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


Tuesday, April 4, 2017

C IS FOR CANADIAN

Like most people, I describe myself as a lot of things. I am a mother, a wife, a dog lover and on any given day I can be a fat hairy bitch. That said, one of the things I am most proud to describe myself as, is that I am Canadian.

My travels over the years have taken me to many different place. Should everything in my life remain aligned, next year I hope to cross that great big pond for the very first time into Europe. You see, leaving this country I love was never an option when I was growing up. Both parents felt it extremely important that I see and understand our homeland before I ventured into another.

My beautiful cottage view is always complimented by a Canadian flag.
TAKEN: AUGUST 2016 


You know what? If I close my eyes, even today I can see myself travelling on the Victoria Ferry over to Vancouver Island, I can recall the angst of watching those grain silos on the Prairies take forever to arrive; boy I loved those prairie dogs. As a grown woman, one of my favourite memories happened while standing outside the beautiful churches in Mahone Bay, Nova Scotia on my way to Peggy's Cove. I am so very fortunate to have so many wonderful memories and live in the true north strong and free.

Thanks for reading.

Monday, April 3, 2017

B IS FOR BLACKBERRY

In April of 2004, I lost my corporate job. Consequently, in the small town I live in, over the 18 months that followed, so did 600 others (both salaried & hourly) when the automotive manufacturing plant closed.

Unsure what I was going to do, I decided to go into business for myself. Actually, I remember promising my husband if I couldn’t be back to my current level of earning in 24 months, I would go and get another desk job; it took me less than 12 months to reach that specific goal.

At that time, cell phones were the newest trend and Blackberry was King. As my business grew, so did my contact base so I decided to invest in myself and purchase a Blackberry. The one on the far right was my first and I still have the receipt for the $300 it cost me with a 2 year plan with my service provider. Yup, I got that puppy at the kiosk in our local Home Depot.

Who says loyalty since 2004 doesn't have its privileges?!
TAKEN: APRIL 2nd, 2017

Since then, I've steadfastly committed to stay with Blackberry until their dying breath. Though they still may appear to be on life support, when they announced last fall that they were no longer going to manufacture their own phones, I folded like a lawn chair and bought a Samsung Edge 6. Six months later, I still haven’t activated it.

Don’t get me wrong, I take both phones with me everywhere (that’s my Blackberry Classic on the far right) but I still can seem to wean my thumbs from those magical buttons.  I have to admit that one of my crew is missing in my photo. My Blackberry Curve; it was my absolute favourite. It died a death within 48 hours of my graduating to the next level and my husband killing it.

You know what? The fact that he busted it still pisses me off!

Saturday, April 1, 2017

A IS FOR AMAZING

Five A-Z challenges later and I'm
STILL rockin' a small Canadian town.
TAKEN: March 31st, 2013
It was exactly 8:04 pm on April 1st, 2013 that I posted my very first April A-Z Challenge offering. I remember being both nervous and equally excited as I was about to head on a road trip to South Carolina. I also remember the angst of feeling unprepared to complete the task.

It being my first, I spent hours doing a matrix before hand in hopes to stay ahead of the daily task. An exercise that went to hell in a hand basket early on; I recall it was an exhausting month long exercise.

I have met and stayed in touch with so many amazing people that I’ve met through the challenge. Because I consider my blog to be an electronic journal, rather than a blog in the true sense of the term, I have kept it going for me whilst entertaining my loyal audience along the way.

I sure some stay tuned out of a sheer curiosity of wonderment in what I will post next but the truth of the matter is I was in a different place then than I am now. I will admit, when I went back and read my very first offering about 'admiration' before I began writing today, I smiled. That was such an extremely transitional time for me. I swear every single day in 2013 I learned something new about myself. Here's hoping 2017 will be as generous.

Thanks for reading, and remember... Keep your hands and feet in the ride at all times!

Tuesday, March 28, 2017

PROUD TO CALL YOU MY PEEP

When you meet someone that you connect with professionally from the very first time you speak, for me anyway, those relationships tend to stick. I’m not saying they are friendships that ultimately last a lifetime, just that no matter how much time passes both respect the journey. When one calls, the other immediately makes themselves available. In this particular instance, I am referencing my old window and door days.

