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!

Saturday, February 25, 2017

OUTDOOR RHONDI REFLECTION

Beauty day at the cottage!
TAKEN: FEBRUARY 20th, 2017
Like the majority of Canadians, last weekend I celebrated the Family Day long weekend. Though I spoke with each of my children more than once electronically, it was my fur babies that received the bulk of my attention, as the 4 of us spent most the weekend outside. 

To compliment that, as I do quite often when I have some time to myself, over early morning coffee last weekend I reflected on what I had going on this time last year; the year before that and so on. 

If you don’t relate to the concept of keeping an electronic journal you may find my next point a tad odd to fathom. But I love the fact that I have a accumulated a snapshot in time of what I've had happening in the last few years of my life. A wee titch creepier is that I remember my general mindset with regards to 99.9% of the things I have written about, as well as whom/what I've addressed. Not because my OCD trumps my limited writing skills but simply because most of my posts have an extremely personal element attached.

Some appear as simple quirky stories, yet most have an underlying theme that either masks the pain I was feeling when solidifying my thoughts, or that typing out and posting my thoughts helped me release the stress associated with a specific situation; ultimately allowing me to let the angst go.

Believe it or not, the funniest ones, were the most emotional to write. As I sit back and look at where I'm at personally, today, at this point in time, I am shocked how I have evolved since I posted my first offering on November 20th, 2011.
(CLICK TO READ: Here We Go!)  

The first few years were essential to me finding out where I fit. Not in a 'square hole/round peg' type of scenario, rather a 'what was I meant to do when I grow up' sort of crossroad. All these years later, though I may have grown exponentially as a person, I still have questions... and some of them are absolutely ridiculous. 

At the end of the day, I guess I am sharing that I have finally come to terms with the fact that I march to the beat of a different drummer. Though I will admit I have discovered that no matter how hard I try to change things about my persona and I am unable, that drummer and I will always strive to understand why.

As I pack up the pups and head for a sleepover at the cottage my mind will wander with all the different dummers that have inspired me. Let's see: Phil Collins, Don Henley, Neil Peart and most definitely Levon Helm. Oh ya, mustn't forget that one armed dummer Rick Allen from Def Lepard.  His is the voice in my head that confirms I will never let others judge me for my choices.

Because, ultimately, they are MINE!

Monday, February 20, 2017

GUESS WHAT? I STAND CORRECTED!

Well, it’s hard to believe that exactly a week ago today, I was headed back up the 400 highways to Muskoka after they’d been hammered by snow; and I’d been experiencing a similar but different kinda action by the pool, by the ocean, and wonderful stage lights of the resort shows I attended.

Relaxin' & chillaxin' on the beautiful Cuban sand.
TAKEN: FEBRUARY 11th, 2017
Jokes aside, though we gals sipped and walked, sipped and swam, whilst ending our days sipping and singing, there were never any out of control (nor expressing any silly impaired judgement) moments. Just some serious relaxation and a lot of fun. The truth of the matter is that most of our entertainment came from watching others storm & perform.

Imagine a 300lb football player, impaired, in a banana hammock: doing the moves from Dirty Dancing (including the lift) with his very intoxicated man friend. Bat shit crazy, hilarious and by far my most entertaining afternoon spent by a pool, EVER.

So, here’s the deal. As you've read, I had some serious reservations about my trek. I was fine with the shortened timeline because I had no idea what I was signing up for and I had a contingency plan in place for their food.

Well, exactly seven days later, I will go on the record that I stand corrected. I was a complete bonehead. Everything about Cuba was amazing. So great in fact, that my focal point about the food being lackluster was moot.

Quick flight, only 15 minutes on the bus to the resort, and sand beaches like no other I have ever been blessed to walk. I met a lovely couple from Halifax, a great couple of ladies from Winnipeg, and even someone from my hometown that noticed us walk by our very first morning by the pool. Rooms were clean, staff extremely accommodating, and the weather was perfect. I think the even bigger shock to my system is that I would most definitely return. Once again, for a quick long weekend next February.

