Loving Vincent and other surprises in store

Mid October already – fall has definitely arrived here in the interior of British Columbia. Outside, the air feels like the inside of a fridge set on the coldest setting. Not as cold as a freezer yet, although that is not far away. The other day I was downtown early and I saw cars with snow on their roofs. They must have come into Kamloops from slightly higher elevations.

However, I have my winter clothes all ready for the day when I spy the white stuff on the lawn. I tried the whole “ensemble” on the other day and I felt so constricted. So many layers!

As winter approaches, the city’s recreation & arts dept. has lined up a long roster of activities to keep the citizens happily occupied. The library and the university offer courses, lectures, and field trips. There are book clubs, writers’ groups, chess competitions, and lots more. For $60.00 CAD a month, I can take advantage of the YMCA’s recreation facilities – they have a 25 m. pool, exercise machine room, yoga, and just about any other health-related interest you can think of. Kamloops also has a small classical orchestra and a beautiful theater. Plays, recitals, concerts and film nights happen often.

On Thursday, I will have a pot-luck dinner at my apartment with three friends, and then we are going to see “Loving Vincent” a film about the life of Vincent van Gogh. It is the first full feature crafted entirely from hand-painted oils. Forty artists from all over the globe have participated in the project. I CAN’T WAIT to see the finished product. You can watch the trailer at this link:

Then on Saturday, I will attend a still life painting workshop. When I asked what I need to bring, I was told – “Yourself and an open mind.” That sounds intriguing, doesn’t it?

Another of my activities this week is all about Halloween. My sister Anne designed a dragon costume for our grand niece. She got the gorgeous wings made and I am helping to sew them on to the body of the costume. The dragon is glittery purple and besides the huge scaled wings, she’ll also have a long spiked tail and 3 inch claws attached to her hands and feet. Little Emily is so excited – I will post a photo when the outfit is ready.

When I don’t have any special activity planned, I sometimes play Scrabble with one of my neighbors. She and I are different kinds of players. She is a genius at placing two or three tiles across one of the existing words already on the board. 40 points is not an uncommon  tally for one of her moves. But on Thursday night I made: C-L-O-I-S-T-E-R-S. You got it – I used my seven tiles! 50 extra points!

I live right downtown, so shopping and all my entertainment are close by. I walk everywhere and carry home all my purchases – it’s a practical way to get exercise.

But the best news is that this “winter wonderland” lifestyle will only last for a short time. I won’t have a chance to grow weary of the short-cold days or even-colder-and-longer nights. In two months time, I will return to Merida and the balmy December temperatures.

I can’t say what the future will hold, but so far I like this 6 months in Canada – 6 months in Mexico arrangement. I like it very much. Jorge has not embraced the idea as I have. He is a Yucatecan through and through. He is happiest in his home town – and we all need to choose what makes us happy – right?

All of us have different priorities; we make different decisions and take different paths. Life offers so many options. But one fact is constant for us all – these “golden years” are NOT what any of expected them to be. Just when we think we have everything figured out, a bolt from the blue can turn it all upside down.

All the more reason to remain flexible as we grow older and stay open to the ever-surprising changes in our lives.

Published by Changes in our Lives

I am originally from Canada but have lived in Mexico since 1976. My husband is from Merida, Yucatan and we raised our family here. We both worked for many years at Tecnologia Turistica Total (TTT), the tourism, language and multimedia college we founded for local and international students. Now retired, we enjoy spending time with family and friends, My other interests include spending time with freinds, reading, painting, cooking and travel.

20 thoughts on “Loving Vincent and other surprises in store

  1. Thanks for your latest post, Joanna. It sounds like a very nice life you’ve carved out for yourself in Canada. And the autumn sounds lovely. We have real feel temps her of 104F with 100% humidity! Not winter yet! But as you know, Christmas is in all the stores along with Halloween. We’ll be there before we know it! xoxo


    1. My goodness! What a difference a 5 1/2 hour plane ride makes. I do look forward to going to Merida though… I imagine the heat and humidity will have calmed down a bit by mid December. I look forward to getting together with you then


  2. My new life has started in Victoria. So far have found an apartment, now i have to get furniture. My stuff from montreal….paintings, carpets, bedroom stuff, kitchen stuff, clothes..will be here between oct 23 and nov. 10. Looking forward to find courses, etc. Have joined hiking groups.. busy so far, wondeful city, Victoria, have been here only 13 days.


