What If?

my choice as a parting gift to the library

This is the first week of my latest retirement. It almost seems as though I've forgotten how long a non-teaching day is! My day began at 5:00 a.m. In summer, although I close the blinds, I wake at first light. The hot water for our apartment building is unavailable (due to repairs) from 9:00 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. so I bathed and washed my hair at 7:00 a.m. when Monsieur went off to run/walk with his friend.

Retirement is a bit like New Year's or La Rentrée, a time for new projects. I installed an app called "Lose It" on my phone. It's just like My Fitness Pal where one records daily food and exercise in hopes of becoming healthier (thinner). Actually, my latest blood pressure reading in the doctor's office was my best ever so perhaps it is unnecessary. 

coreopsis for parking lot garden 2

My friend invited me to visit her Forever Young walking group. I am often intimidated by pony-tail women with athletic caps but I found this group to be welcoming. I arrived before my friend and was greeted warmly. We walked a few kilometres and adjourned to Starbuck's where I enjoyed a low calorie ice tea. I learned about no caffeine, no sweetener, no carbonation beverages last year from my daughter. I visited the nursery, bought two plants and some potting soil and it's still only 11:00 a.m.

I am trying to use inexpensive perennial plants that will attract bees to our parking lot gardens. Garden Two is a mixture of purple and yellow plants that I hope will spread to cover all of the area.
 These gardens will require little tending as they develop. So many of our Greene Thumbs (we live in a complex called Apple Greene) have become unable to care for their gardens that I see drought resistant perennials in natural arrangements as the way of the future.

This feverfew just appeared in the garden.
It's a tradition at the school where I worked this year for retiring teachers to choose a book for the library. The book that is chose this retirement is What If...... written by Samantha Berger and illustrated by Mike Curato.

With a pencil and paper, I write and draw art/ to create many stories that come from my heart.” But what if the young narrator of this story didn’t have a pencil? In ways that may remind readers of the lullaby “Hush Little Baby,” this brown-skinned, purple-haired girl is always thinking about her next move. No pencil? She’d make origami. No paper? She’d “chisel the table and then carve the chair” or create a wall-size sun by strategically peeling away paint. Ultimately, it’s her imagination—celebrated with a gatefold close-up of the girl deep in thought—and unfaltering determination to create that matter. “If I had nothing, but still had my mind,” writes Berger (Monster’s New Undies). “There’d always be stories to seek and find.” Curato’s collaged and found-object illustrations meet the creative challenges the text all but demands with moments of giddy inventiveness: a dragon created from fall leaves, a solar system rendered in dirt and marbles, and a snow scene made of marshmallows and sugar. Ages 4–8. Agent: Brenda Bowen, Sanford J. Greenburger Assoc. (Apr.) Publisher's Weekly

I loved this book at first sight! If I lost everything, how would I express myself? This year, we've been working with young children to see beyond the limits of the everyday world, to see that there are ideas that have never been thought and opportunities that we can only (maybe) imagine.  This book expresses the best of our Growth Mindset and Creative Thinking Competencies. 

Last time I retired, I chose this book.
Wangari Maathi was the first African woman to win a Nobel Peace Prize for her contributions to sustainable development, democracy, and peace.

I love using beautiful picture books to teach. I can get so enthusiastic about "just the right book".
I had a wonderful Kindergarten teacher across the hall from me this year and so often I used to go to her classroom with a book that "I just had to share."  I'm not sure what I'm doing for the rest of the day or for the rest of my life....but all things are possible.

Enseigner, c'est apprendre deux fois. -Joseph Joubert


  1. It must be a lovely change of pace for you to be newly "re-retired"
    and with all the possibilities What If? sounds very appropriate.

    I picked up The Seagull by Ann Cleaves today at the library...and already hooked on the book...thank you for suggesting it Madame.

    1. Yes, it is a completely different pace and an opportunity to try new activities. I really enjoy Ann Cleaves Shetland and Vera books. In some way, they remind me of Louise Penney. I'm reading a poolside summer read called The Paris Key by Juliet Blackwell.
      It's a light read it quite transports me. I got it at the used book store. I'm having cataract surgery next week and I'm not sure how my reading will be affected.

  2. The write-up for the book you chose this time around makes me think it would be lovely for my grandchildren. Encouraging creative expression and imagination is so important.

    Now that summer break is officially on, my days have been filled with guests. I'm looking forward to some relaxation soon.

    I see from your comment above that you're having cataract surgery next week. I hope that goes well for you. The community gardens you are creating are lovely, and drought resistant is probably a good idea for those that lack attention. Bees are very busy about my lavender these days.

  3. Our PAC purchases a picture book for each departing (?) teacher. When I read the review of this book, I thought "ah ha!" There is so much possibility for discussion, problem solving and imagination.

    The weather has been so dry here and the drainage in the parking lot gardens is poor so tough plants are our best bet. We've got a lot of bees and yesterday I saw a hummingbird.

    The summer break is welcome. I will probably TTOC in the fall but I really prefer to be connected to children and staff. Enjoy your guests!

  4. Days can be long on retirement and then they can be short, too!! Lovely tradition to add a book to the library when a teacher retires.

    Glad the walking group was a pleasant surprise of welcoming gals. Good for you on the BP. Maybe retirement agrees with you!

    1. I really like the retirement book idea. I chose to read a number of these books to students and I noticed how each book reflected the values of the donor.

      It's good to find welcoming groups. Our church is beginning a program to encourage members to greet and welcome new attendees. Friendliness is so important!


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