Monday, August 14, 2017

STACCS & LUKE FOREVER

I don't know about you, but I enjoyed an amazing civil long weekend. I was honoured to watch Jukebox stand witness as two of his closest friends got married, then spent the rest of my break with great friends at our cottage.

Slowly but surely, I hit the grind completely exhausted first thing last Tuesday morn and (as an almost added bonus) I managed to blog that evening and purge my more serious thoughts; which is always an accomplishment when life is as crazy busy as it was last week.

Then, Wednesday evening my daughter stopped by the house higher than a kite. Not from drugs or any sort of substance, simply jacked from the sheer excitement and euphoria of what the next run of days was going to bring; the Boots & Hearts Festival about an hour south of us.

A) It's officially ON. B) Great hat. C) Rockin' to her favourite Keith Urban song .D) Flip Cup between sets.
TAKEN: AUGUST 10th - 13th, 2017

We knew she'd saved enough money to go and there was going to be about 10 of them camping together. They had planned all their meals and shopped as a group to save money. They seemed (from my vantage point) to have a well thought out plan for the festival as large as this one. Good, solid plan, yes. But I still couldn’t help but worry. With over 120,000 in attendance, how could I not worry? In the end, there was no need to.

As her kick-ass adventure progressed, true to her word, photos and videos began to arrive keeping us updated throughout the excitement.  She called me in the early afternoon Sunday because her phone had died in the night and there was just too much to tell me via text.

She told me that next year she thought we should join in. Then she continued to tell me that for a stint on Saturday she got separated from her crew and ended up hanging out and enjoying the music with another lady whose children were there with friends. "She was really old," she said. "Like 45... but she was cool and we had a blast!!" 

Look at that smile... Home today, she's experienced four glorious nights that would end with her drinking a twisted tea as her fave Luke Bryan closed the festival, whilst singing specifically to her in a crowd of tens of thousands of people.

Yup, you read that right. Just as she envisioned, he sang specifically to her. Just as I am truly only 29 years of age... NOT like the really old 45 year old she hung out with last Saturday.

Ah, the life inside my very active imagination, is absolutely amazing!!

#yagottalaughaboutit

Tuesday, August 8, 2017

THE RIGHT STUFF

Last week, after a generally disheartening and somewhat life changing day, I decided to head to the cottage for dinner. Just like the rain cloud that followed me around for the majority of the day, during my drive from town it started to sprinkle. By the time I got out of the car and to the bottom of the hill, I was in the midst of a full blown downpour. Suffice is to say that by the time I finally got through the door my lovely summer wears were pretty much soaked.

Without a second thought, I kicked off my sandals, zoomed through the kitchen, opened the patio door and headed down the stairs to the water. As the rain intensified, I simply closed my eyes and absorbed the moment. Before long, I could feel that not only was I completely relaxed but by now I was also soaked to the bone. You know that vibe? When your makeup's running, whilst the pungent smell of wet dog overpowers the scent of the copious amount of hair product one puts in their hair.

In that very moment, any/all stress and concern disappeared and my overall disposition completely decompressed. Nothing, and I mean nothing (other than maybe one of those perfect hugs that turns into really great sex) has ever offered me such a sheer sense of relaxation like consciously standing in the pouring rain.

Eyes closed, I could hear the pups swimming around me and swear I could feel each and every raindrop landing on me. For a brief moment my mind veered to why I was so glum, then immediately realized the point was moot. In no way, shape or form, was I going to let the bad behaviour of another occupy my good nature nor my loyalty a moment longer. I stood in that rain for more than 20 minutes and the only reason I went up to the cottage was fear I would need to put my phone on rice to dry it out.

Anyway, once I dried off and fed my pups, this image is what I arrived on the dock to find. Trust me when I write, more than a week later, the rainbow was meant to be. Kind of like an affirmation that everything was going to be alright.

Completely unrelated to my mood, the day following my social media post stating 'there's nothing better than standing alone in the pouring rain. It's like a mute button for life,' my boss sympathetically asked me if I was okay. When I assured him I was, I felt the need to add a very important tidbit. 

You know the person the coined the phrase, "what doesn't kill you makes you stronger?" I said. "Today I'm honestly thinking they just need a a really good and solid punch in the face!"

We both burst out laughing and I knew in right then & there I'd be just fine.

Enjoy this amazing image and thanks again for listening.

This image is what the beauty of  making the right decision looks like.
TAKEN: JULY 26th, 2017

Saturday, July 29, 2017

THE POWER OF THREE

I remember posting a meme a couple of years ago to my personal Facebook page that read: 'Who ever said diamonds are a girl’s best friend never had a dog'Outside my pups (and being someone that deals with copious amounts of humans on a day to day basis) I have to go with a great book as my next closest friend. 

Then, with a nano-second difference, neck and neck in a photo finish with the other two, my husband brings in the bronze. What? Tough to read? If you're an avid reader of this electronic journal you'll already know that five years ago he wasn't even standing anywhere close to the gosh-dang podium!

(l-r: Puddin', Dottie & Annie) The three best girlfriends a gal could ask for.
TAKEN: JULY 22nd, 2017

Giggles aside, I went to a birthday party a couple of weekends ago and I thanked an acquaintance for his participation on my Instagram page. He acknowledged that he enjoyed what I posted but felt the need to point out the obvious, which was that my dogs tend to be my focal point in a lot of the photos I've shared. He continued the dialogue pointing out how 'useless' people are that get attached themselves to their pets. I’m not going to lie that I was taken a little aback, though in the moment I deemed discussing it with him just wasted energy.

From this social media get go, I've completely and totally understood that everyone has their thing. Some it’s clothing, fishing, even politics, while other’s embrace music and the creative process or selling shit. What makes this wonderful medium of sharing so amazing is that you get to experience more than what you offer personally; unless you mind is completely closed.

My three dogs are a constant in my life. I joke about my husband taking the bronze but I truly do spend all my spare time with my dogs. My husband leaves, they stay behind. I head outside, they’re not far behind. Kids no longer call to be fed, you can bet I am constantly feeding my pups instead. 

Don’t misunderstand. The affection granted is thanks to sheer unadulterated greed. They are always chasing some sort of treat and I always seem to be packing; in bulk!

