Saturday, December 24, 2016

Christmas with blues skies and seas
Merry Christmas to all! I haven't written this fall. It seems as though months pass in my retirement life with visits with friends and family, reading and book clubs (3), church and with enjoying our young dog, Tilde.

Monsieur and I are spending two weeks in an apartment just outside Puerto Vallarta. We have a couple of small restaurants nearby but we need to take a bus or taxi to go to town.
morning view from our balcony

Each day is peaceful and sunny. I wake up early to watch the sun appear through the morning mist.
Reading, an excursion to town, great seafood and salads make up my days. 

Today, we will be joined Monsieur's sister and niece. They have not travelled much in Mexico so
we'll probably do more tourist activities.

I am thinking of family and friends at home and wish you Feliz Navidad!

Wednesday, September 21, 2016

Four Weeks Of Travel

Ring of Kerry, Republic of Ireland

It is almost four weeks since we have left Vancouver. Dublin seems a lifetime ago! Our first travelling companion left us after our Republic of Ireland tour and we have been joined in London by my daughter. 

This vacation has been all about touring the countries of our ancestors. During other post-retirement vacations, I have had a base (usually in Paris) where I could leave the bulk of my belongings. This year, we have used bus, train and domestic airlines to travel around The Republic, up to Belfast, north to Shetland and finally to London.  

the Burren, Republic of Ireland

We have been grateful for the assistance of strangers at every turn. Whether it be with an offer of help with a heavy bag,  of advice about directions in an unfamiliar town or of  a seat on the Tube, local 
people have come to the rescue.

The Giants' Causeway, Bushmills
Sometimes, when things are really going wrong.....we were locked out of our flat (tricky door)
or the owner has failed to appear at our booking (no mobile phone), I have knocked on stranger's doors. Certainly, not something that I would do at home!

We are spending a week in London and I appreciate the slower pace.  I have confirmed that I am a woman who enjoys reading signs on buildings, wandering through residential streets,  and gazing into windows of shops. I don't need a destination or an agenda for each day. 

These graves in St. Pancras' churchyard  were moved to make way for the railway .

Do you remember Louise Bates Ames? She was a founder of the Gesell Institute of Child Development and she chronicled child development from 2 until 9 years of age.
During the 1970's, when my daughter was young, I read each of her books and I marvelled at the
accuracy of her observations. I wonder that, at a time when so much of the population is ageing,
that there is so little written about the later years.

During this trip, I have experienced more physical discomfort in my knee and hip. Stairs, escalators
and long corridors are part of independent travel. My travelling buddy will attest to the fact that I have probably developed sleep apnea as I make a symphony of sounds and no sound at night.
I try to eat my largest meal earlier in the day and I am more aware of wine consumption. As I get older, I am less tolerant. I'm not fond of crowds and I have always been prone to falling so I don't
like to be jostled. I am becoming my grandmother and my mother. Who would have guessed

Home in Camden
Today, we will visit the Covent Garden, Soho and West End areas of London. We're attending a matinée at the Apollo Theatre and will have a light supper before returning to our Victorian house in Camden.

Friday, September 16, 2016

Belfast Days

Women's Voices Matter quilt on Shankill Road
My maternal grandmother came to Canada from County Antrim before World War One. There was only one Ireland then and this part of my family were Presbyterians of Ulster Scottish stock. I never studied much about Irish history in school but I am old enough to remember hearing about The Troubles in Northern Ireland.

Last Sunday, I visited Belfast where I attended Fitzroy Presbyterian Church. I have not  attended
a Presbyterian church before but I expected the stiff and stern ways of 100 years ago when my grandma left. Not so! The service was casual and upbeat with two vocalists and a fiddle. Most of the 
2 hour (yes, 2 full hours) service was about the church's sponsorship of a village in Uganda. 

This young man is a hero to some people in the Protestant housing area.

In the afternoon, we took the Black Cab Tour of Belfast to learn about The Troubles. William, our driver and guide, has been showing visitors the murals and the Peace Wall since 1999. He was an
objective, pro-peace narrator. We were unable to discern to which group he belonged. He later confided that his background was Protestant but that, when he was a boy, his grandmother had threatened to kill him herself if he got involved with the paramilitary groups.

