What has your retirement been like?

What has your retirement been like?


My retirement came a lot earlier than Karen’s. About the time we moved into our house on Bever Circle my major client, Omnilingua, decided to restructure their work process. That resulted in all the small service suppliers like myself losing their accounts. This was not only graphic designers, but all the translators as well. Karen was making good money so it wasn’t that devastating. We had a new house that needed a hundred small jobs to get it how we wanted it and that would take up a lot of my now spare time.

One of the first jobs was replacing our address marker that Karen’s brother Dick slid into backing down our steep, snowy driveway. I had an idea for a sculpture and Karen liked the idea. I took a course in sculptural welding at Kirkwood Community College. With all the pieces for the sculpture cut out and a number of the small subassemblies fabricated I was ready to put the whole thing together in my newly finished work shop. I still had quite a bit of welding to do on it. I borrowed a small MIG welder but it just wasn’t doing the job, so I bought one of my own. It was just the ticket.

Address marker

One problem was the workshop was intended to be for wood working. So a bunch of hot metallic sparks flying all over the place wasn’t the best thing to have. I solved this by doing all of the welding over an asbestos mat with some metal sheeting protecting the walls or other items in the immediate area. This was the beginning of a new hobby for me too, sculpture.

From then on I had something to do and even made a bit of money with some seriously expensive pieces that I designed and built. I also got selected a number of times to participate in putting my sculptures on display in various regional shows. This usually involved renting my sculpture to an arts group in a nearby town for a year and getting an honorarium for doing so.

Steve Piper

A sculptor friend of mine, Steve Piper, told me he had been having fairly good luck selling less expensive yard art and with the cheaper prices and increased volume he actually made more money than with his more serious works. After a few years of doing this by myself, Karen and I decided to collaborate on joint projects where I built the metal framework of the sculptures and she made decorative fused glass panels that fit into them. I kept all this up for a number of years till my feet and legs started to give out on me and I couldn’t stand for the length of time it took me to complete a new item.

By this time I was collecting social security and could justify activities that are more commonly associated with retirement. I spent a lot of time organizing my photos which even to begin with were more organized than most people’s photos. I still have a ways to go with them by the way. I worked on my genealogical activities too which also have quite a ways to go. At 73 I’m beginning to worry that I have enough time left to get it all done before I kick the bucket.


I retired from College Community School District in June of 2011 after 35 years in the district. I got my first job when I was 16 years old and had worked at some sort of a job for at least part of every year since that time. I had many roles in my school district beginning as an elementary classroom teacher and ending my career as a district administrator in the central office. By the time I retired I was routinely working 60 hours per week. When I was offered an early retirement opportunity, I was ready to go.

For the first three years after I retired I worked on a consultant contract to supervise the district’s New Teacher Mentor and Induction Program. Each teacher who was new to the profession was assigned a trained teacher mentor to support their success and growth. My job was to meet regularly with mentors and help them meet obligations to their mentees and solve problems as they came up. I also worked with other district personnel to plan professional learning experiences for all new teachers in their first year of employment. The job was fun, and allowed me to ease out of my hectic schedule without being totally idle. I also had plenty of free time to enjoy my retirement in other ways.

Traveling has been the best part of retirement. We have really enjoyed the ability to plan extended vacations or to just take off to visit relatives or friends on the spur of the moment.

We have traveled to California many times to visit Wendy and her family. We have flown there of course which is the fastest way, but air travel has become less comfortable for us as we’ve gotten older. We rode the rails one time on the California Zephyr and have driven there as well. Each trip has given us the chance to be with our daughter, who we miss very much, as well as develop our relationship with Zach and our two wonderful grandsons, Wyatt and Augie. We have done so many fun things while we have been there but best of all has been spending time with our family.

A canal in Bruges
Our hotel in Amsterdam

We also took a fantastic trip to Belgium and the Netherlands. We saw magnificent art in the museums, visited historic sites from pre-history to modern times, and explored the beautiful cities of Amsterdam, Brussels, and Bruges. We stayed in a 500 year old house on a canal in Amsterdam, a quaint Droomhotel in Anderen, and a canal boat in Bruges. We had mussels and frites, crepes, pannakopen, delicious cheese, yummy chocolate, and lots of delicious brown beer. We even traveled into the northern Netherlands by car which was quite an adventure.

Other travels included taking Rachel on a trip to Washington D.C.; a trip to the Black Hills, Yellowstone and the Grand Tetons; the Grand Canyon and Wyoming; Maine and Quebec; and the great Western driving trip to California and back again.

Fall at Yellowstone

Besides travel there are other joys of retirement. I have loved the creative outlet of learning about glass fusing and attending classes at the Iowa Ceramic Center and Glass Studio. I have met lots of nice people who share my interests and inspire me with new ideas and techniques. It is a hobby I have brought into our home by creating fused glass windows that flank our entry doors, and by creating decorative pieces for display and table use.

I also love the relaxed pace of life. We can get up whenever we feel like, though I usually get up early anyway. I can read books as much as I want to, and work outside whenever it’s nice. I have reconnected with old friends from high school and also get together with friends from work. Butch and I get along great and haven’t run out of things to talk about even after being cooped up during a pandemic. We may have binge watched more tv than was good for us during that time. All in all it is too bad people have to wait so long to retire. It would be even more fun if we were young.

Karen’s door panels

This post is part of the StoryWorth project that I am participating in.
At the ButchieBoy main page click the Storyworth category to see all the entries

This entry was posted in Autobiography, Daily life, StoryWorth. Bookmark the permalink.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.