Ten Days and Counting

…..retirement is close at hand

I don’t normally count down the days to the end of the school year but this year is different. I’m finally retiring from teaching after 35 years of service.

I know some teachers who when they know they are retiring start the  count down from the first day of school in September. This is not my style but as my last day approaches I’m starting to feel that my life is about to change. I’ve written three speeches for three different retirement parties that all took place in the space of one week. The first one was for my principal and good friend, M, the second one for my longtime friend, L and the third was for me.

All three parties were very different. The first one was a sit-down dinner in an Italian restaurant, the second in the nursing home where L’s dad lived and mine was also in an Italian restaurant but less formal with finger foods being served.  All were special in their own way and I loved them all.

M’s party was held at her favourite restaurant. The meal was excellent and the speeches were warm and personal. M’s family was there and both her youngest sister and her niece spoke. They were funny and touching at the same time. L and I gave our speech in the form of a report card, which the staff thoroughly enjoyed because it was a bit of a roast but in the end the message was more serious. When M spoke she talked about how and why she came to be a principal.

L really wanted her father to be able to attend her retirement party and for that reason she booked the ‘party’ room at the nursing home. There was a piano player who played the entire evening in very comfortable surroundings. There were couches and overstuffed chairs situated around the room where people could sit and talk and listen to the speeches. Friends manned the wine table and servers walked about the room with canapés. The highlight of the evening took place when L and her father sang together and at the end of the evening L sang a solo. Three former principals came to the party plus family, friends and colleagues from school. It was a very musical evening and the accolades about her teaching career, especially those about her choirs, were very fitting for a much loved music teacher.

My party was the last one, held on Wednesday of this week. It took place in a restaurant literally up the street from where I live. My husband and I had eaten there on a couple of occasions and thoroughly enjoyed the food. My family, including little Winnie, friends from years past who were now at other schools, retired friends, neighbourhood friends, life long friends and colleagues from school attended. I was especially honoured when my very first principal from 1976-79 arrived with his wife. I wanted the party to be casual and fun. The finger food was amazing, the aperol spritzes refreshing and the cake and desserts delicious. My friend P, was the MC for the evening and he kept everyone laughing. Three of my friends used the Wizard of Oz as their theme for the speech they gave about my time with them at the school where we all met and worked at for eight to ten years. There were so many wonderful speeches that it would take too long to talk about each and everyone of them. I had the best time and will never forget the thought and care people put into planning my special day.

 

Volleyball, Toilets and Trad Music

…..exciting two days

It’s been awhile since I’ve written about my personal adventures and daily routines. I don’t know where the time has gone but being sick and dealing with family members who are also under the weather has definitely put my writing for this blog on the back burner. I’m also trying to get my house ready for our new addition. No, we’re not expecting another grandchild or taking in a foster child. My 90 year old father has decided he wants to live with us. Of course, we couldn’t say no.

Since the March Break I’ve been sick with an ear infection and then with a sinus cold. My hearing has suffered greatly and I feel like I’m under water. I can’t tell you how many times I have misheard what people are saying. Sometimes it can be quite comical but it’s also frustrating. I think I’m getting better but in the evenings my throat gets quite sore. Other than that I feel okay and I haven’t taken any time off from work.

Earlier this week, my friend and colleague, P, asked me if I wanted to be part of a volleyball team and play in a tournament against teachers from other schools. I agreed to do it as long as I felt well. By Friday, three people dropped out and that left us with only six players. Regardless of how I was feeling, I just couldn’t drop out, so I went to the tournament.

When I got there I felt somewhat intimidated by the players from the other teams. I think there was only one other player out of 45 players or more who was older than me. On our team, we had two 26 year olds, two 31 year olds, one 50 year old and me, the almost senior citizen.

Once we started playing, I quickly lost any inhibitions and just had fun. My serves were terrible but by the last game I finally worked out what I was doing wrong and my serves improved immensely. There were six teams in total and to my amazement we made it into the finals. In the seventh and final game we played against one of the teams we had lost against. At that point I was happy to place second. It was in that game that I took some chances and I actually dove for a ball and landed on my knees (no knee pads, of course). OUCH!