We started at Shankill Road where William of Orange and Oliver Cromwell were heroes for their oppression of the Catholic Irish. Even after the Peace Accord, young men still fight for old and irrelevant causes.

Then we visited Falls Road where the Catholic heroes are depicted.
Apparently, the gates between the Protestant and Catholic neighbourhoods are still closed at night at several points. On Falls Road, in the Catholic neighbourhood, we saw murals depicting those who had been imprisoned or killed for their beliefs.
outside of Belfast through the bus window

Ireland is a beautiful green country. During our 2 and a half weeks, we have met so many friendly and helpful people in both The Republic and in Northern Ireland. There is a piece of public art on Shankill Road that says: Remember, Respect, Resolve. Ironically, or not, it is behind an iron fence.
Two seats are located inside the fence but no one can sit on them. It is difficult to give up our old ways of thinking and to learn acceptance and forgiveness.

Monday, September 5, 2016


famine statues in Dublin
According to the 2011 census, more than 4.5 million Canadians report Irish ancestry. The figure is probably higher because Catholic Irish orphans from the coffin ships who arrived at Grosse Ile, our Canadian version of Ellis Island, were adopted into French-Canadian families. My own great-grandmother, believed to be French-Canadian, reported her ancestry on the 1911 census as French/Irish.

Many Irish came to Canada

My friends and I represent counties Cork, Limerick, Mayo, Armagh and Antrim and our ancestors were Church of Ireland, Catholic, and Presbyterian. They all left Ireland before Independence and Partition.  We'll never know all the reasons for leaving Ireland but we can assume that they were looking for a new start.

Daughter and I met Annie Moore last year at Ellis Island. There is a statue in Cobh as well.
She was the first immigrant through Ellis Island.

Ireland is a beautiful country. There are so many shades of green in the landscape.  I love the small towns where you can walk in the street and hear music coming out of almost every door. Yesterday, we went to the Burren, a rocky landscape where 70% of Ireland's botanical species bloom and to the famous Cliffs of Moher where we looked down on the Atlantic Ocean.

My friends went off to eat and drink this evening while I stayed in the hotel to read and write. I'm definitely in need of quiet time to process my experiences and to share them with my friends and family. One more night in Ennis and we're off to Galway! 

Dublin Town

the long room (library) at Trinity College
My friends and I booked student accommodation at Trinity College in Dublin. I would highly recommend this for anyone travelling on a budget. We each had a bedroom and we shared a bathroom with shower, a sitting area and a large kitchen. The wifi was free and we discovered the adjacent cafeteria where an Irish breakfast could be had for 5 euros.

Dublin is a UNESCO City of Literature. We visited the Book of Kells, the Long Room Library,
The Writers' Museum and the National Library of Ireland. Plaques about the city honour James Joyce, Oscar Wilde, Jonathan Swift, Arthur Clark among others. It seemed to me that there were bookshops on almost every block in Dublin.

in the park next to Saint Patrick's Cathedral

I was surprised how inexpensive food has been in our first week. After eating a hearty (for me) breakfast (5 euros), we usually only need one other meal during the day. Seafood is delicious and relatively inexpensive. I do not usually favour hearty stews or pies because heavy meals make me sleepy.

The Irish people are so friendly and helpful. Every time that we look a little bit lost, someone appeared to provide the necessary information.

Our pace is too fast for me. I miss the easy days of wandering the streets. I am reading The Irish Country Doctor which is set in Country Down not far from where my grandmother was born. In a few days, we will be crossing into Northern Ireland.

Tuesday, August 9, 2016

Head for the Hills

We like to visit the Freestone Inn
Monsieur Là-Bas and I are off on another of our mountain getaways. Monsieur especially loves the North Cascades area of Washington state. It takes about five hours of driving to reach our destination:
the Freestone Inn in Mazama.

We have stayed in the lodge but since we now have Tilde, our miniature dachshund, a cabin suits us better. I can walk out early with Tilde and Monsieur takes her out before bed. We can prepare some meals or eat in the dining room.
Our cabin is basic but....
Our small cabin has a fully equipped kitchen, air-conditioning and wifi. I put on my hoodie over my pyjamas this morning and took Tilde out. We met a chipmunk on the porch and Tilde smelled so many different scents.

