Friday, October 30, 2015

Retirement Activities: From Watercolour to Babysitting with a Dash of Yoga and Running

Having emptied my suitcases, washed the laundry, sorted through mail, remembered a few passwords, discovered what kitchen staples needed to be replaced ... And, very importantly, got myself back on Pacific Daylight Time (just in time to be nudged back out of it this weekend), I began picking up a few of the threads I hope to knit together into some sort of Fall schedule. Without classes to prepare or attend, no assignments to design or to mark, I've had ample time to read and to rest and to catch up on my Netflix and network shows. 

I've also pulled out a knitting project that needs to be finished and begun another one. I've baked banana bread and I made a quick and easy version of cassoulet. After a month of walking at least 15 kilometres a day, I'm running again (3 8km runs this week), and I've made it to a beautiful 75-minute yoga class, restorative in so many ways, and I'm going to another this morning.

And lists! Oh, I'm making lists! With time to putter, the house all to myself this week, my brain sputters out instructions, spills ideas explosively, popcorn on the stovetop with no lid. Random thoughts about a possible post, reminders about renewing car insurance, book titles I need to order, ingredients for making kimchi, question about who to ask about where to get a good container for making kimchi, a reminder to pick up materials for my Watercolour Class.. .

See what I did there? I buried the lead, didn't I? Yes, now that I've snuggled myself home, restored a sense of belonging and regained a workable domestic rhythm, I'm carefully adding activities that keep me growing in retirement. You may know from earlier posts that after spending most of my life "knowing" I wasn't "artistic," I nonetheless talked myself into taking my friend's Illustrated Journal class, and I've been playing happily ever since.  Retired, I'm finally able to join her weekly all-day watercolour classes. I missed the first one in this six-week session (too busy gazing down at snowy Greenland). 

But yesterday, there I was, learning how to play with ink on wet paper, how to pour colour over resist, how to layer drawing over top of all that and paint out negative space behind it. And doing all this with 10 or so bright, creative women of a certain age who were warm and funny and supportive. All of us willing to open ourselves up to the experiment, guided as we were by Alison's very solid, yet delicately and subtly provided, technical support. 

Our renderings of the subject -- branches of shrubs in their fall beauty, mostly stripped of leaves to reveal lines just meant for tracing in ink--were wonderfully varied. And while there were stages during the process that brought my inner 8-year-old out to scream "I know! I'm not artistic!" I persevered, focused on process and learning and fun, and I ended up with this painting. Which I don't hate.
I'm off to yoga soon, as I said, and then I'm on a Rescue Mission for the weekend. My 7-month old grandson has been denying his family sleep, so we're going to let him keep us awake instead, while his mom, dad, and big sister get in some serious zzzzzzz's. The plan also includes some playtime with big sister while Little Guy is back with his parents during the day. Should be fun and exhausting and it would have been really tough to do while I was still working. So I'm reconciling myself to this whole retirement gig, gradually.

Do you have any particular plans this weekend? Or any brilliant advice about babies who don't sleep? Or any stories about baby-sleep Rescue Missions of your own? It takes a village, truly...

24 comments:

  1. Mater - I may be able to help re kimchi. Last year I went to Seoul to visit my son who lives there and there was plenty of kimchi about. It seems that traditionally it is made and stored in large, lidded ceramic vessels (and v nice they were too) so you should be able to find something similar. If you go to youtube and watch Hairy Bikers in Seoul (there are two episodes) you will see it being made and stored in huge plastic containers which you can find anywhere. I cannot access this as it is via BBC Worldwide and as a Brit cannot watch it. But you should be able to! This is by way of thankyou for your very much appreciated comments on my blog. I am loving being in the rabbit hole. Like in The Matrix.

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    1. Thanks, Annie! We have numerous sources for kimchi and its containers around here, but I'm looking forward to viewing that video, simply based on the title. My "note to self" is more a reminder to delegate the sourcing to a certain foodie daughter and her husband. They know who they are. Now if only they are reading....

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  2. Tomorow is All Saints day here,so we are traditionally visiting graves of my both grand and grandgrandparents ( two local graveyards in Zagreb) with flowers and candles. Today is a beautiful sunny day,hope the same for tomorrow.
    I'm afraid of even thinking to give you advices for child sleeping problem,but: (if everything is ok with urine tests and baby cramps) ,my son was born with 9 pounds,55cm ( no diabetes in pregnancy,born natura way,lucky me) ,so he was hungry with only breastfeeding earlier than doctors suggest other food.
    If your grandbaby is on formula,maybe it is too much in the evening,so he is thirsty
    Otherwise,lot of fresh air and activities,without long sleep during the day,slow down for everyone early evening,maybe he feels that it is too interesting around him to sleep
    I have to go and find what kimchi is
    Annie,coul I read your bloog too? I bet it is very interesting
    Dottoressa

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    1. Your son sounds like my grandson, same birthweight, also delivered naturally, at home,. . But food doesn't seem to have much to do with sleep for him. Lucky for him he's very sweet when he's awake!
      You'll like Annie's blog. Nohatsnogloves.wordepress.com should get you there or Google a bit...

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  3. Btw,forget to say- I LOVE your watercolour!
    Dottoressa

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  4. I love your watercolour! I wish I knew of a class near me that was not populated with ARTISTS. By those caps... I mean people who know what they're doing. Coz I have no idea. Glad you're settling into retirement at home. Let us know how you feel when end of term time comes and you're NOT marking furiously to meet crazy deadlines etc etc.

