Friday, May 30, 2014

Never make someone a priority when all you are to them is an option (I like this, I really like this)

Maya Angelou died on Wednesday. She had such a rich and varied life. She was the wise woman of our time. She was so right on so many issues. I had never heard the "priority" quote until after her death but it sure would have saved a lot of tears.

Many of the women that I know….women who are intelligent, strong, amusing, resilient, fit, attractive… suffer from feelings of insecurity. Sometimes they are held back by self-doubt, sometimes they allow others to take advantage or treat them badly and sometimes they are driven by their own feelings of inadequacy to compare and to attack other women.

Wouldn't a world where every woman considered herself phenomenal be a wonderful world? If each of us had the self-esteem to demand the very best for ourselves and to believe that we deserve it.

As women, wouldn't it be wonderful to know that we can have dreams, that we can work to make them come true and that if they don't work out, we are creative and strong enough to have new dreams.

A few months ago, I read the book Lean In by Sheryl Sandberg, the chief operating officer of Facebook. Sandberg and other influential women have started a campaign Ban Bossy to encourage parents and educators to promote leadership in girls. I remember years ago saying to my father who wanted me to take a typing class at school that I wanted to employ a typist not to be one. I wanted to use my school time to study languages, history and literature. As it turned out, I do type but I've never really got far with Home Economics. It's just not who I am! 

As a girl, I wanted to be Prime Minister, a lawyer or to work for the United Nations. In the 1960's, where I grew up, those lofty dreams were not nurtured or supported. A girl was not supposed to be "too definite." The future would "hopefully" bring a professional man for whom I would renounce my ambitions to raise children and clean house.

Don't get me wrong! I value caring for children and I truly enjoyed my time with my daughter. Cleaning house is a task that I would be happy to contract out.  We all have our preferences and our talents regardless of gender.

As parents, grandparents and educators, despite the negative press that the Ban Bossy campaign has received, we need to consider our role in creating the barriers to the advancement of women.

Thursday, May 29, 2014

An Unveiling

Last year, in November, after travelling for 2.5 months, I decided that I would no longer colour my hair. Travelling for long periods of time, as I do, means that I am always looking for a root touchup. My curly hair is often blown straight and I have no interest or talent in hairstyling. Cost is a factor when colour, cut and blow-dry can run $160 +tip+++.  This project has taken great perseverance.
coloured hair in Arizona (November 2013)
I have a special hairdresser that I visit in Vancouver,Karyn Rudance at Curly Hair Vancouver. When
I proposed my new colour free look, Karyn suggested that she could lift some of the red colour out of my hair so that my look would be softer.
a softer colour with a few lighter highlights (February 2014)
As my hair grew lighter, I found that I was wearing slightly softer versions of my favourite Autumn palette. The look was growing more subdued. Is this just part of ageing? I admire those shameless elderly fashionistas but I'm probably not going to be one.
In Paris (April 2014), I found that I was looking decidedly blonde.
As time progressed, I found myself a soft blonde. I rather liked this look as my grey hair blended in nicely and I did not have to trust my hair to an unknown colourist. Really, anywhere you go in France, you can find a friendly hairdresser. I speak French so I have no problem. If you find a salon in a residential area, you will not need to pay an exorbitant amount.
Early May in Cornwall, I was finding my hair a bit yellow and dry.
As the grey hair comes in, it is stronger because it has not been chemically treated. I had previously coloured, lifted colour (peroxide) and had a Brazilian Blowout for straightening so my fine, curly hair had suffered a lot of abuse.

Yesterday, as Monsieur and I drove to the Rapid Transit, I voiced my fears. How does an older woman 
style her hair to avoid the "helmet" or "wash and wear" perm look? Will I look really old with grey hair? Will my clothes, body, life suit grey hair? In order to reveal the grey, most of the blonde will need to be cut off. I haven't had short hair for years!!!

This is not a project for the faint of heart! Lots of women will ask you why you are "letting your hair go".  Lots of women will colour their hair until they are 90 and that is their choice!!! I was inspired by my friend Nora who stopped colouring and by the The Hostess of the Humble Bungalow who underwent the transition with "tinsel" and grace to emerge more youthful looking than ever! It didn't hurt that she also lost weight.

Now I am mostly grey.
I am not the most secure woman about appearance. In fact, I try to micro-manage every detail of wardrobe and grooming every day so that I will feel confident when I step out the door. For me, this is essential to my life and well-being. Right now, I am feeling a bit unsure of the grey and the shorter hair.

My next appointment with Karyn is in August. My hair will have grown to a length where I could do the curly bob look again. For the meantime, I will be able to enjoy our swimming pool and rain showers without worry. 

