Monday, May 2, 2016

Older Adult Volunteers

shipyard museum
Travel has played a large part in the first five years of my retirement. My desire for learning was fulfilled by my studies at the Sorbonne and I was very happy working amidst the books at the Oaxaca Lending Library.  Now, for the sake of my marriage, my puppy, and my finances, I need to spend more time at home.

For me, daily social interaction is essential. For 25 years, I worked in school libraries where hundreds
of students, teachers and parents visited daily. Before that, I worked in a small and friendly public library. As a stay-at-home mum, I enjoyed playgroups and shared activities with other young families.

Currently, I have volunteered to sort donated bakery products and to count money at the church. Unfortunately, these are mainly solitary endeavours that provide me with  little satisfaction.  I
am looking for skill-based volunteer opportunities. I have teaching, library and writing experience.
I am friendly, fluent in English and French, and computer-literate.I am able to learn new skills but I can be quite slow and awkward with manual tasks. I enjoy working with other people who are similar in interests and age. The problem seems to be that I am 64 years old and have been retired for almost 5 years.

Last week, I  completed online applications for volunteer positions in Vancouver and in Richmond, the suburb where I live. It seems to me that society has placed many obstacles in the paths of would-be volunteers. Various volunteer management software systems have required me to create
accounts with user names and passwords. I worked with computers in the library and supervised computer relief classes at school but for an older adult, the technology could be off-putting.

It seems to me that certain volunteer positions should be aimed at elders with a lifetime of skills and experience. Personally, I feel reluctant to apply for a position for which the minimum age is 14. There are programmes which feature multi-generational volunteer opportunities but as a former teacher, I really want to work with adults now.

Partial success! I have been accepted to lead a book club for older adults at a community centre and to be a guide at our local heritage shipyard museum. I am well-qualified for these two positions as I worked in libraries for 30 years and researched and wrote a children's book (still unpublished) about a local shipbuilding family.

Saturday, I attended an orientation at the shipyard. The average age of the volunteers was about 50 years younger than I am! Nevertheless, I took my criminal record forms into the RCMP detachment
office and was set to register for some volunteer shifts this morning. Guess what! I can't log in.

Tuesday, April 19, 2016

Rambling On

I enjoyed walking through villages in Devon.

It seems to me that when one is almost midway through the 7th decade, one is entitled to one's preferences. As time grows shorter, it is important to establish priorities.  I am "une flâneuse", a person who loves to stroll without any particular purpose and to look at shop windows, street signs and passersby.
I have no grandchildren but I love the window!

I am not a "shopaholic" but I love to see items displayed as an art form. Shop windows tend to be my 
navigational tools. I'm likely to say "just past the cheese shop" or "around the corner from the bookstore".
I don't play any stringed instrument but I loved these guitars in Lerwick.

I enjoy rambles through beautiful countryside but even more, I love to stop to look at flowers,
drink a glass of wine at a pub or visit an old churchyard. Although I can walk for hours, the physical exercise is just an added benefit. I try to imagine life in a village or wonder how many hours it took
to create a work of graffiti.

misty morning in Cornwall

At home, where the automobile reigns supreme, there are not so many places to walk. Large homes without gardens are replacing the smaller, well-kept bungalows of the past. In the fishing village near me (no longer really a fishing village), apartments are replacing the small homes
of fishermen and cannery workers.
seaside cottage in Devon
In our community, a pathway has recently been built for walkers and bikers. Unfortunately, blackberry thickets where birds and small mammals lived were removed. The new plantings will take 
some years to develop. It's a pleasant place to walk our puppy or to have an ambulatory chat with a friend, but it is devoid of whatever makes a walk interesting to me. I try to walk 3 times a week but for the last little while, my walking buddy has been under the weather. I think that I need to start planning my next trip!