Tilde is enjoying a new experience.

I am reading Americanah  by Chimananda Ngozi Adiche. I have reserved so many books from the library that I hope to finish this one and to start another Irish Linen by Andrew Greeley before I go home. It's only 2 weeks until I leave for Dublin so I really do have so many books, so little time.
scallops with arugula, zucchini and yellow potato mash

If you do visit the Methow Valley in Washington state, there are wonderful restaurants to visit.
I'm a seafood/fish vegetable kind of woman so I really enjoyed the Alaska scallops and vegetables at the Inn.  We really enjoy browsing in The Mazama Store where there are local and organic products, a bakery and deli and a selection of wines as well as books of local interest.

I really enjoy the quiet of our cabin. The neighbours are off somewhere, Monsieur and Tilde are having a siesta and I am gazing out from the porch...
looking into the forest

Tuesday, August 2, 2016

The Old Country

We are staying at Trinity College.

When I was a little girl, we lived next door to my grandparents. It's a funny thing but they often spoke of a place called "The Old Country".  As a young child, I thought that this was the name of a real place. Small children can be very literal! My great-grandmother was also from "The Old Country".
In her case, there were foods associated with the aforementioned country: scones and small tea pancakes served with real butter and jam. Sometimes, children were allowed tea with milk served in
pretty china cups.

My maternal grandparents, who lived next to us, were from Shetland and from Northern Ireland. My
grandmother came from Bushmills before Ireland was divided and my grandfather from Shetland after World War One. Only one of my grandmother's uncles stayed in Bushmills but most of my grandfather's siblings stayed in Shetland so I have many cousins to visit in the Islands.

Since early times, island people have gone to sea to trade for life's necessities.

The trip that I am planning will involve exploring, with two other women friends, our personal
"Old Country" Ireland.  We will be spending 2.5 weeks in Ireland together and then my friend Janet and I will fly to Shetland and then to London where we will meet my daughter.

We will be starting our travels in Dublin where we will be sharing a 3-bedroom apartment at Trinity
College. The location is central and economical. We will be able to prepare some light meals and to move independently according to our own clocks and interests.

Travelling with friends is very different from travelling with a partner or travelling solo. I am an early riser and enjoy quiet evening reading with a glass of wine and a light snack. I tend to research my destinations and enjoy savouring the streets of a city.  Each of my friends has her own rhythms and interests so we need to build in together time and alone time.

We have chosen to tour by Bus Eírean as none of us wish to drive. The distances between cities and towns is not great so none of our bus rides will be more than 5 hours. We have limited the number of stops so that we have time to enjoy our destinations.

After Dublin, we will be heading to the Wild Atlantic Way (the West Coast) of Ireland via Cork.We will travel to Ennis where we can visit The Burren and The Cliffs of Moher. My friend, Madeline, has visited Ireland before and says that these are must-sees. Rick Steves recommends Ennis as a good base from which to explore the middle section of the coast. We are booking two rooms (a twin and a
single/double) so we need to stay in mid-size towns. Proximity to bus and rail stations is also a consideration.

The West Coast

My friend, Madeline's family roots are in county Mayo. We will travel from Ennis north to Mayo to visit the towns of her parents' families. Mayo seems to be a land of seacoast and lakes.

Our next destination will involve our longest travel day as we will go from Mayo to Belfast, Northern Ireland. While the distance is not great, the journey involves either going back through Dublin or travelling Bus Eírean to Enniskillen and transferring to Bus Ulster.

We are lucky again to have an apartment (with a washing machine) in Belfast. I want to visit Cozies (an area of Bushmills) where my grandmother lived her early childhood years.  I actually found her in the 1911 Irish census.  I really like looking at census information but most countries don't release
their personal information until after 100 years.

Bushmills is near The Giant's Causeway so we will have a chance to experience the East Coast of Northern Ireland as well as the West Coast of Eire. At Belfast, we part ways with Madeline and Janet and I will travel to Shetland.

My friends and I each have the desire to visit those places of the family stories. As we get older, it seems that we are more interested in visiting "The Old Country"  wherever it may be.  If you have travelled in Ireland or live there, I would be happy to hear any suggestions of sites in Counties Clare and Mayo.

