Saturday, December 13, 2014

Brighter Skies at Home

grey cape with blue skies on Friday
Monsieur and I returned home Wednesday to torrential rains and wind. The bougainvillaea and cacti  are just a memory for another year. Retirement certainly brings surprises and challenges. These weeks in Arizona and some summer trips to the Methow Valley in Washington State tend to be our only holidays as a couple. Monsieur is definitely more of a homebody than I am.

When I retired three years ago, Monsieur was still working and was only playing music from time to time. He has since joined two bands and is singing occasionally. There are regular rehearsals and much of Monsieur's life is involved with his music.

In addition to reading blogs, I enjoy listening to podcasts. Recently, I listened to The Ballad of Tin Ears on CBC Radio's Ideas. Although I know all the lyrics to the great Broadway musicals, I am completely
tone deaf! We tested it and I really can not distinguish pitch. I am not embarking on a musical career any time soon!

Soon a new year will be upon us and I will have another birthday in January. Another year has almost passed. My father has been gone 2 years in January. Although Maman misses him every day, our lives carry on. I am aware of the more frequent aches and pains in my own ageing body.

So my challenge in the new year is to try to find more engaging activities in my own neighbourhood. My retirement plan involved "front loading" travel for my healthiest years (60-65). I will be 63 in January so now is the time to create my "at home" life.

Before I went away, I took a course in Writing a Children's Book. Yesterday, I met with a publisher who is going to mentor me in the process. I have written since I was a little girl and I am constantly reading.  At University, I studied English and French literature as an undergraduate and Children's lit as a postgraduate. I will be working with X to develop a story that I hopefully will publish. I am always happiest when I have a project.

Monsieur drove me to Granville Island for my meeting. The skies were blue and clear. I put on my charcoal cape and grey Eileen Fisher pants to walk along the waterfront. We stopped for lunch at The Vancouver Fish Company. I have eaten in so many restaurants and dining rooms recently that I am really looking forward to simpler fare.

I have hardly thought about Christmas. Our gift list has shrunk as more family members have opted out of the gift exchange. It is a relief! We will spend some time together but gift giving will not be our focus. There are some special Advent services at our neighbourhood church and I am looking forward to a Christmas Cantata.

My challenge for today is a performance of one of Monsieur's bands at a larger, probably noisy venue. The band doesn't play until 10:00 and Madame finds band wife a very stressful role. Oh well! Life is about compromise.

Monday, December 8, 2014

Prickly Pals and What I Wore

standing in our garden
We have been staying in our casita for almost two weeks. The weather has been very pleasant (averaging in the low 70's Fahrenheit) and with only one rain storm. In Tucson, there are 350 days of sunshine. Hummingbirds visit our bougainvillaea and yesterday I saw a bright red cardinal as I took out the garbage. The rain made  palo verde trees even greener. Unfortunately, as I was posing for this photo, I was stuck by the jumping cholla.
The cholla babies stick on to you if you get near them.
Monsieur and I both found small chollas stuck to our shoes. I was very glad that I was wearing long pants and my Bernie Mev shoes. I have worn these blue-grey Mary Janes all over the Caribbean and the desert. I have my Josef Seibel sandals for other occasions but I really prefer a closed shoe for exploring.There is better support and much more protection for the feet.

During the trip, I have worn the same articles of clothing repeatedly. I bought my blue/grey Mint Velvet top at the House of Fraser in London in the spring. It's light, lined and the right colours for my new wardrobe. I probably won't be in Britain in the coming year so I may have to rely on the House of Fraser website. I would certainly prefer to shop locally but the selection for "mature women of traditional build" is just not there.

Speaking of maturity, I have a new favourite show Last Tango in Halifax. The BBC series is set in West Yorkshire and is the tale of two septuagenarians who rediscover each other on Facebook after having missed a meeting 60 years before. The couple, played by Derek Jacobi and Anne Reid, each come with an assortment of children, in-laws, friends and grandkids.  The situations are darkly humorous and sometimes bring tears to my eyes.

Desert time for Monsieur and me is reading time. I have finished most of the books that I bought at Bookman's and my favourite was The Sense of an Ending by Julian Barnes. The protagonist, Tony, a character in his middle 60's recounts his life in two parts. After reading Part One, which outlined Tony's student days, his first relationship and his marriage and divorce, I wondered what the second part could be about. "It had all been said" but an unlikely inheritance and a revisitation in Part Two caused me to wonder if "Tony ever got it" or indeed if any of us really understand the events of our lives.

"History is that certainty produced at the point where the imperfections of memory meet the inadequacies of documentation" is a quotation  that is one of the major themes this short novel. I'll keep thinking about that one!

I have been thinking a lot during my desert time and a lot of my thoughts deal with ageing and finding meaning at the later stages of life. This morning, I especially enjoyed The Hostess's blog about role models and ageing. In looking at our own lives and those of others, real and fictional, (maybe there is only fictional), hopefully we can live our later years with intelligence and self-awareness.

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Desert Time

Each morning, I like to wake early.
Desert time is one of my favourite times. It's the time Monsieur and I spend on holiday together. We rent a little house (casita) and enjoy the bright, sunny skies. Our apartment at home is just a little larger than the casita but it is east-facing so it is very dark in the winter. I wake much earlier than Monsieur so I make coffee and read.
Yesterday, we visited Bookman's, one of my favourite places in Tucson.
My sister-in-law is visiting us for a few days so we have plenty of chatter. Monsieur isn't big on that so it's kind of fun to have a visitor. After breakfast, brother and sister take a hike and I have some quiet time. I'm a great fan of quiet time too! I like to putter about, read or take little walks about the grounds.
I found a signed Tony Hillerman mystery in the casita. I only read him in Arizona.
In the afternoon, we take a drive to visit different places of interest, Tubac, the oldest European settlement in Arizona is one of our favourite places to visit.
I love the history of this area!
Since my sister-in-law is here, I get to shop a little but I am downsizing wardrobe so it really is a little.
My basic blue/grey wardrobe is working.

very small purchases
We will be staying here for another week and this year we are flying home. For this reason, I will eliminate travel clothing that has not worked for the cruise or for the desert. There is no point flying home with it and hopefully someone else will appreciate it.
I couldn't resist this gift cookbook.
My friend, Janet, who often visits me in Paris collects cookbooks. I really had to buy this one!

Control of

People's dreams are made out of what they do all day. The same way a dog that runs after rabbits will dream of rabbits. It's what you do that makes your soul, not the other way around.

 Barbara Kingsolver