Retirement

Feb. 28

I am learning – or I should say relearning – a lot of things. Like how to prepare supper with a baby sitting on one hip.(BTW, grating cheese is virtually impossible to do one-handed!)  Like how to keep a toddler occupied while making a bed, vacuuming the floor, trying to engage in a phone conversation. Even though I haven’t used these skills in 24 years, they are coming back to me. Survival-mode kicks in I guess.

I am reminded how youngsters love playing with pots and pans, boxes, and brooms far more than any store-bought toy. How peek-a-boo is the most fun a toddler can imagine. How they soak up experiences like a sponge.

And I am savouring the sweet joy of holding a baby as she nods off to sleep, her milky breath on my neck, her soft cheek against mine.

These are the good things.

The uncertainty of our futures and the worry about my stamina are not so good things. How can I keep up this demanding, taxing, amazing job?

How can I not?

Feb. 25

Things don’t always work out as planned. When I retired after 33 years of teaching, I envisioned my life being full with travel, writing, gardening, riding horses, some charity work. My own personal Eden.

Life isn’t like that though. The Fates have stepped in and said, “You aren’t finished with your life’s tasks yet.”

This started less than a year after I retired. My dad was diagnosed with bladder cancer, and although the initial prognosis was good, things went badly. He and my mom needed a great deal of support and I was very happy to have the time to provide them with it. Dad passed away in Sept. 2013.

Coincidentially (and really, I have come to believe there are no real coincidences!) my daughter became pregnant at about that time.

I found myslef rammed into the “Squeeze” – being support for both my mom and my daughter.

Long story short, my granddaughter was born in April, 2014 and she is healthy and a delight. Unfortunately, her home situation was far from ideal, and now my husband and I are the primary care-givers of a toddler.

This we do with love and gratitude, but going from empty-nesters to full-time parenting has its challenges. We are into diapers, teething, bottles and baby-proofing the house. We laughingly call our daily scheduling “tag team baby care.” We pass our granddaughter back and forth between us as we try to cope with chores, errands and community commitments.

It is indeed a learning experience.

Has anyone else found themselves in this situation? How do you cope?

Green

An open letter to our prime minister:

To PM Harper,

I heard one of your ministers reply to a question about global warming and the impact Canada is having on the environment. She gave a smug reply that your government is doing lots of great things and is on track in dealing with this issue.

I have to say: Not nearly good enough!

Are you aware of the devastation occurring among various species? The monarch butterfly has had a cataclysmic year with 90-95% of their numbers decimated. Honey bees are now a species of concern. Both of these insects are an important part of our food chain, as pollinators. Climate change and GMO crops are contributing to their demise.

Brown bats are now endangered. It is believed that climate change has allowed a deadly virus to wipe out whole colonies of these winged mammals. Bats eat thousands of insects every night. Without them, mosquitoes and other pest insects will flourish.

Polar bears are disappearing at an alarming rate. Again, global warming is the culprit. What will happen to our already failing fishery if bears do not prey on seals in the north Atlantic waters?

Right whales, which number fewer than 400 individuals, are no longer feeding in established areas in the Bay of Fundy. As waters warm, it is feared that the plankton food supply is disappearing. Scientists are worried. Where have the whales gone? Are these whales on the brink?

We are looking at mass extintion of several species. This is not a possibility somewhere down the road. This is occurring right now. We are there. Our world as we know it is in a rapid decline. The balance has been upset and human beings are facing the crisis along with all the other creatures on Earth.

I would think that a responsible government would be doing everything possible to halt this. Canada should be a world leader in sustainable energy development, in water conservation, in recycling, in protection of species at risk.

It is not good enough to pay lip service to the problem and pat yourselves on the back for medicore involvement. Canada needs our government to take an active part in this situation. The world needs our government to take an active part.

 

Book Launch

April 18th_launch (2)

The launch was great! Q Space is a wonderful venue, with a coffee shop and bookstore. The place was full – standing room only. Everyone was very supportive and friendly. A enjoyed having a chance to meet and listen to Susan and Allan, two talented poets. I had a good time and was very happy to share a selection of my book with the audience.

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Book Launch

Annapolis Royal Launch for Oatcakes and Courage

Annapolis Royal Launch for Oatcakes and Courage

What an awesome evening! Bagpipers played as folks arrived. The gallery was decorated with tartans. There were delicious snacks to nibble (including oatcakes) while I read a couple of selections from the book. Then The Mad Hatter bookstore sold copies of the book, which I happily autographed. A very supportive crowd. Thanks everyone for coming and making this a memorable night.

