Friday, November 6, 2015

Five Things for a Fall Friday

Home for two weeks now, I'm weaving together the threads that will form the fabric of my retirement, for the next while, at least. Until the end of the year, these are the activities that will probably dominate:

1. Yoga
After the combination of sitting for hours during flights and train rides, walking for many kilometres each day (with a cross-body bag strap pressing on one set of shoulder muscles or the other), and coming back to small hotel rooms with no room for serious stretching, I've been very happy to pick up my yoga practice, guided by a wonderfully nurturing studio we're lucky to have close by. So far, I've been managing two 75-minute Rise-n-Shine classes each week, and yesterday evening I took a 2 1/2-hour workshop in Yin and Fascial Release -- marvellous! Slept like a baby afterward. We learned a number of techniques, especially working with small, dense balls, for releasing knots in shoulders, feet, glutes, and more. So good!

2. Running
Paul and I ran regularly for the first three or four weeks in France, but we'd decided only to bring warm-weather running gear (suitcase size restrictions), and we didn't want to run in Rome. So when we got home, I hadn't run for a month, although there'd been ample exercise in the form of cycling or walking. And walking. And more walking.
But I'm back into it now: I did three 8-kilometre runs the first week home, and a really great 9K seawall run with my sister Monday morning. I'm being a bit careful right now, though, with my right knee, and I stopped yesterday's run at 4K. Crossing my fingers that some ice and a little rest will let me continue building my mileage back to the distances I enjoy.

3. Painting
This week's Watercolour class was more challenging than last week's -- we worked on colour values, building an image (copied from a photograph) up in one colour (blue), building from palest to darkest values of that colour.  Even the more experienced, more talented students found the mental work required for this demanding, and I think we were all tired by the end of the day. But as critical as I am of my work -- and oh, I'm very critical -- I admit I'm pleasantly surprised by the results. Not as much by this week's as by last week's, but still, for someone who has always dismissed any possibility of drawing or painting with the staunch declaration that "I'm not artistic," it's pretty wild. . .

Oh, you want to see? Hmmm, this one I'm more hesitant about sharing, especially since I tried one last technique we were offered, pouring a yellow (Quinacridone gold) glaze over the blue painting, and it's changed the overall effect to what feels more twilight to me than the sun-and-shade of the original. And even though our brilliant teacher worked patches of the painting, as she helped me see what it needed, I know more could have been done, if I hadn't been feeling a bit overwhelmed, a lot tired. I also know that I learned so much, and I'm already looking forward to next week's class. . .



4. Italian
I was so annoyed, in Puglia the summer before last, that I hadn't found any time to learn a bit of Italian before our trip, and I insisted I wouldn't visit Italy again until I had at least some basic phrases of greeting and please and thank you. Then my daughter's family moved to Rome, and once again, there I was visiting Italy without having acquired enough Italian to do more than manage a cartoon "Ciao" or a tentative "Grazie."

However, now that we clearly have a reason to head to Italy regularly,  I've taken action. Sadly, our local language school closed recently, so I went online, investigated the options, consulted my daughter, and I've subscribed to Babbel for six months. Early days yet, but I'm having fun with the interactive, mobile-platform lessons. Have any of you tried this, or other online programs for Italian or for other languages? Any recommendations?

5. Babysitting
Okay, as I finish up my Five Things for this Fall Friday, I realize how busy my retired life is, how many activities are left off today's list. Every day, for example, includes at least an hour of reading; I'm finishing a few knitting projects while itching to begin a new one; writing blogposts, of course, gobbles huge swathes of my dayplanner; and then there's the list-making towards editing and organizing my house -- my life, really -- all the maintenance that's gone undone over the past few years when work took most of my energy. Importantly, I'm trying to build a social life again (I'm hosting a Friday Afternoon Wine-Down today, for example).
But all of that is for another Friday, another Five Things.

Today, Retirement Activity #5 is Spending Time with the Grandkids. In fact, I've committed to a few mornings, over the next month or two, of babysitting as my daughter eases back into part-time work. This is a temporary solution, bridging the gap until she knows her regular hours and has a sitter she trusts to cover those times. Pater's putting in a shift or two as well, both of us keen to help with the transition (it takes a village, right?), while clearly delineating our boundaries -- after all, we have to reserve time and energy for the other three little ones, maintain our individual activities, and continue to have fun and develop interests together as a couple.

Now,since this post is long on words, short on visuals, and since everyone loves a baby pic (No?), let me close with a collage of photos I took during last weekend's marathon baby-sitting session:

I know I'm a very biased Nana, but cute, right?

Happy Friday! What are you up to this weekend?  I don't even need to tell you I love your comments, do I? 

22 comments:

  1. He's a cutie. I can't tell you how much I am nodding my head and saying, "Yes, yes, the top two priorities are the right ones!" It is not possible to enjoy retirement without fitness, and it's so great you already have a fitness habit in place.

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    1. It makes it easier to have the habit, absolutely!

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  2. How I envy you! Yoga, painting, language learning (plus some music and some political and/or volunteer work) are my plans/dreams for when I retire. Still almost two years to go!
    As for Babble, I use it to keep up the little bit of Turkish I learned as well as to brush up my French. But it seems to work for learning new languages as well, or so my sister and her husband tell me. Good luck!

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    1. I'm still missing some aspects of work, but I'll admit that the time to explore new interests and develop old ones is enviable. Hang in there -- you'll be here before you know it.
      Good to hear others find Babbel useful -- I'm having fun with it so far.

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  3. Mater, We are taking the painting class on Wednesdays and are enjoying it very much. My husband worked in IT for his entire career and is trying to 'unblock his chi'. Alison does a masterful job of instructing and drawing each student to the place where they can appreciate their own creativity. Cheers, Kris in Courtenay

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    1. That's a long day for you each Wednesday, with the drive down from Courtenay, Kris! But so nice that you can do that wi
      with your husband. Paul and I did the Journal Ilustration weekend together a few years ago. She really does a great job!