    1. I am glad to know you re settling in… I knew you would. You will enjoy B.C.’s milder winters, although Victoria gets lots of wind. I doubt I will make it there this year but I will make the trek next summer… All the best to you in this “new” stage of your life.


  3. An opportune posting today – it’s 19 years ago today that we waved good-bye to the moving truck, got into our two cars loaded high and heavy, and set out west from Ontario. Heading home again. Had I known that we would not see the containers’ contents until into January, when they were unpacked at rental house #2, I would have packed the cars more judiciously. A good raincoat would have been more useful than the heavy down parka I was bringing out for my son to go skiing, or the foul weather gear from our boating days. Alas, they and the gumboots were compressed in a container.
    We both retired much younger than you and Jorge. Then we began new adventures, too. Not finding a house we really liked, we bought a lot, designed a house, and contracted with a builder. Quite literally ‘a builder’, we were the crew. Sure, we hired trades, nephew Barry came and helped with the cement pour, but board by board the three of us got the house up. We moved in with a temporary occupancy permit two days before Christmas 1999.

    Then the island tradition of volunteering began. A friend from McGill and Montreal days in the late 60s (yes, bombs, demonstrations, and all) involved me in her diosecan Dorcas out-reach programme. When she suddenly died, I agreed to take over the position; there seemed to be no one else under 80. I’m still doing that one. When our son was starting a co-op term as ED of a youth organization on the Lower Mainland, his office manager was evicted from the office premises by the police. In exchange for a helper for him, I took on the directorship of the thrift store supporting the transition house – two paid employees and a group of volunteers. We turned it around from a liability into a nice little money-maker. I became a whiz at sorting donations. We curled and then took up lawn-bowling. Somehow, we both agreed to organize leagues. Mark became games’ chair, so that led to more activities. I firmly believe that no learning or experience is ever wasted. Life at an academic girls’ private school in Victoria BC did not prepare us for paid employment; but I could cook. Seven years cooking at lodges in the Rockies during my universities days – dinner for 35 on a wood stove, with gravity-fed water, and no electricity – was good preparation for whipping up luncheons or desserts for 60 lawn bowlers. Somehow, recently, I agreed to go on the board of a seniors’ housing project in Victoria, the local emergency preparedness group, and lastly our local home-owners association.
    During this, I did my MA in History. Thirty years of teaching high school English had interrupted those plans.

    Life takes different paths, but I have to admit I have brought most of them onto myself. How did I ever have time to work?


    1. Aluntie Alice, you are an inspiration to all your nieces, especially me! Life does take some crazy twists and turns but we must always try to make the best, and (as you say) we can learn so much from every experience. Whenever a door closes, another opens. I find this is exciting. Thanks for your comment!


  4. It is true…there are many changes in our lives that we must learn to accept – but the love of my life will never change and he knows it. Moving through life is like navigating the rapids – there are twists and turns, bumps and slides, ups and downs in the deep and shallow waters that want to swirl and spin us in different directions. We go with the flow and hang on for the ride with all the confidence in the changes that life has to offer. That’s called survival.

    You knew me before I became a published writer and were a major influence in opening that door for me. I now have a new passion in life – writing. As you know, my first book is all about hospitality and running a country inn in New Mexico. The next turn in the rapids sent me in the direction of mystery writing with my second book – D.G. Heath – Mystery Collection (three mysteries in one book). And another twist in life has been to have two stories published in Adelaide Literary Magazine (November Issue).

    So, with the book sales going well, I’m now paddling through life with my focus on future writings and enjoying my sunset years as an author…Not well known, but still an author. Thank you.
    I’m sorry we could not get together on your recent visit to Merida, but I’m hopeful we will see you this winter season. The snowbirds are beginning to arrive and soon the Christmas lights will deck the streets and a soft tropical breeze will find you relaxing in your hammock, wearing flip-flops and sipping a margarita – oblivious to the cold winter weather in BC.