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Six months

I’ve been retired for about six months now.

I have had acquaintances ask me if I am glad to be retired -or if I have experienced any post-retirement depression.

I happily tell them “NO! No depression here!”

I am loving my new freedoms. The freedom to get up at 7:30 in the morning, instead of my working days’ 5:30 am wake up. The freedom to visit friends when I want to, rather than only on weekends. The freedom to grocery shop leisurely instead of rushing up and down the aisles franctically to scoop up necessities and then hurry home to make supper. The freedom to “be there” for people who need a little extra help. The freedom to take up new hobbies and pursue desired passtimes.

I have decided, though, to begin a part-time job. The time working will only amount to about 8 hours a week, and it won’t be terribly demanding. It should not interfere with my freedoms, but will give some structure to my weeks’ activities. And it will allow me to meet some new people.

I look at it as a positive step to enjoying my lesiure years.

 

Newtown

I find that my mind skitters away from thinking about the heinous act of violence that occured in Newtown. I will be driving by a school, or see a youngster walking hand-in-hand with a parent, and I am reminded of those precious lives that were lost, but then my attention turns to something else.

It is not because I am not affected, nor that I don’t care. It is self-preservation. When the horror and grief seeps into my consciousness, I am in danger of being completely overwhlemed.

I am deeply upset as a parent. To lose a child  in such a sudden, brutal manner is too terrible to dwell upon. I cannot imagine how the families of those youngsters can carry on. I send out thoughts of loving kindness to them, and wish that many thousands of others are doing the same thing.

As a teacher of children aged 6 and 7 years old, I am  horrified. We teachers do our utmost to provide a safe and nurturing environment for our students. We care about them, far more than how we can fill their minds. We see that they get breakfast, supply mittens to those who forgot them in the rush to catch the bus, hug away tears and bandage scraped knees. To have that environment of care and concern shattered shakes me to the core.

On top of that, to lose colleagues just as suddenly and violently leaves me reeling.

So, I don’t want to talk about it. I don’t want to listen to the media rehash every horrendous, heart-rending detail. I don’t want to hear people point fingers and lay blame.

Please allow me to grieve quietly and to do small acts of kindness for ohers to try to set the world spinning in a way I am able to abide.

 

 

 

 

I wish I could love November. It isn’t the chillier weather that makes me sad, or even the shorter hours of daylight. It is waking to the sound of guns going off around me.

Hunting season.

I am blessed to live in a beautiful area with open marshes, groves of mixed forest, and a winding river lapping nearby. Idealic most of the time. But this month, it seems more like a shooting range than a pastoral scene.

Usually the hunters stalk the marshes on the other side of the river. Yesterday, hunters came to the field adjacent to our own. Nearly one hundred Canada geese had lived there all summer and fall, feeding, raising their young, flocking together before the big flight south.

I stood in horror as a small flock circled the field and I heard the bark of shotguns.Six or eight birds fell to the ground. More gunfire exploded as the hunters finished the wounded birds off. My heart screamed “NO!”

I went through the rest of the day in depressed frustration. There was nothing I could do. The hunters had permission from the landowners to be there. They were breaking no laws. But the deaths of those lovely birds broke my heart.

Today, there are no geese on the marsh. Their soft honking and V-formation flights are no more. Those who survived have left, like refugees from a war zone.

I miss them.

 

 

 

 

Hurricane Sandy has  made me angry. We have known for many years that our lifestyle is harming the environment. Global warming used to be something that could happen. It has become something that has happened, and will continue to happen. Despite warnings from skilled environmentalists, we have allowed the Earth to be raped of her natural resources and made filthy with our waste. The greed of those who are in power and our complacency with their decisions make me furious. At all of us. Mother Earth is getting pretty pissed off too. And who can blame her?

I want to see a world that is cared for responsibly. I want fair trade and fair shares. I want us to heal our home planet. I want global leaders to stop worrying about elections and paybacks and start caring about our lives.

 

 

I love the fall. The leaves are gorgeous, the weather is nice for walking or working outside. This is my first September in 50  years that I haven’t been in school and I’m loving it.

I was able to drive my mom to a doctor’s appointment yesterday. I like having the opportunity to do that as well.

As we drove along, we got talking about some of my childhood memories and family members who had passed on. It was interesting to learn things about past generations and to have little questions I had about half-forgotten moments explained.

I came away from our conversation feeling blessed to have descended from strong, kind and resourceful women and caring, hard-working men. Genetically and environmentally, I was provided with all the guts and determination I needed to do whatever I chose to do. But I also received the ability to feel compassion and generosity.

The rest is up to me!