you can see this “retirement” work schedule thing keeps my motor humming along right smartly.

After all, man cannot live by golf and fishing alone.

E-mail retirement tips to dar8589@bellsouth.net

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