I have far too much clothing so this transition may be the opportune time to curate and to develop a more subdued colour palette. I am thinking more greys, blues, aquas, peaches, lilacs and soft greens and fewer oranges and browns. 

One of my older friends says that she will continue to colour her hair because she doesn't want to feel vulnerable as an "old lady". Do you think that hair colour or lack of it makes us old? Have you ever considered taking the chance? Really, I could go back to Karyn and ask for red hair. Would that make me younger than my 62 years?  This is my first day as an elder!!!

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

"Dis n' Dat"

Plymouth, England
It was two weeks ago that I walked eight miles along the Southwest Coast Path into Plymouth, England. If you think about the history, you will realize that it is from this harbour that the ships sailed to establish the colonies that were to become first British North America and later Canada and the United States.
This is where it all started!
My father loved stories of the sea and  of historical fiction. He  frequently reread the Horatio Hornblower books and Dudley Pope's Ramage series. My grandfather's people were fishermen, whalers and merchant seamen. Personally, I do not favour mountain or prairie landscapes. Do you think that it is in the blood?

the coastal path in Cornwall
I haved walked on the Ozette Loop Trail in Olympic National Park in Washington State many years ago  but we were backpack camping. Never again do I want to hang packs in trees or use a bucket for any bodily function. Monsieur assured me that we have similar wildflowers in the Pacific Northwest as I saw on my Southwest English path. I wonder if I could find a "gentle" rambling group near home. That means we stop for wildflowers, birdsong and running water toilets!

A small bloom reminds me of Wordworth's Lucy poems.

SHE dwelt among the untrodden ways
Beside the springs of Dove,
A Maid whom there were none to praise
And very few to love:

A violet by a mossy stone
Half hidden from the eye!
Fair as a star, when only one
Is shining in the sky.

She lived unknown, and few could know
When Lucy ceased to be;
But she is in her grave, and oh,
The difference to me!

I am a Romantic wanderer who probably carries as much in her mind as she does on her back. Maybe more!!! My life is made richer through the connections to books, poems and stories. Consequently, I need to process the world at my own speed. Through different travel experiences, I am learning more about myself.

Janet and I visited White Rock on the week-end.
I am trying to find some of the same experiences closer to home as summer is a special time in the Pacific Northwest with farmer's markets and musical concerts outside our Cannery museum. I met some
women at a fundraiser last night who had just come from evening yoga on the dock. We often miss out on experiences because we are in a sort of rut at home.

prawn and scallop salad
Another great thing about living on a coast is the food! I am a seafood salad or crab cakes woman. I enjoy any fresh seafood with a glass (probably 2) of white wine and with good company!

Friday, May 23, 2014

Changes at Home

I have written often about how Paris just feels like home to me. I always knew that it would but after having spent 5 months there in 2012, I am convinced that my TRUE self is Parisienne. BUT, at least 6 months of my year is spent in a suburb of Vancouver, Canada where I have lived most of my life.
Home has some lovely places to walk.

Monsieur and I bought this apartment when we started living together twenty years ago. It was practical decision based on a few realities of life. I love to travel, read and visit with friends. Monsieur had just left his job as a Library Director and was working in a bookshop so price was a consideration. As household tasks are not our favourite activities, this apartment seemed ideal. We have large maintained gardens, indoor and outdoor swimming pools, an activity centre, guest bedrooms, and proximity to bus and shopping (Safeway, Shopper's Drug Mart and the liquour store).
We have award-winning gardens but maybe we need a playground and some vegetable plots.

Before I retired, we paid for major renovations to our suite, comfortable high-quality furnishings and appliances. I designed the apartment to be a sanctuary for the quiet activities that I prefer. Then we retired! Since our retirement, this apartment complex has experienced ageing pains and dissension between the owners. Previously the domaine of downsizing older adults, the larger apartment size, expansive grounds and generous storage lockers have made the complex desirable to families. The addition of children to the mix has challenged the lifestyle of the "older than us" group who remember the days of half acre properties and stay at home mums.

Our eight buildings reflect the North American use of wood in construction and the Wet Coast rainy climate. It is now time for some reconstruction and refurbishment of a 40 year old infrastructure. Unfortunately, with our demographic of money-strapped young families and elders on fixed incomes, our owners are unwilling or unable to authorize the expenditures necessary to make the repairs. The peaceful retirement community has become a mini-state with political divisions and regular referenda.

Living together like this is a mid-20th century concept in Western Canada where our physical vastness has encouraged the notions of individuality and "private" ownership. In Europe, most of the people that I met live in family enclaves (Shetland), small apartments (London and Paris) or council housing(throughout the United Kingdom). There are few locked doors in Shetland (mostly due to suspicion of immigrant workers!!!) while in London and Paris, I have rented apartments without ever setting eyes on the other tenants. While the upper middle class have homes in the country, your average
city dweller visits parks and squares to enjoy the outdoors and may have an allotment garden to provide vegetables and flowers for the home.