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  4. It sounds like retirement is a whole new career for you! :0) I just tried out the Babbel Italian intro - fun! It might be worth it for me to brush up my French.

    This week I finished up the 5k running clinic and next week I'm going to try out the local gym - I know I need to build up my strength. Enjoy the babysitting - I love his little facial expressions! Oh - question: when you do those long distances, do you run it all or do you do intervals, eg 10 minutes running, 1 minute walking?

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    1. I like that the Babbel units are easily manageable, time-wise. . .
      As for my distance running, I generally run for at least 30 minutes at a time, and then I might walk long enough to get a drink of water and let it settle a bit before picking up the pace again. . .

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  5. This all sounds most satisfactory. Bit of exercise, bit of creativity, bit of family. No stress. As they say in Pretty Woman: own it! work it!

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    1. Hmmm, a comparison to Pretty Woman. . . now that's pop culture, and I'm trying to work out the implications of owning and working "it" :-)

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  6. First, what a sweet baby boy! I use Duolingo for language practice (it's free) but still prefer the classroom and tutor, as eventually online bores me. And those ball/yoga classes, absolutely divine. (I always say yoga frees me from having to shell out big bucks for massage but with a pro in the family you might have a big advantage!)

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    1. My son-in-love uses Duolingo, but my daughter recommended Babbel as a bit better. Mind you, they're also having an Italian tutor come to their home one evening a week for an hour or so. Like you, I prefer having live lessons, but for now, this will at least get me started.
      Totally agree with you about yoga saving massage money -- although I do love a good massage. My daughter's are wonderful, but in this case it's the Cobbler's Mother who goes unshod. . . ;-)

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  7. He is so cute,lucky you!
    It seems that you have a lot to do,in all departments,well done!
    I work weekly with my physical therapist and try to walk and exercise regulary as much I can (well.....which is not so much) yoga would help,I'm sure
    You have a touch of Van Gogh-ish perspective in your painting,don't be so harsh to yourself
    Brava for you and online learning Italian!
    I have a very interesting weekend:
    I was in theatre yesterday, Peter Shaffer's Letizia and Lovage, do you know it?,with a glass of prosseco afterwards,dinner with friends today, Elections in Croatia tomorow,with coffee with another couple of friends afterwards
    Have a nice weekend
    Dottoressa

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    1. It's so important to hang on to as much mobility as possible in these years, isn't it?
      Van Gogh! You are way too kind ;-) It's not so much that I'm being harsh, imo, as being realistic AND as declaring that it's the process that's important to me right now. But the encouragement is very nice, thank you!
      I don't know that Shaffer play, but just looked it up. That sounds like a perfect evening, topped off like that with prosecco after. And dinner tonight /Saturday -- a busy weekend. I hope the kindness of the Croatian people will prevail in the elections tomorrow -- I know many of you have strong memories that help you understand the refugees' plight, but I know you're also facing economic challenges. It sounds as if it's going to be a close race. All the best!

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  8. Another lovely grandchild! It sounds as though your painting classes are productive and that as you have planned some busy days. I've been missing yoga for various reasons and it is time to get back to it. Happy weekend.

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    1. I really missed my yoga while we were away. Not sure how much I'll be able to keep it up at this rate, but I'm glad to be able to jump-start it again with a bit of intensity. Happy weekend to you as well!

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  9. You are a busy retired lady. The Yoga sounds wonderful. How I wish it were for me. I tried it several times, with several teachers and each time felt uncomfortable with what I was trying to do with my body and my chronic back, hip, knee issues. On my way to MRI imaging for my knees soon, as I did a major number on the when we were hiking in Algonquin Park. Back to flat walking for a while. Gad that sound soooo old. But I comfort myself that I had knee and back issues in my thirties... so nothing new.
    Your water colour looks fabulous. After I saw the last one you did I looked for art classes here in Ottawa. Not painting but other options. I love to get stuck into making things! Found a printmaking class that starts in January...so may sign up for that.
    So glad that you are enjoying your freedom, Frances!

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    1. Oooh, I hope the MRI reveals nothing too serious. Knees are something I prefer to take for granted, along with numerous other joints, but this is not to be in the next decades we have left. . .
      I'm sure there are many great options in Ottawa -- I remember the city as having such a wealth of cultural/artistic possibilities. Printmaking sounds very interesting -- we saw a few great exhibitions in Paris of woodcuts, etc.
      And yes, I am enjoying my freedom as I figure out its possibilities. Thanks!

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  10. I'm normally a lurker, but have been reading your blog for over a year now, and think it's time to comment. We've just moved to Washington DC (a new job for my husband), and am dealing with learning a new city, meeting new people and hopefully only temporary unemployment. I'm fascinated and a bit envious of the joy with which you are embracing retirement and the richness of your life. My new start is more than a bit overwhelming and it helps to read about yours. Thanks for sharing the joys as well as the challenges.

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    1. Thank you so much for taking time to leave this comment, Laurie. It coincided with my recent wondering about what I do here -- so good to hear that sometimes my writing makes a difference. I've moved to a completely new (very small, tiny) city in the past, and I know how challenging that can be. I hope that you begin to move through the challenges toward the joys soon. Perhaps you'll find time to let me know how that goes. Comments always very welcome here!

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  11. You've exhausted me. I say go back to work! :-) Sounds like a lot of fun and yes, he's definitly adorable.

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    1. I know! Sometimes I think work protects us from different kinds of Busy! ;-) But yes, I'm having fun, and I'm glad you agree about my grandson's Cute Quotient.

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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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