Monday, August 1, 2016

Time Flies!

Ireland calls.

July has passed so quickly! I have been attending classes a the Alliance Française in Vancouver. Twice a week, I take the bus and then the Canada Line to my destination.  I am learning to discuss European cultural and political topics "with ease". This month, we have been focusing on the history and the structure of the European Union.  The level standards are set by the Common European Framework of Reference for Languages, a body which promotes the acquisition of languages in the European Union. I am at the beginning of Level C1 and I will have to work very hard and long to progress. As there are no classes in August and I shall be in Ireland and Britain in September, I won't enrol in any more classes until October.

Study is what seems to make sense for me in my retirement. I am never so happy as when I am learning, reading or thinking! Sometimes I wonder about education as it is often seen as a preparation
for something else, usually a profession. Now that I am retired, I am free to enjoy learning for its own sake.

This month, I rediscovered the public library. It is such a luxury to go online to reserve books. I have mine delivered to the small branch library near where I live. One of my goals in retirement is to cut down on car trips. I like to walk with purpose and I don't enjoy driving so I try to use nearby services.
Many older people fear the loss of the ability to drive but I am preparing now to live in my community and to use Canada Line to access activities in the city.

Lots of Books to Read

As I am planning for my trip to Ireland, novels by Colm Tóibin, Anne Enright, and Tana French have been popular with me this month. I really enjoyed Norah Webster (Tóibin) and Faithful Place (French) and The Gathering (Enright). I always enjoy other blogger's recommendations, so I read I'll See You in Paris at the recommendation of the Hostess. I have been reading the Maisie
Dobbs books by Jacqueline Winspear ever since I discovered them at the Oaxaca Lending Library.

An interesting discussion has arisen à propos de Hillary Clinton's remarks about enjoying the Maisie
Dobbs books. Like many of us, apparently, Hillary enjoys the restorative qualities of a "women's
cozy mystery".  Maureen Corrigan in The Washington Post recently took Hillary to task over a perceived patronizing attitude towards mysteries that are written by women authors and which
feature woman detectives. For my part, I do favour  strong female protagonists in novels and in movies.

I know very little about Irish history. My ancestors come from counties Antrim and Armagh which are currently in Northern Ireland. My mother's ancestors were Presbyterian and my father's Roman
Catholic and so I have been trying to learn a little about the history of the religious conflicts. Netflix
featured an interesting series called Rebellion which dealt the Easter Uprising of 1916. I also enjoyed
Stella Days which starred Martin Sheen as a priest in a small Irish community.

boats at Whalsay
I will be flying from Belfast to Lerwick to visit Shetland and the relatives. The Shetland television series which is based on the mystery novels by Ann Cleeves provides glimpses of island life for those who are interested.

Rugged cliffs  will mean sturdy shoes and warm clothes.

July has flown by and I will be planning my travel wardrobe in the next couple of weeks. I'm on a "shop your closet" jag right now so I will be looking at my existing wardrobe and rereading all Janice's packing posts at the Vivienne Files.

Today is a holiday in British Columbia (B.C. Day) so there will be a pool party and barbecue in our complex. Monsieur and a friend are playing 60's music on the pool deck so it should be fun. Happy August!

Friday, July 15, 2016

A Very Sad Day

Yesterday, I left my class at the Alliance Française at noon. We wished our teacher, who is from France,  "Happy Bastille Day" and some of the students were planning to attend a local Bastille Day celebration. When I arrived home, I learned about the tragedy in Nice.

I  watched the fireworks on Bastille Day from le Jardin Albert 1er in Nice some years ago. It was such a beautiful setting! So many people gathered together to celebrate freedom on a balmy summer night.

Terrorism and the murder of innocent people is unpardonable.

Wednesday, July 13, 2016

Retirement Project:A Pet

our first visit

During the last year, Monsieur and I have been sharing our common interest: a puppy called Tilde.
Tilde (M. made up the name). I wanted Sophie or Phoebe but her name is Tilde (pronounced Tildee).
Tilde just celebrated her first birthday with a visit to the dog-groomer and a birthday card from one of the neighbours.
our first outing

A few week-ends ago, Monsieur and I took Tilde on her first overnight driving trip. Our destination, Ellensburg Washington for Dachshunds on Parade. We found this fun event on the 
Internet and we decided to attend. Three hundred dachshunds and their owners in a small town in Central Washington State!!