What can I say? When I’m wrong, I say I’m wrong. The other side of the coins is what Confucius say… Two wrongs not make right, but two rights make U-turn. Right the hell back to Cuba!

Who’s in for February 2018? All, are welcome... I’ll bring the peanut butter & ketchup!

CAYO COCO, CUBA
TAKEN: FEBRUARY 2017

Wednesday, February 8, 2017

MY CUBAN SURVIVAL KIT

Well, I am sad to report that it's with the least amount of enthusiasm EVER that I packed my carry on travel bag last weekend. Not because I'm long in the tooth about getting away, rather the simple fact that I've never had any type of wanderlust fantasies about jetting off to Cuba for the weekend; yet I am.

If I were to be completely honest, I think I'm pouting. The original plan was to head to a condo in Grand Cayman for the weekend. When timing on that unexpectedly changed, Cuba seemed like a good way for my daughter (to get her first) and I to get a new passport stamp without breaking the piggy bank. Was I wrong. Last minute at a 4.5* resort in Cuba was bat shit crazy pricey. I didn't care. As this mini vaycay was always going to be a very personal one.

Personal or not, I suspected I was cooked when my Travel Counsellor refused to candy coat exactly what I was paying for. "The beaches are beautiful, the service amazing, and the people are some of the nicest you'll ever meet..." Then she added... "When it comes to the food? It is, what it is. You will probably be disappointed." 

Always one to look for a solution rather than dwell on the problem, I figured there must be an easy way to make it through my 3 day weekend in Cuba. So, I decided to create a Cuban Survival Kit. It doesn't contain a Spanish/English dictionary, water purification tablets, an epipen, nor a signaling mirror should I lose my way.

After a careful assessment of our personal party planning needs, my survival kit officially includes three very critical things: Heinz ketchup, French's mustard and just enough Kraft smooth peanut butter to make a girl smile. (I also have some salt, pepper, and herb flavours stashed in my makeup bag.)

Once again, I am leaving on a jet plane. This time packing a survival kit.
TAKEN: FEBRUARY 5th, 2017

Though I know many other items are needed, two of my three survival items are extremely important. The first two will make my poolside/beachfront BBQ dining experiences a gastronomical delight. The third, the Kraft peanut butter, combined with any type of bread, at any time of the day, shall produce a rub-a-tummy-yummy feast in the 'I am hungry' department. Here's my plan...

When in Cuba: Soak up the sun. Embrace the culture. Hydrate, yet lose weight.

Wow, you'd almost think that was a Jenny Craig endorsement!

Nope, just 3 amigos on a very personal mission... with me seeking a new passport stamp. 

Saturday, February 4, 2017

PLEASE CHECK YOUR MILK CARTON...

 Cheers to my newest Brit friend June...
Cozumel was amazing.
So was my very first margarita!
TAKEN: DECEMBER 3rd, 2016
Has your life ever gotten so busy that you've lost track of who you really are? Well, I am sad to report that I honestly feel that scenario has officially happened to me. Gobsmacked to admit it, all I can manage to type is... What the freakin' hell is going on!

Here's the skinny. Unbeknownst to yours truly, in the last year and a half, I've somehow evolved into an ultra conservative schoolmarm. I may have always been lacking on the adventurous side when it came to risk taking, but schoolmarmishness (my new word of the week) has never remotely been an option. To make matters worse, I've always envisioned myself being the one in the old age home embracing sarcasm and telling jokes filled with sexual innuendo; or so I'd thought.

What I do know is that my very new to me condition became polarized about six months ago. I remember it well because there was a very specific moment in which I realized that I had evolved into a completely different person than the one I'd worked the last five years to discover. Then, my heavyhearted worry came full circle with the sharp realization that I was suspiciously comfortable in authentic knee length pantaloons whilst sporting little makeup and bad hair in public.