I got up quickly and assured everyone that I was okay. I kept playing (there were no substitutes) and in a very close game we ended up winning it all. I think we were all a little surprised but ecstatic. Not bad for a group of people that had never played volleyball together. Afterwards we went out with the team we beat in the finals (they were great sports) and had a drink.

Later that evening when I got home I had a bit of a headache and a sore throat. The latter was from the cold and the former might have been from the fall. I think I jostled my brain when my knees hit the floor. Today, however, the headache was gone and I haven’t suffered any aches or pains from the activities of the previous night. Maybe I should look for a senior’s volleyball team to join when I retire.20170331_201317_resized-2

On Saturday, my husband and I spent the day looking for toilets and kitchen cabinets. When we agreed to have Dad come and live with us we knew that the basement would need some major renovations. We bought a toilet, a grab bar and at Ikea we started to plan out the kitchen. They have an amazing computer program for planning out your kitchen. I think we spent a good hour or more just playing around with different configurations for our tiny little space. When you’re done it gives you a parts list and the total cost of your kitchen.

In 8 days our contractor is coming to the house to start the job so we still have a little bit of time before we make our final decision. The tiles for the bathroom are purchased and the living area is mostly cleared so those two areas can be started on right away.

In the evening Kevin and I went out for dinner at a restaurant not far from our house. In the last year we have become quite close with Will, the owner of Sugar for my Honey. He is always trying new things to bring customers into his restaurant. Last night he hosted a great musical event with live Trad music. The group, Nua, is a Canadian trio, featuring a guitarist, a bodhran player and a fiddle player. If music is food for the soul, this group filled the bill. The event sold out and the crowd loved the food and the music. Here is a video of one of their selections from their new CD, Flow.IMG_1524

Flow (click to open)

 

 

A Week of Art, Knitting and Play

….starting with a visit and an open house on New Year’s Day

What a great way to bring in the New Year. Visiting a long time friend and catching up over wine and cheese and then going to a New Year’s open house at another friend’s house directly across the street from where we live. More wine and nibbles and great conversation, catching up with the news in the neighbourhood. Thank goodness I was able to walk to both venues and didn’t have to worry about driving.

On Sunday, I started participating in a new year-long on-line art class with Carla Sonheim. The interesting thing about this class is that Carla posts a new video every day for 365 days. I was hesitant to sign up for another class but I knew I would miss it if I didn’t. So far I’m not disappointed. The videos can be short mini lessons on techniques, supplies, quotes from celebrities and interviews from other artists. So far we’ve had a lesson on making your own cloud stencil, a quote from Alan Alda, an interview from Carla’s nephew who is a clown, a photography assignment, a blind contour assignment, a glue resist lesson and a lesson on quinacridone paints. I haven’t even checked out todays class.

It’s very interesting how some of the other 400 plus students interpret each video. Even when there isn’t an assignment many of them, including myself, play with the concepts from the videos and create a piece of art. My son sent me a small journal and I’ve been painting and drawing in it every day since the class started. It won’t be long before this one is filled and I’ll start on the other one another friend from school gave me.

I’ve also been knitting on my knitting looms. For my daughter’s birthday I knit her a large infinity scarf to match the hat we gave her for Christmas and I knit my granddaughter a hat and a small neck warmer. On Thursday I drove to Hamilton and brought my looms with me. While Winnie was sleeping I taught my daughter how to use the looms and left her one to make another hat. I even knit Winnie a little pot holder for her little kitchen.

When Winnie woke from her nap we played together while her mom and dad prepared lunch for us. She’s at the age where she likes to play peek-a-boo but she runs to hide behind a table or chair and then peeks out to see if I’m watching. When she wasn’t running she did sit with me for a minute and I read part of a book. After lunch we dressed up warmly and went for a walk over to James St. N. to look for fabric for a quilt that G wants to make and then to another store where she had a gift certificate from her birthday that she wanted to spend.img_0840

On Saturday I finally took down our Christmas tree and vacuumed up all the needles. I also put together the organizing unit that J gave me for Christmas and I’ve already filled it with my art supplies. I have one more shelving unit to assemble for my pens. Already my drawing table is much neater and ready for more art projects.