Just look at the power of three... and two chicken weiners!

Monday, July 17, 2017

BIRTHDAY PARTY HINDSIGHT

Remember when we were kids and the best part of a birthday party, aside from the cake, was the loot bags we were given on our way home? Ah, loot bags. If my memory serves me correctly, there was always a direct correlation about the success of the party you’d just attended based on the loot you headed home with.

Well, after celebrating three July birthdays last Saturday night, I woke up Sunday morning to the sound of rain on our tent roof and an unusual throbbing of pain that led me to believe that I’d be heading home one hell of a "loot bag”.  The only difference being that I was blessed to receive it before I was ready to leave for home and it contained only a single piece of loot; a broken baby toe.

After my husband became mobile Sunday morning, I stayed in the tent and listened to the rain pour. In some serious pain, I couldn't help but reflect that there's so much truth to that saying, “it seemed like a really good idea at the time.” More often than not, when it comes to me being with a great bunch of people, amazing music, and jell-o shots circulating, I always tend to strike out in the foresight department. However, when it comes to hindsight, I always seem to score perfectly: 20/20.

The glow of orange jello-shots by the fire.
(...In the wee hours of the morn.)
TAKEN: JULY 15th or 16th, 2017
As a matter a fact, I would be lying if I didn't admit that I was generally confident that foresight wasn't going to show up when trays of colourful jell-o treats began being served and it was unanimously decided we all needed to go swimming.

So, with that decision being made, in the heat of that campfire moment, I felt the urge to take the picture I'm sharing. Primarily because it’s been at least a decade since I’d enjoyed these and secondly because I knew that things we’re going to graduate to the next level in a nano-second.

Though it seemed like harmless fun (getting into our swimming gear in the wee hours of the morning) it somehow escaped me that I was about to jump full force into a pool with no deep end. My poor baby toe didn't have a fighting chance in the breakage department. Hell, I think my ankle narrowly escaped!

As I went back and forth via text with an electronic friend today, they asked how my toe was. I was telling them that it’s been over a year since I have participated any type of these shenanigans. I also replied that I won’t be looking to jump on any type of a similar bandwagon for a very long time.

Anyway, I did admit that whenever I get myself into a situation like the one I did in the wee hours of Sunday morning, I always try to learn from the experience to avoid it in the future. So, in true Rhondi fashion, I replayed the accident over in my head and I have concluded that by changing one minor detail my poor toe could have been spared.

The minor detail wasn't enjoying the shots with my crew, nor by not getting into my bathing suit. My solution's much simpler than that. Midnight pool etiquette 101: This bitch should have simply done a kickass cannonball. 

See? Right there you have changed everything. Should I have had the gift of foresight in that moment, this crisis would have been completely averted!

Just sayin'.

Tuesday, July 11, 2017

BAD LUCK OR LIFE LESSON?

For a very specific reason, at 5:15 a.m. yesterday morning, I reflected that I’d read somewhere that there's no such thing as good luck or bad luck. Instead, the big picture theory's that life itself is simply a vast array of either life lessons or blessings. Trust me when I share that when I mumbled those paraphrased words aloud before dawn yesterday morn it involved some extreme profanity; so I'll breeze over those specifics and fast forward to my point.

You can imagine my struggle to understand my general ability to compartmentalize my lot called a lesson whilst standing in the middle of my flooded downstairs family room at dawn. For instance, should that truly be the case, how the hell can I get out of this overrated classroom teaching me life lessons that mimic reality? 

Short story long, I returned home after an amazing weekend to a burst hot water tank. Now, here's where it gets interesting. I must say, what a difference 36 hours makes.

Before and after. It makes me sad.
TAKEN: JULY 10th, 2017

With the kids grown and gone, I head downstairs no more than once a week to clean. Because our home is without air-conditioning, from May to October, that space is pretty much doggie central. I keep it cool for the pups, whom generally scurry to the door when I pull in the driveway, so I never feel the need to visit them in their space.

To compound that, the laundry gets done by hand via my glass washboard at the cottage. So, though I still clean their space weekly, I have no need for the laundry room. I guess I could admit that I'm grateful something unexpectedly tumbled down the stairs yesterday morning, or I wouldn't have gone downstairs. Could going downstairs be characterized as a blessing?

Anyway, by mid-morning, I recalled I did a lot of research before we pulled up the carpet and replaced it with laminated flooring, not hardwood. Yesterday, my research became one of those things in disguise. The floating floor we'd installed was up in about an hour and a half, presenting me with blessing #2.

Blessing number 3? Treat people the way you want to be treated. One call and my new high efficiency hot water tank was purchased and installed by early afternoon. With fans oscillating and dehumidifiers buzzing I can only hope that I can afford to replace the flooring I really loved.

Afterall, we all know hydro gets paid first and I can see the spike in consumption from the instant the tank went down.  Though I had an amazing weekend, when all is said and done I am thinking I could have flown to see my best electronic friend for the lot of hydro that was consumed waiting for me to experience my first blessing

So I'll leave you with two things: Enough with the life lessons & I hate Hydro.

OK, three things. Lastly.... Ya gotta laugh about it!

Tuesday, July 4, 2017

I PROMISED TO PAY IT FORWARD

For the last few weekends I’ve tried, unsuccessfully, to wrap my head around reading a specific book I purchased from my favourite used bookstore before my trip to Cuba.

For varying reasons, after a dozen or more tries, I couldn't seem to make it past page eighteen. Ultimately discouraged, I abandoned my efforts last Saturday & conceded that after more than three decades, I’d finally discovered an offering from the author that I didn’t find remotely appealing.

Throwing down that official gauntlet had me rambling about my cottage bookshelves for something to sink my imagination into. Then, out of the blue, my husband reminded me of a hard cover book I was gifted by a total stranger on my April flight from New Orleans to Dallas-Fort Worth. As you can expect, there’s a story there.

Once I took my seat, a lovely lady with the window seat cheerfully greeted me. I settled in, lowering my tray to make room for my tablet and the paperback book I was in the midst of reading. Out of the blue she announced that she too enjoyed the writer, then produced her newest offering in hardcover. She went on to explain that years ago her husband joined a book club that automatically delivered him the new releases to which he'd present those as gifts to his wife.

