“So, what do you do all day?”
People ask us quite often. Especially when they know we are retirees. I don’t know why? Maybe they are at a loss to know what to do for a whole day to keep themselves occupied. So, they want to find out if we are as bored as they are or if they can find out if we have a “life,” if we are creatively occupied.
After we moved to our new home in Ellicott City we were busy unpacking and repacking for the first few months. That kept us occupied. We had decided that we are not going to acquire any new belongings, except for the first floor. Our architect daughter selected the furniture and helped us decorate this floor. As we enter our home one faces a long great room with the kitchen to the left. Not having a formal dining room, we opted for a one hundred-and fifteen-inch-long farm table that we placed by the windows to the right. This room has eight windows providing plenty of light. That table became the center of activities in addition to eating.
Upon recommendation by our friends, we joined the Howard County 55+ community center. The center offered many group classes in addition to a fitness center. The fitness center is small but clean with plenty of light. There are recumbent bicycles, treadmills, weights, and other exercise equipment. The center is only a ten minutes’ drive from our house. So, once we were free of unpacking and other chores of moving we decided to partake in the activities of the center.
“It will be nice to get out and meet other people,” Bharati said adding “We may even make some new friends.”
I agreed. I joined the Tai Che class and Bharati joined the watercolor class. Unfortunately, my instructor developed a knee problem and the class was canceled. Bharati’s class, however, continued. She liked the instructor. Not having painted anything before in her life, Bharati was excited to learn a new skill. Isn’t that what they say about what to do in retirement.
—- Learn a new language,
—- Learn a new skill,
—- Travel, explore the world, Etc., Etc.
Bharati’s instructor recommended many tools required to start the new hobby, different size brushes, drawing paper, watercolor paints, and of course an adjustable artist drawing and sketching board. As you can guess we visited the Amazon website multiple times as well as made trips to Michael’s craft store. The sketching board went on one corner of the farm table. Soon, one-third of our dining table was occupied by the painting paraphernalia.
We have a large table in our basement. I recommended that Bharati could use that as her painting studio. That didn’t go well.
“I prefer to be on the main floor,” she said.
She was correct. Banishing to the basement would make her feel isolated.
Bharati took the learning process seriously. She religiously worked on the homework assignment. She searched the web for video instructions on sketching, copying, and using brush strokes. Soon it became a full-time obsession. We thought she needed a permanent space to practice on a separate table to clear the space from the main dining table. But where to place it. It needed to be small, practical, not too expensive.
Again, I searched the internet. There were several options on Amazon, Wayfair, and other big box stores. Nothing was appealing. We decided to let it go and wait it out a bit.
Whenever we had company for dinner we used only half of the large table.
Then the Omicron variant hit and the 55+ center announced that they were postponing all group classes until further notice. The fitness center was open but we were concerned about visiting that because of the warning from the CDC about the extremely contagious nature of the virus.
It was the middle of winter and too cold and unsafe to walk outdoors. What to do? What are we going to say to people who ask how do you spend your day?
After quite a bit of deliberation, we made another exception to our decision not to buy any new furniture or equipment. We gave in and purchased a Schwinn recumbent exercise bike. This we placed in our basement in a corner facing the large TV as well as providing a view of the golf course outside through the door and a window to the left.
One day as I was pedaling I noticed a small serving cart on wheels that we had for many years. It was tucked away behind a pillar next to where the bike was. An idea struck me. Maybe we could use this upstairs for Bharati’s artistic endeavor. It was compact, easily movable, and could hold all her supplies. I wasn’t sure whether she would like the idea.
She agreed to try it out.
The next day we hauled the cart upstairs. We placed it at the far end of the great room by the windows, again, overlooking the golf course.
“I like it,” Bharti exclaimed excitedly.
She was happy that the cart served her purpose well. Sitting in front of it was also not a problem. There was enough legroom.
“Why didn’t we think of it all this time?” I spoke.
“Well, that is how it is,” she said.
We were glad that we found a solution for her artist’s corner and avoided adding another piece of furniture. Sometimes the solution is right in front of you. It just takes the right frame of mind and thinking “out of the box” like they say, to realize it.