Yup, it was in that very moment of downtown comfort that I realized what I'd transformed into & that there needed to be some serious changes made quickly. Comfortable albeit still in a state of disbelief, I frantically went from store to store around town checking milk cartons and the missing person photos on side. Sadly, though there have been a couple of reported sightings of the good ole me, they have been few and far between.

The good news is that my analysis tells me that there were glimpses of me on my last trip to Mexico. It also tells me that returning to the harsh December Muskoka tundra, had me immediately revert back to searching for those comfy pantaloons quicker than Donald Trump lies. It's true, my reversion was  instantaneous. As a result, I decided to take another kick at the 'rediscover my identity' can.

Next weekend I am leaving on a jet plane for a girlz getaway. It's only for 3 nights but it is the first time in my entire life that I am hopping a plane and I am not completely burnt out. There will be no overthinking and most definitely no schoolmarmishness happening. Just a conscious effort to regain a personal starting point whilst basking in the Caribbean sun.

As you can imagine, last minute this time of year can be expensive. Here's hoping when on my rediscovery mission I find myself on a local milk container and haul my pantaloonless ass home. I have to say, it would be great for their carton stats to have rescued another one.

...To which I would always be grateful.

Sunday, January 22, 2017

NO SOUP FOR ME!

Last week produced some of the worse walking and driving conditions in my neck of the woods in a very long time. The good news is that by the time Friday morning rolled around the mercury was well above freezing and it managed to climb to a balmy 5C yesterday. It felt good to be out and about town without a coat in January.

So here's the million dollar question of the day: A northerner by birth, have I finally learned to live in harmony with winter; or am I just so conditioned to going through the motions, that I can completely compartmentalize my serious disdain for this time of year? For a couple of reasons, in this very moment, I have to go with the latter.

Road were exactly like my rear view mirror... Slickery!
TAKEN: JANUARY 18th, 2017
You see, over the holiday break I received some very shocking & heartbreaking personal news about a very dear friend. So as a group it was decided we'd hop a plane and head into the sun for the Family Day long weekend. Nothing extravagant, just a quick flight and 3 quiet days away from it all. As always, I gladly offered to book everything online.

Having had no time to really focus on flight times etc., I decided to finally roll up my jammie sleeves this morning, go online and book. The original condo decided upon was out of the question as the owner got his dates mixed up. So, as a back up, I'd short listed other options. The disappointment this morning's that I should have never procrastinated as I have to go back to the drawing board.

Dang, spang! Before my exercise this morning, I genuinely found the thought of last minute travel exciting; which is no longer the case. My bad. Because I want specific criteria met, I am not having much luck. The truth is I was trolling my friends on Facebook in hopes of getting some suggestions and help; and though they've all been helpful, I am disappointed to report there's still no soup for me.

Yep, even though there's no soup for me, my glass half full's reminding me that it's a probably a good thing. With my complete and total crap luck these last few months, I'm sure had I hit the jackpot today and scored what I wanted,  the soup served would not have been piping hot and hearty.

Likely the opposite.You know, more a bland and unsalted cold vichyssoise!

What can I say other than....Ya Gotta Laugh About It!!

Wednesday, January 18, 2017

NEVER WORRY WHAT OTHERS SEE

Always be whom you choose to be... Never worry about what others think they see.
TAKEN: DECEMBER 4th, 2016

This past year’s been a bit on an shit show as well as an exhausting whirlwind for me. So many firsts, as well as a couple of very significant lasts. I guess the Coles notes version would be that I traveled a bit and accomplished a lot. I am pleased to report that I reached the personal goals I'd set for myself, even though one very specific wasn’t truly crossed off my list until right before the clock struck twelve on the last day of the year; proving once again that you should never give up on something you're truly passionate about.

Well, just like this time last year, the cycle begins again. A little better than two weeks into 2017 I'm all ready feeling a tad overwhelmed with how I am going accomplish everything I want to in this year to come. I haven’t formally written down my personal goals on paper per say but I have a general outline as to where I want to land within the next 50 weeks. For the first time in my life, my goals contain some significant variables.

