Saturday, June 28, 2014

Quickie Time!!

Good evening my faithful friends :)

Today I went back to my feminist roots, yes indeedy. I told myself that old truism (because yes, it's based on the truth!) -
"anything a man can do, a woman can do better!"

And so I proceeded to pack the back of the truck, bearing in mind that I had to contend with and make room for the 800 pound spare tire! And leave room for the cooler which will be packed tomorrow. And lift big heavy awkward boxes up into the truck.  That's why I'm drinking a delicious concoction made up by me of mango sorbet and vodka :)  It's for medicinal purposes of back's a bit sore (NOT!)

There's the first layer in place...see how I managed to squeeze smaller items in between the larger bins, uh huh, uh huh, I know what I'm doing...

I never thought I'd be able to fit in my dad's captain's chair, but I did!! And I put the cooler in though I haven't packed it yet, I just needed to see how much space it would take up. But it works, even all of my friend Jules art supplies and there's ROOM LEFT OVER - HOW DOES THAT HAPPEN??

Tomorrow I hit the dusty trail but not going TOO far - just to Barrie, maybe a 2.5 hour drive......for a JAM SESSION - woo hoo!! Friends that play at the pub in August are making a wee detour tomorrow to do a house party - so I get to see Jay and Tammy early this year - now that's the way to get summer or RETIREMENT off to a fabulous start!! Then I'll turn EAST -----------------
next stop New Brunswick!!  to see good (no, GREAT) friends!! sorbet + vodka = YUMMY!

Thursday, June 26, 2014

And now, the end is here...

Almost!! Only hours to go!! Though, essentially I'm done now. What? I don't think I quite understood that last sentence!  DOES NOT COMPUTE!! I'm what??? Done? Finished? Kaput? Over and out? Out to pasture?


TRULY? They're really going to let me leave? And continue to pay me? Is this legal??  'Cause it feels really weird - like I'm going to wake up and find out it was all a big practical joke!

Last night I dined at the parents of my graduating student, Alex. As a polish immigrant this woman knows how to cook! Pork roulade, chicken that had been marinated for 2 days, and salmon. Two kinds of slaw, potatoes, rice, her world-famous mushroom sauce, green salad, two kinds of dessert. Ooooof! I'm turning into a barrel!

However, I was so glad to leave! Oh my! Her husband said that he likes when they have guests because then his wife has to treat him a little nicer. Nice? You call that nice? The man can say nothing right - every time he started to say something she would interrupt him in her constantly LOUD and SHRILL voice - no, you're wrong....actually, it happened like this....that's not what I meant at all....the point, no, no, let me tell the story...she overpowered him at every turn - I'm surprised he even opens his mouth at all. She insulted him constantly...I could barely stand it and it went on from 5pm til I managed to leave at almost 10pm! What an ordeal!

However, that is done and over so I will move on...tonight I am volunteering at graduation so I will get to say good-bye to many Gr. 12 students who were members of my Best Buddies club - there will be lots of tears. It will be closure for them and for me. Then tomorrow I will go in early one last time, sit at my desk with a cup of coffee...and remember..........then mass, a brief meeting and lunch at Aromas - a wonderful Portugese restaurant here in London. And then...


and then on to the Village Pub for drinkies with friends, pack up my truck on Saturday and hit the road on Sunday. Wow, is this really happening???   Just pinched myself - yup, I'm awake! It doesn't feel real yet, I wonder when it will?

Here are a few pics from my open house - I figure if I keep looking at images from all of the celebrations over the past couple of weeks maybe I'll start to believe it....
 Alex, we are both "retiring"...
 This is the best smile David could muster lol!
 Some of this year's gang - Natalie, David, Alex and Kianna..
A former student - all grown up! So handsome Rustic! and very tall!
 my pal Amanda, she is so very sweet:)
 Former student - Adam (we share the same last name so I always called Adam "my son by another mother!"
Former students and brothers Shawn and Gary - again, all grown up! (and handsome!!)
 Former student Agniezka and her dad - she gave a little impromptu speech and did very well!

