Yesterday I was on the end of a yo-yo string. My friend Mindy called me in the early evening to tell me that mandatory retirement had been made illegal in Nova Scotia. With a few exceptions: firemen, policemen, etc. At first I felt hesitant. Do I really want to go back to teaching? It’s been so amazingly fruitful, and peaceful, not teaching. Having so much time to paint, think, walk with Lila, meet neighbors. But of course, I was excited about the idea of a steady income, spending time with students, talking about art to budding artists. So yes, I was happy about it. Then I checked on-line at the CBC News site. The exceptions to the rule included Collective Agreements. Which, of course, meant me. So no teaching job. And to tell you the truth, it doesn’t feel bad. Not right now.
Today CBC News on-line had a very interesting article about retirement.
Retirement is big business for banks. Bankers believe people hate their jobs as much as bankers hate theirs, so they set out to convince people that retirement - Freedom 55 … Take This Job and Shove It - is the solution to worry and the road to happiness.
And yet, and yet … many people enjoy their jobs and dread being forced out of them merely because they have turned 65, which is a lot younger than 65 used to be in the 1920s, when pensions began. Someone turning 65 today is expected to live another 20 years.
It has been shown that those with the most education tend to enjoy their work and are reluctant to be turfed out at 65. Do you think for a moment that when Margaret Atwood turned 65 - on Nov. 18, 2004 - someone told the illustrious Canadian writer, "Jig's up, Atwood. No more novels for you."
"Sorry, Peg, you've been at this game a long time. We need to make room for younger writers."
Yep, age is everything. To some people.
I’m going to Denmark! Imagine that! Wow! And all because I had deer in my garden. I met Elin when she googled to find a cure for deer in her garden (June 2005). She came up with the recipe I had posted. Then she said: “Could this possibly be the same Leya Evelyn who shows at the Agnes Bugera Gallery in Edmonton, Alberta where I am about to have a show?” The rest is history (which includes a lot of emails and sending photos back and forth).
Elin arranged with Galleri Saltum for me to exhibit a few paintings there last summer. My solo exhibit this year is June 4 to June 26 with the official opening reception June 10. And of course, I’m going over. I’ve been working on flights and to my surprise, it is cheaper to go to Europe than to Montreal or New York! And VERY easy (and inexpensive) to get around there. So of course I am going. (I know, I’ve said that before and I will probably say that a few times more!) For two weeks in June.
Meanwhile, when I can keep my feet on the ground, I’m stretching and priming canvases, putting on the collage elements, preparing them to paint. It’s hard, this part of the process. My hands are eager to put paint to canvas. I have enough work ready to send to Denmark (and a few more) but there is nothing like actually painting. Soon.
Also, my hands are itching to get into the ground and start gardening again. The soil looks so tempting. But it is still below freezing at night. A bit too soon to play in the dirt.
I asked my cousin Jonathan if I could post a few of his wonderful photographs from our Aunt Marcella’s 102nd birthday party. Normally he is hanging out of helicopters shooting ships (with his camera) but he comes down to earth occasionally as seen in these photographs. So . . . enjoy!
Photo ©2007 Jonathan Atkin
Photo ©2007 Jonathan Atkin
Photo ©2007 Jonathan Atkin
My aunt Marcella turned 102 years old last Friday. She did it with her usual style—enthusiastic and saucy. I wasn’t there but the reports via the family email list has it that when she went to the doctor’s a few weeks ago, she told him she didn’t want to take any more pills. She wanted to die. Life had been no fun for her for many months. She had pneumonia after I visited her in December, was in the hospital for a couple of weeks, and miraculously recovered. But never felt well after that, slept a lot and was very uncomfortable. So the doctor took her off all but one pill. And she recovered her spunk and sass, stopped sleeping so much and began talking to people and eating more.
So her 102nd birthday party was a big celebration. As described in the family email from a cousin (with a little editing from me):
Well, our beloved Marcella has reached the awe-inspiring age of 102! Some of us (those living in the area) gathered in her apartment for a little party, which she prepared for all week -- Sylvia got a hairdresser to come and cut her hair, do her nails, etc. We each brought some "nosh", Rob brought the most delicious chocolate almond cake I think all of us ever had, and Herb and I brought three bottles of champagne -- but the piece de resistance was Jonathan, who managed to get the Knickerbocker restaurant downstairs (who doesn't do take out) to sell him 1 dozen clams on the half shell complete with fresh lemon and cocktail sauce. Marcella didn't even wait until everyone had gotten there, but sat down and immediately consumed EIGHT of them in about 1/2 hour!!! It was truly an inspiring sight for those of us who saw her so weak and frail as much as three weeks ago... She also sampled each of the other hors d'oeuvres, drank at least two glasses of champagne, and when the time came, consumed 2 small pieces of her birthday cake! Of course, with all this commotion, Marcella passed out cold about 1-1/2 hours into her party...dead asleep... She was so happy to see everyone, and when she kept asking "what did I ever do to deserve all this?" we all kept telling her she gave us all love. And that's the truth!
Yesterday was one of those memorable ones—where everything seems to fall into the right place. First, Lila has made a fast friend. He’s Stewie, a Rotweiller/Lab mix, a beautiful, gentle fellow, three years old, with lovely soft brown eyes, just recently rescued and adjusting easily to a loving family with three children under four. We met on the road Friday morning and walked to where the new road is being built (one that will make the trip to my house so much easier!). The dogs ran and played and we’ve made a regular date for early morning play.
Then I went into my studio and worked for a few hours. After that another neighbor came over with his three labs. We sat on the dock and threw balls for the dogs. The big snowstorm of the night before had ended with a lot of rain so there was mush on the lake but the dogs didn’t mind.
When Mike left with his dogs, I saw my neighbors going towards the island where they are building the fort. So of course Lila and I went over there. Fortunately I had my camera with me.
First, my house from the island:
Lila with Jonathan, her friend who comes to obedience classes with us. She is especially fond of him and his brother:
Looking out from the fort:
And of course, one of Lila on the lake. (At her foot is a hat she had swiped but we did retrieve it from her!) She'll be sixteen months in a few days. Fully grown, I hope:
While we were there another family came by with their two dogs, the mom on skis, the son on his bike and the dad on foot.
After that Lila was a bit tired, so she didn’t mind my going out last night. I went to my friend Suzanne's for dinner. Then to an art show. My friend Molly and her daughter had a larger exhibit of their paintings in a beautiful gallery space. From there we went to see and hear an amazing avant-garde ensemble, Aventi, with Janice Jackson singing.
Today is another sunny day and the lake is still frozen. More play.
Every morning around 7:15 Lila paces at the door, ready to go out. She’s eager to greet the children at the school bus stop. The buses stop right at the top of my (long) driveway. She’s come to know the children and we chat every morning now.
So I heard about the fort they are building on the island directly in front of my house. The lake is called Five Island Lake. I’ve never been sure just which outcroppings are “the” five islands but they are all interesting and most of them are visible from my house. Today Lila and I went exploring two of them. We found the fort. She was very excited.
The ice won’t last too much longer, I suppose, so we are spending as much time out there as possible. We will miss walking on the lake but it will be nice to have some warm weather eventually. I hear we are to get another snowstorm tomorrow night.