As quick as my envy ensued, I instantly had a WTF moment when she confessed it would be nice if he made more of an effort to shop for her so she got to read something else once in a while. I know it’s easy enough to have a book automatically delivered to a specific address but I found the fact that he would gift wrap them and surprise her with them without occasion very sexy. 

Of course, when it comes to gauging romantic gestures toward me I have little, actually zero personal experience. If you'll recall, I'm the gal that has to research and plan her own birthday trips for two every year. Not only that, on my last milestone celebration, my husband had his balloon offering delivered on the wrong day; so perhaps now you can appreciate how I would find a gift wrapped book almost orgasmic!

Anyway, we continued to chat about various books when half way through the flight she pulled out a second hardcover book asking if I’d read it. When I admitted I hadn’t, she generously gave me her never read book. I was both shocked and grateful and I accepted. As we both held onto the book as it transferred ownership, I promised her that when I was finished reading it, I would pay it forward. I would give it to another in hopes that they too would pass it on to someone new.

If you're interested in receiving this special gem, let me know. After you're done with it, feel free to ask to borrow any one of my 40+ Danielle Steele books or any of my new to me used books I aquire from The Owl Pen downtown. I don't care that they won't be gift wrapped, the fact that the owner will call me and tell me new ones have arrived (giving me the first right of refusal) is still very sexy.

What? Are you surprised that practicality won out over romance?

After 30 years of conditioning, I'm honestly OK with it. Which is why I refuse to apologize for enjoying these types of books, nor care to explain why I will gladly tune into a Hallmark Channel flick over a Martin Scorsese movie in a heart beat.

It's my mirage theory: In the absence of water, I tend to eat the sand.

Thank goodness that crap contains lots of fiber!!

Tackled a new book & a Canada Day drink with my best electronic friend simultaneously.
Neither disappointed.
TAKEN: July 1st, 2017

Tuesday, June 27, 2017

ALL WAS DEFINITELY NOT LOST

Like most people I am a creature of habit.  When it comes to any defense and/or coping mechanisms, should something work I stick with it until it doesn’t, then I reassess. Like any stellar mechanic, I have a really cool toolbox filled with exercises I use to help keep my personality sharp and my mind out of any unnecessary darkness. 

I don’t talk here much about how big a pessimist I am but if I were to gauge it, I'd go with T-Rex large and twice as fierce. Anyway, after a bout of postpartum depression in the mid 1990’s, I decided a change in overall outlook (combined with an understanding of my limitations) the only way to go. As a result, I ended up to seeking help outside my family physician to avoid being medicated on anti-depressants. 

Forever an all important work in progress, I'm generally very open about the fact that I lean on a psychologist if need be; with my core philosophy being you take your car in for a check-up why wouldn’t you do the same for your mindset.

Short story long, I didn’t go to work today. Specifics as to why are moot points so when the alarm rang at 5am I immediately decided I needed to completely regroup and dig deep with a solid effort to go from funk to fab. Well rested, I finally rolled out of bed around noon.

Rested, yet restless, I needed to focus and find an unrelated task. I decided to remove and attack my hard drive that'd crashed from my office desktop unit last April and see if I could salvage anything from it. I got the necessary tools from the garage and began my dissection. 

Staccs n' me  rocking the white sand beach in Cayo Coco, Cuba
TAKEN: FEBRUARY 10th, 2017
I am pleased to report that I was able to successfully remove the hard drive without further damage and retrieve all of my precious data. Thousands of pictures but more importantly all of my taxation backup. Because as we all know...the taxman is a complete and total asshole!

As my data transferred I couldn’t help but reflect on the year I’ve had. If I wasn't what the doctors label clinically depressed last winter I’ll eat my fuzzy socks and lend you all the blankets I wanted to cover my head with. 

That said, my saving grace through all of that drama was the weekend jaunt I took to Cuba with my daughter. I salvaged this picture today. Isn’t she absolutely beautiful?

She will be excited to read that I got all of our travel pictures back. Along will all of our others from 2007 on. Hence the reason for my title that all was definitely not lost.

Who says being in a mental health daze can’t be rewarding, productive and amazing?!

Saturday, June 10, 2017

THE LOVES OF MY LIFE

A thorn between two roses and the true loves of my life.
TAKEN: JUNE 11th, 1988

Yesterday would have been my fathers' 89th birthday and tomorrow I will celebrate my 29th wedding anniversary. If I've asked you once, I feel I've asked you a hundred times; where the hell has does the time go?

It seems like it was only a minute and a half ago that I was listening to my father and his father chat in the living room of 222 2nd Avenue. His mother would be humming away in the kitchen and his brother, as always, would have been looking to instigate a tickling match. It would have been the early 1970's.

The 70's turned into the 80's and by the end of the decade I was married. The 90's brought children and the decade was a blur. All of that said, after surviving the whole Y2K fiasco, it was the middle of the decade that changed me and 2005 will always be the year that will be etched in my memory for the rest of my life.

Not a day goes by that I don't miss my dad. He was the first man I ever loved and I love him as much today, as I did the moment he died in my arms. Fittingly, my other true love was with the both of us on that fateful morn. Even more than a decade later my husband will become emotional when we chat about how he left us. Our conversation usually ends with him verbalizing "...he was my best friend."

With the kids grown and gone we often talk of how we've become the others closest companion. We spend 99.99% of our time together working toward our common goals. When we began this journey more than three decades ago we were much more individual. As most can relate, friends, even greedy self-absorbed siblings, come and go but we will always have the other. He has embraced my love of the outdoors and I have resigned myself to not argue when he wants me to be adventurous with food. I must say, it is our mutual love of sports, music & travel that has become our strongest glue.

It's hard to admit that my dad leaving us the way he did produced crack in the foundation of our strong marriage but in hindsight we realize it was a lot of the subjective actions of those around us that was our issue, not our commitment to each other.

As I sit here typing on my laptop and watching my husband quietly chip away at a crossword puzzle I never finished, I can't help but daydream. I wish my dad was sitting with us. He'd be playing solitaire and humming amidst complaining about the crap card he'd be turning.