Tilde has a very comfortable fleece-lined Sherpa carrier. She has a chewy stick and a toy in her cozy domaine. We stop regularly at rest stops so that Tilde can have a break.  

Tilde is now a part of the family

We stayed at the EconoLodge in Ellensburg. Why do non-smoking rooms in travellers' motels 
always smell as though someone smoked? Our room is clean and dog-friendly so I guess that a little
mustiness won't kill me.

Tilde has a trick! Tilde plays soccer. If we kick a full-sized soccer ball, Tilde runs after it and "dribbles" it back with her nose. She works at her trick every day with Monsieur who takes her to practise on an empty field. Tilde performed  her trick in the pet  show.

Oh, my goodness! Tilde won a giant trophy. It is almost bigger than she is. Tilde came in second in the pet tricks contest.

Tilde plays soccer

Such a big trophy for such a small dog!
Tilde is my first pet that I have raised as an adult so she is a different sort of retirement learning project for me.

Friday, June 17, 2016

Word of the Day:Insouciance

Fresh flowers are part of chic

I am a "word nerd". This morning, when I awoke, I was pondering the concept of "chic". I have
been following Fiona Ferris's Thirty Chic Days for ten days and my early morning contemplation, over my bowl of fresh strawberries and my cup of café au lait, led me to the word "insouciance" literally "the quality of being without worries."

Learning and practising a language is always chic. Some of my Sorbonne classes were held at Reid Hall where Jacqueline
Bouvier and Susan Sontag also studied.

Chic women do not worry. Their clothes are appropriately chosen and suitably maintained.  Their small closets are organized. No worries! Their home, whatever size it may be is clean and a vase of fresh flowers sits on top of the dining table. A fresh salad, daily walk and bit of time for contemplation... A life characterized by insouciance!

If I owned these shoes (from a shop in Place des Vosges) I would fly about the streets.

That's an oversimplification but....if we have conquered worry, our being is freed up for so many
other activities. We can smile and be gracious just because.. Worriers are always thinking about themselves and the possibility of disaster. Most of us will experience loss, disappointment and sadness in our lives.  Our bodies and our minds will alter. Most certainly, we will die and those we love will leave us.  But most of us will survive a missed bus or even a missed plane, an awkward moment, or a small financial setback. At my age, I know these things to be true.

There is so much around us to enjoy:even nature in Paris.

Okay, back to my original thought. Why is it easier for me to be insouciant when I am away from home? It's not just France but I'm equally worry-free in Mexico. First, I usually live in a smaller apartment and have someone who cleans once a week. Several apartments that I have rented have been supplied with books and music that I have enjoyed. In Oaxaca, I volunteer at a library so I have a source of free books. I don't drive when I am away from home.  I am by nature a flâneuse so walking to do my errands is not a hardship. Seafood, chicken and vegetables are my favourite foods so I eat them. I skype Maman each day and Darling Daughter e-mails when she needs to communicate.  Monsieur and I e-mail but we both benefit from alone and autonomous time.

fresh seafood in Paris

Why oh why is worry part of my life at home? No situation in my life can be improved by worry.
Worry impedes action and is decidedly  unchic. Worry causes stress which causes ill-health. From
a religious perspective, worry implies a lack of faith. In conclusion, for my next 20 days of chic, I will try to let go of worry, anxiety, apprehension, second favour of true Gallic insouciance.

Wednesday, June 15, 2016

Clothing and Travel Planning

For the last three years, I have been "curating" my wardrobe. Since I no longer work, I no longer
require "work clothes". I'm just about ready to cull my last structured "blazer" jacket as I have not worn it for at least 2 years. On the other hand, I have a softer two-piece skirt and jacket that I wear to church and on which I often receive compliments. I don't think that I'm a "structured" gal.

