Thinking Aloud On a Saturday

Getting a man in.

This occasional Sunday post is a day early this week, because I woke up thinking about that phrase this morning. I remember in my youth when a widow or elderly man would say “I will have to get a man in”. That referred to having to get a job done, or something fixed. Generally, it was because the elderly person could no longer do it, had no idea how to do it in the first place, or didn’t have a relative nearby who could help.

My Dad took pride in never getting a man in to do anything. If he couldn’t do something himself, it wasn’t done. But a change in his job meant that he wasn’t always around, so when we needed new wallpaper in the house, he got a man in. This was done with a sense of achievement, not regret. He now had the income to pay someone to do jobs that he was capable of doing, but didn’t have the time to do them. He could even be boastful about getting a man in, as it meant he no longer had to do repetitive or manual tasks.

When I was old enough to own my own home, I also had a good income. I got a man in to do things I was capable of doing, but didn’t want to have to do after a hard week at work. I got a man in to paint the outside of the house, and someone else to do electrical wiring. When some fencing fell down, I got a man in to fix that too.

Some time later, living alone, I no longer had the luxury of spare cash to pay people. I did my own painting, and turned to friends to help with two-man jobs. The only thing I didn’t attempt was anything to do with electrics, but if a friend couldn’t help, I had an uncle who was an electrician. When he got older and moved away, I finally had to get a man in to sort out electrics.

Then I retired in 2012, and had more time on my hands, though only one third of my previous income. I tackled most things on my own. I painted rooms, cleared gutters, maintained the garden, and cut all the hedges. Very soon, I started to realise that this hard work was getting beyond me, and if it was going to get done, I was going to have to get a man in to do it. It was no longer something to be proud of, and I certainly didn’t have the funds to pay for everything at once.

But I got someone in to do the painting. Then I got someone in to do the electrics, and someone else to fit new carpet. As I wandered around the house watching them work, I had to face the fact that I had arrived at that time in my life where getting a man in was going to be the first option, not the last resort.

Last Friday, I got a man in to give me a quote to cut all the hedges and shrubs. That used to take me close to sixteen hours, over the whole weekend. Then I had to remove all the cuttings, and take them to the recycling centre in two or three trips. The genial garden man looked at the job, and announced it would take him around four hours. He would dispose of the cuttings and branches, taking them away in his pick-up. We agreed on his very fair price, and he will do the job in January.

I am now sitting here wondering what else I might have to get a man in for.
If it comes down to employing someone to type up my blog posts, then I will know it is close to the end.

Ollie’s Poorly Friends

As any dog-walker will tell you, regular haunts mean meeting lots of other dogs, and their owners. At one time, Ollie enjoyed the company of the same afternoon gang. We could have up to eight dogs in a very happy pack, and they would play together as we chatted walking around Beetley Meadows, or Hoe Rough.

Sadly, some of those dogs have since died, or owners have moved away. Each year, the old canine faces become fewer, and new ones arrive to replace them. But the boisterous new arrivals rarely interest Ollie, and he still scans the paths and fields for a sight of some of his ‘best mates’.

Just lately, we have been hearing some bad news about some of Ollie’s oldest friends and companions. Winston is fifteen now, and has recently suffered a stroke. He can still come out, but only for around ten minutes a day. Big Rocky the Newfoundland has suffered a complete collapse of his back legs. His owners bought a special cart to wheel him around in, as once in the river, he can still swim to his heart’s content. But he can no longer walk without assistance, and wears a harness with handles so that he can be lifted in and out of his cart.

Yesterday, I heard some sad news about Spike, the Rhodesian Ridgeback. He was born in February 2012, the same time as Ollie. For many years, they were firm friends, and used to enjoy the rough and tumble of dominant play. But for some time now, I haven’t seen him around. I spoke to his owner yesterday who informed me that he has a complete deterioration of his spine, and can hardly walk. If he stands still, he falls over. The prognosis is not good, and they are just ‘keeping him comfortable’.

Earlier this year, Buster the Lhasa Apso died unexpectedly from kidney failure. Paddy, the Collie who lives next door, is over fifteen years old. His back legs have crossed-over, and although he can still manage to walk, it is upsetting to see him struggling.

Some of the old gang are still the same. Toby the Jack Russell, as mad for his ball as ever. Poppy the Lakeland Terrier, still lively at ten years old. And a few of the new arrivals are slowly being accepted by Ollie too. Marley the black Labradoodle, and his terrier partner, Duke. Buddy and Walter, the frantic yellow Labradors, and Flossie the young Whippet, who trembles with delight every time she sees him.

Ollie is one of the ‘old guys’ now. Respected, sometimes avoided, but still in charge of his walking grounds.

At least as far as he is concerned.

A Random Memory

Wandering around on a cold bright afternoon with Ollie, it often surprises me what pops into my mind.

