Tuesday, September 5, 2017

Reflections for a Retiring Friend

Where will the road lead?

One of my close friends is not returning to school this September. After years of teaching young children, she is beginning her retirement. My friend raised three children mostly on her own, attended university, earned her degree and maintained very high standards of caring and of instruction in her classroom. My friend ran, swam, gardened and quilted as well. For the last year, she has been providing almost daily care and companionship to her father.

reading visit to school library in Mexico (reading journals)
This September, it is 6 years since I retired as a teacher-librarian. I enjoyed my job with its opportunities to share books with young people and to participate in a learning environment.
Since retirement, I have discovered which aspects of my profession were an important part of me.
I am a learner even more than a teacher. I love to read about and discuss new ideas. Study at home and in France and Mexico has given me chances to learn in different cultural environments.

Coupeville with Mum

Both of my parents were able to attend my retirement in June 2011. My father's heart condition worsened and by November of that year, my dad was in our local hospital. My mum and I took turns
most days helping to feed dad. My sibling were able to visit but they were still employed. Dad went into Extended Care in December of that year. My mother had never lived alone and was now facing a half hour drive to the hospital most days. I accompanied her often and we began the custom of lunching in restaurants. My mother and I have never eaten so many lunches together. Now that my father is gone, my mother and I visit at least once a week. We go to church together and then to a local golf course for lunch. I treasure our time (mostly) since all things and all people pass.

A new aspect to my life is church attendance. I'm not certain what I believe but I am interested in theology and I enjoy the reflections (used to be sermons), music and fellowship. As I grow older

and think more about impermanence, I start to question attachments (to possessions, people, experiences or ideas).  Aspiration and striving are less important. Monsieur Là-Bas has been practising the Turn, Turn, Turn song and I have been considering the message. There is a time for everything and then that time is over.

I do enjoy literary activities.

Today my friend spoke to young grandchildren returning to school, discussed a New York Times editorial with me, will register to attend the Writers' Festival in October and will walk with another retired friend. Other years, she would be meeting new children and their parents, preparing a classroom and attending a staff meeting. I welcome her to the next chapter!

Tuesday, August 15, 2017

Summer Garden Stories

a theme for summer reading
This summer, I have been working to create small gardens around the parking lots in our apartment complex. Our complex is comprised of several acres with many large fir trees, rhododendrons, and hydrangea bushes. The landscapers are busy cutting lawns, trimming bushes and replacing retaining walls so much of the smaller areas have been neglected.

early garden picture
I am trying to create different garden vignettes in my areas using mostly perennials and
inexpensive annuals. Our complex used to win prizes for the gardens but so many of older people 
are unable to carry on gardening and structural repairs to the buildings have curtailed the budget for the gardeners. I have been buying my own plants and hope to be able to divide them in the spring. We have a green house on the property so seeds are another possibility.

It is amazing how the simple activity of gardening has created a greater sense of community in the
complex. Strangers stop to speak to me as I work. After the disappearance of some plants that I had purchased, an anonymous neighbour left some money under my door. He/she wanted to help to replace the missing plants.

When I worked as a teacher-librarian, my favourite story was Miss Rumphius by Barbara Cooney. I even did a presentation on "the library as a garden" for one of my Library Education classes. Think of the library as a place where there is a book to be "picked" by everyone or a quiet place to be enjoyed by all.

The days are getting noticeably shorter now and the hollyhock flowers have mostly dropped but the sedums are turning red and I planted some hardy chrysanthemums to welcome the cooler weather.

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

On the Road with Husband and Hound

Tilde and trophies in the doggy yard
At least once a year, my husband and I travel to the Cascade Mountains of Washington State. For the last two years, we have travelled with our mini-dachshund Tilde. We have taken Tilde to Dachshunds on Parade in Ellensburg, Washington.

Dachshunds on Parade is a  sports day for dogs. Not a serious dog show but a chance to meet other dachshunds and their owners. There are costume parades, dog trick contests and fun races. Tilde loves to play soccer and she is a very fast runner. This year, she won a first place trophy for soccer and a second in the running race.
The Paws a While Pet Suites
I have been researching dog-friendly travel. I found Paws a While Pet Suites on a website called bringfido.com. The suites include a unit with a doggie door and a fenced yard, dog treats, a dog wash and a special dog sofa.

wild flowers
We like to stop every hour and a half when we travel with Tilde. Monsieur plays ball and I wander about looking at the various wild flowers blooming at these high altitudes.
taking time
It seems important to take time on a road trip. To notice the flowers, to play with the dog....
Often when Monsieur and I are together, we are busy with our separate interests but our little dog seems to be an interest that we share.