 It took some tracking down but I found former student Jesse (her dad died  a couple months ago and she's now living with other relatives); she still loves to rub my head and say "porcupine hair!"
My AV guy, Jerry.  I got to hug so many handsome men that day :)
Cutting my cake - throughout the whole afternoon I only managed to eat a piece of blueberry cake baked at my request by my retiring student's polish mom - she sure can cook!!
 My super duper extra large sized card :)
My retirement pal -Fil - formerly the dep't head of Learning Services...
The staff and students put together a video - perhaps I'll post it one of these days - it was very emotional witnessing each student saying goodbye in their own special way...

good memories or as they say in Tignish - the very best!
the love of my life, former student Todd came to visit so we shared some cake :)
my bestie, Jules, stopped by, thank you my dear one!
 that cake I'm holding? I'm feeding it to Todd, I miss those times with you Todd... (Todd's mom to the left and his dad in the background with Jules...)
 Alex's best buddy - Melissa - they have shared some special moments over the years - they enjoyed dancing together to 60's tunes on Fridays...
the best EA ever and party organizer Michele behind me - thanks Michele!!
our big boy Paul and his mom behind me...

Paul loves to draw and drew some pictures of him and I as a gift - thanks Paul!!
 Some extraordinary best buddies!
It's difficult to see but I am holding a pink glass heart, engraved from Todd :) He stole my heart years ago!
 since it's too late to fire me I figured I could get away with sitting on Todd's knee one last time!!
Colin, a supply EA who spent most of the year with us thankfully, and Cristhian (a former street kid from El Salvador, saved by adoption and brought to Canada), an amazing young man:)
and what a thrill to see Lori once more, she's graduating from another highschool this year after being with me for 5 years. Due to family issues (her parents couldn't manage her behaviour so Lori had to move into a mental health facility which was not within the boundaries of my school). Now she's graduating and her caseworker is looking into a group home placement. Good luck Lori!
 Lori was missing a CCH yearbook from 2011-2012 (she has a mind like a steel trap) and I just happened to have one so I gave it to her. We got her former classmates to write in it so that worked out well :)
Such great smiles! It was the best day of my career seeing all of my students from the past and present together for one last time. Very emotional day...

If you made it to the end of this post - BRAVO!! I feel like I should have something amazingly deep and meaningful to say right now but I just feel exhausted, wrung out and in a daze. I really need a holiday lol!! I'd best get preparing for a long one!!  I have a long to-do list to help me get on my way so I better get cracking! TTYL!!

Tuesday, June 24, 2014


What a great word eh? Discombobulated. I don't know if I spelled it correctly or not because I am IT....that is to say I'm discombobulated. It's a fun word to type too!

So I killed some time today in a thrift shop - finally found a great rain jacket with hood for my trip to the Cotswolds. And a few other things - yoga pants, T-shirts, sports wear tops and a gorgeous ceramic bird feeder for $3. (for PEI, not the Cotswolds!)

Then I had a bit more time so stopped at Chapters, Canada's premiere book store (actually our only book store chain). I browsed the travel section and found a great book called "World's Greatest Walks" or something like that. Due to the generosity of staff and a parent I have a nice sum of $$ to spend at Chapters. I didn't have the gift cards with me today however so I'll make that purchase another day.

At that point it was time to drive to my graduating student Alex's house for dinner at 5pm. Sophia (mom) opened the door with a strange look on her face...yup, you guessed it (or not), dinner is tomorrow night, not tonight....sigh....discombobulated.

She had a great laugh, at my expense, and invited me in for a drink. Bless her. She was still laughing 1/2 an hour later when I left. I'm sure when I go there tomorrow she'll still be laughing!

One more dinner...I can do more dinner...

Otherwise it was a pretty good day. My students, staff and I walked downtown and had breakfast at Billy's Deli, a famous spot in London renowned for their deli meats and their pies! After a yummy and very filling breakfast we walked to the forks of the Thames (London's famous river named after the even more famous London and their river-we Canadians are so UNoriginal) where there was a playground and splash pad. As if that wasn't enough FUN for one day we hopped on a city bus and rode the entire bus route which eventually went by our school.

And then - my LAST MEETING!! As my dep't head read a prayer to begin the meeting she got a bit teary as it's her LAST MEETING too!! Strange how my reaction is more in the line of EUPHORIA!! My eyes were dry! How can you be sad about NO MORE MEETINGS??

So, other than getting my days mixed up it was a good day. Tomorrow is my last day with the students (sniff sniff), then I'm getting my truck in for maintenance and spending some time with Kazi as she leaves for a 5 day concert in the forest event in Michigan and when she gets back I'll be GONE!! She won't see me for 5 months - I wonder if she'll miss me at all?
 Finally, I leave with you a couple pictures of my principal and me at my open house. I just realized I have about 200 photos from that day and haven't really shared any yet. Finally, someone my own size!

