Friday, June 3, 2016

Five Things Friday: Recent Happiness Brought to Me By. . .

You might have noticed that I prefaced the latest Culinary Croatia Calls post with a reference to my recent happiness. Here are a few of what's been putting a smile on my face lately.

1. This blog! As much as it can sometimes feel like one obligation too many, it might astonish you to know just how happy I can be at a certain comment at just the right time, or by the interplay between a few comments, or sometimes by a landslide of comments (for the sheer exuberance of their numbers). The other day it was "A. in London's" comment, the first response to my post on why we're moving now, a post I'd worried into shape and whose content I hoped not only made sense but conveyed the fluctuating emotional weight of our decision-making process. I wanted to be clear about the difficulty of getting to "Yes, It's Time," about the toll moving takes even at our relatively young retirement ages, but also about the relief of a tough resolution taken and the potential joy, even exuberance we sense 'round the corner.

So to have A's comment at the top of the column below my post? Sheer bliss, honestly. She shared her own background generously and succinctly summed up its relevance to demonstrate not only how clearly she "gets" what I'm trying to say, but also to reassure me that I'm on the right track, that others have made trade-offs that propel them into rich and creative futures, that this move will be a gain, not a loss.

And then other commenters joined in, slowly at first -- I think the post was big enough, and was talking about a touchy enough subject that readers were going away to think a bit, then coming back to comment -- and then building momentum. Not only momentum, but the comments started to build the rhythm of a conversation, as so often happens. It's a rich conversation, folding so much wisdom and experience and thoughtfulness and fear and joy and anxiety and wonder that I can only sit back amazed at the privilege of having facilitated it. The hours I spent writing the post over the last several weeks have been richly, richly compensated, and together I think we've created a great resource for anyone who is thinking about whether or not to move during retirement and, if yes, when is a good time to do that. Made me happy, all of it! Thank you!

2.  Apologies to those of you who have already seen this on Instagram,  but I just can't leave this off the list of Things That Made Me Happy this week. Preposterous as it might seem to be learning a new craft in the final stages of packing, particularly when that craft requires a device that will demand its own packing box. . . . But I'd unearthed this Brio loom when Paul brought boxes up from the crawlspace a few months ago, and while most of those boxes' contents (having sat untouched for over twenty years!) got sent off to recycling or to thrift shops, I'd determined to get the loom set up so that perhaps Nola could try it out. It was a gift for our second daughter (currently living in Rome) 30 Christmases ago. I suspect she would have loved a more commercial gift at the time, and although she made a halfhearted doll blanket or two, it never caught on.
 But it was in good condition, if dusty, and the warp was already strung, and I have a friend who's a master spinner and weaver living right here on the island.  She very generously offered to get the little loom back in operation, and we sat out on her front deck in early June sunshine to make a memory I will treasure of my last days on the island. Above, she's evening out tension on the warp threads -- my first wobbly rows having revealed some unevenness. But we were both impressed by the sturdiness of this lovely wooden child's loom that Nana is now tempted to use while waiting for the grands to grow into it. In fact, we decided it shouldn't be called a "toy loom;" rather, it merits full recognition as a small version of a useful tool. It's the real thing!

My Instagram posting has already prompted one social media friend to tell me that she has a similar model from her own childhood (and her childhood dates line up more closely with my own than with my daughter's). I don't know how long Swedish company Brio has been making this loom, but I wonder if some of you have also received or given or woven on one.

3.  Roses in my garden, especially on days when the warmth of the sunshine coaxes their fragrance to perfume the air around them, and the bees from a neighbour's hive a few hundred metres away buzz happily into them. . .
Fantin Latour, a wonderfully fragrant 'centifolia' rose


more Fantin Latour
Graham Thomas, a David Austin rose

4. Visits with friends.  As the packing is nearing completion, and as friends realise how soon the moving trucks are coming, my dayplanner has been filling up with coffee, lunch, and wine dates. Somehow, the last years of work coincided with increased family responsibilities leaving little time for maintaining friendships, and although I've been working on reviving those over the past year of retirement, my focus has been divided, with travels and with moving plans sucking up huge swathes of the calendar.  Perhaps someday I'll write more about this, but I will just say here that at times I've lost confidence in my social skills or, perhaps more honestly, if more painfully, in my social value. Anytime I've dared to articulate this, I've been quickly countered, and in a good frame of mind, I'd find lots of evidence against the suspicion myself. But it's definitely surfaced and even bullied from time to time.