Once he realized he had lost yet again, he'd stop to acknowledge my pups. Probably because they'd be under foot but more importantly so that he could take the opportunity tell me that he thinks I take better care of them than I do my man. Yep, those were the days. When the loves of my life would tag team with each other in an effort to get a reaction out of me.

Good times. Really.... GREAT times.

Thursday, June 1, 2017

A SMALL TOWN IN MOURNING

Last Friday night after arriving back in town late, I quickly picked up my pups at the house and headed to the cottage. I prepared a quick meal, read a book for a bit, then decided to watch a movie. Shortly after midnight I headed upstairs and checked my Facebook one last time for good luck. My entire body froze as I read the tragic headline aloud: Woman dead following gun shots in Wellington Street area, Bracebridge.

As soon as I looked at the online news photo, I knew who'd been killed. In hindsight, the more unsettling in the moment was that before my husband saw any photos, he matter-a-fact-ly announced her murderer by name. Almost a week later, I am truly sad to write that we were both correct. Once again, our small town mourns as a wonderful woman tragically lost her life in the terrible war against domestic violence.

Gone but never to be forgotten.
TAKEN: MAY 29th, 2017

Out of respect for the family, my post isn’t to retrace steps, nor point fingers. My personal reason for writing's more to put a focus on awareness. You see, the morning following the incident, a publication ban was placed on the episode. For the rest of the weekend the radio waves remained quiet of the incident and the online posts were only updating readers that there had been first degree murder charges laid and nothing else because the ban was in place. All I kept asking myself was... will a deliberate hush of quiet allow the loss of this beautiful soul to be in vain?

The thought of protecting the murderers' identity was absolutely and utterly incomprehensible me. I got stuck at the simplistic thinking of why should he be given the luxury? Shouldn’t he be showered with the exact amount of respect he offered his wife? As I began to voice my concern to others, every single person expressed the very same opinion; that he deserved nothing. 

Finally, Monday afternoon I took it upon myself to start making calls. My first was to one of her closest friends. I listened intently then explained the reason for my call. I wanted to rally support to get the publication ban lifted. The sole purpose being, if removing the gag order saved only one woman as a result of understanding how last Friday nights tragedy transpired, her death would not be in vain and she would be the others saviour. I am pleased to report that the publication ban was lifted at the beginning of her assailants bail hearing on the morning of May 30th.

So I beg all of you reading, no matter how painful the idea of domestic violence is, please talk about it. Talk about the ‘who, what, where, when and how’...  hell, yell it from the roof top. Because it's my humble opinion that in a society where one in three are the hard abuse statistics, awareness will always be our best front line defense tactic in saving innocent lives.

Outside of that, what I do know to be true is that I am going to follow the upcoming events at the courthouse intently and with a true sense of personal commitment. Moving forward I am going to spearhead more fundraising to help any of those one in three women that are currently under fire. Partially because I am blessed that I will never be in need of the truly valuable support services and secure shelter, yet more importantly to maximize the hope of never having to write about this again.

Thanks for reading but more importantly no matter where you live or what you do, please always work towards raising awareness against domestic abuse and improving these horrible and very senseless crimes.

Rest in peace Wendy Boland. You may be gone but I promise you will never be forgotten.

Wednesday, May 24, 2017

SHE WENT ASS OVER APPLECART

I love Maxine!
(c) Hallmark Licensing Inc. All rights reserved
Over the last few years I've started to have a premonition that I was going to take a fall and hurt myself. 

Not the kind of tumble where you slip on some ice and bang your elbow, more the epic type when you fall like Aunt Bunny and break a hip or your back. 

Well, last night I fell: backwards down the stairs at the house.… I know, right?!

Short story long, I was in the zone & realized the dogs needed to come in. I went down to the landing to find Puddin’ unable to reach the door because her lead on her run was jammed. 

Already grumpy that I’d been interrupted, I unleashed her outside then used my upper body strength to get her lead to the door. By then, I was frustrated. As frustration turned to anger, I was determine to get the wheelee-gig that scoots along wire to let go without having to fetch a step ladder. 

Finally in the house house with my feet firmly planted on the landing, I gave the lead one really good yank and complimented said use of force with a one word expletive.  Think Mel Gibson at the end of Braveheart, except I didn’t yell freedom.  Instead I went with a much more relative and common “F” word!

Anyway, as soon as I pulled the lead through my body, I felt the tension give way. In that very moment, everything went into slow motion. My so-called ‘spidey senses’ went into overdrive as I was uncontrollably falling backward at what felt to be a surreal speed. Nothing could be done, I was going to fall down the stairs; backward.

The first thing I felt was the dog clasp hit and slip between my wedding rings. My ring finger isn’t broken but I know I won’t be removing those suckers for a while. Next I hit my right forearm on the stair ledge. I didn’t cut myself but the bruising is so deep it has yet to appear. Next I felt the small of my back hit evenly on the 3rd step, I was definitely headed ass over applecart. The last thing to hit before me hitting the floor was the top of my toe. I broke my toe on the same ledge my arm hit so I completed an entire backward somersault. I landed at the bottom in a heap. So I dusted me off, put myself to bed, and I went to work this morning. 

Limping this morn, I shared by the water cooler that I had fallen down the stairs. The guys were empathetic but amidst the teasing I had two obvious opinions to share. That my falling was karma repaying me for yelling and the dog and using such passionate profanity and the second was a comment about my overall agility. It went something like this.

“It was epic. Who the hell knew I was that freaking agile? 

It certainly pays to still be able to hook your ankles behind your ears at my age" I said.

A midst the roar of laughter from the peanut gallery I had to continue.

“What the hell were you guys thinking?!" … I’m just glad I started doing yoga!”

Monday, May 22, 2017

FINALLY... NOTICEABLE PROGRESS

When I lived at the cottage the summer of 2015, I decided to begin clear cutting the back hill in hopes of detouring mosquitoes that were so large in size that they could have been mistaken for hummingbirds. Looking for relief from the onslaught, I was armed with only a hacksaw. I remember the day I started and I worked at it everyday until I could begin to drop some of the smaller trees (from the top down) using my chainsaw that fall.
(CLICK HERE TO READ: THE SKEETER/HACKSAW SAGA)

The following spring I finished burning what was cut the fall before and I continued my ongoing plight. The trouble with 2016 was that I took it upon myself to focus on my tan rather than conquering the hill. My reason being that there was no way the immaculate weather could last the season. I was wrong. It did exactly that and last summer was one for the Muskoka record books. The downside to my procrastination was it had me still using the chainsaw to drop larger trees into November with no further clearing nor burning accomplished.