Friday, June 20, 2014

"I vant to be alone".....(read with German accent)....(as if you were Greta Garbo)...

Most, if not all, of you understand the need to be alone sometimes...not lonely, just peacefully, restfully, refreshingly, revitalizing (etc etc) alone. Sigh...

Not wanting to sound  ungrateful, I  just got home from yet another dinner. There was nothing wrong with it, it wasn't horrible, or loud, or long, in fact it was very nice. One of my students wanted to take my dep't head, Fil, and me out to dinner. It was lovely but I'm so very tired of being ON if you know what I mean. I can be sociable in small amounts, in spurts, but then I need to rest and re-energize. The last few weeks there have been too many dinners, lunches, breakfasts, parties, open houses, BBQs, drinks, cakes and I just want it to END!! Or at least have a breather - thankfully it's the weekend.

Here we are with our young date being photographed by the waitress while a sparkler sizzles away in our complimentary baklava. I think I have perfected my smile over the last few weeks to the point where I don't really have to think about it anymore. That sounds insincere but truly I just need to fully charge my batteries.

Am I being a whiner? I hope not. I gave tonight's dinner my best effort as it really was wonderful that Josh wanted to do this for us. We had great food, and good conversation - oh, and next to us a fellow proposed to his girlfriend (she said yes!!) plus there was a birthday celebrated at another table and then we were applauded for our retirement so it will be a memorable night for all.

When I'm feeling utterly exhausted I imagine sitting in my truck, the miles flying by, arriving at Crofters Lane, making a pot of coffee (after I figure out how to turn the water back on!), sitting on the front porch and looking out over the bay and letting my mind drift. IT WILL HAPPEN-JUST NOT QUITE YET!!

I must summon reserves of energy to power me through one more week. I can do it. Only 5 more days of school - on Thursday I get to work at home - yeehaw - and on Friday we have breakfast at school, mass, a meeting and then yet another luncheon and then FREEDOM (so really that's only 3 days of school!!) Oh, but let's not forget getting together with friends on Friday night - oh my. I should have been a cloistered nun! No, not really, I will enjoy the social activities as much as I can and then I will relish my alone time even more. Oh, and one more dinner with another set of parents next week, lol.

Truly - I'll be fasting and biking a hundred miles a day to get rid of all this blubber around my middle - I kid you not. I've never seen so much CAKE!!!

OK, gotta go. Going to take my glass of wine to bed with me, who cares if it isn't even 9pm yet? I need to quiet my mind, listen to an audio book (I have a new Louise Penny mystery and it's wonderful!) and ease on into a rejuvenating sleep.

Good night!

Oh, and Barb - when I get to Summerside in PEI I'm going to check into wifi - hopefully without having to be on a year long contract (since I'll just be there for 5 months) - the intent is to continue recording my journey - the trials and tribulations - la deuxieme partie!!

Sunday, June 15, 2014

If I could save time in a bottle...

... the first thing that I'd like to do..... SING IT WITH ME EVERYONE......
HAH, never don't want to hear me sing! Really.

So it seems one must retire in order to get time pieces worthy of keeping track of one's time, if one wanted to keep track of time when one might not!
 I find it rather ironic that my plan for retirement day is to throw away my current watch and go watchless, after all I can always check my phone for the time as I'm so technologically up-to-date. THAT'S IF I NEED TO KNOW THE TIME - I'M HOPING I DON'T!! Sorry I didn't take a photo of the old chesnut (yes, I'm just being lazy) but believe you me it has stood up to the challenge of keeping me on time for the past 20 years!!
They don't make watches like mine anymore! If I squint past all the scratches on its face I can see that it's an Armitron Quartz and water proof to 100' which is handy if I ever drive off a cliff into the ocean and need to check the time! All silliness aside (just for a moment) the few times I've forgotten to take it off before showering I WAS relieved to see it still ticking away!