These last few weeks, though, I've had wonderful encounters with good friends -- bright, attractive, interesting, thoughtful women who listen to me and share with me as if I, too, were a bright, attractive, interesting, and thoughtful woman. What an important gift to myself, taking time for this.  And I know how selfish I'm sounding here, but I do try to give something back in these encounters, and I can also see, again, that the selfishness becomes a gift to others in turn. I'm simply a happier, better person to be around -- for family, for friends, for my fellow citizens -- when I'm nourished by friendships and thus I must make time to nourish friendships. I'm putting this on a list somewhere, seriously. Top of! Magneted to the fridge, lipsticked on my bathroom mirror, whatever it takes.

And yes, this commitment will be challenged by our move. But all the friends I've visited these last weeks have promised to make the ferry trip to The Big City a few times a year, and I'll come back to the island. As well, I began a very cool new friendship in just the past three weeks (someone I've known for a few years, got to know better through a class together last fall and then through social media over the last months and finally two long lunches together recently) that has delighted me in so many ways, but in the context of the move has reassured me that wonderful new friendships CAN be made in one's 60s. Not that there were any doubts, but . . . Okay, there were a few doubts. 

Again, I'd be so grateful to have you weigh in here. . . Friendships and Moving and Just on the Importance of Friends and the Selfish/Selflessness of Making Time for Friendship . . . 

5. I've saved the best for last: A few months ago, I alluded to a situation regarding the health of one of my children, trying to preserve that adult child's privacy by writing in general terms about how rocked our world had been by learning that our child's mortality had been underlined. Not that we'd taken continued health for granted, but we'd never had to look underneath that particular rock. . . 

It's been a tough few months, and I haven't felt free to say more about it here. We've baby-sat through biopsies and CT scans and accompanied Offspring and Spouse to appointments with specialists as a slightly more objective third set of ears. We've tried to send reassuring texts and we've soaked up anxieties over the phone, all while packing boxes and trying not to air our own emotional ups and downs too much (well, that would be me -- Pater's not so much with the ups and downs ;-)

Etc., Etc.,  And now, drumroll, please. . . . and throw in a trumpet or two, because this week, my daughter posted on FB: "I am Cancer free! Thank you to everyone who was thinking of me! I love you all!!"

And since I really can't top those words, nor do I care to, I'll end here with a Happy Friday to you all! We have three more sleeps in this house, and then the movers will be here, and there will only be the cleaning to do. Not sure what the next post will be but one thing is very sure: Life keeps changing and it keeps us on our toes! Let the adventures continue!

41 comments:

  1. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

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    1. I think LPC expresses very well sentiments shared by many of your readers. So glad all is going well with you and your family Mary

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    2. Damn! Nicest comment ever, from someone I admire muchly, and then I've somehow deleted it and Blogger won't let me have it back. . . Thanks to you two for amplifying the kindness and for at least recording that the nice words were once here.

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  2. What resonated so deeply with me was your comment about new friendships in your 60s. After taking early retirement in our late 50s, my husband and I moved from a large metropolitan area to a smaller city that has a very strong arts, food and outdoor vibe. I had few friendships in the metro area, and none were close. But once we moved, I became active in our local college for seniors and also in some activities in our neighborhood. Through these I made contacts and friends that led me to other friends and activities. After ten years I am blessed with caring and interesting groups of friends, some of whom are very close. You are embarking on a marvelous adventure. I think it may be a bit more of a challenge to embrace your new environment with all its possibilities, simply because you have family you could rely on. I hope that doesn't sound too severe - I mean it simply as a small caution to ensure that you give yourself every opportunity to thrive and grow in your new life. I'm looking forward to hearing about your new adventures!

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    1. I'm so grateful to you for contributing this hopeful message, Nancy. Wonderful that you could rebuild a strong network of good friends. I'm also grateful for the gentle caution -- It's worth taking to heart, and it enforces my own commitment to be a bit selfish -- again, a case of selfishness that will pay off for my loved ones, as they'll know I'm not completely dependent on them for a social life . . .

