Retiree in Training

November 2, 2017

Written by Art Petrosemolo

As you read this blog, Tina and I will be approaching out one year anniversary here at the OUTPOST in Sycamore Springs, Garden Spot Village. The first few weeks in the construction zone surrounded by carpenters, plumbers and roofers and a sea of mud was interesting – and so we named our home The Outpost. But it passed quickly.

I moved my department at Fairleigh Dickinson University to an outsourced group in June 2016 and after some 51 years of working fulltime, I walked away. I was in public relations both in the corporate world with a Fortune 500 company and in the educational non-profit arena at some of the country’s finest colleges and universities including Dartmouth, Franklin and Marshall, and the University of Massachusetts where I received my graduate degree.

Tina retired from teaching high school chemistry in 2015 and had a head-start on adjusting to retirement. I think Tina has done a better job than I have.

First, even when I stopped working formally, I never gave up the work mentality. I ramped up my writing and wrote more feature stories for local newspapers in New Jersey as well as New Jersey Magazine. I certainly wasn’t paid as much but it kept me busy while we downsized our home and sent our furniture and belongings ahead of us to Lancaster to wait until 507 Keyser Way was ready for us to occupy.

Tina made the switch to retirement much more quickly. I thought for sure she would do some tutoring in the sciences for high school students. We lived in the Rumson-Little Silver – Shrewsbury “high-rent” triangle in Coastal NJ. All kids have Ivy League aspirations and succeeding in the sciences and math, as evidenced from College Board scores, is one of the indicators and they get tutored. Tina had no interest in tutoring. She didn’t burn her textbooks but gave most away almost immediately.

I really thought I would “kick back” when we got to New Holland, turn off the switch, trade in my Type A personality for a more relaxed persona. It didn’t happen…or let’s say it didn’t happen yet. I’m still trying.

Our friends here – even the husbands – have made the transition much easier than I have. I sat down with the marketing staff at Garden Spot soon after moving in and committed to doing stories for Destination Magazine as well as a weekly blog. I wrote to the editors of the weekly newspapers in Lititz and Ephrata, met with them and started writing (and photographing) feature stories for them the next week. And I reached out to a friend who is the editor of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette and got back on their list of guest writers for the Sunday New Page. By spring, after my morning swim, I found myself in my second-floor man cave/office writing two or three hours a day, five days a week. At one point in late spring, I actually had eight feature stories written and waiting to be published in the papers.

I sat down and told myself to stop. I actually slowed down, so as I write this, the newspaper’s backlog of Art Petrosemolo stories is just three. I think I might be able to get down to research one – OK maybe two – stories a week soon.

So how are you going to do that, Art? Well, Tina and friend Bernie (and husband Bob) Collins have succeeded in getting me signed up for some Garden Spot Village luncheons and trips. Taking my first Garden Spot Village bus ride was difficult as it meant, “Art, you don’t have to drive all the time now, you are retired.”

I get out more to visit. Seriously Art, you ask. Yes, I pop in on Mike Fisher the carpenter who did the Village Square and Harvest Table live edge tables. He lives a mile or so down New Holland Road and we have become close friends. I drive him to the saw mill, or here and there as he needs.

I also wander further away into Paradise to see Ruth Lapp, who I met when I did the Amish In-Home Dinners story. I help her market the program…. OK, so I advise her on advertising, write some advertorials but it’s minimal. She says thanks by letting me shop in the farm and I come up with all kinds of vegetables. I have gone back to cooking tomato sauce with her Roma tomatoes.

And, close to home, up Rhineback Road are the Hoover clan – three Mennonite families that have helped me on two stories. I love sitting on their porch under the cherry trees or at the kitchen table as Mrs. Hoover peels corn for chicken-corn soup.

I’m still getting up very early to swim and I am not sure that will change but I do sleep in on Saturdays. If I doze off in the afternoon while reading or relaxing in my garage rocking chair, I don’t freak out – I’m retired!

So, as I look forward to year two here at Garden Spot, I am still a retiree in training but making some progress….at least I think so.

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