I used to work out with a personal trainer three times a week. I'm not a "gym" gal either so I bought colourful gym outfits to make me feel better. I stopped the trainer for reasons of economy. I live next door to a community centre. I could easily go over and use the weight machines. I don't! No need for fitness clothes other than one pair of yoga pants and a loose top. I walk but that involves street clothes, appropriate shoes and outerwear.
I seem to be wearing more of this

than this.
I do enjoy dressing up but I am married to Monsieur who likes to wear black t-shirts and athletic pants. I haven't been on a cruise for two years and I no longer have season tickets to the opera. How many evening outfits do I need?

Even my travel style has changed in the last few years. At the end of August, I will be flying to Dublin. I will be touring Ireland on Bus Eireann which is not a tour but an intercity bus system.
That means that I will be handling my own bags. Then, I will fly from Belfast to Shetland to visit family. Last time that I flew the regional carrier, Flybe, I paid no surcharge from Paris to Lerwick.
Merci, Air France. But, the Lerwick to London portion was handled by Loganair who charged me almost 100 pounds. My trip will end in London where I hope to attend the theatre a couple of times.

I have been working to develop a grey/navy wardrobe with turquoise as my accent colour. If you read
The Vivienne Files, 12 Months, 12 Outfits, my wardrobe is a lot like Janice's fourth one, Cheval Surprise Remix.  I don't own that Hermès scarf but I do have a couple of turquoise scarves from Diwali in Paris. My touring outfit will probably be comprised of grey jeans or navy pants, a t-shirt and a cardigan. My sources tell me that Ireland's weather can be variable (rainy) so I'm not sure what 
sort of coat that I might need. I have a pair of grey New Balance shoes which will probably work well
for exploring The Cliffs of Moher or walking on Da Knab in Shetland

Do you watch Shetland? I probably need my sturdy walking shoes.

A problem, I find, is choosing clothing that can be adapted to city. I will be taking a pair of grey trousers or my grey skirt to wear with my cashmere cardigan. I hope that by changing coat and shoes, that I can look more chic than "outdoorsy".

However, two things that I have learned from my travel experiences: chic women can look after their own bags and blisters are never chic.

Tuesday, June 14, 2016

Stories:Ragged Company by Richard Wagamese

street art in downtown Vancouver

I have always loved a "good story".  As a  bookworm, as a literature major and as a teacher-librarian who spent her days choosing and reading books to children, I have found great joy in reading and sharing my reactions with others. Book clubs offer opportunities to experience books that are often outside our comfort zone and to learn more about ourselves and our world.

Richard Wagamese, is a Canadian Ojibway author who has written both fiction and nonfiction. Ragged Company is his fourth novel. It is the story of four homeless people who find shelter in a movie theatre during a cold spell.  The characters become entranced by the movie stories and develop a relationship with a retired journalist, a storyteller who has lost his stories.

During the first few chapters, we know very little about our characters. They are "rounders", survivors of the street with "street names",  united by their friendship and by their suspicion and contempt of "square johns".

An unexpected event brings the characters into the "square john" world.  Bit by bit, they are forced to reveal their identities to each other and to the reader. Only by telling their stories and by "going home",  can the circle of life be complete and the pain be healed.

Wagamese weaves the native spiritual beliefs of Amelia "One For The Dead", an Ojibway woman who has lost everyone that she has ever loved and who is visited by "the shadow ones", and the stories of the movies that the characters come to enjoy into a rich tale of love and redemption.

In my neighbourhood, we have two men who sit outside the shops. I keep spare change in a small purse and I do stop when I do my errands. As with the characters in the novel, I do not know their names or their stories. I am a "square john". Ragged Company provided me with a "view from the concrete".

We will be discussing this book at my United Readers book club which is a church-based group.
There are members of this group who have made the effort to learn more about our First Nations
people and their struggles. Others make sandwiches to take down to the Skid Row area of Vancouver.

There are those who question the value of reading fiction. Yes, there really are! It seems to me that it is through stories that we learn to develop the empathy and compassion to grow in the "real world".

Sunday, June 12, 2016

Life-long Learning

learning to see in an urban setting

When I started blogging, I tried to commit to writing on a regular basis. One of my goals was to write  regularly and to be read by others. I have always written poetry, journals, essays....and I enjoy the process. In every writing class that I have ever enrolled in, the instructor has stressed the importance of spending time at the craft.

Who lives here?