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  3. You did save the best for last, but it is all very, very good. :)

    And I'm with Lisa. It means a lot to me too.

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    1. Thanks so much, Georgia. Those were sweet words she wrote, and to have you "ditto-ing" them is ever so nice!

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  4. Thank you for being such an articulate and caring voice and spirit. Your writing and life experiences resonate so strongly with me and sometimes gives a name to undercurrents that I hadn't even been able to define for myself. your blog, and the community you have encouraged, have become such a valuable resource and support for me. I share Lisa's and Georgia's posts above.

    Also, what wonderful news for your daughter and your whole family. we have a long family history of breast and ovarian cancer and my two daughters each had a 50% chance of inheriting the genetic defect. Worrying about them was much more difficult and traumatic for me than my own diagnosis (which was certainly hard). Fortunately they are both fine. Sending you all the best wishes for a smooth move

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    1. You're very welcome, Beth, and thanks for letting me know that my writing can make that little difference. It is a wonderful community here, and I feel so pleased to have played a part in pulling it together.

      I'm sure your own diagnosis must have been very traumatic, but I know that having your daughters declared fine would have brought a loud rejoicing. I have no idea where you are in your own diagnosis/treatment now, but I wish you all the best. Take care.

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    2. Thank you so much! It has been nearly five years now since he original diagnosis, surgery and treatment. While I did have a very small local recurrence requiring additional treatment a couple of years ago, I am doing great now and trying to continue to remind myself to focus on the things in life that truly matter. Wishing you and yours the very best during this transition.

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  5. Yes!! Woot!! Shove it, cancer! I won't even give you a capital letter...what excellent tidings. Re the rest: roses. The most perfect flower ever evolved. I love the look, the colours, the smell (rose water was my wedding perfume, rose oil my current love via Jo Malone), rose jam, turkish delight...there is no end. Friends - they never cease to lighten the heart and enrich life. I appreciate them more and more as I grow older. Blog: the bliss of the blog. I love writing mine and reading lots of others. My daily routine is not the same if I do not do my usual happy trawl. By my reckoning, it is late morning with you. Probably not time for a drink but try this later...gin, lemongrass and ginger cordial, tonic, ice and lime. Good Lord. I think I shall call it Tropic Thunder. Enjoy your weekend and take a break.

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    1. I love the fragrance of roses as well, although I haven't had a rose perfume since an unfortunate Avon allergy in my teens! But I've recently discovered Le Labo's Rose 31, and hinted sufficiently well before my birthday that -- oh, surprise! oh joy! -- I'm happily inhaling its subtle ros-i-ness..
      That drink sounds perfect -- jotting down a grocery list.
      No break this weekend, nor much enjoyment, but it's the final push before the truck gets here, and then a happy collapse is scheduled. . . You enjoy the weekend for me, okay? I'll catch up next one. .

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  6. This post made me very,very happy, for the last part especially.
    But not only this part :-)
    You've made so many friendships with people from all around the world, you and your warm and caring personality made the team who cares,worry,laughs and shares a tear or two,shares experience and joys and troubles together-for real,not in some "lost in translation" world.
    How can you question your social skills after that?
    I have a feeling that this may be the tipping point from where all days for you would be happy,with love and friendships,books and travels and a lot of little things that make life beautiful
    Dottoressa

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    1. Ooooh, I fervently hope your feeling manifests in reality! I do think that as we settle into our new home this fall, I will have a clear shot at all sorts of new adventures, discoveries, daily patterns. A bonus at this age, really!
      (and thank you so much for the kind words -- moods can be funny, funny things, can't they? Logic doesn't always triumph!)

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  7. What excellent news !
    Now you can concentrate completely on the move ... which will be as ghastly as moving always is , but is survivable . In a few months time you'll be looking back and thinking how quickly and how well it all went !

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    1. Yes, it will be ghastly, but then it will be over, and it's such tangible evidence that moving one foot at a time can actually propel one forward. Thank you!