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    1. I'm the least experienced by far in this class, most of the other women having dabbled for years before taking at least one of Alison's classes previously, most of them much more than that. But they're all helpful and encouraging AND I keep telling myself that Comparison is the Thief of Joy, a slogan o read the other day and related to instantly. Honestly, if you have a hankering, just go for it!

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  5. Forgot to add. Thanks for the link about Go Set a Watchman. What a great article...coincided with everything I felt when I read the book.

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    1. Glad you found it worthwhile. I did as well and haven't even read the latest release

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  6. I hope you are going to put that painting on your wall - it's lovely
    Wendy in York

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    1. Thanks Wendy! I just
      Might find a corner for it๐Ÿ˜‰

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  7. I just love your watercolour!! I hope you ll frame it and feel proud! Your class sounds ideal ..good to have a relaxed atmosphere to develop your creativity. I haven't taken a yoga class in years but I do enjoy regular pilates ... hoping it ll keep me supple in the years to come :) as well as relieving back pain!
    Rosie

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    1. Thanks Rosie. I did a Pilates class (Reformer, mainly) twice weekly for about 10 years, and loved it. But a change seemed a good idea and the yoga studio doesn't require driving. Both seem to help keep us strong and flexible -- and, yes, stave off back pain.

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  8. Lovely watercolor. Your comment, about not hating it, echoes so much of my feelings at the moment in my embroidery seminars, and also ties directly into conversations I've had with teachers and more experienced embroiderers about how we all are most critical of our own work, especially when learning something new. But this is true so much along the creation process, and even experienced artists often take time on projects and come back to them, over long expanses. We need to be kinder on ourselves. There is a carefree charm in your watercolor, which of course does not show any indication of the process and struggle with your own inclinations that went into it. I can't help with babies or kimchi, although I'd like to learn to make kimchi myself.

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    1. Thanks Mardel. So very true what you say. It's hard, as well, for me to accept praise without immediately trying to deflect. I'm trying to work on that.

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  9. That painting is FANTASTIC! You are definitely coming into your own with the art.

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  10. PS: I got nothin' on kids who don't sleep (having raised one - and she still doesn't sleep). I need 9 hours a night. The only thing I can recommend is coffee (and since you're a fancy retired lady you can bounce back after he leaves). I really do feel sorry for his parents though :-)

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    1. Thanks re the painting! I think my sensibilities or whatever have potential. Now to develop some skills, build some craft

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  11. So interesting to see what we do when we can choose. I find that my days have settled into a pattern of yoga, choir, walking and family. Less gardening than I would have expected. I think the time away with my father both reduces the tine I have for the garden and keeps uprooting me somehow. I decided to give myself a year off after I stopped work with no demands or expectations and lots of just being and indulging my fancies. Life for the last couple of years has had huge and grave family responsibilities which I didn't envisage but I think that year really helped me to stop trying to make my time count and to see that it just does, no effort required, just go with it. Your yoga and painting sound very much in that sort of flow!

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    1. I have to admit that I'm lucky, in an odd way and if that's not too awkward a word, that we lost all our parents before I retired. It was tough helping them and then grieving them while trying to work full-time, but I'm relatively free now and, of course, spending time with the little ones, although often exhausting, is also rejuvenating in ways that hospice time just isn't.
      I love what you say "stop trying to make my time count and to see that it just does." Yes! This is what I'm working toward.

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  12. Driving them around in the car always worked for us. Exhausted too, we would occasionally pull into a parking garage and sleep as well, everyone in a seats. Once the police came and asked us what we were doing and D. said, "What does it look like, none of us have slept for 30 hours."

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    1. Oh, and with twins. I saw this with my sister-in-law, then my sister. So exhausting. We never slept in the car along with the babes, but we did count on our old Volkswagen to get our oldest to sleep sometimes. Not so workable with these guys as big sister gets carsick quickly and little guy just howled the whole drive to my sister's on Sunday.
      But they've started a sleep program, and I think they're moving out of this phase -- M. thanks us for giving them that bit of a break so they could see over the top of the exhaustion to the possibility of making a plan. Of course, our part was easy! ;-)

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  13. Well, for someone "not artistic" you have an actual visual style, like a writer's voice. Chapeau! Anything I draw looks like a demented teabag, so I am full of admiration.
    Good luck with the sleep programme. With our second we ended up with a sleep programme, which worked pretty quickly so perhaps your daughter can be heartened by that. Plans for this weekend? Being at home after 3 weekends up north where my father is in hospital. We are exhausted and I have an all week event at work, the culmination of 18 months of preparation by me and a small team and which will determine my university's standing in a very public way.

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    1. I wonder if you'd find the same with the right class or teacher -- I'd have said I was in the demented teabag category as well, before I started taking lessons from Alison.
      My daughter's trying out a sleep program someone recommended, and it seems to be going extraordinarily well, but we'll wait and see before I report more here. I hope you managed to get through your challenging week in one piece -- that kind of intensity combined with significant family needs is what pushed me to retirement. . . Take care!

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I'd love to hear your response to my post. Agree, disagree, even go off on a tangent, I love to know you're out there, readers. Let's chat, shall we? I apologize, though, for the temporary necessity of the Word Verification -- spam comments have been tiresomely numerous lately, and I'm hoping to break that pattern.

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