Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Merry Christmas

Christmas Card

Monday, December 24, 2007

Christmas Eve

Over the past few days, beyond enjoying my daughter's company and doing odds and ends for Christmas, I have not forgotten to drop off food in a food bank and money in Salvation Army clear bowls to the tune of ringing bells every day. Today I will go to Save-On Foods and buy some diapers and formula for Basics-for-Babies.

I would not have been so charitable if it weren't for my friend Kate. Please read
Kate's website in which she challenged a large number of friends to write about their favourite charities. After reading their blogs, Kate herself contributed to many of the charities (and Kate is far from wealthy.) Personally I feel humbled by the writing and generosity of my friend and her other friends - a number of whom I know are younger than me. On another level, I feel happy, pleased, even excited that the generations below mine are more aware and caring and giving to those less fortunate all around the world. What happened to my generation? We speak of the world's atrocities but we do little to help. I'm sorry. I should speak personally. I have no idea what friends my age do and do not do. Again, please read Kate's website

My Aunt Alice and cousins in South Africa
My South African Relatives

Last January, my Aunt Alice, my father's eldest sister turned 93. She died yesterday morning. I am sorry that I didn't go to South Africa to meet this feisty woman who I know had, at least, three husbands and who moved to South Africa from Northern Ireland when she was a young woman. She was the last female in my father's nuclear family and I so wanted to speak to her about her mother, my grandmother who died soon after my birth and who, I am told, I look very much like.

Dancing with my Dad

Dancing with Dad

Today is my father's 85th birthday. Happy Birthday dear Dad. I love you.

Thursday, December 20, 2007

Gill Arrives Tomorrow

I haven't been thinking a lot about Christmas though our house is in a flurry. Rob and I have done the first weed down - sorting and tossing with trips to the Salvation Army and the paper recycling depot. It'll probably take three or four or more sorting- throughs before we're ready to leave this old house. (This could take months, even years depending on the housing market.)

I did meet up with my plum group on Sunday through one was missing (sadly.) It would have been good to have been all together. Both W and S looked wonderful. And we ate and laughed and read...

I haven't felt a lot like writing lately. Too much is going on and I've pushed myself to complete a lot of work so that when Gill arrives, we can have some fun together.

The Next Day

I stopped writing at this point because Helen dropped in with a bottle of sparkling red wine. It tasted like Welch's grape juice. Delicious. Too easy to drink and so my writing got left once more. I notice that other bloggers aren't writing much these days - perhaps it is the season to sit and laugh and drink with good friends.

Gill arrives in hours and I have a lot to do before we head for the airport.

One things that I've been thinking about is Christmas giving. Kate sent me and others an email about this subject. In it, she said:

On your own blog, write a new post about your favorite charity, social cause or helpful organization. While I may have a bias toward causes that address maternal health and children’s well-being, I do believe that all people on this planet have the right to freedom, food, shelter, safety and health care. Domestic, international, global and local interests are equally important. Tell me, and our readers, why you believe your special organizations are helping to make the world a better place. Tell us why you support them and why we should too.

This message has been haunting me. Kate has the biggest heart of anyone I know. Unlike me, she thinks on a grand scale. She worries about the world - writes about it and pushes others to do something too. I feel an embarrassment as a friend. I heard a show once that said that everyone - no matter their income - should allocate a percentage of their money to charity. I thought "yes" that is what I should do. But I have not gone about it in an organized way. I give when anyone knocks at my door though I don't like these door-to-door invasions. I give a lot of good stuff to Salvation Army because I believe that they make the world a better place. I give to Gospel Mission every Christmas because I believe that all should have a good meal on Christmas day (though as I write this, I think should they not have good food every day?)

Because of Kate, I will try to be more generous. Every day till Christmas, I will do something for strangers - I will give to the food bank and the basics-for-babies drive - and I will look around for other worthy places. If you read this, would you do something too? I will record what I do so I do it.

I'll be back here before Christmas. I promise.

Saturday, December 08, 2007


since I wrote a thoughtful blog entry. So much has been happening in the past few weeks - since Rob's return - that my mind swims. Rob came home with video cuts of the renovation happening in our French home. We both think it will be the most beautiful house in the village, especially when the roof is opened up and we can sit on top of the world and sip wine, break bread, and devour cheese under the stars. Oh la la.