You see, about a month ago I was discussing a specific project with a couple of Engineers at work and I instantly had a brilliant idea and/or possible solution. Not entirely sure what they would think of my idea, I decided to pitch it to them rather than just simply blurt it out. In the end, I got the answer I’d hoped for. ‘Set up the meeting’ they said; to which I did.

Not gonna lie. From the moment I placed it in their calendar I was looking forward to the approaching date.  He wasn’t an unknown to my new team, one of the guys had met him a few years back, the other had heard of him in passing. Though I had nothing to do with participating (I’ve long since left that lane) I was simply excited that I was going to get to see him.

After their lengthy meeting concluded, he and I headed off to catch up. After returning to my desk after some much needed friend time, I was so pleased to have him back in my work life and formally introduced to my new team.

Back at the office, I reminisced with the guys about us selling together. I explained how he granted me unconditional access, would handle the technical side of the specialized work he does, and I would collect the money for the sale and keep the builder happy. From that very first sale, it was a win-win for both of us.

Sentimental reflection aside, once he headed home I truly believe what I posted on Instagram this afternoon to be true. It was a simple graphic that read: I am a very strong believer that whoever is meant to be in your life will always gravitate back to you, regardless of how far they wander.

Yup, I've really missed chatting. We officially fed the others ‘expired parking meter...' today.

It felt great!

The both of us leaving a Lake Muskoka boathouse project site visit that used his products.
TAKEN: JUNE 2013

Saturday, March 25, 2017

SHE JUST SCORED 20 MORE

This past week my sister in law posted to her Facebook page that our local Habitat Restore was closing. Via her share, they even apologized for the inconvenience. As all my long standing readers know, I am regular there (as well as every other Restore from Barrie to North Bay). Anyway, it turns out it was only closed for the day which was ultimately a huge relief.

When we were there last Saturday, we ran into couple we've been friends with for years. Aside from discussing how it took extra long for our nests to actually empty, the conversation also touched on the glasses I collect. I was somewhat sad when I admitted that my ongoing fear's that they're coming to the Restore, Value Villages and Salvation Army stores via estates of elderly folks that hung onto them the way my parents did. Even though I have about 6 dozen, I admitted out loud for the first time that I figured I'd eventually no longer be able to find them; but I will always continue to search.

Because I spent today working on e-filing 2016 income tax, I didn't make it to the ReStore. After I finished the terrible tax deed, I decided to plug Petro Canada Olympic glasses into Google just for fun and multiple Kijiji sites replied to my search.

Because they come in all shapes and sizes and I only collect one style, it took me a while to sift through everything. Then I hit the mother-load: 20 glasses for 5 bucks in Mississauga. The piese de la resistance was that she wanted to sell them as a set and they were originals from the 1988 Calgary Olympics.

I stared at my screen, then decided that I was OK with the price. Though I generally only pay twenty cents a piece at the ReStore, I am willing to pay a whopping twenty five cents on the black market. (Seriously, that last sentence made me laugh because I'd probably willingly have paid 5 bucks a piece.)

I have to share that this past week when the thread on my Facebook had everyone feeding me intel on why the Restore had closed, one specific response was absolutely and unequivocally perfect. My cousins' explanation as to why the store was closed was short and to the point. It simply read, "...they probably ran out of glasses!" 

As I filed our taxes today, then trolled around the online black market for my glasses, I couldn't help but think how my kids might feel at the reading of my will. I can assure them that it won't be anything long and drawn out and I suspect may sound something like this: Your mother loved you all very much. She is leaving you (which is to be divided equally and without prejudice) 15,472 Petro Canada glasses.... and the balance of her bank account.... which is a total of $0.53 cents.

What...? Travelling to pick them suckers up all over the country would've been expensive!!

This was the last time I scored... Thanks Habitat ReStore (in Huntsville, Ontario).
TAKEN: OCTOBER 16th, 2016

Friday, March 24, 2017

BRING ON THE HEAT!

As I got ready for work this past Wednesday morn, the local radio station warned me to bundle up. Even though spring had officially sprung the DJ let me know my morning walk was going to have me endure some serious -28C weather with the wind chill. I didn’t care.

Why? Because when you’ve geographically lived where I do as long as I have, you realize that this particular early spring cold snap is just winter leaving us with a sheer sense of haste whilst sticking its middle finger up at Mother Nature!