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  8. Sensitivity can be a mixed blessing can't it . The sadnesses are keenly felt - but then those happy flashes totally compensate & we wouldn't have it any other way . So pleased you're daughter has got the all clear . In the end that is all that matters . No wonder you are happy .
    Wendy in York

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    1. So very true. We sensitive ones pay a price, but we do get spectacular rewards as well.

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  9. The best of news to learn that your daughter is fine! The rest will be easier now.

    Have been mulling over why friendships played a lesser role for me while working. I think it was due to the nature of my job coupled with my personality. Some people just seem able to compartmentalize their lives better than I can. Working with teens forced me to commit as much emotionally as intellectually, so it was difficult to shut off after hours. Something had to give. That said, I think the job taught me a greater respect for the importance and fragility of relationships, and a willingness to withhold judgment and listen harder for what is not being said. Which will, I hope, make new and renewed friendships after retirement possible.

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    1. So much here that I could have (or I wish I could have!) written. My work was with young adults more than with teens, but the same emotional demands that left little social energy, and what was left I tended to reserve for family. Exciting to have a chance to let that more socially profligate self out of her box again, although I'm still essentially an introvert. But an introvert who wants friends! ;-)

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  10. 5. is just the best! Happy times :-)

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  11. Love reading the EXUBERANCE in this post! A big YAHOO! on #5 especially!
    charlene h.

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    1. Yahoo! Yes, and a few Huzzahs thrown in. Exuberant is exactly what I've been feeling. Thanks, Charlene.

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  12. Wonderful news about your daughter! It must be a great relief to the whole family.
    With your move only 3 sleeps away, there must be so many friends and neighbours to visit with. I find that friendships are so important to my life although
    I can be an introvert. The women at my seniors' book club were talking about how important it was for them to have a place outside of the family home where their voices could be heard. Happy move!

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  13. Oh my. I can feel the relief pouring out of every word. Such good news. Now you can move forward and with the knowledge that friends are still around. So important. I will be thinking of you in the next few days. B xx

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  14. What good news! I am so happy for you.
    And yes, I'd also like to thank you for your blog. It is broadening my world, not to mention my vocabulary :-).

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  15. Hi Mater, I'm so happy to hear that your daughter is well; what a heavy burden that was, I'm sure.

    As you know, I've been an expat for a long, long time - and I'm very diligent about keeping up with friendships after moving on to a new place. Some of these friendships naturally peter out after a while, but I'm proud that there are still a few friends from as far back as 30 and more years ago that I speak with or email at least a few times a year. New friendships haven't been so easy to make, especially since the boys left school, and I also have to deal with the fact that I seem to do most of the heavy lifting in keeping in touch. However, when we do see these friends again - for example, when we go to the UK this September - we always have a place to stay and wonderful day or days of shared laughter and catching up. I'm sure you'll have no trouble in making new friends in the big city, and keeping those friends you are leaving behind. Good luck with the big moving day!

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  16. Idem, great news.

    I'll go on about the little loom, which reminds me a bit of the tiny looms Guatemalan women use, though the traditional ones were probably back looms? Such beautiful things they weave.

    A third blessing is your terrasse. That will make it far easier to reconcile with a smaller space and less proximity to nature.

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  17. Frances, I am so happy about your daughter! What wonderful, wonderful news!

    And the loom is a nice surprise - I imagine you'd at least half forgotten it.

    I've also wondered about friendships, as a long, difficult marriage is ending (a good thing) and my days as an active mother wind down (a painful loss). I'm surprised that you had these concerns, though, and I'm glad that you've seen the possibilities for reconnecting with old friends and making new ones.

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  18. What a huge relief to have that worry lifted from everyone's shoulders. So happy for you. Everything is coming up roses and we have the same two in our garden! I was smelling them yesterday. Just waiting for the Rosa Mundi to open now. My favourite perfume is Red Roses by Jo Malone. I can't usually smell it after the first spray, but complete strangers often comment on the lovely smell. As for looms, we had the simplest sort, notched cardboard with string and and a lollipop stick shuttle.I'm glad you found a few moments to resurrect your very handsome loom. Thank you for taking the time to comment in the midst of these hectic times. See you on the other side!

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  19. The last news is definitely the best. Nothing else matters. So happy for you all!

    It was fascinating reading your last post and seeing the interweaving of then and now.