While he was living in the village, he kept thinking about living there full time. "Can I do this," he wondered as he wandered the streets, drove to Toulouse, studied French with a native speaker. Towards the end of his stay, he realized that he could and wanted to be there all the time as soon as is humanly possible. He is tired of the long hours in the film business. He is tired of the money it costs to live in Vancouver. He spoke to some neighbours who retired there three years ago. The most extraordinary thing has happened to them. The man and woman have grown younger, more easy going, happier in their adopted country. Rob wants to feel this way too. He doesn't want to wait until he is too old, less spry, unmotivated.

How do I feel about this? I am always happier in France. When I go there - especially when I am driving through the countryside, admiring fields of sunflowers and grape vines - I sigh with relief. I breathe easier. I love the open markets, the small wineries, the friendliness of the people. I love the friends that I have made, the long evenings with them moaning and groaning with pleasure over the taste of the produce, the cheese, the meat while listening to one friend or another play his cello
and her violin. I love lying in bed and listening to voices speaking French on the street. I yearn to learn the language well. I love the challenge of being there, forcing myself to be more aggressive to get what I want.

On Monday of this week, Rob and I went to see a financial planner. She thought it amusing albeit wonderful that we want to retire at our ages and skip the country. She thought it especially wonderful and rare that we, as a couple, share the same dream. We left all our money papers in her hands and will return next week for her verdict. We are back-paddling a little. There is no work most likely for Rob until May and he is the one who makes the big bucks. I shall try to find work here and there. I just received a cheque for $300 for some design work I did. I am proud of this. But it won't go far. I have to become more aggressive in the making money field.

Rob and I have been looking around us and thinking about what we want to take and what we can live without when we leave the country. More importantly, we have been assessing what we have of value that we can let go of that will provide funds for the next few months - especially since we will borrowing around 70 grand to pay for our renovations in France. Our most valuable art is native prints by Bill Reid and Robert Davidson - two of the best Haida artists on the West Coast. We have put these prints up for sale on Craigs list as a beginning, as a trial. There have been a few requests for information but no buyers yet (though it has only been two days.)

We have also started a major rampage through the house, throwing away stuff that has gathered over the last 24 years since we moved in with two small children. Add another child and a lot of art work and our house is full. I discovered that I have kept every birthday card all three ever received, every baby tooth, every report and progress report, every award, every activity achieved - like swimming classes, guides and cubs, and on and on... I have asked my children to think hard on what they would like. We can no longer be custodians of their memories. (And yet I will keep a little, a tiny bit of memorabilia because it is difficult to part with... )

I have begun to realize that I/we must become creative about selling our stuff if we want a fair price. (A gallery owner offered me half price or a 60/40 split if he sold one of our Reids in his gallery on consignment. First of all, we will try to find a way to sell ourselves.)

I know a lot has to do with getting the word out. And though I don't consider my blog site, a commercial venue, I am going to create a section at the bottom of my blog, naming names and items that we want to sell in hopes that Google will pick up names such as BILL REID and ROBERT DAVIDSON and lead someone who would like their art to me. So if you don't think such an idea creative and call it something crass and unsavoury, please stop reading at the end of this paragraph. What shall I call it? Letting go of valuables? Looking for a buyer? Stuff for sale? Soft sell? I think I'll use the last unless you, my friends, can think of a better name. And if anyone has a better idea of how we can sell this stuff, please let me know.

Only one final happening. We have spoken to real estate agents and we will probably put our house up for sale in the spring. It's our only pension plan and we must catch the market when it's hot.

SOFT SELL - all on Craigs List

1. Three custom-made pine shelves - especially created to hold DVDs and VHSs
2. A number of antique microphones
3. A crew jacket and video from the movie "The Fly".
4. A selection of Native Indian art (see pictures below.)

Bill Reid

Robert Davidson

Sunday, December 02, 2007

It's Snowing in Vancouver

According to Rob, this is going to be a cold cold winter. Yesterday, it snowed and I love the look. It's beginning to feel a lot like Christmas.

Vancouver Snow

I have so much to tell that I'm tongue-tied. Think I'll leave for it another day but I would like to wish my niece Ayah Young a happy birthday. She's an extraordinarily talented young woman. See for yourself at: Ayah's blog.