Saturday, June 29, 2013

I'm Free

(Wrote this yesterday but was interrupted and forgot to post...)

I finished working yesterday instead of today.  Sure, I have a little work to do later on this month to finish up but I can do it from home when the work is ready to be done, just some minor editing.

I'm free for the next 4 or 6 months.  I'm on holidays, off, semi-retired, riding the wave, no 9 to 5, hasta la vista baby!

Actually, I'm in shock.  I feel rather numb, it hasn't hit me yet.

I feel like throwing out half of the stuff in my house.

Is this normal?

I want to lie in a hammock with a mojito with a straw.  I want to lie on a chaise at Tiki beach and stare into the Mediterranean.  I want to sit on my front step and contemplate my neighborhood.  I want to sleep, I want to do nothing, I want to sip a glass of Pinot Grigio... or just stay in my pajamas for the next six weeks.

But curiously, I am still running on nervous energy and don't feel that tired.  Last night, instead of going into a coma like I always do on the evening of the last day of work, I cleaned out my bedroom.  Never done that in 31 years of the evening after the "last day of work".

I think I'm going to make like it's the summer holidays like always, then see what happens when I'm in France and when August melts into  September, I'm still on break...


Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Mojito sur Scène

If I were in Paris with a girlfriend, I would definitely get a pedicure on a boat on the Seine.  This little outing costs 37 euros and includes a mojito. Check it out here.


Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Le Moulin

A friend of mine is presently at our apartment in Provence.  Before she left, I told her that one of my aspirations was to learn watercolor and that I meant to do some when in the south of France.

She said what a good idea!  Here is her watercolour (no lessons) of our place, view from the gardens looking toward Le Moulin.

Isn't she talented?  I love it!  That is an olive tree to the right and to the left, a rose bush nestled between two lavender plants.


Sunday, June 23, 2013

Friday, June 21, 2013

Devastation in Southern Alberta

We've been having rain in Edmonton and area but nothing like Calgary, Canmore, Bragg Creek and High River (Where Heartland is filmed) are experiencing.  100,000 people have been ordered out of their homes, 31 saved from the rooftops of their houses.

Let's pray for the rain to stop.


One Week

I am alive and well thank you for asking.  The last week has been incredible.  You know how you can go weeks or even months and nothing grand happens, or not much happens and then, it seems like to catch up, life just jams all the juicy events that haven't happened yet into one week.  ONE WEEK.

You already know I had my retirement party on Thursday and that my great-nephew was born on Sunday.  What you don't already know is that it was my turn to host a gourmet dinner on Saturday.  Then, Wednesday, I took a personal day to spend with my niece and her husband and our little pearl of a delicious baby A. He's so funny, in all of his 6 lbs and 2 oz, he is already a real person with real preferences and one of them is to have his arms out of the blanket at all times.

My niece said that she heard that a baby that sleeps well is a swaddled baby, well A. is not having any of that. In no time, his tiny arms are flying out of the cocoon to come to rest on either side of his head. He is too sweet, I am well and properly hooked!

The following is in parentheses:

So the gourmet dinner menu was:

Duck rillettes on french bread with Montrachet for openers
Bouillabaisse, rouille and croutes with Sancerre
Green salad with walnut oil and walnuts and cheese course: Bleu d'Auvergne, Brie de Meaux and Etorki with a Bandol Rosé
Sabayon with berries

That was Saturday, you know what Sunday was and Thursday (last night) not one but two retirement parties for two dear friends.

To sum up, here is the last week:

Thursday:  my retirement party
Saturday: gourmet dinner at our place
Sunday: Baby A. makes his entrance into the world
Wednesday: Day spent with A. and his parents
Thursday: Two retirement parties back to back

Friday, June 21st, 1st day of Summer, Stella is officially flying under the radar, pooped, done, fatiguée.

Over and out.


Horizontal Stella

Monday, June 17, 2013

Sunday, June 16, 2013

Miracle Day

As my sister D. is in Europe, I was a substitute grandmother today.  My niece had her baby at about 4:45 this afternoon and I had the honor of being present and assisting the mother in her delivery.

His name is Aidan.  He weighs 6 1bs 2 oz and his birth was as perfect as a birth can be.  The Mom was poised and determined, she breathed slowly throughout her pain and asked her baby to help her bring him into the world.

Nothing short of miraculous.  I felt so connected to her, I remembered so much about my own deliveries that it felt like I could get inside her head to help her along.

My niece is lovely and brave and beautiful.  She is strong and loving and delightful.  When she knew he was coming she cried with happiness.

A lovely sight to behold.  Sacred even.

Bonne fête des pères Papa G.! You are the best!

Honorary Grandmaman Stella

Friday, June 14, 2013

Calm After the Storm

It's Friday night and I'm sitting in my bed as I write this.  I am flooded with relief, uplifted and exhausted after a miraculous retirement party.
Me making a speech after I cried all of the makeup off my eyes
There were peonies and Gerber daisies and banners and pictures and postcards.  Food and wine and beer (Stella Artois only), Prosecco (one of my favorite drinks), colleagues past and present, friends, children, husband, bosses, students from the old days, speeches, song, hugs, smiles, tears, apples (I have a collection of them) and a hole lot of loving.