Today I’m hoping to get to the ROM to see the Chihuly exhibit. It’s the last day so I may not be able to get in but it’s worth a try. I still have a lot to do around the house and even though I had two weeks off it seems I never get to the mundane things like cleaning my bedroom. Having said that though, I did have a lot of fun and spent time with family and friends.

Cheers!

A Busy Week

….a lot of driving, twice to Oshawa and twice to Hamilton

Since Christmas Eve we have been constantly on the go. This year we celebrated Christmas Eve in Hamilton and on Christmas Day we celebrated some more here at home. No turkey this year, another first.

On the 27th I drove to Oshawa to bring my Dad his Christmas presents from my family. In the move a few weeks earlier he lost the remote control for his radio/CD player and he had to unplug the machine every time he wanted to turn it off or change the CD. Our daughters, A & J picked up a new remote control from a store downtown close to where they work. Dad was so happy to finally be able to play his music properly.

Two days later we drove out to Oshawa again but this time the whole family went to celebrate with Dad. There were 11 of us and because his new apartment is so small we all met in the library of the retirement home. After opening presents we headed out to the restaurant to enjoy a meal together. Today my sister sent me a few more photos that I can share with you.

Yesterday we were back in Hamilton to celebrate the birthdays of our twins. Our son, unfortunately, is not celebrating here in Canada but is with his new family in Iran. From his photos and messages it sounds like he’s having a great time. Our daughter opened her house for yet another celebration in less than a week. Our good friends A and W, who were unable to join us this year on Christmas Eve, made the trek to Hamilton as well. It was a lovely time with family and friends. Very low key and relaxed and of course the baby stole the spotlight again.

My Favourites

….decorations that is

Over the years I have collected hundreds of Christmas ornaments and decorations. Some were gifted to me, many were handmade by my friends, my students, my children and by me. Every year I usually purchase one special ornament that catches my eye.

As my children grew up, moved out and started their own Christmas traditions I gave them some of my ornaments that had special meanings for them. I still have more decorations than I can possibly put on the tree, especially now as I buy smaller trees. This year I carefully chose ornaments that brought back wonderful memories.

Here are a few of my favourites:

Share Your World 2016 – Week 47 (Grateful List)

….with American Thanksgiving coming up this week Cee has asked us to share what we’re grateful for

What are you grateful for in regard to:

Your home life?

….having a roof over my head and being mortgage free and having a wonderful place to go to in the summer


Your family?

…..that my children are all happily married and that my husband is on the mend
Your blogging community?

…..for my loyal followers who comment regularly
Your city or immediate area in which you live?

…..for being clean, vibrant and safe


The regional area in which you live?

…..that I live close to water that I can see every day and safely drink from


The country where you live?

….. for it’s diversity
You?

…..that I have a husband who loves me, three successful children and a beautiful granddaughter


Optional Bonus question: What are you grateful for from last week, and what are you looking forward to in the week coming up?

I’m grateful for an exceptionally beautiful week of warm and sunny weather; something that is very unusual for this time of year. I’m also grateful that I was able to get my snow tires on my car before the snow really begins to fall.

I’m looking forward to a three day camping trip with our grade five students. We’ll be travelling about 2 1/2 north of the city. Before you think I’m completely bonkers let me clarify that we aren’t sleeping in tents. We have cabins to sleep in.

I’m also looking forward to seeing my sister from Calgary on the weekend. She’s flying in with her husband to visit our Dad before this big move into the retirement home, spend some time with me, visit friends in Georgetown and visit her mother-in-law who lives in Ottawa. It will be a busy weekend for her.