Our community is definitely in a time of upheaval and change! The beliefs of the older adults are being challenged. My younger nieces and nephews will probably never own detached homes. Individuals will need to learn to  compromise to live in communities of mixed-age and mixed ethnicities. There will need to be long-term planning to deal with the effects of age and moisture on wooden structures.

The elderly owners of this housing community have enjoyed the benefits of a mostly homogenous neighbourhood which is no longer a reality. In our community, 60 percent of households speak a language other than English at home and many of these families choose to live in apartments. What will  the next few years look like?

Personally, I enjoy travel and I trained in the 1980's to teach  English as a Second Language to adults because I value ethnic diversity. Canada has historically chosen a "mosaic" rather than "melting pot"
model of immigration. For my neighbourhood this might mean having a "potluck" instead of our traditional barbecue (whose menu has not changed in the 20 years that I have lived here!!!)

Monsieur and I are hoping to start an on-site book club that will meet in our fireside room. Hopefully, this will encourage interaction and exchange of ideas between residents. I am keen to find out about facilitating a daytime yoga programme for older adults. It is impossible to ignore the presence of young families in our apartment community. Higher housing prices mean that they will become permanent residents.

I was a mum in the 1970's when young families had few dollars to spare. I traded baby-sitting with my neighbours, loved mums' and tots' play-group, and bought and sold much of my baby equipment through the "Buy and Sell".  Fortunately, in the 1970's, I was a stay-at-home student mum, confident that my fledgling accountant husband and I would, one day, own a house with a yard and a lawn mower.

Today's young families need the same kinds of community support. Perhaps a drop-in playgroup, a baby-sitting co-op or a playground  would address some of the "new reality." One of my more revolutionary ideas is to address some of the building fund shortfall by renting out part of our recreational complex to "before and after" out-of-school care.

There is a "plein air" painting contest each year at home.

I have been home only a week. Ironically, my fellow traveller from last fall's travels has won a cruise and is eager for me to accompany her. The suitcase (oh, the suitcase!!!) is not even unpacked and plans are being made! Be careful what you wish for!

I may be leaving again soon!

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Coming Home

It's always difficult to come home after a few months of European life. It seems to me that small town or city, life in Europe suits me well.
I love the flowers and scents in Europe.

I enjoy wandering and watching people in Europe.
I want to grow old like the dancing French lady.
I love the history and connections with the past. Tales of the past fascinate me and European streets are
peopled by the ghosts of former inhabitants.

The first Punch and Judy show was performed in Covent Garden.
Whether I eat in a restaurant or shop in a market, I enjoy a healthy and varied diet in Europe.

Seafood is offered in every restaurant and is presented in such a beautiful manner.
You can also make a lovely salad  from le marché.
When I am away from home, I feel unencumbered and take every opportunity to enjoy my surroundings. Obviously there are shops, restaurants and some history (not nearly so old) in my own neighbourhood. We have a market every other Sunday and I could buy fish fresh off the boats. Today, I will try to be more aware of my surroundings as I meet a friend for a catch-up visit.

I am keeping Paris alive by watching French movies on Netflix. Yesterday, I watched My Afternoons with Margueritte. The movie deals with the power of books and of kindness to change lives. If you have ever been an educator, worked with adult learners or been a librarian, this is YOUR movie!!!
I would recommend it for the clarity of the French and there are always the captions.

Watch this excerpt from an interview with Gisèle Casadeus. Wouldn't you like to be like this at nearly
100 years of age?

Monday, May 12, 2014

Haytor Vale

rambling down country lanes
I decided this morning to explore the nearby villages rather than doing the guided walking. The bus left at 9:00am. and is not returning until 6:00pm. The local villages are close together and each one is a bit different from its neighbour. There is birdsong in the thickets and flowers at the sides of the narrow country road as I wind my way down to Haytor Vale.
When I came the daffodils were in bloom, now there are poppies.
I pass large country homes and smaller cottages but this seems an area of second homes. I liked Owl Combe, a little attached dwelling near The Rock Inn.
So pretty!
Across the street from the Inn and Owl Combe was a beautiful English country garden which seemed to be part of The Inn.
So many colours!
As I continued along, I passed the Women's Institute building. If you watched the excellent BBC series,
Jam and Jerusalem which was filmed here in Devon, you will appreciate the role that the WI plays in village life.
the Haytor Vale Women's Institute
Rural life must be interesting in this area with local people and posh second home people. I wonder how many Devon people were born and raised here. I stopped in at The Rock Inn and felt quite out of place among older ladies with pearls and gentlemen with sport coats, Obviously, this country inn is a destination dining spot. Nevertheless, I enjoyed a salad of pea shoots, asparagus and goat cheese with a glass of chablis.

