Saturday, November 23, 2013

Going to an art exhibit and finding a bonus ticket...

Somehow lately I have been finding this blog overwhelming and it doesn't get done!  When I look back at this blog I notice that my first blogs were much shorter which probably helped.  Also when I was teaching I always had too much to write about and I  could even share projects and lessons, what we did in class etc.  I am still volunteering at my old school and there are things I could write about but it is different.  Also one would think that since I am retired I would have more time for blogging but I just end up doing other things it seems.

Yesterday I went to the Vancouver Art Gallery with a friend who being an accredited volunteer with Tourism Vancouver is able to get in free and take a friend, and yesterday, that was me.  We ran into someone I knew who told us that we had to see the exhibit on the third floor and due to that, after checking out the main exhibit on the first floor, about famous Haida artist,Charles Edenshaw, which was very good and which we both enjoyed (and this was my friend's second trip to see this exhibit, and having been to Haida Gwaii etc it was very interesting to me as well ) we went up to see the photograph exhibit on the third floor.  But on our way up to the third floor, we were stopped dead by the glimpse of colour on the second floor.  Now the Edenshaw exhibit was really kind of black (argilite) and grey and with muted light to protect the totems etc. so the burst of colour on the second floor really caught our attention.

This was an exhibit by a Korean artist who is Paris based, Kimsooja.  There is a very good video on this website that I would recommend watching.
The Vancouver Art Gallery is a small gallery so each of the three exhibits takes up one floor.  Our attention was first caught by the hanging over the stairwell at the beginning of this blog.  A bigger version hangs in a gallery in Brussels.  Then we went into this room and walked through the beautiful hangings shown.  I love experiential exhibits like this-plus I love colourful fabrics...

Now about now a guard told me I wasn't supposed to be taking pictures so I basically did stop as we went into the other galleries.  We were fascinated by her use of bottaris, which are beautiful cloth bundles in which Korean women kept their valuables or what they needed to carry.
We also liked the exhibit which is videos of her in busy world cities just standing observing, as she says like a needle...We also liked the installation where a screen changed colours with what sounded like heavy breathing to make it happen and then became beautiful buddhist type chants.
I did steal another picture though.

This is a truck carrying bottaris.  And there was a video showing the journey across high mountains. Anyway she also has a website that looks absolutely fascinating so check it out!

Thinking about this exhibit, I was reminded of going to an exhibit here of drawings by Toulouse-Lautrec.   There was also an exhibit of Japanese prints that influenced the Impressionists greatly.  I loved that exhibit far more than the main exhibit . I love going to something for one reason but discovering something totally different.  It is such a bonus.  Such a great surprise!  I keep thinking that this retirement thing is a chance to discover...

Saturday, November 9, 2013

What I have learned about retirement now that it is November

Almost a month has passed since my last post here!  And what exactly have I been doing?  So today I decided to write about ten things I have learned from being "retired"!  Last August I wrote seven things I had learned from teaching sixth and seventh graders so now what I have learned from being retired?

1. It's fun being a tourist in your own city.  I realized when a friend and I flew to the San Francisco area this summer and then did a road trip to Santa Barbara, that we made the most of our time.  I decided I really wanted to do that in my own city.  Sure there are the things you have to do and should do but you really need to be a tourist in your own city and see it with fresh eyes and this is something I have enjoyed doing this fall.  Now it helps if you live in a city with so much natural beauty and so many things to do like Vancouver but I can honestly say that for the last 33 years since I have lived here except for my first year here when I didn't initially teach, fall was a bit of a blur because I was so busy teaching...

2.  An iphone is  wonderful.  I resisted getting one and only ever had the simplest type of cell phone because I feared the addictive quality of always being "connected" but I love always having a camera with me and I think I have taken some great pictures with my iphone5 and it takes so little room, even less than my small digital camera.  I have a pedometer on it so I know how much I walk as well.  I always have a book to read on it.  And I can check on things when I want.  I send pictures galore.  It has helped me with my Spanish as I have two great aps Duolingo and Mindbits on both my phone and ipad.  I can use it instead of printing out tickets.  I really love it.

3.  I love taking pictures-I always have.  One thing I did when I first moved here was take photography lessons which I really enjoyed.  I did a slide show every year at school, and I have megatons of slides and photo albums and zillions of pictures on this computer to prove my love of clicking, but I think my skills as a photographer with my iphone have really improved as I have really taken so many pictures the last few months. I still love taking pictures-capturing beauty particularly, and getting to share these moments with others.  A friend invited me to an amazing facebook group of wonderful people who share their photos from all over the world and I really have realized it's actually possible to make  friends virtually.  The pictures are a door.