    Ah the roses. I am in a struggle with myself not to buy a certain David Austin rose this year because I would have to leave it behind when we move but then again I would get one summer's joy from it...

    The friendships issue is so interesting. Like you I doubt my social value, but at the same time I have a very low tolerance for seeing people constantly. As a couple we have a small number of good friends, and our best friends tend to be of very long standing and at some distance i.e. in other countries. What does that say about us!? I wonder about the number of friends some people have and how they can physically keep up with seeing them in the way that they do and when does that leave time for just being alone? Perhaps they don't need the latter.

    As for the loom - I am in awe. As you may know I have no craft skills or inclination, but I do admire craftsmanship in others.

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  20. Such great news about your daughter ... I'd been wondering how she was but didn't like to ask as it was so personal ... That really is "the icing on the cake" ( hope you understand that comment!) Justifiably, you sound really happy and content and that's so good to hear.
    I can imagine you ... and you and Nola, having hours of fun with the loom. We have other Brio products, mainly of the train set variety! They're so well made I imagine they'll last forever! :)
    Take care ...enjoy your last few sleeps.
    Rosie

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  21. The best of all possible news, such a vast relief for all of you.

    You capture so many dimensions that I had half-forgotten, that farewell flurry of dates with friends. Some of those were hard for me (as I moved farther from them than you are), and I was moved by how many persons, such as former colleagues I hadn't seen in years, wished to see me.

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  22. As a fairly new reader of your blog and renewing our friendship of old- 35 years or so-I really enjoy reading your thoughts and others' responses and am comforted to know I am not alone in my thoughts and that others have found creative ways to weather the storms of life.

    The loom- I had a little wooden one when I was a child- not as fancy as yours and now long lost, but I loved the rhythm of sliding the shuttle through and moving the strings up and down, back and forth. My work never looked like the beautiful fabrics my Aunt Myrtle made and I did not persevere till I became proficient - such an impatient child I was.

    Friendships are such a rich part of life. I have had many times full of wonderful friendships and have tried to stay in touch with varied success. After my divorce, many friendships changed as I moved from a couple to a single-interesting transition. As retirement age has approached for many, I have had several close friends move away, so our connection is different and more sporadic. The kids are grown and gone along with the many friends that came with their activities. I changed my workplace 5 years ago as I moved to semi-retirement and went from a large collegial workplace to a small agency with more isolated work. Lots of challenges- a bit of a surprise to gradually end up with few close friends in town and most in other places. I have gotten to appreciate my own company and explore building new friendships and treasuring the good fortune of finding them. This weekend I am back in the Kootenays sharing some time with my oldest friends, as far back as preschool, elementary and high school, as I celebrate officially becoming a senior.

    I am so not a gardener, but this time of year I love walking wee Prim and reveling in all the amazing scents of the early summer flowers. I heard a thing on CBC about how the scents are designed to attract moths, bees, butterflies to promote pollination - so interesting.

    And the best news of all- a healthy daughter!!! Biggest of sighs of relief and bugle call of joy. So difficult to focus with a worry like that ever present. You have done well to keep planning and creating this move and not being frozen in place.

    Cheers, Jennifer

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  23. Wonderful news about your daughter! Good luck with the movers!

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  24. #5 is the very best news of all! I can imagine the weight that lifted when you received the news!
    I read number 4 at least three times. Questioning your social value, or your social skills - I could have written that. At this point in my life I have no really close friends, yet I do have friendships. It's not just the lack of energy now that I'm teaching (since that's a recent development), but a combination of having been badly hurt in a friendship that went bad along with the social value aspect that you mentioned.
    I'm so glad your friends have given you these times before you leave the island.

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  25. Those are indeed the best words ever! I'm so so glad you have these things to make you happy right now, especially the fifth.

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  26. Wonderful news about your daughter! I can't imagine the worry you must have felt. So glad to read you are getting the opportunity to visit with friends before moving. Seems like the older we get the more difficult it is to get together with friends, so many other life demands. Funny, it seems like it should get easier to find time for friends.

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  27. This post is so beautiful, and yes to new friendships, even though I am only in my 50s. I think it is only as we get older that we really appreciate the necessity of intention, slowing down, letting go, and welcoming in. And congratulations to your daughter and your family.

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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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