After successfully getting the water on and the septic connected Saturday, I spent the afternoon in the sun. It wasn't to pay homage to my 2016 vitamin D consumption, more because I knew the rain was on the way and I had landed prepared to work outside no matter what. The thought process being that bugs would stay at bay if it rained and I had some very sex skeeter swag should they stop by for a bite. 

Armed wearing my steel baseball cleats, I started moving all the bush to the vacant lot next door and hauling the logs cut into manageable sections to the lawn below so that it could eventually be properly cut and split into firewood. Not only was it a great workout for my arms and legs, I could feel it strengthening my core. Truth is, I can still feel it today but in a good way.

As an aside, when my doctor gave me my prognosis this spring I was worried but now I'm completely and unequivocally embracing my lifestyle change. Partially because of what I saw my mother suffer from by taking unrelated medications but mostly because I think if you're willing to work hard, being medicated is generally unnecessary. 

Just like being a teenager, being a parent, being married, there's no handbook for mid-life either, so once again I find myself on yet another road of self-discovery. Yet this one in particular is one where only positivity, passion and overall good wellness survive. Who the hell knew this silly hill would become a project with so much personal pride attached to it?

LEFT TAKEN: JULY 21st, 2015                                          RIGHT TAKEN: MAY 21st, 2017




On one final note of trivia...

I read somewhere that if you chop your own wood it will warm you twice. If I throw in my unannounced hot flashes and the days I headed to that hill to work in the hot sun without deodorant, these logs should easily keep me warm for the next couple of years.

...Or even longer if my hot flashes insist on hanging around!

Saturday, May 13, 2017

A SIGN OF THE TIMES

While in the midst of undertaking my weekly chores this morning, my cell phone began buzzing on my nightstand. I instantly ripped off my very fashionable bright yellow Rubbermaid gloves, abandoning the undeniable enjoyment of cleaning the shower stall in the ensuite. 

With stealth like grace I effortlessly bolted over the bed with an outstretched arm narrowly getting to my phone on the very last ring. What the hell... I lied. I slowly walked around the bed kinda pissed that I'd been interrupted. 

Glass half full? It was Jukebox. 

He's been furniture shopping for an armchair on weekends for some time now. So I told him if/when he found something he wanted to purchase, to simply call to get it moved. Well today was the day, and that was my call. So, I summoned his dad to meet up with him to help him get this poop in a group. A couple of hours later they arrived at the house. 

They had unconventionally accomplished what they'd set out to do and my son was very happy with his purchase. He went on to tell me of a sign he had seen in the second hand store and considered purchasing it for me. I was ecstatic. As a mom, it never gets old when your kids unexpectedly think of you and what you love.

Short story long... at the end of the day I sensed he worried that I would find his sentiment 'cheesy' and with the insignificant price price tag of  50 cents, it wasn’t worth his effort. He immediately knew by my reaction that it wasn't about the material item nor value, more how appreciative I was about his genuine thoughtfulness and consideration of me. 

In turn, he went back to the store and returned with this amazing sign. 

Thanks, Jukebox. I will always love you, and my new sign.

As I have always reminded. Embrace the little things. In the end, they are HUGE!

Poppa would be proud...
The 'dog hairs' reference leads me to believe the homemade sign entrepreneur was from Quebec!
TAKEN: MAY 13th, 2017 

Sunday, May 7, 2017

AN INVESTMENT IN MYSELF

Rockin' our public school stage!
(Dr. M didn't perform in this play.)
TAKEN: APRIL 1977
When I found out last Christmas that a very dear friend & close confidant was diagnosed with colorectal cancer, I was gob smacked. I remember as the words were being uttered, my heart immediately sank to the bottom of my toes. As a result, I knew it was time to take a personal inventory and work towards ensuring I had a clean bill of health.

I have an aunt that was struck with colon cancer (and survived) so it has been in the back of my mind for a very long time. Always a very picky eater, a high fiber diet's something that has always eluded me; until, well, a couple of months ago.

With a new wellness doctor to help me along the way, I've pretty much felt like a lab rat since getting that first series of blood results back. Though I am grateful my sugar levels are OK, I seemed to have some rather serious issues elsewhere.

Anyway, when I was referred to a local surgeon to do my colonoscopy, I shared with my family physician that we had known each other since public school. As a matter a fact, I shared that I specifically remembered the day he arrived into our open area classroom from England.

When they wheeled me into the OR, he wasn't far behind. Once we were finished our pleasantries, he lifted the sheet covering me to inspect my feet for swelling. He acknowledged  my pedicure and moved toward the top of the sheet telling me he needed to listen to my heart. When he moved the stethoscope for the third time, I quietly asked, '...is it still there?'

His response was genuine: 'Rhondi, there was never any doubt!'

I was obviously very nervous, so as he prepared to administer my dug laden cocktail into my intravenous, I felt the need to break the ice. 'Listen...' I said.

I'm going to show you something here today and it's not gonna be my tits.' I continued. 'I popped those puppies out for Betty over in diagnostic imaging a couple of weeks ago!' ...Everyone in the O.R. burst into laughter.

Jokes aside, do yourself a favour and get tested for every single one of our silent enemies. It may be a tad humbling but you need to make that very specific investment in yourself.

Because just like yours truly.... You're worth it!

Sunday, April 30, 2017

Z IS FOR ZINGER

My husband & I wandering down Bourbon Street when we stumbled across the perfect ZINGER
(which just happened to be attached to this lovely persons t-shirt in New Orleans).
TAKEN: APRIL 7th, 2017

Saturday, April 29, 2017

Y IS FOR YOUTHFUL

I find a lot of people tend to ask why I have three dogs. It was never a long term goal and the dead nuts honest truth is that it's a heck of lot of work. What happened was, we acquired our third within a six month time frame of when we thought we'd have to put our eldest down. Trouble with the scenario was our eldest almost instantly turned into Benjamin Button and started getting younger; as you know the exact same thing happened to me when the kids left home! BA-DUM-BUMP.