I didn't know.  I didn't know that I had been appreciated to that extent.  What a lovely, humbling gift.

Amongst the highlights were: two of my students performed songs from a musical we put up in 1985, my former boss (a pretty hard-nosed guy) made a toast that blew me away.  My sons and step-daughter spoke and cried, as did my wonderful husband: "I am lucky that you love me".  A vertically challenged former colleague confessed that he had fallen for me, hard because: "... she was pretty, intelligent, talented... and short". Laughs... hugging, more hugging, lots of crazy energy, a lot, a lot of beauty. Too much beauty kept me awake most of the night.

Today, I finished reading the greeting cards and hung my piece of art.  I am quietly, calmly contented. I am full to brimming with a feeling of belonging and of acceptance.

That's all on top of imminent retirement.

I don't think it gets better than this.

Over-the-moon Stella

Monday, June 10, 2013

What's with the Weather?

It's June 10th and the temperature was a mere 5 degrees when we woke up this morning and the weatherman says it will go up to a balmy 10 degrees today with overcast skies and drizzling rain.

Up to now, weather in France wasn't so good either.  V. and I look to our friendly neighborhood weather station in the Var for accurate information and they are just having a 24 degree day today.  That's a bit cool for this time of year.

My sister D. and her husband are supposed to be going on a Viking River Cruise from Berlin to Prague on the Elbe river this coming Saturday but with all of the flooding in north and eastern Europe, this cruise could be cancelled as others have been before it.  This trip that has been planned for a year now. She feels badly for all of the people who are dealing with flooding... If their cruise gets cancelled, they will either rent a car or take trains from Berlin to Slovenia to Budapest to Prague for the conference that her husband is attending.


40 km north of Prague
Here, it's just grey and cold and no, I am not complaining, just wondering what's happening on a global level, to the weather.  As a child, I remember beautiful weather in June, July, August, even September.  Now, it seems that it's up in the air.

Corey at Tongue in Cheek has mentioned that Spring took a long time making it's way to Provence and presently on a road trip, she and Yann are wearing jackets and long sleeves.

Let's pray that the rain stops for those brave people in Germany, the Czech Republic and Hungary.

Grey skies here, outside my office window.


Thursday, June 6, 2013

Retirement Party

I didn't want one, really didn't... and they forced it on me.  Now, I'm kinda glad, kinda scared about it.  My friend Lizette says it's cause I'm not so good at receiving. I think she's right.

Checklist for attending one's own retirement party.

- outfit for warm weather
- outfit for cooler weather
- manicure/pedicure
- haircut/makeup
- family members
- friends/colleagues
- glass of wine before leaving the house
- short but inspiring speech
- my best singing voice for the sing along
- car and driver for the return trip
- photographer
- grace
- gratitude
- smile
- all around good mood
- other

I think I'm ready, am I missing something? Wish me luck.
Just in case you think it's tonight, NOT.  It's a week from today!
I'm not nervous at all.  What makes you think that?


Sunday, June 2, 2013

19 Work Days Left

Tick tock tick tock tick tock...

I have to get up, have breakfast, shower, get dressed, do my hair, pack my backpack, drive, park, walk to work 19 more times and then I'm RETIRED!


Grant me the fortitude and grace to get through this with a smile of deep contentment.

Incredulous Stella

Cloud Atlas

Watched this movie Friday night.  It is almost three hours in length.  The first 45 minutes were bewildering.  Then, slowly, a pattern emerges and the viewer begins to make sense of what is happening.
It is historical, it is sci fi, it is adventure, drama, romance, comedy all wrapped into one.  But mostly this is a philosophical tale of karma.  You know?  Don't do good, know better, do better next time.

Tom Hanks is at his best, Jim Broadbent is just great and Hugh Grant, surprising.  Other major players are Halle Berry and Ben Whishaw.  Each primary character plays several roles in the story, in fact,  here is a map of each character played by the cast.  You can see why it takes a good half hour to figure out what is going on.
At the end of the viewing both V. and I were cautiously appreciative.  I'm still wondering how much I liked it.  I certainly appreciated the getaway scene featuring four old timers breaking out of a senior citizens' home. The jocularity of this scene,  so typically British is short lived and most of the movie rotates around the premise that people are evolving towards "goodness" over time.

Interesting, if not for the confusing plot, then certainly for the fantastic makeup jobs on the lead actors.  The first time I spotted Hugh Grant, I couldn't quite place him.  I completely didn't catch Halle Berry in two of her roles but hey, Tom Hanks IS Tom Hanks, he plays a wonderfully gruesome doctor at the beginning of the movie.

I give this movie 3.5 stars out of 5.



Saturday, June 1, 2013


I'm content.  How do I know?  I feel like puttering in the house.  Puttering is a sign that I am not stressed, feeling the pull of creativity, enjoying chores instead of dreading them.

Today, I picked Lilac and Lilly of the Valley in our yard and set them on the counter to remind me of life's countless blessings.  V.'s back, the eaves and gutters have been replaced.  The deck and fence are being replaced.  Soon, we will have a big dumpster on our driveway and we'll be clearing out the old stuff making way for the new. Things are getting done.  It just feels so good. 

That is how I'm doing.  Great.  Content. At peace.