A Persian Wedding in Assisi

….the highlight of our trip to Italy was our son’s wedding to his beautiful Iranian bride

Talk about a destination wedding. What do you do when half your family lives in Canada and the other half in Germany and Iran and your friends come from all over (Canada, England, the Netherlands, Italy, Germany, etc.)? You find a location that everyone is happy to travel to and won’t break the bank.

That perfect place was at Casa Rosa near Assisi. Az and B already had a connection to the place through a friend whose family owned the ‘farm’. It is actually located in the hills of Umbria about 10 kilometres away from downtown Assisi.

On the day of the wedding the family was very busy getting the spread called the “Sofreh-ye Aghd”ready for the ceremony. Traditionally the Sofreh-ye Aghd is set on the floor facing east, so when the bride and bridegroom are seated at the head of the Sofreh-ye Aghd they will be facing “The Light”.

On the cloth, the two most important elements are the mirror and the two candelabras on either side of the mirror. They represent the bride and groom and the brightness in their future. All the different foods on the cloth are symbolic. For example, the tray of seven multi-colored herbs and spices “Sini-ye Aatel-O-Baatel” guard the couple and their lives together against the evil eye, witchcraft and drive away evil spirits. The eggs and decorated almonds, walnuts and hazelnuts in the shell symbolize fertility. A bowl made out of crystallized sugar “Kaas-e Nabaat/Shaakh-e Nabaat” sweetens the life of the newly weds and a bowl of gold coins or money represents wealth and prosperity. its-all-symbols_27904572193_o
At the beginning of the ceremony the bride is hidden from the groom. In our case a group of women, friends and family, stood in front of Az while B (our son) sat on a bench in front of the Sofreh-ye Aghd facing the mirror. He lit the candelabras and was asked if he consents to marry the bride. In a loud voice he answered with a rousing yes. When the bride enters she sits on the groom’s left side and the wedding party holds a canopy over the couple’s heads.

This is where the fun begins. Az’s uncle was the officiant and when he asked her if she consented to marrying B her role is to make the guests and the groom uncomfortable by not answering the first time. Some of her friends then call out that she’s doing the laundry as an excuse. The same thing happens the second time she is asked. The officient asks a third time, and this time, the bride says ‘with the permission of my father and mother- balé!’ And everyone starts kelling (the loud lee-lee-lee-lee sounds all middle easterners make) and clapping in joy.

Az’s uncle did a great job explaining all the rituals and symbolism of this ceremony. One other interesting symbol is the needle and the seven coloured threads used to hold up the canopy or shawl above the couple. Figuratively it represents sewing up the mother-in-law’s lips to keep her from speaking unpleasant words to the bride! As you can imagine I got quite a bit of ribbing about that one.

After the bride and groom have consented to marrying each other, the groom picks up a jar of honey (asal) from the table. He dips his little finger into the jar of honey, and feeds it to his bride. She then does the same for him. This is to symbolize that they will feed each other sweetness and sustenance throughout their lives together.

In this ceremony Az took her shoe at the end and snuffed out all the candles. I can’t remember what that symbolized and I can’t find anything on line to explain it. Maybe some of my Persian readers could bring me up to date on this tradition.

As in western cultures the ceremony ended with the groom kissing his bride.

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After congratulations were bestowed upon the newly married couple the guests and the wedding party made their way to grounds where tables of food and drink were set and photographers were busy snapping hundreds of photos.

The food at this wedding was amazing. Our son kept telling us to leave some room for dinner. The first round of food immediately following the ceremony were just appetizers and cocktails. I can’t even begin to explain or describe how much food there was and everything was so delicious. When dinner was served there were five more courses and dessert was served later. I never made it to dessert. In fact I never made it to the party. After dinner I was done and went to bed. In hind sight it was a dumb thing to do because I couldn’t sleep anyway. Between not feeling well from too much rich food and the noise from the party afterwards, sleep was impossible. The party went till 4:00 in the morning. Somehow I managed to fall asleep around 3:00. All in all it was a great day, one that I will never forget.