A youthful yours truly with Captain Jack Sparrow!
TAKEN: APRIL 8th, 2017
I don't know about you but I have never worried about my age. As a matter a fact, I focus now more than ever on being in the moment without any type of inhibition. My trip to New Orleans this month was proof of that. After all, you know what they say, that 50 is the new 30 and I think my photo proves exactly that.

As we begin to plan for our two weeks away this fall I have made yet another personal decision. I am going to learn to scuba dive. Not because I have some deep seeded desire to learn but just like surfing, why they hell wouldn't I try?

If that weren't enough I am planning a large group trip to Cuba in February and I plan on attending a wedding in Jamaica next April. Not someone to look away from adventure, I have decided to get my motorcycle licence. Not because I have a desire to display helmet head in Canada; but I want to be able to independently navigate the island I visit this fall and the country of Jamaica next April.

I work to travel and I am fortunate that I love what I do for a living. As time passes quicker than I could ever imagine, I significantly increased my contributions to my retirement funds this year. I guess you can say if I am lucky enough to live longer than my mothers age of 57... I never want this amazing mid-life ride to stop!

Thanks again for reading. 

Friday, April 28, 2017

X IS FOR X-TRA

I have to admit that this letter of the alphabet is always the most challenging for me. Even though this is my fifth year participating in April A-Z, this is the fourth year I have chosen a hybrid for this specific letter. It's not an uncommon practice so when I was trying to decide on a word, once again my quest for my waist (and the x-tra pounds I'm carrying) immediately rushed to the front of my cranium.

Me carrying an x-tra 60 pounds
TAKEN NOVEMBER 7th, 2011
The photo am sharing was taken in November of 2011 and about a month after I left a very stressful job. It was during my tenure working there that I realized I was self medicating with food and my husband was enabling me. 

About a month and a half after this photo was taken (and during the December holiday break) that I officially tipped the scales at 200 pounds.  Seeing myself in a specific Christmas photo made me realize I was out of control; and that new years I made a commitment to myself and got my life/health back on track. 

It took me 18 months to lose the more than 50 pounds from my frame the took me 5 years to gain, and this last fall, more stress once again had me on a quest for my waist. I am pleased to report that I have a wellness coach and I have completely changed my lifestyle so that this never happens again.

At least that's what I tell myself  when I crave an unhealthy snack or look at this picture!

Wednesday, April 26, 2017

V IS FOR VARIETY

Some women are obsessed with shoes.
Me?... I love my wide variety of sunglasses!!
PHOTOS TAKEN FROM: 2007 - 2016

Tuesday, April 25, 2017

U IS FOR UNEXPECTED

Happy 10th Anniversary Mikey Mike!
Taken: April 2017 
As I have said before, I don't like to be surprised. Yet for some strange reason, I love surprising people. 

I'm sure it has something to do with the unexpected look on their face, which is kinda funny really, because that's one of the reasons why I hate being surprised!

Anyway, my most recent coo was when a good friend and coworker hit their 10 year work anniversary milestone. With everyone gathered in the conference room, out of the blue, I busted out a cake.

It may not seem like much but this fella is never one to get the props he due and he was so caught off guard that when I handed him the cake he almost dropped it. Even funnier is that because we can tend to be a couple of pranksters, when I went to take our selfie, he held the cake awaaaaay from himself for fear that I would put his face in it.

Though I have only been with the company for a couple of years (Click here to read: Mikey Mike & The Funky Lunch) I have been work friends with young Mike since 2010. The one thing I will admit is that the only thing that isn't unexpected about my post is that everyone knows I think this fella is a keeper. 

Happy Anniversary buddy... Here's to 10 more! 

Monday, April 24, 2017

T IS FOR TARDY

I am 4 days behind on the 2017 April A-Z Blogging Challenge. I may be late... But I'm not giving up!!

Saturday, April 22, 2017

S IS FOR SPECIAL

Darin, ME, and my hubby getting ready to head to the last day of the French Quarter Festival.
TAKEN: APRIL 9th, 2017

I don’t know about you but I remember my first true friendship from a very young age.

Her name was Ellen and the last time I saw her, we were in the early stages of high school. I have looked for her online for years but we lost track of each other when she enrolled in the nursing program and the University of Ottawa (or so I have been told). Not sure if she ever heads back to our old neighbourhood but even in mid-life, I think of her often.

I guess my point is that it takes a friend to make a friend and she was my first. All of that said, I believe you know in the moment when you connect with someone you don’t want to lose touch with; and in the spring of 2012 I starting working with Darin. 

The fact that we're 1400 miles apart has never been a challenge. In the summer of 2015 he traveled to meet me face to face and most recently we traveled to him. Definitely the best birthday trip today date, I got to experience some amazing music and very special southern hospitality.

I feel blessed to have celebrated my special occasion with a very special friend.

He's definitely a keeper and I'm sure Ellen would love him. I know I do!

Friday, April 21, 2017

R IS FOR RETRO

Jukebox embracing the vibe!
TAKEN: OCTOBER 31st, 2010
There's not need to rush to grab your calculators to figure out my age... but I don't think there will be any shock among readers when I disclose that I was born in this era.

Never one to gravitate to their fashion choices nor weed; to this day their music is something that still and always will fascinate me.

This past week was the anniversary of the death of Levon Helm (most notably known for playing with The Band). As I shared a video on Facebook of his last performance with Sheryl Crow, I couldn't help but choose to honour him with this word.

RIP Levon. You will forever be loved by millions!

Wednesday, April 19, 2017

P IS FOR PARENTING

I read a quote somewhere that referenced parenting as the easiest thing in the world to have an opinion on, and the hardest thing you'll ever do. I couldn’t agree more.

When we discovered that we were going to have the stork stop by in the winter of 1990, we were shocked. Not because we didn’t know how babies were made but we had purchased a new home a year earlier and with mortgage interest being at 12.5%, our 5 year financial commitment was staggering.

The Fam-Jam rockin' Huckleberry Rock in Muskoka
TAKEN: OCTOBER 10th, 2016

When our first born arrived, he was the perfect baby. We didn’t have much money back then but he brought so much joy to us we decide we’d like the stork to visit again; this time, in 1992, he delivered two!