NO Hair, NO makeup, AND happier than a polar bear on an ice shift to be outside!
TAKEN: JANUARY 1st, 2017

I've said it before and I'll say it again, I don't hate winter, just simply despise how it affects me. I don’t know about you but it’s been a brutal winter for me. No matter how much time I spent outside, I was unable to turn my funk into fab. I had great days, like the one I am sharing in my photo, where I made a massive fire in the effort of getting as much natural light and exercise as possible; but by sun up the next morn, those neat vitamin D produced chemicals were once again depleted.

In an effort to keep my life as uncomplicated as possible, I unhooked electronically from a number of people that drained me emotionally, rather than showed any general support. It's not like I've ever looked for sympathy when it comes to my seasonal affect disorder but when you know I'm down, I'm not sure why certain peeps felt the continual need to kick me. My only reasoning's that they were unable to give to the friendship because they only ever had an expectation to take. To self preserve, I simply had to let them go.

Anyway, because the firm Darin is a partner in does work in Muskoka, once we confirmed my travel timing, he began sending me a weather updates from New Orleans. On the very day I ventured into the very cold spring tundra,  his graphic read that it was 70F in the moment that he was walking to the office.

My first reaction was surprise in that appeared a tad chilly. Not sure why that was the first thought the entered my mind, it should have been how quickly our visit was approaching. If I think back, it probably had something to do with the extremely limited fashion choices I have to make and the single piece of carry on luggage I get to take away on my adventure to visit him; but that's another post.

I am looking forward to being in NOLA during the April A-Z Blogging Challenge.

Will F be for Fashion? Hell no! The letter F will definitely be for French Quarter Fest!!

Tuesday, March 14, 2017

STUPID MENTAL-PAUSE

So it begins. The complete and total bullshit that goes along with getting older. To hell will growing old gracefully, lately I've been pummeled into submission by flurry of medical jargon, all looping back to simple fact that I am a quinquagenarian. I'm seriously pissed off, though really just mad at myself.

In 2011 I made some very significant life changes and lost close to 50 lbs. When I share that with people they seem surprised but the truth of the matter is that I disguised it quite well with how I dressed. During that journey, I promised myself I would never let it happen again. Until this past December, when I was blind-sided by an emotional setback and a quick spike of weight gain returned. Not because I was ill, simply because I was self medicating myself through a very trying time: with food.

I LOVE MAXINE!
(C) Hallmark Licensing Inc.
If that surprises you, I will admit that I engage in regular conversation with a good friend about the power of food and the damage it can do. I haven't always struggled, it's just that my relationship with food changed drastically after my dad died in June 2005.

Shortly after his passing the tipping of the scale (so to speak) was slower at first. The settling of the estate took longer than expected which was not only stressful but extremely painful personally.

Little by little my portion sizes got larger and the muscle mass and cardiovascular condition I had worked my entire life to build up, slowly deteriorated.

In hindsight, I recall during this painful time, I hid how much I ate and internalized everything. Thanks to some good therapy, I learned to rationalize and understand what was happening personally and counter balance the triggers. Apparently this last slip has come with some severe consequences; all which are intertwined to my long term health and wellness.

You see, when a close friend was diagnosed with colorectal cancer, I figured it was time to get the skinny (no pun intended) on where I was at with my overall health. Going in, I had some severe underlying concerns but my main fear was being diagnosed with diabetes. Turns out I am A-OK in that department but have a plethora of other issues directly related to my weight gain. So, I have to lose 20 lbs in 3 months.

I lost the 50lbs I was mentioning with the time lapse being close to a year. Not bad as the gain happened over four years but in this challenge, I won't have that luxury. Apparently I have to become as close to a vegan as humanly possible. For a person that loves beef and pork and every single fixin' they get plated with, I think it will be a definite challenge.

With no one to blame but myself, I am not going to allow anyone to enable me into thinking I have food options outside the wellness doctor I have been assigned. Besides, you know what I always say.....

Life is hard right up until the moment it isn't!

Thursday, March 9, 2017

LIFE LESSON #883

When riding shotgun in the carpool tonight, I spied a familiar face manning the crosswalk at our busiest intersection in town. Though there’s a traffic light there, the walk's exceptionally long and the flashing stop sign she holds high most certainly keeps the little ones out of harms way. I immediately noticed she was limping.

