What do you do all day?

I think that the most common question that I’m asked now that I’m retired is: What do you do?  Then the added ..all day?  It’s a difficult question for me to respond to in truth and timely.  What do I do all do?  Hmmm….so here’s my attempt at an answer.

I do so much and yet, I feel at times that I have accomplished nothing at all.  My days are full and filled with all sorts of activities and chores and by the end of the day I wonder what I’ve done all day.  I am also constantly astounded at how quickly the days, and weeks, go by.  They fly! I start out the week, and the day, with a list of things I want to accomplish: yoga, walk or run (which is more like a saunter at 11or 12 minutes/mile); then write (my memoir- more on that later).  I haven’t mentioned breakfast, lunch or any other meal, yet, which seems to occupy a large amount of time in my day.  I also add gardening to my list of daily activities- this can be anything from weeding to watering the areas that get no irrigation, to planting new bulbs and plants, to cutting off the new and magnificent blooms that I am awed by every day in our Spring garden.  If I do get into the garden, as planned, I end up spending way more time than I imagined tending to the flower beds and potted plants, many of which are from pieces I have broken off from neighboring gardens and try to re-grow in our own.  I find that taking small clippings from other gardens and watching their progress as if like a mother over her new babes, gives me the greatest amount of pleasure.  My Mom did this, showing me how to restore life to something so fragile and barely able to survive, then flowering into a masterpiece.  I think of her as I plant the stolen clippings into the soil and wish them well on their way.  I check up on them daily….today, I saw a bright pink flower emerge from a piece of succulent I collected along one of my walks in the neighborhood.  It gave me so much pleasure.

Then, perhaps, I might attempt to do the New York Times crossword puzzle.  I manage the Monday and Tuesday, with a little help from my man , and by Wednesday I give up and hand the newspaper, yes, in print, over to Chuck.  There are calls to make.  Appointments for doctors, dentists, eye exams, prescriptions to order.  I look through the fridge at what we have, think about what I can make for dinner, go on line to find a new and exciting recipe to follow for dinner.  The ingredients are all in place except for one small item, maybe cilantro or something a little more significant in the recipe, like onions, which I suddenly discover we are all out of.

A quick trip to the store turns into a few hours, particularly if I venture to Costco!  But that’s lunch taken care of, since I sample many and often of the samples they are handing out- today it was lobster ravioli- I didn’t care for that at all, but the cream cheese on crackers I thoroughly enjoyed. Back from Costco, the unpacking takes some time.  Then it’s a call to Dad- have to catch up on all of his going ons as he seems to be as busy if not busier than I am.  I prepare dinner.  Change out the water of the fresh flowers we have displayed all around the house.  I make a mental note to discuss some arrangements with Chuck who is out the door to yoga and then to meet friends for dinner.  I am just about to sit down and write, my intention for the day, when I remember that I  need to look on line at hotels in NYC as we want to visit my 97 year old mother-in-law.  I go on-line to look at hotels.  They are so expensive in May…I look at 5 different sites.  Nothing reasonable under $300 with tax.  I give up looking.

The sun is starting to set and I am exhausted.  What did I do today?  What do I do all day?  I make sure that the dinner looks good and isn’t over-cooking in the oven.  I pour myself a glass of wine and slump down on the couch, turn on the TV to try and catch some of the news.

I am tired and retired, and I am loving it!

sending love to you all…..

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Back after a long hiatus

Hello!  I am back after a long, very long, time away.  Away from writing, blogging, (now a verb!) and much else in my life as I have tried to adapt to the new life of being retired and not having my Mom physically present in my life.  Both are huge adjustments and both need some commenting on.  So here goes….I am back at the blog.

