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.

 

Share Your World – May 15, 2017

…..thanks Cee for four interesting questions for this week’s Share Your World

How many languages do you you speak?

I speak English, some German and very little French and even less Italian. I wish I was more fluent in other languages but that takes practice and commitment. When I travel I like to learn a few key phrases in the language of the country I’m visiting. Today so many people speak English that it’s made us somewhat lazy about learning a new language.

What are you reading, watching, listening to, eating?

I like reading good literature. I’m a fan of historical fiction, mystery novels and humour. The last book I read was Stranger: A Novel by David Bergen. A great read.

Since our internet was down we watched a lot of Netflix. Riverdale  and  Medici: Masters of FlorenceThe first is based on the Archie comics but this murder mystery is nothing like the original comics even though the characters are the same. It was a little sappy but fun to watch. The second show was a riveting historical portrayal of the powerful Medici family. Having travelled to Florence this summer I found the scenery and the story line very compelling and we binge watched it over three days.

Tonight I had a bowl of soup from IKEA. We had to return some kitchen parts that didn’t work in the renovation. Earlier in the day we were treated to a luncheon put on the parents in our school community. There was so much food that we will probably feast of another couple of days. I tried not to eat too much but I certainly didn’t need another big meal later in the day.

What was the last photo you took with your phone?

The last photo and a couple before that were of my husband. Each time we were out eating lunch or dinner. The last one was taken tonight at IKEA in the restaurant and in the first one we’re at the Feel Good, Buy Good show where he made a smoothie while peddling the bike.

What is your favorite time of day? 

This is a tough question. I think it depends on the time of year. In the summer I love early mornings and in the spring and autumn I love the light late in the afternoon. Sometimes I like late at night when everyone has gone to bed. I often get a lot done then and feel the most creative.

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 to have gotten our phone lines fixed and for being able to access the internet at home again. I’m also grateful for a wonderful weekend where I was able to spend time with my husband and my family.

This week I’m looking forward to our Forest of Reading Celebration. More than 50 students have qualified to attend the event. The food is being ordered, the author has been booked and the activities are coming together. That takes place on Thursday and on Friday the girls are playing in the soccer tournament scheduled to be hosted at our school. Every time one of these events takes place I  can’t help but think that this will be the last time I will be involved in organizing it. My retirement date is getting closer and closer.

Till next time, cheers!

Easter With the Family

This year we celebrated our Easter Sunday on Saturday. Our daughter and son-in-law in Hamilton invited us over for an Easter dinner of lamb ragu. We invited my niece who is working in Toronto and our oldest daughter and my daughter-in-law drove to our house, where we all jammed into one car and made the 40 minute drive to Hamilton. IMG_1668

The day started out very rainy but in the afternoon the sun came out and we experienced an early summer day. We spent a good deal of time outside without jackets and went for a nice walk to the park down the street. My niece had never been to G’s place and she enjoyed hearing stories of being pregnant and she saw first hand what it can be like raising a toddler. She’s due to have her first child in August.

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Our granddaughter is always a little shy around new people and even her grandparents who she hasn’t seen too much of this winter because of illness on both sides. It didn’t take long though before she warmed up to her cousin, once removed and they engaged in a game of peek-a-boo in the backyard.

For Easter this year I bought Winnie a garden set because she likes to help her father   clean and plant flowers in the the garden bed.  I knew she’d love the watering can because she loves anything to do with water. When I showed her how it worked she let out a shriek of joy and came running to her Oma. For the next hour or so she kept busy watering the garden and herself.

After spending some time in the garden and walking to the park we enjoyed a very nice dinner. Our son-in-law made the pasta from scratch and the ragu had cooked most of the day. We were in charge of dessert so my husband called up one of his favourite clients who works in an Italian bakery and asked her for advice on what dessert we should bring for an Easter dinner.

She quickly recommended a pastiera, a south Italian Easter tradition. It’s a wheat and ricotta pie flavoured with orange blossom water and adorned with a lattice top. Yum!IMG_1666

Today I’ll be spending time with a friend whose partner went into the hospital yesterday. He’ll be there for a few days as the doctors try to figure out what kind of treatment he will need.

I hope everyone had an enjoyable Sunday. Lucky me, I get one more day off tomorrow. Time to get the snow tires off the car.

 

Share Your World – Feb. 6, 2017

….thank you Cee for continuing to come up with new questions for Share Your World

Regarding your fridge, is it organized or a mess inside?

Since we got our new fridge just before Christmas it’s pretty organized. In the old one many of the shelves and bins were broken and removed so it was really difficult to see what was in the fridge. I’m loving my new fridge.img_0735

Do you prefer your food separated or mixed together?

I’m not too fussy either way but I do love casseroles and soups. I’ve never understood people who can’t have their food touching other food. I think it’s some kind of mental disorder.

Do you prefer reading coffee table books (picture), biographies, fiction, non-fiction, educational?

I like looking through coffee table books but my favourite genre of books would have to be fiction. I’m partial to historical fiction and mysteries. I’ve tried reading biographies but I find many of them to be too dry and factual. I guess if they weren’t factual they wouldn’t be biographies but sometimes too much and perhaps unnecessary information is included and that makes the story burdensome and long winded.

Close your eyes. Listen to your body. What part of your body is seeking attention? What is it telling you?

