New Baby, an Anniversary, a Book Launch and a Pedicure with Dad

….what an exciting week

My middle sister became a grandmother for the first time. Her daughter had a little baby boy on August 15th. Mom, Dad and Baby Jale (pronounce Jah-lay) are all doing well. Hopefully in the next couple of weeks we’ll make the four hour drive to the farm to welcome the new little guy into our family.

On the 16th my husband and I celebrated our 42nd anniversary. We opted to celebrate with a special lunch. Being on a Wednesday we didn’t think that we’d need reservations but when we got to our first choice we couldn’t even find a place to park. We quickly decided to go to our second pick which was closer to home and luckily it wasn’t busy. We love this restaurant, Pulcinella, and the only reason it wasn’t our first choice was because we wanted something other than Italian food. In the end we decided that it was the perfect choice. We had wonderful service and the food was amazing.

The next day, quite by accident I discovered that a friend from long ago had written a book about the CNE and she was having a book launch in a bar just up the street from where I live. I was walking the dog at the time so I couldn’t go inside but I went home, dropped off the dog, grabbed my wallet and walked back up the street to support Lee. It was nice meeting some people that I had lost contact with and meeting some new people. One of the people that I met was a former editor of Canadian Living magazine. I knew of her and where she lived which surprised her. In the end we exchanged phone numbers and addresses and I should be getting a call in November to help with make-up for the Lakeshore Santa Claus parade. I guess this is how it starts. When people know you’re retired they quickly recruit you to do volunteer work.

Earlier that day Dad and I went to my favourite salon for nails and we both had pedicures done. It’s very interesting sitting next to your ninety year old father while having your feet worked on.  The owner of the salon worked on Dad and she was wonderful with him but we couldn’t convince him to paint his nails purple. Of course we were only teasing him. He laughed but firmly said no to colour.

A Day at the Spa, Two Days at the Cottage and Cleaning the House

….a busy week

Last Friday my good friend, Arlene and I went to the Elmwood Spa for our birthday lunches, water therapy and facials. My birthday isn’t until the end of August but we decided to have our birthday lunches at the same time. We enjoyed salads, a main course and dessert. The only thing we had to pay for was our wine and coffee.

When you have  a treatment for more than a $100 you can also do the water therapy at no extra charge. This includes the steam room, the whirlpool tub and the salt water pool. We did it all. After 30 laps of the pool I showered and then proceeded to to the rooms where the facials are done. What a relaxing afternoon. We left the spa feeling renewed and refreshed.

On Saturday my husband and I left for the cottage. This was Kevin’s first trip and my fourth. The weather wasn’t great but it was nice to get out of the city and just chill. Sunday was overcast but for the most part the rain held off and Kevin and the dog were able to go for a long walk through the woods. Frances loved the freedom to run and roll in every mud puddle she could find.

 

On Monday morning we left but not before Kevin made us a delicious breakfast that we affectionately call hopple popple. It’s a fry up of bacon, vegetables (usually onions, potatoes, mushrooms, etc.) and scrambled eggs.

For the rest of the week I’ve been doing a lot of cleaning and reorganizing some of my art supplies and paintings. Our son and his wife are vacationing in Toronto and will be staying with us for a several days. I spent most of my time cleaning the spare room and framing and hanging some of my art work around the house. It gave me a great deal of satisfaction to see some of my work hanging on the walls.

On Wednesday Kevin and I went out for dinner at Nodo on Dundas St. W.. The meal was so good that I didn’t get a photo of our meal until it was completely gone. IMG_2737

Our daughter-in-law and daughter were at the baseball game for Josie’s birthday and we agreed to stop by their house to check up on the dog, Olive. After our meal we made the short trip to their house and spent some time playing with the dog and catching the baseball game on their TV. The Blue Jays were behind 2-0 and in the top of the ninth they pulled it off and scored three runs.

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A Birthday Party and the Royal Botanical Gardens

….a busy week with the family

On Sunday, after returning from the cottage, Kevin, my father and I went to my daughter-in-law’s father’s 80th birthday party. I knew when we got to the party that my father would make a big deal about being the oldest person there. He quickly found the over 80 table and made himself comfortable and engaged in conversation with people he had never met before. That’s what my Dad has done his whole life and I remember as a kid being so embarrassed by how easily he would go up to perfect strangers and start talking.

The party was a huge success and the daughters actually pulled off surprising their father. The mostly Italian and some Argentinian guests thoroughly enjoyed the food and there was lots of laughter and lively discussions.

On Monday I drove to Hamilton to spend the day with my daughter, Gaelan and her daughter, Winnie. Brendan was working from home that day so he decided to join us for lunch at a great Chinese Dim Sum restaurant. Winnie has been introduced to a lot of different foods as soon as she started on solid foods and I was amazed at how much she enjoyed digging into the sushi.

After lunch it started to pour and we waited in the strip mall while Brendan ran home and brought the car back. I felt badly when he got back because the rain had almost completely died down. Thank goodness it had because Gaelan, Winnie and I decided to go the Royal Botanical Gardens. The part we went to had a lot of indoor displays but the rain was so light that we ventured outside and took Winnie to the children’s area where she could run around and play in the sandbox.

Just before we went back home we decided to go the Tea House for some refreshments. We had tea, coffee and scones. Winnie drank the milk they brought me for my tea.

A wonderful two days.

Cheers!

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.