Retirement, I can say without a doubt, is not for everyone.  Neither is it the right thing if it’s the wrong time.  I have loved being retired, but I can see how for many people this can become a very difficult and challenging time in their lives.  It isn’t easy making adjustments to your life, huge ones at that, the older we get it seems the more difficult change becomes.  Even if the change is a desired one, a wanted one, a longed for one- it is a change.  And all change is difficult, especially leaving the world of academia, being called Professor and or doctor and becoming a some-what invisible 50-something in Southern California; where youth reigns and power abounds.  I have neither.  And it feels good.  Yes!  I like being an unknown person when I visit places, but mostly I just love having the time to myself, to delve into whatever my heart and soul might be desiring at the moment.

Right now, I have taken to setting up our garage (unused I might add) as a studio.  I have set up a trestle table in the ‘studio’ with paints, brushes and huge roll of drawing paper rolling out to either side of the table- to draw, paint, play – as I feel the desire.  It’s my play room and I love it.  I have learned how to draw- badly- by copying drawings by the masters in various art books that I keep displayed to inspire me.  I’m not great but I feel great doing this, just creating my version of a Greek statue or whatever I feel I’d like to draw.  I have hung two pencil drawings of  Modigliani paintings on a cork board that I made- yes, I made this with all the wine corks we have saved over the years- and I like to look at these drawings as I step into my play room as a reminder that I can draw, without judgement, and with joy.  This is the beauty of the space I have set up and I must add, the space that my husband has freely given up to me to use as my play room.  The garden is in early summer bloom, though it is still very much Spring.  Dahlias bloom daily inter deep pinks, along with the sweetest smelling freesias in purple tones.  It’s simply spring and beautiful and blooms my soul.

And my Mom.  Not a day goes by that I don’t think about my Mom.  I talk to her daily, though I know she doesn’t and won’t reply, I talk to her as though she were still here.  And I hear her answers to my many questions, my thoughts and rumination, as if she were next to me, talking in her soft silky voice.  I am happy Mom.  I am so very happy.  I know that you know this.  You have wanted this for me, for all of your children, always.  And I can say I am so very very happy.  Life is so sweet.  My life is so good.  At times I have to pinch myself to make sure that I’m not dreaming.  Your dream, for your children, was for them to be happy.  And I am.

Until next time….sending love.

so much more to say on this

I purposefully kept my previous blog post short and to the point. I have so much I want to share with you all on my Mom, her final months and weeks,days, and hours, and what a truly wonderful mother she was…but I cannot manage this now.  I feel too raw and sore at the moment to write these thoughts down.  In time I will be able to share my thoughts and feelings…but for now, I send my love.

Sadly saying goodbye

For all of you who may be following my blog, I wish to let you know that my reason for not updating my blog and for not writing enthusiastically for some time is a very sad one.

My Mom died, passed away, departed this life, received her wings- however you may say it, it is the end of a beautiful, incredible special life that has left me and my family distraught and empty, heartsore and heavy hearted, and above all, devoid of our great anchor and support in our lives.

thanks to my Dad and my brothers and sisters I was able to spend significant time with my Mom as she slowly released her beautiful soul from her body; and together with my family to be by her bedside, holding her hands, singing songs to her, when she took her last breaths. This was a most intense time yet perhaps one of the most beautiful times to be remembered.  Love abounded, and then more love; her room was filled with the lightness of children singing and the love that she was and gave to so many.

I ‘sat shiva’- the customary 7 days of intense mourning in the Jewish way of death- together with my family in Toronto.  I was amazed and touched by the overwhelming support of friends, community and family that my immediate family have as a support in their adopted country.  This is a remarkable place that blends all together in sadness and in joy.

Chuck and I have returned to Nice- to pack up, and on the insistence of my Dad, to continue with our planned travel until our return to San Diego next month.

I continue, in sadness, and with Chuck’s support, carrying my Mom with me at all times in my heart and thoughts, with the greatest of love.

I will update my blog and write again when I feel up to it, but for now….

sending love and light,

Bev.

