Wednesday, December 9, 2015

New definition of "busy" retirement

Afternoon at Stan's farm
If you followed this blog for awhile, you know that I've been reluctant to fill my retirement days with a schedule.  After many working years filled with meetings, I wanted the freedom to do whatever I wanted each day.

But after 4 years of being retired, I decided it was time for a change.  I actually WANTED to engage in a couple of "scheduled" activities.

I had been thinking about volunteering, but I wasn't sure what I wanted to do.  I decided to check out the United Way web site.  I read through many volunteer opportunities, and then one literally jumped off the page: the Ronald McDonald House of Indianapolis (RMHI).  Their mission is "To provide a supportive home-away-from-home for families of children receiving medical care at Riley Hospital for Children at IU Health and other area hospitals".  Somehow I knew this was right for me.

I talked to the RMHI Volunteer Coordinator, completed an application, had a background check, got my flu shot and a T.B. test.  I attended several training sessions, and finally I am officially a guest services volunteer at RMHI!  And I love it!

Generally I help check in guests (families who have children admitted to the hospital).  I assist with setting up food for breakfast, lunch and dinner meals( all food is donated).  Each week Panera Bread donates day old bagels and bread to RMHI, and I help package the food for breakfast over the next week.  And then I do whatever else is necessary to keep the house running: cleaning the kitchen or overnight rooms and sometimes doing laundry.

But my own personal goal is to bring a smile to our guests. It might be saying "welcome" or "have a good day" or asking about their day.  But by far my favorite experience was dancing with a 3-year old boy.  After giving him a cookie, he started dancing next to his mom's table (possibly a sugar buzz from the cookie).  Next thing you know, I was bustin' a few moves myself.  He then asked his mom for her phone, and he played his favorite song.  Next thing you know we are both dancing in the aisle.  His mom smiled and he had the biggest grin ever.  It's one of those crazy experiences I'll never forget!

And then there's the jewelry class Mike and I took this Fall at the Indianapolis Art Center.  It was a 12-week introductory class in Jewelry and Metalsmithing.  We learned the basics of metalworking including sawing, annealing, soldering ,work hardening, making rivets and embossing and hammering patterns on metal.  We were introduced to all kinds of tools including saws, various hammers, punches, files, a drill press, tumbler and a polishing lathe.

The cool thing about the class was that we learned all these techniques by making pieces of jewelry we designed ourselves.  We made a pierced pendant, a spinner ring and finished with a riveted bracelet.  Although frustrating at times (breaking many saw blades, having to solder my spinner ring 3 times before it worked and hammering my finger while texturing), I thoroughly enjoyed the class and learning how to create jewelry.  And there was something so satisfying about designing a piece and seeing it come to life.

Our instructor says we can call ourselves "goldsmiths", but I think that's a bit of a stretch.  But we are interested enough that we signed up for a second class in the Spring.  Here's a glimpse of my projects.  Keep in mind my "novice" status...
Pierced pendant

Spinner Ring

Riveted bracelet

And during this holiday season, we've also been fortunate to spend time with friends and family.

We spent a weekend in St. Louis celebrating our friend Stan's 60th birthday.
Kevin, Mike and Stan

Dinner with  Mike, Stan, Kevin and Kathy
We enjoyed Thanksgiving with our friend Chuck. Mike and I have a "tradition" of making unusual Thanksgiving dinners, and this year was no different when we made Jambalaya and apple pie!
Chuck and Mike

After Thanksgiving we headed to Southern Indiana for some good family time.  Mom treated the family to dinner at the Log Inn (Mike mistakenly thought we were saying "log in" and was expecting some type of skype event!).
Family at the Log Inn

Mom and me

And it's been a time of changing scenery as we roll into winter...

Brillant reds
Through the kitchen window
That white stuff returned to top it off

Hope you are having a great week!

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