I am still fascinated by sheep.
Raindrops started falling on my head so I started back to Moorlands. I'm glad that I am just a short walk from home and that I have had my chance to ramble through the countryside.

Just walking along the street is such a lovely adventure.

Saturday, May 10, 2014

A Country-House Weekend with Agatha Christie

Agatha stayed here for 5 weeks in 1916.
We travelled by train this morning from Saint  Erth to Newton Abbott to reach our next hfholidays destination, Moorlands in Devon near the Dartmoor National Park. Moorlands is an English country house where Agatha Christie spent 5 weeks in 1916 and where she wrote her very first mystery, The Mysterious Affair at Styles.

Moorlands is located close to a number of tors or big rocks.
Our shared room has a view of the garden where one could play croquet, admire the flowers or just sit reading a book. Apparently, Agatha avoided the other guests and explored the area alone often talking to herself or to the characters that she was creating in her head. The character of Poirot first emerged from Agatha's solitary meanderings at Moorlands.

my country home for 3 days
Agatha Christie came to Moorlands needing a rest from her voluntary aid work with wounded soldiers in Torquay. As a girl, she  had been educated at home by her parents and then sent to Paris for "finishing" and so found the demands of war work exhausting.
the gardens
England is a garden.
As I write, I have made a decision. I really don't want to walk all day with a group. I have mixed feelings about returning home and want to hold all of my thoughts and experiences close to me. I want to read my book, polish my nails, wander at will and try to deal with my mixed (up???) emotions. It is Sunday, perhaps I will even pay an online visit to a church and listen to a sermon. It is also Mother's Day in Canada and the U.S. so perhaps this is the gift that I give myself:solitude. Happy Mothers' Day!!!

Friday, May 9, 2014

Visiting the Lizard:the United Kingdom from North to South

The heritage is fascinating to visit.
Yesterday we visited the most southerly lighthouse of the United Kingdom.This area of Cornwall has been know for its shipwrecks. As I listen to the sound of the winds outside, I can easily imagine ships being torn apart by the sea. The Lizard Lighthouse was built to provide assistance to ships in these waters.

Built in the 18th century, this lighthouse can be seen for 25 miles.
There is only one lightbulb.
We started our day with a visit to the Heritage Centre where we learned how the lighthouse works. We were able to go inside and learn about the technology past and present.
a day of mizzle
After the lighthouse visit, I left the group. They were walking the challenging coastal path but my lower back is acting up a little. I chose to explore hedgerows and walking paths alone. The benches along the path are ideal spots for a solitary picnic lunch.
wild garlic

I continued toward the Village of Lizard. It seems the sort of village where Doc Martin would live.

Lizard in the mist
The path is well-marked.
Lizard Village was so quaint that I felt as though I had stepped into a story book. (Fancy that!!!!)
I haven't had a cream tea.

I made a short stop to visit the most southerly public house on the British Mainland, The Witch's Ball.
15th century free house
I wonder if pirates, tin miners or Poldark drank here.
I had a Tribute Cornish ale and finished reading my book.

There are many lovely cottages in Lizard Village.
Rural life in Britain is very different from my neighbourhood.
the honour system
I have now travelled from the far north of Shetland to the most southerly point of the British mainland. Except for my time in London and in Edinburgh, my time has been spent in smaller cities and towns. I have family connections in some of the places that I have visited and have felt very much at home wherever I have been.

Tomorrow we will be travelling by train to Newton Abbott in Devon for three more days of walking. I've read a little about the area but there are always surprises. One last adventure before London and home at the end of next week!!!!

Wednesday, May 7, 2014

Two Months Away from Home!!!

So many places, so many adventures, such a great time!!!

Two months ago, Janet and I visited Dr. Johnson's House in London.
I could have lived in the 18th century.

From London, Janet and I took National Express Coach to York.

York was in bloom.
It was Janet's first visit to York.

We continued on to Edinburgh. Lovely weather followed.
blue skies over the castle

Can I take him home?
Janet and I travelled to Paris.
the pink building in the Marais

What a charming waiter near Les Halles!

On to Shetland to visit family!
Fishing boats in Whalsay
the kirk on Whalsay

I met my cousin and her friend in Bath.

Bath Abbey
Avon River Bridge

Now we're in Cornwall.
Surf City U.K.

I wonder who lives here?

It's been a busy two months. Just going through the photos makes me a little tired.