Thursday, October 15, 2015


Noun     1. spare time - time available for hobbies and other activities that you enjoy;
time off - a time period when you are not required to work; "he requested time off to attend his grandmother's funeral"
              2. spare time - time that is free from duties or responsibilities; free time
leisure, leisure time - time available for ease and relaxation; "his job left him little leisure"
              Also: odd moments, time to kill, time on your hands
Whatever it’s called, I don’t think I have any.

With retirement, “hobbies and other activities” expanded to fill the time once devoted to a job away from home. I have no particular periods when I am “required to work” so apparently everything I do is a hobby or other activity.

That is an illusion, however. Just as there ain’t no such thing as a free lunch, there is no such thing as free time/time off/spare time/or whatever you want to call it for the retiree.

To give you a picture of what happens in my life, here’s a typical week:

MONDAY – 6 AM: walk at the Y; 6:30 AM: home, make coffee, change from walking shoes, take my blood pressure, write in my journal; 7:30 AM: check email, play a couple games of solitaire to get my brain out of first gear, fix breakfast and eat it, clean up, dress in the day’s outfit; 9:30 AM: go to my friend Jane’s to sew, home by noon. Fix lunch. Nap. Wake up around 2:30 PM: make a cup of tea to get myself awake, read a little while, look at my Today List . . . .

TUESDAY – Much like Monday, except I do my shopping instead of sewing with Jane and I knit at noon with my friend Emily.

WEDNESDAY – No walk; 10 AM: yoga. Lunch with a friend. Nap. Etc. etc.

THURSDAY – Walk, 10 AM: tai chi. Knit with Emily at noon. And so on.

FRIDAY – Walk. Leave at 9:30, drive about 20 miles to church where we knit and sew for the NeoNatal ICU at one of the hospitals; once or twice a month, stay for rehearsal with musicians for Sunday services; home for lunch, etc. etc. etc.

Spare tire--good thing to have--
might save time, right?
Are you awake? I said—oh, you are. Were you bored by the end of Monday? Sorry about that. But you can see--my routine is pretty well set, and there’s darned little free time. Even my reading is done with a purpose—to see what’s being published nowadays, or try a new author recommended to me, or learn how to structure memoir/make a curtain for my new bedroom window/trim bushes for autumn. . . . And because I live alone, I can read while I eat meals. Saves time. Though, now I think about it, what am I saving time for? And where the heck is it when I want it?

Things start getting sticky, time-wise, during certain seasons. Such as: This is autumn, right? Leaves come down, right? If you live in a city (or even a small town or village) you may have leaves vacuumed up by the municipal trucks. My leaf pick-up starts next Monday, so I’ll soon be out with my rake, fighting the wind for control of the leaves so I can get them to the curb for the big city vacuum cleaner. That’s an extra chore I don’t have other seasons.

Today is what?!?
About the time the leaves play out their last act, I catch a glimpse of the calendar and gasp at how few weeks (or maybe only days!) are left before Christmas, and panic sets in because quilts have yet to be finished (or started!) and holiday music needs to be prepared for the church services coming up, and . . . and . . . .

I could use some of that spare time about then.

Here’s a question: Did we ever have spare time?

I recall my mother working a 7-4 job, leaving at 6:30 AM Monday through Friday, getting home at 4:30 PM, and working every minute until she went to bed, sometime after I did, probably before midnight, though. She cleaned the house, cooked, did laundry (sometimes this was done on Saturdays so I could help), wrote letters to her sisters, and ironed the shirts and so on, then mended whatever needed doing. All at night, after working all day.

Let me say right here in public—I did not inherit my mother’s store of energy. Nor my father’s; he worked the same way, built other people’s houses during the day, worked on our house after his job ended at 4 PM, and went to bed by 9 o’clock so he could be up at 6, eat breakfast, start work at 7.

Maybe other people had spare time. We never had household help, not even a neighbor girl or a handy niece to come in and give a hand with the heavy work.

But I do remember times we went to visit relatives—my mother’s sisters, my grandmother—and the ladies sat around and talked for hours (or so it seemed to my young mind). They drank coffee and maybe ate something good that had just come out of the oven. And talked and laughed. Was that spare time?

Those times were rare, though. Maybe that’s why I remember them.

I don’t think our lives are busier than when my parents were young. But we have made what used to be leisure activities—whether hobbies or watching kids play sports or keeping fit—into regular, disciplined parts of our lives. I exercise four mornings and two classes per week. Sewing and knitting and learning new music have regular slots, depending on the week or season.

Things have progressed to the point that I now have to decide if a new activity will be a good thing—the question always is: What will I have to give up to make time for the new thing?

If you have any extra, spare, or leftover time hanging around, not being used, could you send some my way? I think I’m going to need it pretty soon. After all, Christmas is only—egads!—10 weeks away. And I’ll pay the shipping—out of my spare change, of course.

Gotta go! Lots to do!!
Spare change


  1. There's definitely truth to the "I don't know how I had time to work" thing, but the nice thing is that now we do things by choice, so if we don't have spare time...well, who you gonna blame? :-) Great post, Judith!

  2. I gather you're saying the buck stops here. Rats! But I'm still glad I'm retired and have time (there's that word again) to make choices about what I do, how long, and when. Thanks for stopping by, Liz! Always great to hear from you.