Diane's Solstice Letter for December 2017

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Dear Family and Friends:

It has been a year for me of realization, acceptance and a little 'renunciation'. A year ago past week, I realized that I must have my knees replaced, and knew also that I would have to have other joints replaced because my arthritis had spread into hips and shoulders. When April 18 arrived, and some friends told me '73 is just a number', I knew it was not just a number. I used to have such high energy, but for a long time, I knew I was losing that sustainable energy. I used to have the daily endurance from which I could stay up reading, composing, writing poetry, columns for my local community paper, and more. Now, by 10 P.M., I must retire. I accepted the fact that I had 'turned a corner' in several ways: first: when I realized that if I were going to write the autobiographical novel I had been planning for the past few years, I figured I have only five to ten years more in which I can create and finish large projects like that. I also wish to compose more. I then asked myself what makes me really happy. The answers are: creating music, poetry, writing, being with good friends and family, going with family and friends to movies, concerts, libraries, museums, trips, having quality time with them, conversing by phone, in person, e-mail, print mail, and more.

What I did not include was: working on committees and trying to get arts organizations to develop vehicles and approaches to become more outreaching, thereby raising their profile and acquiring more funds and community involvement in the process. As many of you know, I had been doing what I described above for over five years. Nothing in any of these groups has improved. With the exception of my wonderful Harmelodic Club, now over 80 years old and thriving, the other organizations, though complaining of not getting much more community interest and /or funds, will not even try something new. I decided to let go, and activate myself with people and creative ideas which make me happy.

That having been said, I also have had a 'medical' year. I now have my 2nd new lens in my left eye, a 'new' right knee, (as of Oct. 23) a lovely Nexus walker and a new pacemaker. I'm way ahead in my recovery of the new knee and have returned to aquafit. Thank you to all friends and family who have visited me during my home convalescence. Thank you to all who have sent cards, flowers and food. Thanks to those who drove me to book sales, shopping and other events. Peter has been wonderful throughout all of the many medical appointments, hospital visits, shopping, and many other ways. My neighbours, Helene and Marilyn have been really great supporters by getting me to walk and exercise with my walker, indoors and outdoors. Your support really enabled me to progress much more quickly in my recovery.

Some of the highlights of this past year for me have been also musical. Our Harmelodic public concert this past April was one of the best we ever produced. Two of my Paraphrases for Violin Solo were performed so hauntingly well by Ralitsa Tcholakova, the applause was deep and long. I was deeply moved. Peter and I have attended a few outstanding concerts. He attends many more concerts than I do. I enjoy listening much more 'privately' with headphones on such sites as YouTube. I was always a loner when listening to music as a child, and that has influenced my habits forever. That having been said, there have been some peak experiences for me, when attending some concerts with Peter and/ or with others. One of the most recent was when my accompanist and friend, Karin and I attended a concert by one of my former voice students. She performed music by a female Dutch composer who wrote music just before, during and after WWII. Pauline van der Roest performed not only gave an outstandingly intense and sincere interpretation of the songs, but mentioned me in her bio, as her first voice teacher. I've had several students over the many years who have become professional, but most of them never keep in touch, and have never mentioned me in their bios. As an almost fully retired senior music teacher, this has meant a lot to me. There are many occasions when I have felt that my approach to teaching has not meant much to most of those I have taught.

As I stated in last year's Solstice Letter, this time of year is darker for everyone in the northern hemisphere, but our world is also threatened by those who wish to spread fear, terror, and more 'darkness'. I believe one of the best ways to begin to keep fear mongering from conquering, is to walk outdoors as much as possible, meet your neighbours, get to know those with dogs, invite them to your home. We had an amazingly wonderful autumn in Eastern Canada. With my new walker, I and my neighbour, Helene, walked almost every evening, met many new neighbours, gave treats to those with dogs, really exercised, and filled our hearts with gratitude, for our lovely neighbourhood, with its nature -loving and animal- loving people. Elodie, my granddaughter is now walking, creating her own 'language' and playing with her friends in her playgroup. I hope to see her this Christmas Eve, when Moire and Kevin drive up to Ottawa. I enjoy receiving the photos of her so much.

In addition to the activities with friends and family, I've enjoyed reading and sharing literary works of great authors, but continue to enjoy many novels, both general fiction and mystery/thriller and memoirs of our local authors. We have many really good writers in the Ottawa Valley. I've met several of them in the last ten years. I've joined the Independent Authors Association and will try to join one of their several writers' groups for help with my prospective novel. A colleague said that it was the best thing she ever did, so that her short stories would improve. The Poet's Pathway laid its final plaque in the fall, at the Archives building of the Ottawa Public Library. The Poet's Pathway is continuing on 'new paths'. It has launched a poetry contest to which I have applied. The deadline date for submissions is Feb. 11, 2018. All poems of the finalists will be published. . Anyone can submit any number of poems based on Archibald Lampman's : Winter Uplands. The deadline is Feb.10, 2018. If you'd like to enter, I can send you more information.

I still write Arts Reports for the Riverview Park Review. I enjoy it very much. I meet amazing people in our neighbourhood. We have a great Community Association here also. The paper keeps us all informed of what Ottawa wants to do, so that we can voice our opinions and make our own decisions, thanks to our Community Association Board. All the information is in our paper.

So much has happened in my life this past year, but I know that you've had a big year also. I'd like to hear your news and your experiences and reflections on those events. I wish each and all of you a meaningful, successful New Year. I hope many of your wishes will be fulfilled, and that you will be healthy and happy. You are in my heart, each of you in your own unique way. You have taught me, (and still teach me), much. I have an enriched life because of you.

With my deepest wishes, Diane

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