Monday, April 24, 2017

Triplet 2017

Every year when we spend about three months in Cotignac, we do a triplet - or short trip.  This year's focus was to be on Brittany but, at the last minute, we are changed our itinerary to include Vimy.  The 100th anniversary this year made it especially meaningful and therefore necessary for us to visit.
Image via

We are doing this itinerary in 8 days with my sister D. and her husband.  It's a lot of driving but still manageable for Canadians!

Sunday, April 23, 2017

These two...

Tristan (right) is home from Chicago for his bi-yearly holidays and Damien is studying in Saskatoon. Because of this, they don't get to see much of each other. Solution: V. drives T. to see D. in Saskatoon for a 24-hour stay. Ten hours on the road meant nothing to their father, a small price to pay to make sure they could connect before the next long wait before a visit.

This picture (excuse the poor quality) makes my heart sing.  They share a strong bond that was our intention from the first.  V. is an only child and I have 5 siblings and am only really close to one of them.  It was V.'s and my wish that our children really felt and feel they have each other. We always told them that when we are gone, they will be each others' family.

We are, all of us, blessed.

Tuesday, April 4, 2017

Spring Run Off

April in Edmonton by David Cure-Hryciuk
What was hard as iron now seeping through the grass, rushing down the curb to the drain, waking plants from their long sleep.  The edges of my soul are lifting, my eye looks outward, my body springs forth jubilant,  energized by warmer temperatures.

Spring has arrived.

All but a few tiny patches of dirty white stuff persist in the shade, buds are trying to bud while the ground is begging for a good spring clean waiting patiently for the lid to come off.

The sun is aggressive at the top of the afternoon on the deck, close your eyes and it could be May for a few minutes if you ignore the rotting damp smells around you.  Hot and cold, dry and damp, light and shadow are engaged in a dance of alternating leads.

Spring is here.

Work draws to an end.  My students are blades of grass weighed down with winter debris, dreaming of semester's end to lean heavily into the life-affirming rays of the sun.

Spring draws me into the garden, into my body, into a heightened social season, onto an island for a 20th-anniversary retreat with my 7 reading circle sisters.

Welcome Spring.  Je t'aime.

Tuesday, January 10, 2017

Semi-retirement Rhythm

Being semi-retired is the most fun of all. Lots of holidays for six months and stimulating work, part-time for the next six months.  The perfect balance for me at this time.

My years are divided into four 'seasons' of retirement now.  And these together, form a rhythm that keeps my motivation and interest up throughout the year.  I love the variety and the different levels of intensity they afford me.

Part I - In my head

Yesterday was my first day back teaching. I teach one course at the university from the beginning of January to end April.  It's a planning and teaching strategies course for second year Education students.  I love it, I love teaching.

In this first 'season' of my semi-retirement year, my mind becomes sharper and more focused as I am constantly thinking about how to better explain, exemplify and illustrate to make the abstract more concrete.

It is also a time of reflexion, prioritizing and goal setting.  The cold and dark are conducive to this sort of activity and the time spent engaged in reflexion pays off throughout the rest of the year.

So the cold winter months are spent thinking and reflecting and trying to keep up a healthy social calendar to beat the blues that inevitably envelop me as winter progresses.

Part II - Body and soul:

By the end of April, the sun has warmed my bones and  I'm in the garden preparing for the growing season and inside embarking on another renovation project. This part of the year, I move from inside my head to in my body as it is a physically demanding 'season'. I build up my stamina going up and down the stairs, inside and outside, up and down ladders, pulling, pushing, stretching and bending.  A lot of the work is repetitive and therefore meditative. I am never more in a natural meditative state than when painting for example...

This is the 'season' where I am most in tune with my body and my soul. I spend every moment I can out of doors either working in the garden on having a beer on the deck with V.

Part III - Playtime
Picking figs on the other side of the
stream from our terrace

What is there to say? This is the most restful and relaxing part of the year.  From mid-August to the end of October, it is playtime. We visit with friends and travel to new places experiencing and learning new things.  This year, we will be exploring Brittany and a couple of cities in our vicinity.

This  'season' is spent hanging out with friends in the sunshine, taking a car drive to check out a neighboring town, restaurant lunches, reading and swimming at the pool, cocktail hour, brocanting (antiquing) and embarking on new adventures. This season is packed with FUN.

Part IV - Transition

My fellas
Wee Elves

This season is the most challenging to embark upon as we hit the ground running into it.  We have no sooner landed than we are in the field supervising student teachers.  This work takes us to the end of the first week of December.  During this period, we are acclimatizing, driving, observing, giving feedback, problem-solving, catching up with friends and family and getting the house in order for winter and the holiday season!

It is the month of transition from holidays to work, European to Canadian culture and from a typically Mediterranean climate to Canadian climate (often 20+ degrees lower at this time of year). We move from a leisurely lifestyle to one almost frenetic as we rush to prepare Christmas for our sons' visits.  This is the 'season' where I do the most knitting.  Whenever I have a spare moment, it is what I do.  I think that knitting is the buffer I need between all of that running around.  In November and December, I knit 6 toques 5 Wee Elves a neck warmer. Check out my Ravelry page.

It has taken me a lot of time to find my retirement rhythm but by November 2016, I'd found it. We anticipate having these four 'seasons' for a few years to come yet until it is time to readjust in keeping with our health, our interests, and our family's needs.  I anticipate grandbabies in my future sometime and I know I will probably want to be away for less extended periods.

For now, it is very good and I am grateful.