Like any family, we have taken a journey. Even all these years later, I can reflect on certain situations and still wish I would have done things differently. Then again, you know what they say about hindsight; it’s in the past and not the direction I am going.

Today, I look at them as young adults and hope every single day that we have given them some good tools to be both successful and personally happy. I remember being so sad when they all left for school, perhaps I was naive enough to think they would never return. They all have and at least once left again.

After this last stint of my eldest boy being our roommate again, we knew we wouldn't allow any of them to move back home. Not because we're upset with them but we really feel it's time they leave the homestead. Though we would never see them in dire straits, moving home again's no longer an option.

I have to admit, when we get together, I am always joking that should they insist on returning, I am getting a one bedroom apartment with no pull out sofa. Seriously, I should probably tell them that I'm really not joking.... I'm dead serious.

Ya gotta laugh about it!

Tuesday, April 18, 2017

O IS FOR ORIGINAL

Before I left for my birthday trip, I decided to depart from my comfort zone and buy 20 of the glasses I collect on Kijiji. I had arranged to meet the couple in Mississauga and offered them an extra $15 to deliver them close to my hotel near the airport. Not gonna lie, the closer I got to the meeting place, my very hypersensitive fear of the unknown kicked in. 

Can you believe I scored original glasses?
TAKEN: APRIL 18th, 2017
Pleased to report that the meet and greet happened without incident, yet imagine my delight when I opened my box of treasures purchased, only to discover that they were in their original condition. I was absolutely speechless and tears formed in my eyes as I immediately thought of my Dad.

As the sellers looked at me as if I was a few fries short of a Happy Meal, I felt the need to share my story. In the end, it turns our that their story complimented mine.

His father owned a Petro-Canada station and the glasses had been tucked away for safe keeping. I find it even more amazing that it wasn't until his mother passed that the glasses were discovered. As corny as you think this sounds, I believe they were meant to make their way to me.

I have been visiting this collection rodeo for a very long time. Outside of heading online, I have looked under every rock imaginable in hopes to grow my collection.

NEVER, in a million years did I ever think I would be the very first owner of something so classic and something I hold so dear. I have to think it was meant to be. Either that, or I am the first original Petro Canada glass collecting loon!

Should the latter be your general opinion, my family may tend to agree. Just sayin'

Monday, April 17, 2017

N IS FOR NEVERENDING

When I woke up this morning I hopped out of bed and put the pups out. As I do every morning at 5:30am, while they are outside taking care of business, I log onto my Facebook.

I couldn’t help but chuckle this morn when my ‘On This Day’ memory shared a status update from a couple of years ago. It read: ONE DAY INVENTORY REDUCTION SALE ON DOG HAIR. No order too large. Free delivery within 24 hours. First 3 orders include dog!

Puddin', Annie & Dot rockin' the drive thru window at Harveys!
TAKEN: FEBRUARY 18th, 2017

Though I really am glad that winter is over and spring has sprung, I dread the annual dog hair festival my home wholeheartedly participates in. With three pups all losing their winter fur at the same time, the piles of dog hair that accumulate in 24 hours look like dust elephants, rather than bunnies as usually described; and them thar critters tend to plant themselves everywhere.

You know when people say they are glad to go away but excited to be home? That doesn't apply to me. Though I am grateful my grown children help out with the pups so I can travel in the spring for my birthday, I always struggle with the fact that they have no idea how to plug the darn vacuum in. That last comment isn't meant be ungrateful, it's just that the machine needs to be run daily from the time the snow leaves to stay ahead of the shedding storm that lasts into July.

Anyway, my entrepreneurial spirit will never give up on coming up with a way to market and sell the copious amounts of dog hair that's shed annually. It would be a proverbial gold mine!

Lord knows I'd have a neverending inventory in multiple shades for my suppliers.

... As we all know, supply & demand is key!  

Saturday, April 15, 2017

M IS FOR MUSICIANS


My very favourite part of the 2017 French Quarter Festival was experiencing the street musicians. Allow me to share the best of the best in Big Tuba Skinny.
The cornet player is absolutely amazing!   

Friday, April 14, 2017

L IS FOR LOVE

I can't begin to explain what I experienced when I was away for my birthday trip. I have always been somewhat of a closeted artist and no matter what, I always make an effort to embrace any and all offerings in their context. When I was in New Orleans, I expereinced a medium that was new to me: a living statue.

This is what I was given when I placed some money at her feet. Otherwise, she never moved.
Respect is what we awe... Love is what we give.
TAKEN: APRIL 9th, 2017
A living statue is a street artist who poses as a statue or mannequin, for hours at a time. The one I am sharing today absolutely moved me. I watched her in the scorching hot sun as her perspiration formed pools of sweat dripping from her elbows and her back was completely soaked. Nothing distracted her and her vibe was awe inspiring. 

Out of respect, if I took a photo or videotaped an artist, I left them a monetary reward for entertaining me. This is the only artist I rewarded twice. Once after I took her photo the first time and again when she gently moved to hand me her message. The moment of watching her move and offer me this small gift still gives me goosebumps as I type. In that moment, I thanked her. 

...Because the only thing more powerful than giving love, is receiving it.

Have a great day.

Thursday, April 13, 2017

K IS FOR KARMA

As you may or may not know, I have a deep seeded belief in the natural law of karma. No matter how silly this reads, I truly believe vindictive people, that go out of their way to hurt others, will end up eventually getting what they are entitled; their just desserts. 

You've read here over and over again that I treat people the way I want to be treated. If there is a disconnect between where we've been and where we are going, I harbour no ill will. I simply disconnect myself from that person and continue to gravitate to those that have earned the amazing energy I expend.

My post's a reminder: Never lose sight that your actions control your destiny.




Wednesday, April 12, 2017

J IS FOR JAZZ


In keeping with my recent trip to New Orleans for the 2017 French Quarter Festival, enjoy my second video offering. (TAKEN: April 9th, 2017 - All rights reserved)

Tuesday, April 11, 2017

I IS FOR IDIOT

When I was away, I posted a photo of my friend Darin and I to my Instagram with a caption that read, 'a good heart is always rewarded during a trying time.' Sounds simple enough but the other side of that proverbial coin is: don't be an idiot and you'll arrive at where you're meant to be relatively unscathed.