What I am finding increasingly difficult is to write about fresh, new topics. Novelty is not always part of my day-to-day life. Last week was very busy for Monsieur and me. We attended a week-long session of lectures at the university. Ageless Pursuits, 4 week-long sessions in June, is developed for older adult learners with eclectic interests. The format, each day, is 2 one-hour lectures with a half hour break. The students seem to range from 60-something to 80-something.

Monsieur and I chose to study Urban Wildlife and Plants and Ideas of God. How eclectic is that!
The course formats were very different but the professors were both excellent. As a former educator,
I prefer an interactive method of teaching to a traditional lecture method. I was inspired to create my own homework to research indigenous plants that could be added to my garden patch in our complex.
The University has moved away from traditional plantings and most of the spaces have been planted with drought-resistant native plants.

Look carefully!

Since I started to go to church, I have been interested in theology:why people choose to believe and how personal beliefs differ. Our course dealt with the Greeks, the Abrahamic religions, Buddhism and the attempts by some scientist/philosophers to prove or disprove the concept of God. Quite a lot to cover in 5 hours!

The university has changed so much since I first attended in the 1970's. Students seem to have a lot more money as there are restaurants and coffee shops everywhere! Lattes have replaced the 17-cent
Food Service coffee. Smartphones and earbuds seem to have become a part of the student anatomy!
Despite these differences, I expect that somewhere on the campus, there must be a latter day me, enthused to be in such a place of learning.

Sometimes people ask me and sometimes I ask myself: why would older adults who no longer work want to study rather than to amuse themselves with some other entertainment. I have no answer to that question but I find that discussion, study and lecture is as important to me now as it was to my
18 year-old self.

Tuesday, May 31, 2016

Retirement:Five Years After

There are no directional signs in retirement.

My life has changed a lot since I retired 5 years ago this June. At 59 years of age, I was younger
looking, I had both parents, I felt fulfilled and appreciated in my work. But, there was so much that
I wanted to do.

I started working as a strawberry picker when I was 10 years old. I graduated to baby-sitting my 4 cousins (all under 6 years old ) when I was 13. My subsequent jobs included flyer deliverer, waitress, telephone solicitor, file clerk, child minder, tutor, library assistant and teacher-librarian. As a single parent, sometimes I had 3 jobs and I studied for my teacher-librarian diploma. For almost 50 years, I worked.

Wherever I go, I can walk.
When I retired, accomplishment was still a priority. I attended the Sorbonne (my girlhood dream) and
I worked very hard at my courses. I was paying for this and I wanted to excel! When I returned home, I planned new adventures, tried to write my blog at least 3 times a week, wrote a children's book (still unpublished) and joined my local church. I attended Sunday School as a child but I have never been
a church-goer in my adult life.

Accomplishment, achievement, aspiration....I didn't attend church but I did accept the old Protestant work ethic! I wonder why it's called that because I know several people who were raised as Catholics who subscribe to the same set of beliefs. When is it time to set aside the quest for the "A's" and to live life without striving?

For me, it is really difficult to let go. If I get  in the right number of walks, create the perfect grey/navy travel wardrobe,  maintain a fresh and clean apartment, write a certain number of pages during the week, eat the correct number of calories, work a magic number of volunteer hours....I am still looking for the perfect score...a quantitative measure of the success of my life. I still want to be on the "Honour Roll"

Is there an "Honour Roll" for retirees? Do we measure our success by "busyness", by the number of grandchildren,  by our domestic accomplishments? I really don't know. For each of us, some of the aspects of our lives work better than others.  This month, I have embarked on volunteer opportunities, been offered a census job (said "no"), and registered for some courses at the Alliance Française and
Continuing Education at our local university. I get a a happy, fulfilled feeling from the student/teacher
part of my life.

the Oaxaca Learning Centre garden

The first five years of retirement have passed quickly. I am midway into my 65th year. I plan to visit
Ireland and Shetland in September. Monsieur and I have rented an apartment in Mexico where we will spend Christmas with some members of his family (a rare occurrence). I aspire (there's one of the "a" words) to get more exercise, drink less wine and write more blogs in the next few months.  I am interested in how other "strivers" have found fulfillment after retirement. Is "letting go" an issue for you?