Once my Mum was in her eighties, and could hardly see, she often spilled things down her clothes as she was eating. On occasion, I would visit her to find her sitting in a top or dress that was obviously quite badly stained. I would point this out, and offer to find her something to change into from her wardrobe. But every time she was adamant that there was nothing there, that her clothing was not stained, and she was fine as she was.

She didn’t have any loss of mental faculties at that time, so I suspect her reluctance to believe me came from a mixture of embarrassment, and natural stubbornness. One evening, I was due to take her to a restaurant to celebrate some occasion. I arrived to find her wearing a rather fancy black outfit that was quite obviously spattered with stains from what she had been eating the last time she had worn it. I mentioned that she might want to change, as many other people would be there, and might wonder why her top had so many marks on it. She became unreasonably angry, and told me that if I was that bothered, she would stay at home.

I took her as she was, feeling sad that a once elegant and immaculate lady was perfectly happy to be seen in food-stained clothes by an assortment of family and friends.

Not long after this twenty year-old memory had been in my head, I saw a fellow dog walker, with her two dogs. One of them jumped up to me a few times, leaving muddy paw prints on my trousers, and then on the sleeve of my coat. She apologised, and told her dog off for jumping up. I assured her it wasn’t a problem. “They are only my dog-walking clothes, don’t worry”.

Maybe it runs in the family?

Old Man Hands

It is unusually bright here this morning, and as I was typing the last part of my fiction serial earlier, I noticed something.

It was something I didn’t like.

I have the hands of an old man.

Thin, papery skin, heavily wrinkled. Visible veins, and numerous red blotches probably caused by a lot of ice-scraping yesterday, as I defrosted a freezer. The slightest impact with the side of the appliance as I was scraping caused almost immediate bruising.

My hands have never been that big, but now they look puffy around the finger joints, and the sides of my wrists display a definite swelling that feels soft to touch. But my wedding ring feels loose, and is easy to slip on and off.

I am far from ancient, by modern standards. If I make it to next March, I will be 68 years old. But my hands are getting ahead of the calendar, and already look to be in their late seventies.

I took a photo of my right hand, and was going to add it to this post to illustrate what I mean.

But I didn’t like it, so you will just have to imagine.

It was a photo of someone else’s hand, as far as I could tell.

The hand of an old man.

Age and emotions

I found this post from my early days of blogging, back in 2012. It has had very few views, and just one comment. It was interesting for me to read it again, and to reflect on how I felt at the time.
Seven years later, much of it is still relevant.
Some of it even more so.

beetleypete

What is it about age and emotion? It seems to be on a sliding scale; as you get older, you become emotionally labile. Some days, I feel consumed by nostalgia, reverie, and reflection. Old films make me feel blue, and I can experience waves of sadness washing over me, for no apparent reason. I constantly look back over my life, re-evaluating past deeds, and regretting not doing others.

This is all a very new thing. Ten years ago, I got through the day, had a bottle of wine, and considered myself lucky to still be here.  There was no time in my life for regrets, and self-criticism; I would have considered it a luxury that I could not afford to indulge in. Analysing things in the past can be very self-destructive, and is generally not to be recommended. Wallowing in  nostalgia is usually unproductive, at the best of times.

So…

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Ten tips for Retirement

My thoughts on retirement in 2012, not long after I stopped working. They are still valid, seven years later.

beetleypete

I have been retired from work since March, so I would like to pass on this advice for others who are due to retire soon, or considering retirement at some stage in the near future. After nearly six months, I am no expert on the subject, I am really just passing on observations based on my own experience.

Walk about a lot. When you are still working, whether you realise it or not, you do walk around for a lot of the day. So, avoid sitting for too long, wander aimlessly from room to room if need be, or get outside for a stroll, if the weather is good. If this doesn’t work, then get a dog, and you will have no option.

Expect to use more toilet paper, and shop accordingly. You will not be using the facilities at work ever again, and you will be shocked at how…

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Thinking Aloud On a Sunday

So Tired.

I had a good sleep last night, but woke up feeling overwhelmingly tired. I did do a fair bit of grass-cutting yesterday, and I am not as fit as I used to be. But this isn’t the usual aches and pains associated with moderate manual labour. This is bone tired. Reluctant to emerge from the bedroom.

I considered that it was mental tiredness. That led me to wonder if you can indeed be ‘mentally tired’. Does life sometimes just get too much to cope with? And does that mean that there is something wrong somewhere inside me? I shrugged that off, as the last thing I am is a hypochondriac.

But I cannot deny the reality of how I feel. The sluggishness, the apathy, the indecision.

I feel as if I could go back to bed and lie down again. I might not sleep, but the idea is there, undoubtedly. A Sunday awaits me, with all its possibilities. And yet I see none of them. Instead, I am just feeling tired.

Is this a product of getting older, I wonder? If so, I sincerely hope that it doesn’t become a regular feature of my life now.

On a day when so much could yet happen, and lots could still be done, my first thought is to escape back to bed, and avoid all of that.

Not a nice way to think, as I am sure you will agree.