Saturday, March 19, 2016

Hate that Grey, Wash it Away

10 years ago in Seattle

While I was away in Mexico, I listened to BBC Radio almost every day.  I read a lot and by 8:00
each evening, I was ready to listen. A couple of weeks ago, I listened to an interview of Mary Beard, 
a well-known and controversial classics professor who was discussing her grey hair. Mary Beard, in 
the interview, asserts that she is glad to be 60 years old and has no intention of colouring her long grey hair.

My hair has been a journey. I started with dark brown curly hair. My hair was thick and I travelled without styling tools or product. As grey appeared, I began to colour it an auburn shade. As a blue-eyed Celt with red-haired cousins, I was "sort of" believable.
four years ago in Paris
I did not grow up with a mother who "did her own hair".  Maman visits the hairdresser weekly for a blow-out and has an occasional "perm". I knew that, as an ageing woman, I would not want any kind of "wash and wear perm" look. When permanent straightening processes (i.e. the Brazilian blowout)
became available, I was there ready to pay $400 and spend 3 hours in the salon to fulfill a teen-age dream of longer, straight hair. 

I did not require a lot of product and my hair dried straight. If I got caught in wind or rain, my hair stayed straight. Unfortunately, the demarcation line (skunk strip) shows up sooner on straight hair.
Six week colouring sessions were replaced by four week colour sessions. During my first three years of retirement, I was travelling for months at a time. I was constantly in search of a colourist. Paris, London, cruise ships...I was always needing colour. My eyebrows are salt and pepper coloured so they had to be tinted. More time in salons.
my last colour
Finally, in fall of 2013, aboard a 28-day cruise, I had my last full colour treatment. This was it! I was tired of spending time in hair salons and it was becoming evident that, if I wanted to continue to travel, I needed to cut back on some other expenditures.  I had no idea how grey I would be or what I would look like.
The first step is blonde highlights.
Fortunately, I have always found good hairdressers and I am willing to listen and to pay for their
expertise. If you are young or "naturally beautiful", you can probably visit "cut-rate" stylists but I am not willing to take a chance with colour. Karyn Rudance, at Curly Hair Vancouver, is my favourite local stylist. In January of 2014, she created some blonde highlights to help soften the effects of my new growth. I spent 10 weeks in Europe in the spring of 2014 so I was able to "grow out" without much ado.
a Paris blonde
If you spend time in Paris, you might need a colour or cut. In 2012, with my straight auburn hair, I visited my local stylist on Rue St Jacques and I was pleased with the results. However, in 2014, my "growing out" was a little more complex. I didn't want to "cover" but I needed another "blending/blonding". I chose Coiffirst, a prestigious salon in St.-Germain-des-Près for the procedure. 
I have never been in such a beautiful salon! There are private rooms for famous clients and sparkling water is offered. I felt a bit like Catherine Deneuve.
back to Karyn
My Paris hair travelled with me to visit relatives in the Shetland Islands and along blustery footpaths in Cornwall. When I returned to Vancouver, it seemed like a good time to "cut to the grey". It's a really big step! I was frightened that my husband, who despite his boyish face has been grey-haired for 20 years, would prefer the dyed tresses of his musical friends. There are very few women performers with "natural hair".

grey and curly

Today, I have curly, grey hair. I am 10 years older than my first picture. People ask if Maman (84) and I are sisters. I have no problem getting a seat on public transit and last week, the ticket-seller at the movies assumed that I was a senior. There are so few women with uncoloured hair, that I have joined
the ranks of the "almost elderly".  Most of the brightly coloured clothing that I wore as a red-head
has been replaced by softer greys and blues. On the plus side, my last haircut in Oaxaca cost me $12
and I won't be needing a trim before summer. 

"Natural greying" is a slowly growing trend. I notice that, in the two years since I have gone grey, more of my blogging contemporaries have gone the same route. As more healthy, visible women in their 60's choose grey, it is likely that the stereotypes will lose gradually disappear.

 I was interested by Mary Beard's interview on BBC news: