Sunday, December 29, 2013

Reading and Watching in the Slow Days of Winter

By nature I am a contemplative woman. My best days are spent reading or viewing a thought-provoking film. For me, character development, a theme that resonates or poses an interesting question and a setting that is created with the fine strokes of an artist are the elements that I seek in a book, film or play.

This week, I discovered a film Cycling with Molière (Alceste à bicyclette) on Netflix. Set in Île de Ré, a rainy holiday town in France, the film is a character study of two actors rehearsing Le Misanthrope while actually playing out the roles in their real-life interactions. The premise is that the two actors will take turns playing the lead role, Alceste the Misanthrope and the supporting role of Philinthe, the more optimistic friend. You need not have read Le Misanthrope to appreciate how this alternation is reflected in the off-stage antics of the characters. However, if you have studied French Language and Literature, you will find Fabrice Lucchini hilarious as he tries to explain the alexandrine to his colleague, a star of daytime television (played by Lambert Wilson). I wasn't able to find the alexandrine scene on Youtube but this rehearsal scene brought tears of laughter to my eyes. For those who need to be transported to France, this is a film that can be watched over and over.

Yesterday, I came across an interesting quotation from an article about Caroline Heilbrun, an exceptional academic, feminist, philosopher and novelist. I was first introduced to Heilbrun's writings
through her mystery novels written under the pseudonym of Amanda Cross. I have just purchased Heilbrun's The Last Gift of Time, a work that discusses life in the seventh decade. 

Women, I believe, search for fellow beings who have faced similar struggles, conveyed them in ways a reader can transform into her own life, confirmed desires the reader had hardly acknowledge--desires that now seem possible. Women catch courage from the women whose lives and writings they read, and women call the bearer of that courage friend. [p. 138]” 
― Carolyn G. HeilbrunThe Last Gift of Time: Life Beyond Sixty

After posting yesterday's blog about the connection between blogger and reader, I came across this quote which expresses so elegantly what I have come to believe in my own life.

Funny, I feel like I have been lazy when I spend days in reflection. I must have a closet to clean or
laundry to fold. What do you do or not do during the slow days of winter? Is contemplation one of your "guilty pleasures"?

Saturday, December 28, 2013

New Year, New Directions?

I just received a renewal notice for my blog. It's been almost a year of blogging for me. Being in my sixties seems a bit like being an adolescent except the future seems shorter and there are the inevitable losses.

It is almost a year since my father died and our lives have gone on. Life is like that, I guess. When I was a girl at school, I used to think that if my name disappeared from the class list, I would soon be forgotten no matter how hard I tried or how successful I was.

Most men lead lives of quiet desperation and go to the grave with the song still in them.- Thoreau

Since I was a young student, this quote by Henry David Thoreau has caused me to stop and think about  
what I was doing and why.  I have been retired for two and a half years and right now I feel a little lost and lonely. Hardly a day goes by that I don't think about teaching. I don't miss the sameness of going to the job but I miss the "big ideas" and the possibility of touching the life of a young person. The Arts One professor who chose to read Walden with his first year students did not know how it would affect me. When I chose a story for children, I always hoped that a least one child would feel even a momentary connection.

When I write my blog, I hope for the same connection with my readers. I am not a wardrobe guru, a gourmet chef or an interior decorator. What I have to share are the challenges and the delights of being an almost 62 year-old woman. I face the next year with lots of uncertainties:will I continue to travel if my husband doesn't come, do I need to find a new way to teach, will I grow my grey hair out  ( I really like The Hostess' hair)…. The list goes on forever.

As I think about almost a year of writing, I recognize the dedication of those bloggers who have continued to share their lives with others over several years. Although I started to read blogs only 18 months ago, I feel a connection to a community of bloggers. 

I don't know where the next year will take me:geographically, emotionally or spiritually. There are no roadmaps for ageing wisely and graciously but I know that I will continue to learn from the experiences  of others and I hope that at least one reader will read my words and feel a connection.

An afterthought: when I retired, a gifted student that I worked with presented me with a Thoreau mug which is part of the legacy of my long ago Arts One professor.

Only through our connectedness to others can we really know and enhance the self. And only through working on the self can we begin to enhance our connectedness to others.
Harriet Goldhor Lerner

Saturday, December 21, 2013

Christmas Outing

Nutcracker at the Christmas Market
Yesterday, my daughter and I donned boots, hats and gloves to visit the Christmas Market in downtown Vancouver. It is the first time that I have been to the market and the first time for many years that I have been downtown at Christmas with my daughter. Daughter works shifts and as I get older, my trips to the city are fewer.

When I was a child, our family drove downtown to see the Christmas windows and lights.  As there were no suburban shopping centres, this was my family's major outing of the year. We had no fast-food restaurants at that time so a dinner out was a cause for celebration and very good manners. We wore our best clothes as we were likely to have our photo snapped with Santa Claus.

When my daughter was young, her father and I liked to take her to see the Nutcracker ballet every year.
We dressed up in our finery to attend the production. I have always believed that music and dance are an important part of young children's experiences. To this day, my daughter enjoys a lot of live theatrical and musical productions. 

As I get older, I am less likely to purchase the lovely ornaments at the Christmas Market. We don't always put up a tree in our apartment as I am not a fan of artificial  trees and we have no visiting children. 

Christmas ornaments from Germany.
My daughter and I had a happy outing day with lots of memories and very little expense. Today is the Solstice and the coming days will surely be brighter.

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Add a Little Razzle Dazzle

Hand painted snow flake
A number of years ago, I lost a very good friend to cancer. In the late eighties, when she was losing her hair because of her treatment, she discovered nails. She found that lovely nails made her feel better about herself. I have very fragile nails and I do housework so glamorous nails have never been part of the equation. Sunday, as I was facing more domestic upheaval, I skipped church and drove myself to the local nail bar. I intended to have just a manicure but I now have gel nails. My fingers look so long and lovely to me. The technician was like an artist with a tiny brush and actually painted snowflakes on on my nails.

I have been recording my food (and drink) on My Fitness Pal for 2 weeks and have lost 5 pounds and 2 inches off my tummy. Button blouses are buttoning without the little wiggle. I have had a number of social occasions and some sad days so I am feeling positive about my results. I have been very much inspired by The Hostess' amazing results and realize that it is all about perseverance not magic.

Tomorrow, Maman and I are going to a Blue Christmas Advent service. Our local Anglican and United
churches are holding a service for those who may be a little sad in the holiday season.  What a great idea! I do believe that there are many opportunities for support whether church-based or community-based. Tonight, I am going to another carol singing party at the home of one of my travelling partners.
I haven't seen her since we parted company and I went to Tucson. It seems like a lifetime ago.

If you have noticed disappearing posts on my blog, it is because I am uncertain. Right now, I am dealing with somebody else's mood disorder. I have dealt with it before and cannot be sure of the outcome this time. Part of me wants to write about this illness that destroys families and relationships but I have a concern because mood disorders often come to a head with hypomania and then a hospitalization. Everything settles back down, drugs are tweaked and on we go until next time. No one knows why or when. If this sounds familiar to you, you are not alone!

In the meantime, I have snowflake nails.

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Lightening the Load

We are in the dark days of Winter, soon to come out the other side. Whatever our beliefs or traditions, this time of the year can be difficult. Right now, I am feeling a little bit brighter because I have tracked my food for one whole week on My Fitness Pal. It's interesting to me to notice the nutritional composition on my meals and to see just where the extra pounds are coming from. I have had to plan my meals a little more carefully and I am struggling with my wine consumption but I know that in the end it will pay off.

In most situations, I am a woman who perseveres. It is one of those qualities that all of my family share. My home life is tumultuous right now. The obligations of the season and the tension between Monsieur  and me is making life stressful. We are often told that this should be a "happy time" and that we should not "spoil it for others"but for both Monsieur and me, it is the first Christmas after the loss of a parent. Since my mother is still alive, there is something of an expectation that we can compensate for the loss of my dad. The last two Christmases have been hard ones for my mother: Dad went into Extended Care on December 23, 2011 and died January 4, 2013.

Tonight, Monsieur and I are attending a potluck dinner with my small Church group. I have not attended a  gathering with this group before but have prepared a healthy dish of green beans, pearl onions and toasted almonds. There will be Christmas music and activities as well as the meal.

This Sunday, the minister likened the journey to Bethlehem to the journey of life: there are joys and sadness that we cannot imagine. With faith and acceptance, our loads will be lighter and the brighter days will come.

Monday, December 2, 2013

Home Again!

Learning to take a selfy
Back home again and resolved to eliminate excess of all sorts. I was able to function in 400 square feet in the casita and I am finding our 950 square foot apartment rather crowded. During December, I am taking stock of which items of clothing that I actually wear. Today, I am wearing my Breton shirt and a scarf that I bought in Guatemala. Monsieur and I will be having  coffee with neighbours and going grocery shopping for some healthy food. We are both joining Weight Watchers on Thursday as our middles are definitely expanding.

Our holiday calendar is starting to fill up with Christmas parties, choir concerts and Monsieur's gigs. I am easily overwhelmed by social activities and need  to listen to my own voice. Too much food, too much drink and too many people make Madame uncomfortable.

Someone shared a great TED talk video with me about generosity and happiness. If we remember this throughout the holiday, our lives will hopefully feel less stressful.

Monday, November 25, 2013

Wherever you go, there you are....

Paris 2012
There is a book about mindfulness meditation by Jon Kabat-Zinn titled Wherever You Go, There You Are.  It's an excellent title and I'm not sure if Kabat-Zinn was the originator or whether it is from the Buddha. In my experience, this saying is completely accurate.

Before our retirement, Monsieur and I decided that travel would be an important part of our "golden years". Our first trip together was a repositioning cruise leaving Vancouver and travelling through the Panama Canal to Fort Lauderdale. Monsieur was very keen on the engineering feat, read a lot about  the routes and discovered Karaoke on the cruise so all was well.

Next came my Paris study holiday. I was studying for 4 months and travelling about Europe for a month. As I had rented an apartment in Paris, I was hoping that M. would love the City of Light as much as I do. Monsieur was researching the war records of his grandfather and believed that he had been at Passchendale. Monsieur came for only a week but it was when I had mid-term break so we went to visit the battlefields in Belgium. Monsieur does not want to return to Europe. To me, Europe is not only rich with the art, literature and history but with the music and outdoor activities that Monsieur enjoys. There are so many jazz bars and open mics in Paris' Latin Quarter and in Montparnasse that one could go out every night.
Monsieur in the North Cascades
Right now, the sun is shining on the saguaro outside our window, the cactus wren is calling out and the temperature is pleasant. I am sitting at the bistro table soaking in the afternoon's rays. I have found a friendly church, a nail salon, a neighbourhood bar and restaurant, a drycleaner and a bookstore.
Wherever I am, I find what I need and could easily settle in for months. Although, old friends are impossible to replace, there are so many possible friends in the world that we need never be lonely.

Monsieur prefers short holidays, road trips and camping. He enjoys our annual trip to the North Cascades where he can hike and bike. Right now, performing music is very important to mon mari. Yesterday, we noticed that our local bar in Tucson has live music and karaoke but we head north tomorrow. 

Retirement is not only a time of self-discovery but a time for us to learn more about our relationships.

Saturday, November 23, 2013

You and Me and Rain on the Roof

The rains have come to the desert and they have come with force. Our little house seems to be watertight and warm so I  am bundled in reading and Monsieur is bundled in complaining about the wifi. The speed of wifi is not problematic for me unless I am paying 75 cents a minute as on the ship. Monsieur is involved in Fantasy football and hockey so he is always "setting his lineups". We are very different and have now spent 2 weeks alone together. (oxymoron).

The rain makes it a little easier to head north but I always feel sad when I have to go home. It's not just about travel:it's about possibilities, new experiences and new ideas to explore. Yesterday, I read a book The Devil's Highway by Luis Alberto Urrea. It is about the attempt by 26 Mexican men to cross the desert close to where we are living. Fourteen men died trying to cross the Arizona desert illegally in 2001. With a downturn in the economy in Vera Cruz, these men were hoping to find work in the fields so that they could feed their families. They borrowed money from the Don to fund the travel and they were left by their guide to die in the Sonora Desert.  Luis Alberto Urrea was a Pullitzer finalist in 2005 and this book although heart-wrenching was fascinating. "Reading in place" is one of my favourite travel activities.

Reading Devil's Highway made me think about my "adopted daughter" Maria in Oaxaca. The "coyotes" or guides call the emigrants "Oaxacas" because Oaxaca is such a poor state peopled by various indigenous people who often don't even speak Spanish.  I hope that Maria is teaching and making life better for the next generation of "Oaxacas"

When I get home, it will be Advent. Christmas lost its magic for me a long time ago. Christmas is for small children and we have only great-niece and nephew in our family. I don't need or want much that I don't have. I have way too much even to live comfortably. Part of travel is just getting away from my "things".

In my first two weeks back, I will have M.'s band gig, the opera, a charity auction and a Christmas party. I will worry about my daughter's job, my mother's health, my weight and my husband's late nights. I just realized a few days ago that I had not seen my dad alive for a year. Only on my computer desktop, will I ever again see his awkward smile. I'm like him, I grimace at the camera. Monsieur will sing Christmas carols at the nursing home and for the first time, his mother will not be there.

The worst part is that what I thought would be a leisurely drive, Monsieur and me together, is going to be a marathon so that we can make this gig. Tempers will flair and nerves unravel.

Perspective! Perspective! I am a very lucky woman to be able to explore as much as I do. All of these things are part of the daily life of a woman in her seventh decade. I have many dear friends and family members that I will be happy to see again!

Thursday, November 21, 2013

A Lesson in Packing

I have been away from home for almost 2 months, starting in Boston, cruising from Québec City to San Diego, living for 3 weeks in sunny Tucson and now preparing to drive back with Monsieur to Canada. I started my journey uncertain as to weather and to activities along the way. I also started my journey with le valise diabolique and a carry-on. If you recall, I muttered the Volga Boatman Song as I hauled le valise for blocks in the rain in New York City. As it turned out, none of my travelling companions dressed up so Madame has been living out of the carryon for almost two months.

Beige, brown and orange, accented with turquoise and an array of jewellery have been my staples. I have even been wearing the same orange loafers most days. My Gerry Weber outfits have taken me to dinner, Lincoln Centre and to church while my inexpensive beige capris and boot-cut pants have seen me through most days. I wash tops in Woolite and hang to dry each evening and voilà. Admittedly, I have not worn my jacket, raincoat or hat in the two months. I will be needing them soon.
Leopard, orange and brown
So, lesson learned:next time only take a few pieces. Edit, edit, edit. When I go home, it will be WW for me and careful contemplation of what  I REALLY need to pack.

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Pride, the Virtuous Vice?

Besides touring about in Arizona, Monsieur and I have visited an entertainment centre called Bookman's. While primarily a gigantic used bookstore, Bookman's is more like a curated collection of books, music, memorabilia and music equipment. Monsieur has been lusting after a vintage Sunn bass amp but he has so far restrained himself. When he was young, M. Là-bas used to drive to Seattle to hear the Kingsmen for whom the amp was developed. Performing music was an important part of my husband's family and social life and it seems that for him, music is a way of making a connection.

While visiting Bookman's, we have discovered The Seven Deadly Sins series, a group of books published by New York Public Library. Monsieur and I were joking about with which one we each most identified. My operating system definitely is based on pride. The little brown book, by Michael Eric Dyson, may be a purchase as I skimmed the first few pages and Dyson reflected that pride might be a "virtuous vice".

So as I am wont to do, I have been thinking about the role that pride plays in my life. I have always been a very earnest person so I believe that it is my responsibility to make my best effort. I'm not sure that effort is so much pride as utilizing those "god-given??" gifts to the utmost. Unlike my husband, I have absolutely no sense of rhythm or pitch. I sing in the car, in the shower and quietly at church. I could take singing lessons and improve but musical talent is not one of my gifts.

On the other hand, I was born talking (slight exaggeration) and loving words. I used to write my Christmas lists in poetry and once wrote a poem to my parents requesting a set of encyclopaedia. I read and ponder and wonder about everything. Street names, native peoples...the list goes on forever. I never got my set of encyclopaedia but now I have the Internet. In areas of study, I have always worked to the best of my ability and have encouraged my students to do the same.

This being said, the best of our ability is different in different situations. When I was an undergraduate with a preschooler, I did not have the same time to devote to my studies as when I was a 60 year-old alone in Paris. Through no efforts of my own, I was not born with fetal alcohol syndrome or dyslexia. If I were to develop Alzheimer's or macular degeneration tomorrow, my life would change, again through no fault of my own.

Pride in our accomplishments or our belongings is likely more foolish than sinful. These things are given to us through circumstances and can be taken away just as arbitrarily. Pride in appearance is an even more foolish behaviour. It changes throughout our lives and again is based on "the luck of the draw".

In Christian doctrine , all of our "talents" are a reflection of God. They are handed out to be used to the good of all.

I am probably going to read the book which deals with pride just because I am who I am and I do enjoy thinking about these things.

Sunday, November 17, 2013

At Home on the Desert

We have most of our meals outside.
It's curious how we adapt so easily to our settings. Monsieur and I are enjoying our 400 square foot casita, tucked amid the cacti. We hear only birds, crickets and an occasional dog. Although we have neighbours in the "big house" right now, we never hear them or see them. This property has been landscaped so that there are private seating and lounging opportunities in every corner with a choice of shade or sun. We don't have an inside table so we eat most of our meals outside.
The desert flowers attract butterflies and hummingbirds to our  patio.
 As we live in an apartment at home, this lifestyle is a treat for us. We read, write, listen to music and tour about to see the sights of this area which is so different from our home. Yesterday, we drove across desert and up a mountain to 6700 feet above sea level to visit the Kitt Peak Observatory, an important site for astronomic observation.  The view from this elevation was overwhelming and I marvel at the vast spaces of uninhabited land. This beauty is so different from our green coniferous forests and rugged seashores of home.

View from Kitt Peak

I am not a person who can live by natural scenery alone. I enjoy thinking about the people who have inhabited different areas: what they believed and how they lived. I've done a bit of reading about the indigenous people and Monsieur and I have discovered a giant used book store near our casita. It not only sells used books but also musical equipment. Oh, is this Là-bas heaven! Monsieur keeps looking at a vintage bass amplifier (like we need more sound equipment) and I will exchange any books that I have for new ones before heading home. I have my eye on an anthology of Arizona writers. They also have free musical concerts so we heard a Bossa Nova guitar player and a Portuguese singer this afternoon. This is a university town as well as a retirement centre so there are plenty of cultural activities for all ages.

Besides the physical and intellectual, this year I have chosen to explore the spiritual part of my life.
Today, I visited Desert Skies United Methodist Church where the congregation were friendly and welcoming. The sermon dealt with fear and how it was a pointless exercise to worry. As I was already anxious about going to an unfamiliar church and meeting unfamiliar people, the sermon hit the nail on the head! With hope and faith, worry is unnecessary.
The sun is setting.
All of a sudden, the sky turns pink and then it's dark.

Friday, November 15, 2013

Desert Days

View from our bed
It is a bit ironic that I started my travels with fall foliage and here I am in a casita in the desert. My desert day begins with a peek at the saguaros that surround our little house. The desert sky is often blue and I feel as though I am stocking up on brightness and warmth before heading home to December in British Columbia.

Travelling with Monsieur is different from travelling with other people because we have  expectations regarding our roles. I usually take responsibility for buying, preparing, serving food and for cleaning up. Left to his own, which he often is, Monsieur could exist on chips, wieners and bagged vegetables with dip. I, on the other hand, prefer fresh vegetables and fish or chicken. I have blood pressure medication so sodium is one of my no-no's.

Monsieur drives on roadtrips as I really hate driving. Buses or trains always seem a lot more enjoyable to me as both people can experience the scenery. I'm not the best navigator because I can't read in the car due to motion sickness. We both prefer quiet roads where the traffic is calm.Monsieur favours natural scenery and I am always interested in the historical background of an area.

Yesterday, we drove along some quiet secondary roads to Nogales which is the border town between Arizona and Mexico.  As we climbed to an elevation of 4000 feet, we left our saguaros behind and entered ranching country.

Patagonia State Park
As a girl, I used to watch "cowboy and Indian" movies. This land, purchased from Mexico, was the home of the Chiricahua Apaches. When ranchers discovered this grazing land, the nomadic indigenous people were displaced and warfare ensued. With the defeat of Geronimo, the Apaches were transported  far from their homeland. In reading a bit about indigenous peoples, I have learned two terms that help clarify ethnic labels a bit. "Autonym" means what we call ourselves and "exonym" means what others call us. The Apaches were part of a South Athabascan language group and called themselves "dene" (the people) as do many indigenous groups in Canada. The term "Apache" was used to mean gangsters in France because of the reputation of the tribes for savagery.
San Xavier du Bac
Our last stop of the day was the Mission of San Xavier du Bac, founded by Father Kino in 1692. The building is being restored and is the oldest European-built structure in the state of Arizona. The museum adjacent houses exhibits about the Tohono O'odham people who have inhabited the area for thousands of years. Visited first by Jesuit missionaries and claimed by Spain, "liberated" by the Mexican Revolution, purchased from Mexico by the United States in 1853, the Tohono O'odham have lost much of their ancestral lands.

Nightfall comes quickly and unexpectedly over the desert. Because of the warmth and blues skies, we tend to forget that it is mid-November and we are in the Northern Hemisphere.  But there is nothing I enjoy more than another peaceful desert evening with my book.

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

A Traveller's Tale

Just over six weeks ago, I left home on the West Coast of Canada with the intention of touring most of the coastal regions of North America. While it would be impossible to tour it all, I feel that I have seen so many places and met so many different people. I am grateful to have this opportunity to learn about other coastal communities.
Fall foliage inVermont

Travelling in a group situation is new to me and I have to admit that I was wary of "being herded" but a it seemed like "the only way to go." The Autumn Foliage Rails and Sails tour by Mayflower Tours was an amazing first experience of a motor coach tour. Each day we boarded a train or a boat to view the autumn  colours of New England. Many of our meals were included and our accommodation was comfortable. I learned that much of the population of Maine, Vermont and New Hampshire share my Celtic and French heritage and I visited The Farnsworth Art Museum in Rockland, Maine. Although many of my fellow travellers had little interest in the museum, a well-organized tour should provide a variety of experiences.
Between leaving the Mayflower group in Hyannis and boarding the ship in Québec City, my friend and I enjoyed a whirlwind trip to New City to see some shows and to listen to music. We saw the Motown Musical, an off-Broadway play, Me and Jezebel, and visited Avery Fisher Hall to listen to Beethoven's 9th Symphony with a specially commissioned companion piece. We were lucky to sit beside a 94 year old woman who had subscribed to season's tickets for 50 years. We were able to visit The Metropolitan Museum of Art but we had no time to see the Guggenheim. Like Paris, there would never be enough time to experience all of New York! For me, cultural activities are an important part of the adventure.

Bonhomme, the mascot of la ville de Québec.
After bidding farewell to my first travelling partner, I boarded a plane at JFK airport to meet my second partner and to board a cruiseship. Twenty-eight days is a very long time to spend on a ship and I had never travelled with my second travelling companion. We had not booked many onshore excursions but had decided to find independent activities in the ports of call. This gave us the opportunity to choose activities based on our interests, the weather and our daily level of energy. As a traveller, I feel  safe and able to assess situations fairly well. I do not carry much money and only one credit card or ATM card at a time. Official tourist guides usually have photo identification and are authorized to be dockside.
Fashion Show
Ship days would be difficult for me if I were not a reader. I don't gamble, play cards or sunbathe. I did play trivia, see some musical shows and attend a couple cooking classes and a digital camera workshop.
My friend and I played dress-up  at a jewellery fashion show. I am wearing a chocolate diamond butterfly necklace and a citrine ring valued at over $10,000. We went to the dining room only a couple of times because one of my personal goals right now is to pay attention to portion size. Restaurant portions tend to be too generous for my appetite.
Transitting the Panama Canal
It has been an adventure to visit so many different places although each port day lasts only a few hours. I have visited jungles, mangroves, colonial cities, Hemingway's house at Key West, Nicaragua (for the first time) and the list continues. I have experienced a government shutdown, friendly people, greedy people and a lot of helpful people. I marvel at the economic role that tourism plays in much of the world. Even in developed countries like Canada and the United States, many maritime communities depend on tourism. Leaf-watchers and cruise ship travellers contribute greatly to these economies. Onboard ship, we talked to a lot of the Filipino and Indonesian staff who work long shifts to send money home to their families. The staff were always friendly and respectful and there were times when I wished that I had heard more "pleases" and "thank-yous" from my fellow travellers. Judgement or non-judgement is another of my personal issues.

I am now in another phase of my adventure with my third companion. Monsieur, who drove our car down to meet me in San Diego, and I are by ourselves in the desert outside of Tucson.
Desert house
We are staying in a  casita that I found on the internet. It is the guest house on the property of a house designed by Alex Riley, an influential American architect. The house was his own residence in Tucson. We are renting the guesthouse ($47 a night) but there are no tenants currently in the main house.  Tucson is about a 20 minute drive away and we have books, Internet, a hot tub and a desert to explore.

I have been reading my small group discussion topics throughout my travels and the theme that has been important for the fall  (besides non-judgement and forgiveness) has been gratitude. I feel grateful to be able to have the time and resources to explore the world in my 7th decade and to have so many different people to accompany me on my travels.

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Blue Latitudes and Random Thoughts

While I was at sea, I was severely limited in my Internet usage and realized how much I missed both sharing my adventures with others and enjoying the thoughts and experiences of other bloggers. As a social introvert, my favourite place to visit on the ship was the library. The Holland America Line has an extensive collection maintained by a professional librarian. There is also a book discussion group and daily quizzes based on a variety of subjects.

During my time at sea, I chose to read books that explore the lives of women living in the West Indies and in Latin America,  misnomers imposed by colonizers who knew little about geography and less about the ethnic composition of the inhabitants.
Hammock maker in Nicaragua

The first book that I read was Blue Latitudes:Caribbean Women Writers at Home and Abroad. Many of these short stories deal with the sexual and economic exploitation of women and children. Discrimination based on class and colour prevents the characters from protecting themselves from predators who wield greater power in society. The anthology is compiled by Elizabeth Nunez who is the author of Prospero's Daughter, a novel of neocolonialism set in Trinidad.

Prospero's Daughter, set in 1960's Trinidad, is a retelling of Shakespeare's The Tempest.  Peter Gardner,   an outcast British scientist tries to create a "piece of England" on a sparsely inhabited island in the Caribbean. When Gardner offers a "British education" to Carlos, the mulatto boy whose home he expropriates, Gardner finds that his "English rose daughter" has feelings for the young man. The novel poses the questions: are we our ethnic background, are we the product of the physical environment that nurtures us or is our nature determined by upbringing and education?

I believe that all of us in the Americas are "mestizos". We carry with us transplanted customs and languages from the "old country"  but as time passes, this inheritance adapts to suit our new home. As the Americas are comprised of immigrants from many different lands, families meld together to create new cultures and new traditions.

Monday, October 28, 2013

Out at Sea

It's been a long time because Internet is costly and unreliable at sea. Right now, it is 6:00 a.m. just off the coast of Cartagena. Sunrise is early as we are about 12 degrees North. The heat and the humidity is intense but right now the sea is calm.

This cruise has been weird without Monsieur. I really miss him although I don't think that he would be enjoying himself that much. It's 4 weeks since I left home and I am finding the cruise a bit long. The ship has been full since we left Fort Lauderdale. I am an introvert and can only deal with strangers for so long. The other day, an irate guest, who was complaining to a staff member about the delay in tenders actually clipped me in the face and knocked my glasses off as I was standing in line waiting for a tender ticket. A normal-looking man, he had no apology or awareness of the effect of his flailing until I told him that he was very rude.

I have read 8 books in 14 days. My favourite was The Hummingbird's Daughter by Urrea, a Mexican-American author who writes about the indigenous people of Sinaloa. I really empathize with the Mexican peoples (they are ethnically as diverse as Europeans) and find their culture fascinating.

I attended a class on digital photography but it is impossible to upload photos on this slow connection. I am quite proud of some of my photos and will share them at a later date.

We toured the Kennedy Space Centre at Port Canaveral and I felt patriotic to see the Canadarm. I wonder at the money spent when there is still homelessness and hunger on this planet.

I am trying to maintain a healthy eating program as I really want to lose the middle. I see people a few years older than I am and I fear for my mobility. Walking and reading are really integral parts of my life and I would hate to lose the possibility of either.

Sometimes, what we learn from a journey is more about ourselves than about the places that we visit! What lessons have you learned from travel?

Thursday, October 17, 2013

Islanders: East Coast Style

As I live on a small island at the mouth of the Fraser Riverand my maternal grandfather came from the small island of Whalsay in the North Sea, it seems fitting that I have really enjoyed Prince Edward Island and Cape Breton.

While I am on a cruise ship, I have chosen to find my own way among the locals rather than joining the ship's excursions. In Charlottetown, we met Billy Murphy , who we paid for a tour of the central part of Prince Edward Island. Billy loved to talk, is married to a Islander and even gave us home-baked cookies. We learned so much about the Island life, economy and history. We watched mussels being harvested, saw the first credit union in PEI, visited the Green Gables house and I found a pub to try the local ale.

In Sydney, there was a Fiddle Festival going on. At an information booth, we were given a free walking map and we visited historical houses manned by volunteers in period costume.For a small donation, we learned about Loyalists and Acadiens and we received warm hugs from a local in period costume.

The people of Prince Edward Island and Cape Breton are very warm and hospitable. They appreciate the tourist dollars and treat visitors well. It was so nice to have the opportunity to meet them and to enjoy the beauty of the east coast of Canada.

I am writing on a free connection in Halifax cruise ship terminal so photos and links are almost impossible. I will try in Bar Harbour to share some photos.

If you are visiting a Canadian or American port on a cruise ship, I would highly recommend finding some locals for a tour. Licensed guides can be found in any cruise ship terminal and the fee will be returned to the local economy. In Mexico and Central America, if you do not speak Spanish or feel the least bit uncomfortable, I would recommend the ship's excursions.

I always think of Valdy as the quintissential Islander.
Socking mussels in Prince Edward Island.

Monday, October 14, 2013

Do You Cruise?

It seems that there are two kinds of people:those who cruise and those who do not.  I am both kinds of person. I probably never would have started had not my mother-in-law decided to travel from Vancouver to Alaska on the ship. She had no one to take with her so she took me! I went with her 5 times after that.

My husband never wanted to travel so a cruise seemed like the solution. He could sleep in the same bed every night and we could travel together.  For a while that seemed to work but he has tired of ship life.

Ship life involves a lot of camaraderie and a lot of eating.  I try to stay away from rich meals but food is abundant. Dressing up is another important aspect of cruise life. I am on a 28 day cruise so there are 8 formal nights.  I attend the opera at home and have some occasion to dress up. Eight nights is a lot!

Monsieur and I usually take excursions from the ship but I have visited many of these ports before and I  speak French and Spanish so I feel confident about my ability to sightsee without a guide. I am an independent traveller so  I don't worry about being alone.

There are those who believe that cruising is more suited to the elderly which is partly true but disembarking in to tender boats is probably difficult for the 80+ set who seem to enjoy playing cards and bingo.

Internet is difficult on ship.  I have paid for access but it does not seem to work well from our stateroom.
I am in the library typing on an unfamiliar computer. A plus however is that Holland America ships have a marvelous library. A chief-librarian in Seattle chooses the books and there are book clubs on longer voyages! I wouldn't mind the job for 3 months!

My meter is running so I shall be brief. Do you enjoy cruising? Is it something that you might do as you get older?

Sunday, October 13, 2013

La ville de Québec

The first time that I visited Québec City was 42 years ago when my Québecoise friend, Clémence, and I hitch-hiked here from her home in Sherbrooke. It seems a lifetime ago and indeed it is for Clémence because she died last October at the age of 60. I always meant to visit her again (last time was 1985) but like many things that we mean to do, it just didn't happen.

In 1971, we stayed at a hostel near the Plains of Abraham where we slept on the floor with a motley group of youth. Separatism was a powerful force in Québec in those days just after the October Crisis of 1970 and The War Measures Act. The music and the literature of the time reflected a growing cultural identity. Québec was an exciting place to visit for a 19 year old who wanted to experience more of the world.

I was expecting my daughter in 1975 when I next visited. My then husband and I drove along the St. Lawrence after attending a wedding in New Brunswick. It was the Festival d'été when we arrived in la ville where musicians were playing on just about every street corner. A summer cloudburst sent us scurrying back to a little hotel in the Upper Town. We lay on our bed and listened to the rain until the music began again outside.

In 1992, I spent a whole month at le Collège Mérici in la ville de Québec. The province of British Columbia provided a French language bursary for educators. I met so many interesting people and learned about the customs of the province. Once more, it was the festival and musicians from all over the French-speaking world performed in the streets of the Upper Town.

At this moment, I am writing from a stateroom on the Veendam where I am using a free wifi connection. I have subscribed to the pay for usage service but it is slow and costly. I shall visit the Upper Town today and I hope that I will find the same cultural and historic richness that I have experienced in the past. Travel is a very personal thing: the Romantic girl who wanted to understand the Two Solitudes of her country, the young wife expecting her first child and the educator wanting to share more of the culture of Québec with her students in far off Western Canada are all a part of the tapestry of my 61 year life.

My first vinyl record from Québec was Robert Charlebois who sings one of my favourite songs with two other great Québecois musicians, Félix Leclerc and Gilles Vigneault.

Friday, October 11, 2013

New York! New York!

Times Square
We have been staying at the St. James Hotel just a block from Times Square. If you are looking for a luxury hotel, this is not the one for you but we have 2 queen beds, a clean bathroom and free wifi. What else could we need? We can walk to all of the theatres, Central Park and Fifth Avenue. Next door, there is a deli/restaurant that serves an inexpensive breakfast, there are three Irish pubs on our block and all sorts of inexpensive ethnic food can be found in the neighbourhood. Most restaurant portions are far too generous for us to finish so sharing a meal or choosing an appetizer is a good idea.

We decided that we would like to see a symphony, a Broadway musical and an off-Broadway play during our stay. We bought our tickets online in advance because we knew we did not want to queue for tickets. Tuesday, we took a taxi to the Avery Fisher Hall at Lincoln Center to see the New York Philharmonic play Beethoven's 9th Symphony with a companion piece by Mark-Anthony Turnage. The concert was sold out! To watch Alan Gilbert conduct is delightful as he is so expressive and the
Philharmonic is magnificent. We sat next to a 95 year-old lady who has had season tickets for 52 years!

Wednesday afternoon, we went to see the Motown Musical which is based on 25 years of the life of Berry Gordy, the man who discovered The Supremes, Marvin Gaye, The Jackson Five and Smokey Robinson. This production was sold out as well with 60-somethings on the sidewalk trying to buy tickets. Again, we were glad to have bought ours in advance. The singers sounded a lot like the original artists and some  members of audience were singing along. The show was great fun!

Yesterday, we had our off-Broadway experience with a play called Me and Jezebel which was on at the Snapple Theater, a off-beat little place where three plays are presented in repertory. Me and Jezebel is a 2 actor play where Elizabeth Fuller tells about the 32 days in 1985 when Bette Davis came to stay.
There were about 20 people in the audience and we were almost on the stage. Ever since I saw Richard Dreyfus play an off-Broadway actor in the Good-bye Girl, I have wanted to see an off-Broadway play.

You can find some quiet in Central Park.
I have enjoyed my time in New York but the pace is exhausting. Walking through Times Square, hailing a cab in the rain, visiting museums and theatres and sampling seasonal ales has tired me out. Tomorrow, Mary heads home and I fly to Québec City to embark on a 28 day cruise through the Maritime provinces, down the Eastern seabord to Cartagena, Colombia, through the Panama Canal and up to San Diego to meet Monsieur. A few sea days with a book and perhaps some stitchery or a crossword puzzle seem like a good thing right now! I'll be in Canada for Thanksgiving

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

NYC at Last

Yesterday, we travelled from Hyannis to New York City on the Peter Pan Bus Lines.  Bidding adieu to our travelling companions of the last week, Mary and I undertook our 6 hour trip to New York. After a week of sitting near the back of the bus, we took the opportunity to nab the front seats. We travelled through Massachusetts, Rhode Island, Connecticut and New York state. Except for some heavy rains in New York state, the trip was pleasant and restful.

The NYC bus terminal is huge. I am accustomed to the taxi queues in London or Paris and followed the signs to the taxi stand. There were no taxis! I am travelling with one heavy suitcase (for me) and a carryon. We rolled on to 9th Avenue which was  one-way going the wrong way during a rainy rush hour and found that we could not get a cab. The only possible option was to walk through the crowds of Central Manhattan pulling our bags. The Volga Boatman song came to my mind. In front of one theatre there was a large group of young people blocking the sidewalk as they waited for some mysterious event. As I had not eaten for 8 hours and was pulling about 40 kilos behind me, I am afraid I rolled over some toes as I moved through the crowd. Beware of crabby old ladies pulling heavy bags and MOVE!

When we arrived at our budget hotel, I noticed to my further chagrin that there was no doorman. In my 2-star Europe life, there is never a doorman and I always schlep bags but somehow after having porterage included with Mayflower tours, I am getting a bit soft. The man at the desk said that we could use the bellman's trolley but I couldn't get it into the tiny elevator. By the time that we arrived in the room, we were ready for a beer and dinner at the nearby Connolly's Pub. We are developing a taste for Samuel Adams Seasonal ale. The proprietor, who was from Kerry, visited each of the tables, checking on our satisfaction. Great place to visit and only 3 doors down from our hotel.

We fell asleep early to prepare for our first day of  touring the Big Apple.

Friday, October 4, 2013

On Tour

What a whirlwind week! Monday was Boston on our own. Tuesday, we met our tour group, sailed Boston Harbour and drove to Portland Maine where we spent three nights. So far, we have taken 2 boats and two train rides. The tour is appropriately named The Rails and Sails Tour.

 Our tour group is mostly from Franklin, North Carolina, a town of 3500 people of whom 33 are on tour with us right now. They are all retired and a bit older than I am but they're great fun and really friendly. I am not a "tour person" but I am really enjoying sunny skies, delicious meals, a charming tour guide and vividly coloured leaves.

The coastline of Maine is rugged and beautiful. It looks a little like the Oregon coast. We took a tour of Casco Bay in Portland where we saw many islands, cormorants and sailboats.
Portland Head Lighthouse 
We visited the The Portland Museum of Art, one of those jewels that appears unexpectedly in a town of 66,000 inhabitants. Andrew Wyeth and Winslow Homer both painted in the Portland area. Mary and I were so entranced with the collection that we were the last ones on the bus. All of the group do not enjoy spending time in small art galleries as much as I do. For me, that is a drawback of an organized tour because I can spend quite a lot of time in galleries, museums and bookshops.
Conway railway workers
This morning we drove to North Conway, New Hampshire to take a 2 hour train trip through the White Mountains of New Hampshire. Another day that exceeded our expectations! The yellows and reds of the trees were so vivid as our train chugged its way over trestle bridges and past shining rivers.
This reminds me of a Group of Seven painting.
Many meals on this tour are included and it is impossible to decide which one has been the best. Tonight's Yankee pot-roast with a local Moat Mountain Bone Shaker Ale was just right for the end of a glorious autumn day. When we were in Maine, we sampled lobster rolls, a variety of seafood chowders and some fresh grilled haddock.

Autumn is my favourite  season. I love the richness of colour, the glowing ambers and browns of October beer, the creamy buttery coloured squashes and the scents of cinnamon and nutmeg.

Tomorrow we will travel along a scenic highway to Cape Cod where we will spend two nights before leaving for New York City.

Monday, September 30, 2013


After travelling Sunday, my friend and I have arrived in Boston where we will be joining Mayflower Tours Rails and Sails tour. I have spent no time in New England so this will be a new experience for me.

As we left our hotel this morning, I noticed an antiquarian book store.  The Brattle Book Store, established in 1825,  is one of Boston's oldest antiquarian bookstores. Despite my recent book weeding adventures with Maman, I had to visit.  They have so many books that they sell outside in the alley too.
Books and Bricks

The shop is stocked with so many interesting books that I could have spent the day browsing. My friend, Mary, bought a book on the lives of the saints. Resolutely, I walked out empty-handed. On the wall of the shop was a mural depicting the faces of authors. 

A Mural on the Bricks

Boston is enjoying sunshine and warm temperatures so we spent the day wandering. We will be joining a tour tomorrow so today we are relishing our independence. Tours are a good to way to visit an unfamiliar area but I find that I do not always feel sociable. Even with friends, I like to wander on my own sometimes and discover sights that are off the beaten track. A house front, an iron grille, a lovely garden have the power to enchant me.

Mary suggested that we look for the Cheers restaurant. We found it on Beacon Street and I ordered Boston Baked Beans of course. Mary had the Boston Clam Chowder.
Boston Beans and Boston Chowder

After lunch, we walked to the waterfront and saw the old market and the customs house. This would be one of the oldest markets in North America. The sky was blue, the sun was shining, our tummies were full so all was right in the world!

Tomorrow, after a sail in the Boston harbour, we will board a bus for Portland, Maine.

I was thinking of Boston books as Boston is  a bookish city.

I enjoyed Walden by Henry David Thoreau when I read it in university.  If I had time, I would visit Walden Pond. The Bostonians by Henry James was a novel that dealt with feminism and the role of women. There is a 1984 movie version with Vanessa Redgrave. One of my favourite authors of journals and poetry is May Sarton who lived in nearby Cambridge.

I picked up the Beacon Hill neighbourhood newspaper, if I lived here, I would visit the Athenaeum on Beacon Street where there are frequent lectures by noted authors. Boston is truly a cultural and literary mecca.
A Feminist and Literary Centre

Friday, September 27, 2013

National Weight Stigma Awareness Week

Did you know that this is National Weight Stigma Awareness Week in the United States? Many of the over 55 year age group are uncomfortable and critical of our body shapes which are quite distinct from our weight.

Right now, I am wearing a size 14 in most clothing but I feel at my best when I wear a size 10. I am 5'3" so when I wear a size 10, I do not look the same as a person who is 5'9" wearing size 10. It seems to me that many of us wish to be taller or leaner or to have longer legs.

I walk 4 days of the week for 45 minutes and visit my personal trainer twice a week. I can leg press 140 pounds and use 45 pound weights for my upper body. I am strong but I am not slender.

I have no cholesterol problems because I eat a diet of fruit, vegetables, chicken and fish. Obviously, I need to fine tune my diet if I wish to wear a size 10. Many fellow bloggers can attest to the fact that it is possible to lose 2 sizes. While I would like to lose these 2 sizes, it is important to realize that whatever size I wear, I will still be me. The people who love me will love me if I am size 10 or size 20.

The media leads us to believe that if we change our bodies we can transform our lives. While weight loss may lower blood pressure, prevent Type 2 diabetes and give us more energy, it will probably not impact on our established relationships. If we are strong confident role models to younger women and we feel satisfied with ourselves, good health should be enough.

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Difficult Days

My suitcase lies mostly packed beside the bed. We don't have a spare room so Monsieur complains just about every time he comes into the bedroom. I am having a hard time finishing my travel preparations. My mother-in-law has been in acute care for 3 weeks and left us today. We went to the hospital to say good-bye and to the care home where she had lived for 3 years to pick up her personal belongings.

The first time that I met her was at Bowen Island about 26 years ago when I, the girlfriend of the time, finally got to meet the Mother. Dressed in matching culottes and top, eager to impress, I was handed a paint scraper and told to start on the window sills.

My mother-in-law was a wealthy woman who never forgot the practical parts of life. The doctor remarked that my mother-in-law was tough and the lady across the hall at the care home mentioned that she had a "good brain." She liked to do the New York Times crossword puzzle, listen to the CBC radio   and to play bridge. Later in her life, when her mind was not as sharp, she could still win regularly at trivia.

I have been lucky with my mothers-in-law (I have had two). Each of them has provided me with a sort of alternative mother and a different perspective on life. I stayed friends with both of them regardless of my relationships with their sons. It's good to have older women as friends because there is a lot that one can learn from them.

My mother-in-law wanted no obituary or service. Monsieur will go tomorrow to make the arrangements and I will go back to trying to pack the suitcase. This has been a year of much change.

Monday, September 23, 2013

Grand Prix d'Art

It's fun to recognize locations in the village.
We have a fun event in our community every September. It's called The Grand Prix of Art. A number of artists, adults and youth, participate in a plein air painting competition that takes place at various outdoor locations in our village.
The boardwalk passes in front of the restored cannery workers' houses.

The artists choose an outdoor site by lottery and have 3 hours to complete a painting. The paintings are hung in the old Britannia Heritage Shipyard Chinese Bunkhouse and the public are invited to view the finished products and to vote for the people's favourite. All of the paintings are offered for sale.
This is a youth entry. I walked past this site today with Maman.

Saturday was painting day and there were artists and spectators throughout the village. My friend and I went to view the paintings yesterday. I am amazed at the quality of the paintings. We enjoy identifying all of the community venues. After a drizzly morning, the sun broke through and we were able to walk along the boardwalk and to drink our coffee outside.

My dad used to call this Christina's park because my daughter once played music here with the school band.
On Sunday, I will be travelling to the east coast to experience autumn in a different location. This is my favourite season as I love the golden tones but I feel some sadness because my mother-in-law is slowly passing. This year, Monsieur and I will both have suffered the loss of a parent. It makes me aware of the time I spend with Maman who will be having her 82nd birthday on Saturday.
My mum and I like to wander together.

