Thursday, 8 January 2009

Happy New Year!

It's just over 3 months since my retirement, and time has passed quickly. I'm still enjoying it, and I haven't had a moment's regret for my decision to retire. The start of 2009 seems like a good time to take stock of my experiences of retired life so far.

Some things have changed a lot for me since I retired, but the basics of life are still the same. For example, I have good days and not so good days, just like I had at work. The good days are mostly when I feel I have accomplished something. The more tangible and physical the accomplishment is (i.e., not mainly involving time spent in front of a computer), the better.

Top of the list so far of "feel good" accomplishments was completing phase 1 of the Great Tree Stump Project by ripping the first enormous stump out of the ground, after having spent months patiently encircling it and removing its roots (also enormous) one by one with a combination of electric and hand sawing. The key to success is to move enough earth away from the root so that it's completely exposed with daylight underneath. For my enormous stump and enormous roots, this involved digging down very deep and moving a large amount of earth, which needs a fairly large area where the earth can be placed. I discovered by experience that this process needs careful planning so that the earth receiving area is cleared and prepared first, before even starting the encircling and sawing campaign on the stump's roots.

The two stumps I'm removing are in an area of my garden that was once a flower bed but has become completely overrun by weeds, including extensive infestations of bindweed and ivy. The stump removal is part of a larger project to reinstate this area to its original purpose. I'm removing the weeds by digging them out completely by hand, so the earth moving for stump removal purposes has the nice side benefit of enabling me to remove the weeds at the same time. As well as the weeds, the soil is full of very large stones, which I am removing as I go and placing them in rubble sacks filled to the maximum weight that I can lift. I have filled about 20 of these sacks so far, and I'm expecting to have between 25 and 30 when the project is finished. This doesn't include the largest and most attractive flints, which have been separated out for future use in building a rockery on part of the area that's being cleared.

Progress has been slow over the last few weeks because of the wet and cold winter weather and the very limited hours of daylight. Despite this, I have cleared around 80% of the total area and I am about 60% through the encircling campaign on the second stump. The final completion will be announced here and celebrated in a suitable manner!

In my next blog post I'll say more about the other things currently occupying my time and attention. I'll also talk about whether retirement (and life) should be more about "doing" (tree stumps, etc.) or about "being".

It only remains for me to wish you all a healthy and happy New Year! Part of the joy of blogging is that I don't know who will be reading this. I used to be somewhat concerned about this and it made me feel rather inhibited, but now I'm beginning to see it much more as an opportunity. I know I have at least a few readers, from the comments to my last post. Thanks for your kind words, and keep those comments coming!