Provence pleasures

If I was to say that staying in Provence is better than my imagination could possibly make it, it is!  I LOVE Provence. I am sitting outside on the patio of the beautiful home we are renting for the week- thanks Sharon and John! As the sun cools down from it’s peak in the 90’s today, and the soft breeze of the valley delivers a scent of fermenting grapes and soil, I sip my chilled rosé and place slivers of slightly softened Comte cheese into my mouth as I write, I long for more of the same.

“Please can we stay an extra day!” I beg Chuck, barely having arrived.  We have plans to visit Corsica for 5 nights next week.  “Or move here for the rest of our stay?”  My cousin and her husband are visiting us in Nice for 5 days after we return from Corsica.  Too much to see and do.  And all I want to do is to be still and quiet and to be in Provence.

We have learned this, Chuck and I.  I’m a country girl at heart and the quiet village life is what I love, treasure, in fact.  I’ll see by the end of this week if this still holds.  But I imagine it will.

We are staying in a tiny hamlet- not even a village- but close to or part of the ‘village’ of Peypin d’aigues.  There is no store, no church, no hotel de ville, nothing!-other than peace, quiet and some neighbors who are sweet and friendly and keep to themselves; allowing us to keep to ourselves.  The closest store is 6km away- and it is only open certain hours a day.  Beyond that there are villages that hold regular markets, as in our farmer’s markets.  We went shopping at one today, in a small village about 10km away.  It was fantastic.

So, whats for dinner tonight? The pan-fried trout (filleted) with lots of butter and aged garlic we picked up at the market today, together with a melange of summer vegetables- aubergines, zucchini, tomatoes, scallions and olives over a bed of dark lentils.  And great wine!! Results and pictures to follow.

Needless to say, I need a shopping basket- our Californian style cooler doesn’t cut it in this culture.  We bought cheese and a loaf of ancient grain bread and that has sustained us throughout the hot day, along with rose too, of course.

It’s 8pm (20h00 as they say in Europe).  I’m sitting outside on the stone patio with old stone walls surrounding me on two sides, wearing moss and ivy along their grey aged facade.  The sun has moved behind the olive tree.  The gentle breeze is cool on my exposed skin.  Turtle doves begin their call.  The night is entering the Luberon valley with a stillness and grace as it has done for centuries. It is time to make dinner, which we will enjoy together outside, wine and words and wishes carried along the Provence countryside. In stillness.  Silently wishing……

Salade Nicoise

Before we arrived in Nice, a salad nicoise was merely an item on a menu.  But ever since we arrived it has become a daily requirement in my diet.  In fact, I have withdrawals if I don’t get my daily fix of salad Nicoise.

The recipe is simple enough:

lettuce- any type, varied- shredded;

tomato-sliced into quarters;

hard boiled egg-sliced into quarters;

onion – preferably red onion, thinly sliced and chopped;

tuna-canned or seared; and anchovies- yes, 2 types of fish; and

olives-red or green.

That’s the basic version.  Drizzle good olive oil and mild balsamic vinegar over the salad, salt and pepper and voila!  You have a delicious Nicoise salad.

For a variation, you can add boiled potato- skinned or not; thinly sliced red peppers and some green beans- my all time least favorite food so I’m thrilled that most of the salad nicoise I have had do not come with green beans- perhaps they’re out of season! It’s a long story why I don’t like green beans- for another time, perhaps.

The average cost of a salad Nicoise is around 12 euro but can go up depending on where it is eaten- overlooking the blue Mediterranean from a perch up in the Medieval town of Eze or Monaco can raise the price considerably.  And making the salad at home for me is so simple it requires little more than the freshest ingredients to thoroughly enjoy, together  with a slice or two of freshly baked baguette with butter, of course.  Or as my friend Cecile says, You have some bread with your butter, rather than the other way around.  I do love butter.

Not forgetting the glass of chilled rose wine.  A feast fit for a queen, or a Princess!

the fancier version

Salade Nicoise