Saturday, June 12, 2010

Milestone . . .

My "bourgeois heroism" has run smack into the limitations of my immune system and I've been sleeping as much as possible trying to get rid of this cold/potential sinus infection since Thursday, given that we leave on Tuesday -- you know how much fun it is to have a problematic sinus on a nine-hour flight, right?

But in between sleeping, packing, and crossing items off my list (and writing new ones on it), I thought a quick update might do re the occasion of Wednesday's celebration.

As I said earlier, I'm surprised I haven't mentioned anything about the cause for this earlier, as it marks a huge lifestyle change around here: Pater is retiring -- he has enough accrued vacation time that he won't officially be off the hook/payroll 'til the fall, and he'll hang onto his Blackberry until then, but from Friday on, he's mine, all mine! Given that his positions for the last eleven years have been in a different city from me (five of those in Ottawa, only a few thousand kilometres away!), and I've become very comfortable with having the house to myself during the week, and given that we're both firstborns, one a Leo, the other a Taurus, neither of us shrinking violets, there will be some territorial negotiation going on. Partly why we decided to begin with the jaunt to Europe -- neutral, fun territory unencumbered by domestic politics.

Anyway, the celebration on Wednedsay was both impressive and quite moving. Pater's EA had contacted me quite a few weeks ago about a surprise event, but she knew he would prefer a "small, elegant cocktails" event after work to a big dinner-roast. Then she contacted me again to say it would still be "elegant cocktails" but so many people were asking her if they could attend, many of them wanting to say a few words, that it turned into a much larger happening. In the end, there were at least a hundred people there in a beautiful room at the Convention Centre in Vanc'r, overlooking the water. As the event grew larger, P's EA had let go of the idea of surprising him, so he and I walked in together knowing what to expect. Except . . . we never anticipated they would have set up a full honour guard of the uniformed portion of his department (he's been the top guy in the Pacific region of a rather large gov't dept that oversees a large natural resource -- I'll say no more than that to preserve some of his privacy). I've been going to events with Pater over his 34 years in the department, and haven't ever seen an honour guard assembled at a retirement -- the tribute was very effective and very much appreciated.

People had flown out from Ottawa; within BC, some had chartered planes to make their schedules work; there was a representative from the US gov't commending P's work over the years on international treaty-making; a representative of the United Way had been sent to acknowledge his transformation of their campaign within the federal civil service; some lovely and thoughtful gifts were presented; many speeches were made, some by the top echelon from Ottawa, but just as movingly, some by those who had worked for, and alongside, him during his many decades. In these days of easy cynicism when public servants are so often mocked as ineffective, lazy, and greedy, the recognition of Pater's dedication to good governance was highly appreciated.

Getting back to, and attending, that retirement celebration was the last biggie on my list, and Thursday was spent relaxing and finishing a few work-related tasks. I still have to buy a swimsuit for Portugal, but couldn''t muster up the energy. Friday my cold had taken over and we ferried back to the island where garden maintenance is high priority! And more lists -- if I get a minute I might even show you the packing . . .

Meanwhile, enjoy your weekend -- here, we've got the first sustained sunshine in weeks (Seriously, there was a photo in the Globe and Mail last week of someone playing with a boogie board on one of the local beaches -- and the caption pointed out that the individual was "taking advantage of the 18 degree temperature"!! Talk about damning by faint praise! we're not even close to room temperature yet, and it's worth a headline!) Hope your weather is fantastic (altho' if you're in London, perhaps you could hold off on the good weather 'til we arrive on Wednesday . . . )