July 17, 2019
The Toughest Time of Day - For Me
So What Do You Do All Day? remains the most popular blog post for the last nine years. People are fascinated by how retired folks fill their days, maybe hoping to find new ideas. Certainly I found myself spending extra time in the section of my recently revised book, Living a Satisfying Retirement, that details what the respondents do to stay busy. The variety of activities and interests is really something.
To be honest, though, there is a part of my day that I constantly wonder if I am making the most of my time: evenings. After I first retired I would watch baseball games several nights a week, not because I really cared how the Diamondbacks did, but the game filled 3 hours. After having cable pulled from our house I found myself reading for a few hours each night, killing time with silly make-do jobs, and going to bed rather early. Last year I discovered Sling TV, so the D'backs games are available again. Depending on the score, I am again watching too often, because it is easy.
Even with the lure of baseball (or recently, the World Cup), I am making an effort to use the time from dinner until bed in a positive way. I don't have to be "productive" in the sense that I must necessarily complete a task or accomplish something. There is nothing wrong with purely relaxing with my wife and watching something on Netflix. But, I do catch myself racking up too many movies or shows all while checking my smartphone.
There have been various activities on my "what to do when I don't want to watch TV" list. For a few years I was a fan of the the Great Courses from the Teaching Company, especially when they made their material available as a streaming service. After awhile, I found myself taking courses as a time-filler or because i was paying a monthly fee, not because the subject matter really grabbed me.
There are a few radio shows that I found on the Internet that I listen to now and then. One that I particularly enjoy is Celtic Heartbeat from BCC Radio Wales. Featuring folk music and Celtic artists, the music is entertaining and different from my normal fare.
Another outlet I like to check for its eclectic approach is the community radio station in Bisbee, Arizona. Staffed by local residents, some are rather professional-sounding while others are definitely not. That, along their interesting music and talk programming choices, is what makes listening fun. Since the first of the year I have added Spotify to my life. That has opened up a whole new world of music styles and types to me.
For some reason, I have become interested in turntables and old vinyl LPs again. For well over a decade, I made my living using both on the radio. But, with the advent of CDs, and then streaming music, physically playing an album seemed silly. Now, they are drawing me back.
Maybe it is the album cover art, or details on the back cover. Maybe it is the physical act of cleaning a record before gently placing it on the turntable. Maybe it is having to get up after 15 minutes to play the other side. I'm not sure why, but this is a "everything old new again" interest.
Betty has always been the photographer in our family, becoming very good with photo editing software. Recently, I have decided to give her a run for her money (only in my dreams!). I started learning how to use her Nikon camera. Then, I downloaded a photo editing software program from Corel to learn how to improve the photos I took. Frankly, it is scary what someone can do with digital photos and a few spare hours to reshape and rearrange reality!
A friend pointed me to an excellent online guitar course. To unlearn bad habits, I have started at the very first beginner's lesson. Fingers and 70 year old hands are not happy but I am pushing forward, very slowly, but forward.
Is it possible to read too much? I hope not, since I usually have at least three books at various stages of completion at any one time, lying somewhere around the house.
So, that is generally it. The point of this post is actually somewhat selfish. I am hoping you will have some feedback on how you spend your evenings that I can learn from. Because we tend to eat dinner early, I have between four and five hours each evening open for something. That is a substantial chunk of time.
Help me, and others, make the most if it. Tell us what you do after dinner and before bed?