I purchased it at least 20 years ago at the local Bi-way store which closed down at least 15 years ago. Maybe more. I've had to replace the band umpteen times and the battery umpteen more and it even survived the time the lady at Zellers, who was replacing the battery, whacked it on the glass counter making the tiny little hands fall off!  She just wanted to sell me a new watch!! You wouldn't believe the disdainful looks I used to get when I'd need a new battery - I suppose most people would just throw a scratched up cheap old watch in the garbage and buy a new one - but not me!! I'm PROUD of the fact that I'm cheap and had a cheap watch that lasted 20+ years - it's still ticking accurately away as I speak type.
I believe my old dependable watch cost about $15.00 originally so along with new bands and new batteries has averaged me about $1.50 per teaching year. I guess time IS cheap after all!
The other ironic thing about my new clock and new watch is that both are engraved or "enfaced" with the union logo (clock) and school board logo (watch). Who wants to be reminded of work every time they check the time???

Well, I suppose I could say to myself - I wonder what those poor suckers are doing today?!?

Thursday, June 12, 2014

"The Piano Man and the Chick" - Final Assembly June 6, 2014

I'm tearing up already and I haven't even typed anything yet :) Last Friday was our annual final assembly at school. Students audition and the best acts are showcased. This year one of my students, Alex, who is also "retiring", performed at the assembly. He and I have been together for 6 years - we've had our ups and downs but Friday was definitely the highlight of our time together.
Over the last 4 or 5 years Alex, who has autism, has been taking piano lessons and has done quite well at it. I asked him if he would like to play at the final assembly and while I expected him to say NO he said YES!! I asked one of his Best Buddies, Elena, if she would sing one of the songs while he played and she was very excited about it. (I didn't want him to be alone on the stage - this way she could provide a few prompts, if needed, but as a peer, a friend, a fellow performer, not as a "helper". )
She sang "Scarborough Fair"but before they started she introduced Alex and herself and then dedicated the songs to ME!  So of course the tears began...I invited Alex's mom to come too and she got quite emotional. To see her son included in such a warm and natural way, to see him respected by 1,000 of his peers, it was quite a moment!
Elena starred in the school musical this year - "Pirates of Penzance" - she has the most incredible voice. Together they made quite a team.
She stayed with him while he soloed on another song "Keys of the Opera" and he did a great job. Everyone was standing and cheering before he came to the end of the song. It's moments like these that make all of those 6am mornings alone in my classroom worthwhile.
Elena was so proud and so impressed.  Having her there beside Alex was pure genius. It set a shining example for the student body to see the respect she has for Alex. I do love that boy.

This will be one of my favourite memories as I head off into the sunset...

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Last week was SO BUSY!! The week ended with a family get together on Sunday. My two brothers and sister-in-law came over and we stuffed ourselves silly with chinese food, celebrated birthdays and my retirement and wished my oldest brother luck as he left for the east coast Monday morning on a well-packed motorcycle.  Yes, he's almost 65 and he's making a 2000+km motorcycle ride! We do love adventures in this family!

I spent Monday at home, recuperating, and then got back into the thick of things today. Tomorrow is another retirement dinner that our school board puts on at a swanky hotel and then Friday we're having a party at my dep't head's house. I think the weekend is FREE!

Once the family get together was over I gave myself permission to begin planning for my trip east!! YAY!! The list is pretty long! I've never had a will before so before I leave Kazi and I are heading to the lawyer's to get a will drawn up in addition to giving her power of attorney.  If anything happens to me (and eventually something will) I don't want her to have any problems accessing my accounts etc.

Dougie the Dodge needs to go in for a once over and an oil change. No, I haven't started packing up Dougie yet but there is a portion of my dining room given over to holding the things I'm planning on taking. I'll take pictures soon. I've been slack the last few days in taking photos - when that happens you know I'm BUSY! Must make that appointment tomorrow! Time is quickly running out :)

Yesterday I worked on going through the many storage bins I've packed to check for things I need to take east with me. I found my electrical adapter, thankfully,  so I can keep everything charged up when in England.
I also found the genealogical information that I want to re-familiarize myself with over the summer. For 3 days I'll be exploring Norwich and surrounding villages, namely Dickleburgh, where my "Chilver" ancestors lived ..... this thatched cottage. It no longer exists but Dickleburgh is quite small so I'm going to wander the streets holding up the photo to see where it fits in!!! Great idea huh? I'm sure it'll work. There's a pub, the Dickleburgh Crown, so I'll take the photo there too and see if anyone is old enough to remember any Chilvers in the area. I'm definitely not going for the beer. Yeah, right :) !!

Today was a nice day at work. Each day that is left is packed full of things to get done, like report cards and packing up - the time is just whizzing by. Tomorrow - 15 days left!

And now - supper! Me and my toes hope you had a great day and that wherever you are the sun was shining brightly :)