    Come – enjoy the season and the family that awaits you. Have a safe journey back to paradise.
    D & J


    1. Indeed David, you have jumped in with both feet! Writing takes a lot of time but when you enjoy it, the hours fly by. Memoir is a good place to begin – you and I both did that – and it is still my preferred genre. Now you are into mystery writing and you do it well. Best of luck with your upcoming books. See you in December.


  5. (Joanna, I posted this a few weeks ago, but I don’t think it took. Reposting again.)

    Joanna, I remember my Roman Catholic parish priest from years ago. I thought he fit his calling PERFECTLY. (He must have been ordained for at least 30 years.) Then one day, at the end of Mass, he said “If anyone had told me years ago that the ingredients in the recipe of my life would change, I never would have believed them. But they have, and I am leaving the priesthood after this Mass.” And he did. He became a full-time musician, and, from what I have seen, has lived quite a full life, doing many different things with his talents. Your insightful post reminded me of him. As you say, “We all need to choose what makes us happy.” Yes! So glad you are doing (or did) a painting workshop. And that you are painting, something you love but didn’t always make time for! Congratulations.

    (Also, sure agree with you, things do change, “like a bolt from the blue can turn it all upside down.” We take things, like our vision, for granted. I am recovering from a surprise eye trauma that kept me off all screens for several weeks. Have a new-found gratitude, and that’s an understatement.)

    THANK YOU for your continued inspiration.


    1. Your parish priest is not the first to change paths after 30 years…I know several others who have done likewise. Not to mention the rest of us who change our lives at 40, 60 … and I am sure some are still creating new paths at 80. Life is all about change and it is far easier (and more fun) to go with the flow than to buck it. I am glad your eyes are better… the ability to see this wonderful world is indeed a blessing. Thank you for commenting.


      1. Joanna, just reading this brief life-story article, and it reminded me of your comment. Thought you might enjoy it. Interesting what her new path is at 80! 🙂


      2. What an inspiring woman.I know someone like her here in Kamloops. She left Hungry crawling through th fields on her belly to evade the gunfire. We cannot imagine anything ike that. Now my friend can hardly walk but she continues to be full of joy and has boundls energy. Attitude.is EVERYTHING.


    1. Don McLean described Vincent van Gogh’s gift in his 1971 tribute to the artist:

      Starry starry night
      Flaming flowers that brightly blaze
      Swirling clouds in violet haze
      Reflect in Vincent’s eyes of china blue
      Colors changing hue
      Morning fields of amber grain
      Weathered faces lined in pain
      Are soothed beneath the artist’s loving hand


  6. Yes…Yes. McLean musically illustrated Vincent’s art so simply, so beautifully.

    Have to share two related things with you. 1) Saw Don McLean and Judy Collins in concert together not so long ago, and it was pure magic. McLean did “Vincent” in his set, of course, and Collins performed some signature songs from other artists (who have passed), like John Denver, and the audience joyfully sang along, and it brought them present (instead of forgotten/dismissed) and it was, well, magic.

    2) Serendipity strikes again. Months ago someone gave me a copy of “Sunday in the Park with George” and I hadn’t made time for it. Two days ago, on 12/2/17, I got a nudge out of nowhere to see it. Had to dig to find it. Watched it last night. Knew nothing about it (embarrassingly), not even that it was a Stephen Sondheim musical. As you probably know (not spoiling anything here), it is about the painter George Seurat. And changes in our lives. (And during the play, it was revealed his birthday is/was 12/2.)

    As you say, surprises in store. Always. (I pray I stay open to them as the norm, vs. the exception. With courage to embrace them!) Thank you as always for sharing your insights.


      1. Cool.
        I think you will like it very much.
        Here is a link to a PBS version of the original Broadway cast on youtube, FYI. It has Spanish subtitles, couldn’t find one without it. Best.


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