4. Having a bit of a schedule is good-but free time is nice as well.  At the beginning I set Tuesday mornings aside to work in my friend's first grade class.  Wednesday I spend the first half hour at another school, reading to her kindergarten students while she conferences with her first graders who are independently reading.  During basketball season I coached before school Tuesday and did games after school Thursday and usually an extra practice after school Friday but volleyball is on now so I am free until I coach basketball in January.  I have continued my regular fitness and yoga classes Tuesday and Wednesday and Thursday nights I do Spanish.  Monday and Friday are my totally free days where I can decide what I want to do.

5.  I love working with first graders.  My teaching career has been very varied which was great.  The last four years I taught sixth and seventh grade and Angela's class was our buddy class but I really wasn't working with first graders.  I loved working with them when I was a resource teacher, I love teaching kids to read, and I love how they are such their own people at this age.  Anyway it is great doing this each week-just going in and working with Angela and her class.  I love it!

6.  I don't miss all the responsibility.  I went on two field trips and it was work, especially with the k/1s but it was fun and I didn't have to plan it or worry about it.  I totally believe in field trips but they are a lot of work for teachers!  I loved just helping!  And from experience I know retired teachers are the best helpers on field trips because they totally "get what needs to be done"...

7.  I loved the drama but I don't miss the drama.  When you teach grade seven there is no lack of drama and it makes for lots of excitement.  Also sixth and seventh graders have a lot of energy and they gave me energy but it's really enough just to go visit.

8.  I don't miss all the work.  I actually like planning units and seeing the process and results and I liked assessing and figuring out what to do next.  I loved watching kids succeed.  I loved the kids as well and they made me often laugh.  But it was a lot of work!  Probably two hours of prep and two hours at least of marking a day... Also I took on ipads and maintaining a class blog and a moodle website and that was a great deal of extra work as well.  Then there were report cards and all the other extras I did at school.  It was non stop and each year there was more work it seemed.  There are apparently 9 to 3 teachers but it just isn't in my nature to be one.

9.  I really like to learn.  I went to Spain a year and a half ago and wished I knew some Spanish so I signed up for Spanish One last September with a friend.  I enjoyed it but wasn't sure I was ready for Spanish 2 and my friend had had enough of Spanish and moved onto French.  I also found it took quite a bit of time so I left it there.  This year I decided to try Spanish 2.  First class I almost left as I didn't understand much of anything and thought I should take Spanish 1 again but it got better.  From years of conjugating verbs in French, that comes more easily to me in Spanish.   I found great aps to fill in my Spanish One gaps and I did my homework.  I think I am doing really well each week until I get to class but by the end of class I am always laughing and I feel good about it.  I don't have any natural aptitude for languages but I sure know more than I did a year and a half ago, and I really do love to learn!

10.  Some things haven't changed too much but that is okay.  The attic is still not organized.  I did finally fix a lazy susan in my kitchen cupboard.  And it's Remembrance Day weekend and I still have bulbs to plant and I haven't had the heart to put the lawn furniture away but the good thing is I know that world isn't going to collapse if I don't get something done on the weekend because I have week days to do it.

11.  And I am even coping with short days and November.  The time changed Sunday and I missed the first early nightfall because I went to a movie.  But I wasn't impressed this week with the short days and then torrential rains but I got through them.  I just made sure that opened my blinds as soon as it was light.  A friend and I braved the rainy elements and had a delightful afternoon in the west end with a Japanese lunch at a new restaurant to me, and a visit to Roedde House, where I had never been.  I had incredibly beautiful walks in Queen Elizabeth Park and at Spanish Banks when it wasn't raining.  Last night coming out of the Pacific Rim Fairmont I even almost embraced the night as it was so beautiful looking at Canada Place.  And when the sun shone warmly as it did yesterday morning I really appreciated it.  Now if there is too much rain I may be soon looking for cheap getaways...

12.  Time-I love having time.  I actually get my library Fast Reads read on time.  I have time to spend
with friends.  I have time to find out about interesting things to do in the city.  I still don't have enough time to get boring jobs done of course.

Anyway these are a few things I have learned since I have been retired.  A few years ago I was "given" a financial planner by my bank and he asked what I wanted to do when I retired, all I could think of to say was travel.  I think he thought I was a bit strange.  That also may explain why I wasn't in a hurry to retire.  Strangely,  I haven't gone anywhere other than Victoria or Whistler this fall and haven't even made any real plans.  I actually nixed a couple of plans.  I have lots of places I want to see and I will, but somehow this fall I have been happy here and feeling very fortunate and appreciative.