Thursday, September 19, 2013

The Five Languages of Love by Gary Chapman

Right now, Monsieur and I are going through a rough patch. Besides the relationship issues, my mother-in-law has suffered 2 strokes in the last 10 days and is receiving "comfort care." My mother-in-law played a role in our couple life early in our relationship. We spent many week-ends with her on Bowen Island, travelled with her in a motorhome, and I cruised 5 times to Alaska with her when she no longer had Bowen or was able to travel. She and I used to go to plays together and we have even cried together at times. During the last few years, Monsieur has chosen to visit his mother alone and I have respected his wish to have a closer private time with his "mom". His  mother has an "o", mine has a "u".

Yesterday, was my second counselling session. Only I attended and we talked about how I show love and how love was shown in my family. There is a book The Five Languages of Love by Gary Chapman that Monsieur and I read several years ago and that I revisited last night. I am a "book person" and a problem solver so, in times of stress, I try to solve my problems by reading.

The five languages of love, according to Chapman, are affirmation, service, time, gifts and touch.
Which languages we value most depends on our family of origin and our early experience. I am the eldest of four children, 3 of us born within 5 years. According to the questionnaire, my greatest needs are for affirmation and for touch. My mother does not like to "palaver" or brag about her children which is probably why affirmation is so important to me. "Conscientious" and "hard-working" have always been my labels at school and at work. I have always strived to do the best job that I can. I felt  joy when my dying father placed my Sorbonne graduation picture above his bed and told everyone about his "smart" daughter. As my mother had another child on the way when I was only 5 months old, I had no time to be the "superstar."

My parents kissed almost every day of their 62 year marriage. Whenever my mum was leaving the hospital, my parents embraced at length. Dad sat in the wheelchair at the window to watch mum drive away and mum honked (forget it was a hospital zone) as she pulled away. Each night when we were children, my mother tucked us in and kissed us goodnight. We are a quietly affectionate family. Interestingly, neither of my husbands have come from cuddly families and darling daughter would balk if I tried to kiss her.

I enjoy giving gifts, providing service and spending time with those that I love. I feel happy when my loved ones feel happy and feel frustrated if my efforts are not appreciated.

I don't believe that life is as simple as any book or family system therapy makes it sound but I do believe (as the teacher-librarian person that I used to be) that we are more likely to be successful, the more tools that we have in our toolbox.

Today, I will go with my husband to visit his mother and to say good-bye to a lady who was also my friend.

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

An Afternoon Reading Sheryl Sandberg

Yesterday morning, my trainer, Rose, loaned me her copy of Lean In by Sheryl Sandberg. I had first been introduced to this book by Materfamilias and had only just read some of her impressions of the book. In Lean In, Sandberg, the COO of Facebook talks about how well-educated women have not reached the top positions of Fortune 500 Companies in America.

Today's women, who are better educated than ever before, are under-represented in leadership roles in business and in government. One of the reasons for this underrepresentation, according to Sandberg is that we undervalue our potential and our worth. While a man applies for a job for which he is 60% qualified, a woman will hesitate to apply for the same job unless she feels 100% qualified. Sandberg asserts that women's undervaluation of their own potential leads to weaker negotiation with employers.
Women can not play a 50% role in the power structure until their partners play a 50% role in the home. Most of what Sandberg says, makes complete sense to me when I consider my personal circumstances.

Ironically, I have my own very different table story that my mother used to tell about La Petite Mademoiselle (c'est moi). I was such a polite well-behaved little child, that I would never touch or ask for any treats on the coffee table when I was visiting. Once I didn't eat my cake at a children's party because I had no fork. I was polite and "knew my place." As a bright girl, I didn't raise my hand for fear that people would consider me "a know-it-all." Although I was a scholarship winner, I was devastated at having to "go into the draw" for a grad date. I probably would have traded my high grades for any boyfriend. I am not embarrassed or ashamed of this time of my life because I really did not know anything else. Had I been born in 1969 as Sandberg was, my outlook would have been different.

When I married in 1974, young women did not have the same sexual freedom as they did 20 years later. It was expected that if a young man and woman had a committed relationship for a period of time that they would marry. A responsible young man knew that he would be the principal breadwinner and so focussed on career while his young wife worked outside the home until the children were born. I worked as a bank teller and was overjoyed when my daughter was born after 10 months of marriage. Certainly, career, nannies or husband's participation in the household were the furthest things from my mind!

I accept that the choices that I made at this time were not the best ones for me personally or professionally but they were the choices that I knew how to make. I read Betty Friedan and I experienced the discomfort of a life that didn't feel right. At 34, I chose to leave that life and started a different one. Sometimes, when I hear of a 39th anniversary, I feel a little sad for the life that I left and I would have enjoyed having more children. But I have accomplished some other professional and personal goals. Sandberg clearly states that we can not have it all. Nobody can. Her daughter cries when mummy leaves just like any other child.

As the women's movement (really the people's movement) is more established, younger women are able to make more informed decisions about their lives. I can't go back to the 70's and change history.
But tomorrow, I will be celebrating the birthday of my 38 year-old daughter who leads an independent life on her own terms.

Sunday, September 15, 2013

Packing Again

Each time that I travel, I return home vowing to carry less with me. I haven't got to carryon mode because there are always countless situations ahead and I just don't know what clothing that I will need.
I read The Vivienne Files  daily and I purchased a helpful ebook called Travelling Light by Imogen Lamport but I still find it difficult to eliminate that extra baggage weight that becomes uncomfortable and inconvenient on travelling days. 

In October, I will be spending 16 days touring in Eastern Canada and New England. I will be travelling with a group to see the fall foliage and there will be some dinners with the other tour members. I have decided that dark brown dress pants, a brown jersey skirt  and a pair of brown casual pants worn with beige, creme and orange tops should provide me with enough options for layering.  In New York, I will be going to the New York Philharmonic and to Motown the Musical at the Lunt-Fontanne Theatre. I think that my brown dress pants should take me to both events and I will probably wear some soft, low boots with them.I'll look at the weather before I leave but will probably just take a light raincoat and hat.

I board a ship in Québec City to travel down the coast to the Panama Canal and up to San Diego. It is likely that it will be warm and humid for this part of the trip.  My thought is to switch out the dark brown pants to beige capris to be worn with the same beige, creme and orange tops and pack two brown and orange sundresses that can be worn sightseeing, for casual evenings and over my bathing suit. I still have formal evenings to consider but my dress brown pants, a long taupe skirt,  and a couple of sparkly tops in gold and bronze should suffice.

If I am able to stay within my plan, my footwear, scarves and jewellery should coordinate with all of my outfits. This is a completely different type of travelling from my sojourns in Paris but I am committed to lightening my load!

I really, really liked what Janice Riggs planned for A Femme's book tour and my wardrobe is just a switch from navy to brown.