Anyway, as we roll into the year, I am pleased to announce that I have a new mantra. My 2016 lessons learned file has made me promise myself I will always be whom I choose to be, promising never to worry about what others think they see.

This new to me mantra arrives with the a specific caveat. If 2016 taught me anything, it was the reality to never allow anyone to take over your focus, no matter how badly you want to please them. At the end of the day, the majority of your time's spent simply inflating their personal agenda. I honestly feel if I keep my own personal focus, every single aspect about 2017 is going to be a win.

Why so simplistic? Though it's taken me a lot of years, I can honestly say look at myself in the mirror every morning and I like what I see. I treat people the way I want to be treated, I hold myself accountable without lying to escape the truth of an uncomfortable situation, and give 110%... 99.99% of the time. In 2017, I should I blessed and remain healthy, I've decided to only spend my time with those that truly matter.

Which is why I pledge to no longer fret about those that refuse to see... ME!

Thursday, January 12, 2017

AM I JINXED... OR IS IT JUSTICE?

For a very long time, years in fact, I've been debating replacing my beloved Blackberry. The truth of the matter is because it was once such a stellar Canadian company, I swore I would stay loyal until their ship officially sunk. Recently (via my cell phone provider) I discovered that Google's bought a large chunk of Blackberry and has hammered home an Android only application mandate. With all ongoing support quickly evaporating, I realized that my Blackberry Classic rollerball/keypad buttons/happy hub days were officially numbered.

Adamant that I would never EVER buy an iPhone, I began to research Samsung. My first purchase was their tablet, next their television, then first of November past I bought their S6 Edge cellphone. Still unsure I could ever let my Blackberry go, I bought this very sexy phone previously used. You know, so that we could date for a while before making any kind of long term commitment to each other.

Well, from the get go I immediately struggled. I hung in so not appear bias; then I left for Mexico and all hell broke loose. About half way through my two week vacation, my new to me Samsung shut off and wouldn’t reboot. I trolled and scrambled online to find out the issue but short story long, I assessed that it was probably toast. I was heartbroken. Not because I had become attached to the phone but because my great quality vaycay pics had been lost. As a result, I had to retrieve my trusty Blackberry from the resort safe. It had been locked in there since the very first day.

When I got back to Canada I didn’t deal with my new to me phone issue head on, just simply tried to start it every day, in hopes of some technological miracle. It never arrived.  So after Christmas, once I was mentally prepared to lose all my pictures, I took it into our local iRepair shop. They told me that all it needed a new charging port. The next day, and another $73.95 invested, I had my device and all of my pictures back.

Grateful for my vaycay pics back. Great view from my room!
Photo Credit: Blackberry Classic
TAKEN: DECEMBER 30th, 2016
All of that said, I was still not 100% committed to changing, so I continued use both phones in tandem.... Fast forward to last weekend. Which is where I get pissed off.

I've never carried my phone in my pocket, always in my purse. Last Saturday my extremely expensive cellphone (with the sexy curved screen) inadvertently landed in my unzipped coat pocket. Pissed off at a specific moment in my day, I hopped in the car slammed the door. With something jamming it, it wouldn't close.

Thinking nothing of it, I reefed on the door again putting all my frustration behind it, I heard a crunch. Finally, I adjusted my coat and tried a third time and it closed. Unbeknownst to me, the noise I was hearing was the shattering of the (newly repaired) S6 screen.

A lengthy stream of profanity later, all I’ll say is that the repair cost almost $300 and I’m spent. I am not putting another dime into this phone, nor am I investing close to $1000 for a new one, I don't care how good the camera is!

That said, I have to wonder if my luck is simply Blackberry karma for my swift shift in company loyalty. If so, I guess I should apologize.... I'm sorry for looking elsewhere Research In Motion. I only chose Samsung as a 'just in case' so that if they acquired you we'd always be together. Who and the hell knew Google was going buy into the game and win the race?

Not this totally jinxed Samsung... and very reflective Blackberry user!