Right now the bottom of my left foot is sore. It’s only sore on the heel and once I start walking on it I forget about it. I don’t know if I need to change shoes, get orthotics or lose more weight. It’s probably a combination of all three.

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 that my report cards are done. My father seems to be doing well and is making plans to travel.

Since I’m late posting this week’s Share Your World, last week’s  gratitudes are from 10 days ago. I’m grateful for being invited to attend a Varsity Blues Women’s Basketball game with the grades four and five students. It was a lot of fun.

This week I was able to spend some more time with my granddaughter and I enjoyed going out at different times with two very special friends. Yesterday another good friend, D, hosted a musical bells party. It was wonderful seeing a number of people from the cottage and D’s extended family. Playing the bells was a lot of fun as well.

 

The Perfect Gift

…..besides being with family over tshe holidays

I know that in a previous post I declared that presents weren’t important to me and that family was everything. Despite that sincere sentiment I did have some very thoughtful and welcome gifts given to me this year.

Anything to do with art is always most appreciated. This Christmas my secret Santa gifted me a five drawer rolling organizer and a desktop marker organizer. Hopefully this will help me get my supplies neatly organized and free up my work table so that I can actually create some art. She also gave me a new set of Pigma pens and artist’s hand soap. My son in London sent me paper and a beautiful set of pencil crayons.

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Last year my husband gave me a very nice camera, a Panasonic Lumix, DMC-GF7 and for my birthday he gave me a macro lens to go with it. Unfortunately the camera has so many features that I frequently get lost trying to use it. My brother-in-law who  is very proficient with all types of cameras, confirmed that I had a very fine camera. When he was here in October he gave me a quick lesson on how to use some of the features. As soon as he left the camera malfunctioned. No one seemed to know what was wrong with the camera. When my brother-in-law returned in November he brought me one of his old zoom lenses that he no longer uses and that fit my camera. The problem with the camera, however, had not been resolved at that point so we couldn’t try it out.

Eventually we found someone who knew how to solve the problem. It turned out to be a quick fix.  Now I have a working camera with two amazing lenses and I still don’t know how to use them. Voila….the perfect present arrived. My husband enrolled me in two camera classes. The first class takes place in January and I will learn all about the ins and outs of my camera and the second class in February will teach me how to get the most out of my camera and how to use the camera in some creative ways. I can’t wait.

Since my husband and I are foodies the other gifts that are always most appreciated are items of food. This year I received homemade tomato sauce, chill sauce, relishes, jams and a variety of condiments and spices. Of course chocolates are always present in our stockings and under the tree. I love dark chocolate and anything filled with marzipan.p1020167

The last gift that was very special was a beautiful Pandora leather bracelet with a silver charm with our granddaughter’s initial. This was also from my husband.img_0793

As nice as all these things were I still find time with my loved ones the most precious gift of all. Today we travelled as a family to visit my father in Oshawa. Eleven of us went to his new apartment in the retirement home. His wife is very ill at the moment so he showed off his new place quickly and then gave us a tour of the facility. Everything is very new and beautifully decorated for the holidays. We ended up visiting in the library on the main floor. We were the only ones in there. It was the perfect spot where our granddaughter could run around, look at the fish tank and play with the soft decorations and remote controls. For the adults there were comfy chairs and a fire place where we could visit and talk. After opening a few gifts we headed over to the restaurant where we enjoyed a family meal together.

After describing all the fantastic gifts I received this Christmas I’d have to say that having  my granddaughter wiggle out of her mother’s arms to run over and hug me today was my most ‘perfect’ gift.

Did you have a perfect gift or a special moment to share this holiday season?

Nature Art at Camp Kawartha

….environmental messages from our grade 5s

Last week I spent 3 days in the Kawarthas with 59 grade 5 students.  The days were filled with great learning opportunities about the environment, survival practices from the past, games played by indigenous peoples and songs sung around the campfire. Most of the activities were outdoors and involved scavenger hunts, archery, night hikes, fire making and a game of survivor amongst herbivores, omnivores and carnivores. During free time the students could continue playing outside or pick up one of many games that were available to them in the lounge.

Every meal, students took turns setting the tables, serving the food and cleaning up, including washing the dishes using the large industrial dish washer. There was lots of food (breakfast, snack, lunch, snack, dinner, snack) and no one needed to go hungry. The kitchen was impressed with how much salad this group ate.

After supper two of us were responsible for organizing hour long activities for the students to participate in before the evening program began. I took on the role of planning an art lesson. During the day I had students pick up things from the ground to use in a nature collage. Days before the trip I cut up about 80 pieces of cardboard to use as our background material and I brought bags of magazines and pieces of assorted papers.

I instructed the students to come up with a piece of art that gave some kind of message about protecting our environment from global warming or saving wildlife from poaching and/or loss of habitat. They were free to use any of the materials that I brought and the things that they found in the forest. The students were completely engaged and came up with some very interesting  works of art. Here is a sampling of their creativity.

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WPC – It’s Not This Time of Year Without….

….what comes to mind when you think of this time of year?

Here are a few things that I associate with December:

Santa Claus Parades

Homes decked out with lights and decorations

Christmas suppers with friends

Christmas trees

Children’s Concerts

More Decorations

What would you include in ‘It’s not this time of year without‘?