Have you ever found yourself in a situation where you wanted to be heard, yet in the grand scheme of things you just walked away and moved on? I find myself doing that more and more as I transition in mid life. Not because I've lost my edge, more that I've consciously decided that I no longer wish to associate with people that aren't meant to be in my wheel-house.

Heading home from Dallas to Toronto this morning, I couldn't help but stare out the window on the tarmac and reflect on the plethora of bad behaviors I witnessed yesterday, as a few hundred of us got delayed in New Orleans due to extreme weather and a mechanical failure to our plane.

Almost midnight & still in line.
TAKEN: APRIL 10th, 2017
 Twelve hours later and finally in Dallas, I had to shake my head as a gentleman was verbally abusive to the nice lady trying to help him out of the unfortunate situation we found ourselves in. If I had to describe how I felt in the moment, it was general sadness.

I know full well that everyone reacts to stress differently, I get that. Hell, no one knows that better than yours truly; but bullying the one person there to unconditionally help you is just plain asinine.

As we greet Spring and welcome Easter next weekend, it feels great to have finally made it through another long Canadian winter. As we soar home at 32,000 feet (and type on my tablet and listen to Don Henley croon through my Blackberry)  I'll leave you with another of my simple life observations.

When you feel you're arguing with an idiot... Be sure they aren't doing the same! 

Thanks again for reading.

Monday, April 10, 2017

H IS FOR HOSPITALITY

My BMF Darin & his amazing neighbour.
TAKEN: APRIL 9th, 2017
As you know, I am the first one to put my hand and volunteer for great friends, food and music. That said, when I decided to skip seeing the Toronto Raptors play at Madison Square Garden and accepted Darins' invitation to land in New Orleans for my birthday, I was a little torn (after the fact) that I'd chosen the latter.

Well, as I venture back to the great white north, I am kicking myself in the ass for having that nano-second of a lapse in judgement and doubt. 

My 20th+ 29th birthday celebration in the Big Easy was my very best yet. A close second would be the party I had in Public School where I invited everyone without telling my mom; but that's another post.

From the moment I arrived, until the moment I left, I had non-stop fun. I was fortunate to get to spend some amazing one on one time with my very good friend; and fortunate enough to be accepted and embraced by his phenomenal group of friends and neighbours.

My heart is bursting as I have never experienced such hospitality in my entire life! 

Saturday, April 8, 2017

Friday, April 7, 2017

F IS FOR FANTASTIC

I had a FANTASTIC flight & first day in the French Quarter of New Orleans yesterday.

Leavin' on a jet plane.
TAKEN: APRIL 6th, 2017


My buddy RED was on the YYZ tarmac with me (formally known as Rouge in Quebec)!
TAKEN: April 6th, 2016

Landed, then I locked and loaded into my seat in Houston. Next stop, New Orleans.
TAKEN: April 6th, 2017

My first glimpse at the Masion Dupuy. Excellent location and happy with my choice.
TAKEN: APRIL 6th, 2017

LOOK...  Bourbon Street is on an angle. Could this be a sign?
TAKEN: APRIL 6th, 2017

Experiencing my first street artists.
TAKEN: April 6th, 2016

Words cannot describe the amazement.
TAKEN: APRIL 6th, 2017

Fitting, wouldn't ya say?
TAKEN: APRIL 6th, 2017

By buddy Darins' favourite bar.
TAKEN: APRIL 6th, 2017

21,447 steps later, I experienced  a fantastic travel day & got a glimpse to NOLA.
TAKEN: APRIL 6th, 2017

Thursday, April 6, 2017

E IS FOR EXCITED

Headed to New Orleans with my Timmies!
TAKEN: APRIL 6th, 2017
Well, today's the day. I landed at the airport just after 5am and after a quick stop in Houston, I will be in New Orleans just after lunch. I'm really excited. This wanderlust thing I have embedded into my brain never gets old.

I don't know why I make such a big deal about my birthday trip. That's I lie, I most certainly do. As a child, birthdays were never something my parents embraced, as a result they were not only a luxury but a rarity. I am proud to write that I broke that cycle for my children but it makes me sad that my husband never followed suit. So once the kids were grown and gone, I decided to take care of the task myself.

I wanted to go to New Orleans to see my friend Darin last year but I hummed and hawed about the exchange rate and went to Sayulita, Mexico to try and learn to surf instead. This year, because I went to Cuba in February, I knew I was limited to another weekend trip. I was originally looking at going to see the Toronto Raptors play at Madison Square Garden and decided to hit up last years destination instead; I also decided not to check the exchange rates until everything was booked!

As I sit and hammer out my words on my laptop. I can't help but smile. I am so very blessed with a great family, wonderful friends and a job I love. All of which support and allow me to head to embrace the Big Easy for a once in a lifetime experience.

Life is good!

Wednesday, April 5, 2017

D IS FOR DESTINATIONS

Well, it’s the fourth letter of the alphabet and I am already feeling as though I am going to have a total brain spasm. So much so that I trolled my previous April A-Z posts to see if anything brilliant sparked. Almost an hour later, still nothing. Zero, zip, zilch, nada, nothing.

Then it hit me. When I was tuning up to begin this years’ challenge, I wasn’t sure my heart was in the right place to participate. As usual, with only a few letters accomplished I am getting ready to close my suitcase on my birthday trip. I was going to fold and admit that I’m still not sure I want to do this, then I had my a-ha moment.

Every year since committing to April A-Z I have traveled for my birthday, and every year I am stressed during the first leg of the challenge. So, as a friendly reminder of the last four challenges I have participated in, here’s a glimpse of where I’ve been, whilst completely freaking out about posting to this blog. This year, I will be in New Orleans.

As I prepare to hop a plane at 7am tomorrow morning, there are two things I am hoping for. A safe & smooth flight... and that the wi-fi in in my hotel in New Orleans functions better than it did in the house I rented last year in Mexico!

(L-R) South Carolina 2013, Jamaica 2014, Samana DR 2015, Sayulita MX 2016, NOLA 2017
TAKEN: April 2013,2014,2015,2016