As we drove through on our way home, I physically turned my head to watch her.  Out of the blue I felt the need to disclose her name and mention the type of wrath she was subjected to when we were in high school. The truth of the matter is that after sharing about her journey I was embarrassed that I remembered such finite details.

You see, it wasn’t I that was the bully. The hard fact's the ones making fun of her, were also the ones continually making fun of me. The single difference between she and I was that I got to walk around in their presence. To this day, those that treated the two us that way, are generally still the same;  ill informed, overbearing and insecure.

One of my teen year bullies snapped this picture.
(Introducing a one time blog costar: Dusty)
TAKEN: WINTER 1983
To let you know where I'm headed with this, I saw a meme on Facebook this afternoon that said “I’d rather have an enemy that admits they hate me, instead of a friend that secretly puts me down.” I see some serious merit in that.

I am embarrassed to admit that in one very singular instance (in fact, with the person that took the picture I am sharing) I occupied that latter lane I am referencing; and she willingly did the same.

I use to be remorseful at how I forced our friendship to an end, yet everyday I am grateful I finally did. I was drowning in her consumption of my good nature, which served as premium fuel for her narcissistic agenda. That was about 20 years ago, and if there is one single thing we now agree upon, it's that neither have a single use for the other.

I'm no shrink but I believe (for me, anyway) because I was bullied, in the past I use to let certain toxic friendships consume me to simply prove that I was worthy. All these years later, there's absolutely no comparison to where I am in my life and where they are in theirs. The only way I can rationalize the difference, is that I've never stopped learning and they've always believed they know everything. 

My point tonight's that watching the local crossing guard limp way, I was offered an instant 30+ year flashback. I instantly envisioned all of us standing in that high school atrium on that very day. Reflecting, I immediately had an profound sadness come over me and  it's because I still only keep in touch with only one gal that witnessed what I did on the day I am writing about.

The saddest part to my story?

In mid-life, that gal is still a part of that specific crew. All these years later, she's become the one they secretly put down behind her back. They always have and with her BFF's behaviour being deemed acceptable since public school, I suspect they always will.

For the umpteen time I write but refrain from using all caps.... Mean people suck!!

Tuesday, March 7, 2017

...HOW BIG WAS IT?!

I fell in love at first sight!
TAKEN: MARCH 4th, 2017
Well, I ventured about 50 miles south to go shopping last Saturday. Not for groceries or shoes, dog cookies or clothes. Matter a fact, it was something much more personal. So much so that when I spied this amazing thing of beauty from across the store, my heart literally skipped a beat. Trouble was, I instantly realized it was simply too big. You read that right. Once again, I was quickly reminded that size DOES matter. 

Allow me to take a step back. For numerous reasons, I usually checked my luggage. I keep my electronics and digital cameras in my 50 lb tickle trunk that I cleverly disguise as a purse and everything else gets zipped up and manhandled rougher than the young gal in a red room scene of 50 Shade of Gray. I've always just budgeted that lost time into my vacation; which was considered my norm until my weekend jaunt to Cuba.

For my quick February fly-in I knew I was departing late Thursday afternoon and coming home just before midnight the following Sunday. Thus, we all decided to stay calm and carry on. All our liquids were packed the way the airlines insist and fashion choices were kept to a bare minimum. The problem was, once at the wicket, we discovered that what was an acceptable carry on a couple of years ago, was no longer and our luggage had to be checked. Suffice is to say I was disappointed with the extra time we would have to spend in both airports.

Only $52 and I'm in approved size territory!
TAKEN: MARCH 4th, 2017
Checking luggage aside, I learned a lot of things about myself on my puddle jump to Cuba. First and foremost, that you don’t need to go somewhere for a week to have an amazing experience. 

With a less than 3 hour flight (and 15 minute bus ride to the resort) I returned to the northern tundra relaxed and recharged and used only 2 of my 2017 vacation days for a Cuban passport stamp.

Next up? New Orleans, Louisiana for my birthday. How many vacation days will be used? Only 3 in total!

As it stands now, I am saving seven for Secrets Cozumel at the fall time change, leaving me another long weekend adventure to look forward to.

Now that I am all sized up in the luggage department I think I just may need to take a few days before or after the Canadian Thanksgiving and hit the road. Hmm... I wonder when and where the Raptors play in October?

Hang on. Let me run and put on my K-Low jersey and check the schedule!