Monday, April 5, 2010

Units of Time

A year on sabbatical! What will I do?

It's a real gift to take a year off from working, and I don't want to squander it. I keep flashing back to the movie 'About a Boy' where Hugh Grant has so little responsibility in his life that all his leisure activities exist solely to use up units of time, which is not what I'm interested in.

There are a number of things I have in mind already, and I'm sure I'll come up with more. Here are the goals thus far:

- improve my French before we travel to France! (I'm pretty rusty - it's been almost 2 decades since my highschool French classes)
- resurrect my bicycle riding skills (also rusty - I've hardly been on a bike since I got my driver's license at 16) and get comfortable riding in the city (I've only ever ridden on empty country roads with no traffic) - Grenoble is supposed to be a great city for cycling
- cook more food from scratch (particularly from 'Mastering the Art of French Cooking', which I received as a Christmas gift from my mother)
- learn to preserve food (so that I can justify planting an even bigger garden once we're settled again for the growing season)
- learn to eat well with chopsticks (I have to finally commit to eating everything with them long enough to get enough practice)
- paint in watercolour regularly (I enjoy it so much, but it's easy to lose my finesse when I don't do it for a while)
- catch up on reading books that I own but haven't read yet (which won't be easy when we're away from home), and books that I don't own, but want to read (I've got a long list built up from past years)
- learn about green roofs (I've been seized with this desire ever since seeing green roofs everywhere in Norway, which covered even bus shelters and sheds)
- learn to install tile (I think I'd be good at this, and I'd love to be able to put in a kitchen backsplash)
- volunteer (there should be many options for this, and I'm hoping to find something to do in each city we'll be staying in; off the top of my head I'm thinking of teaching, visiting people in hospitals, and getting involved in efforts to promote sustainable energy and agriculture)
- illustrate Mark's research (if I'm spending a year traveling around with a chemist who's doing research at various labs, I should learn more about what it involves, and put my scientific illustration skills to good use!)
- exercise regularly by hiking (something I wish I did more of currently), while always taking the time to stop and photograph/sketch/paint when I encounter a beautiful view
- finally print and frame favourite photos from past trips (I've got a backlog of about 4 years)
- devote lots of time to reading and editing my friend Jenn's stories (who deserves to be published! and if she was a full-time author, I'd have so much more great stuff to read) which she posts at:
- learn to type with the Dvorak keyboard because it is super cool and way more efficient (I've always wanted to try it, but I know it's going to take so much practice to mentally re-map - and I'm scared I'll then forget my Qwerty typing - best to do it during a year off when it won't matter how fast I type)