Saturday, February 17, 2024

TAMING MY TRESSES

You never know who you're going to want to kiss walking Broadway in Nashville! #imabigfan
TAKEN: OCTOBER 10th, 2024
About a week ago, I bit the bullet, went into a hair salon, and got my hair cut. 

Not the most earth-shattering news I have ever shared here - but in this instance, my hair was the longest it had ever been in my life. The truth is I hadn't allowed anyone or anything near my tresses (except my very dull kitchen scissors) since that tearful day last May when I fired my hairdresser.

To be honest, I did wait a couple of days after a Edweena Scissorhands and her barrel of bleach did their deed, before posting about it here. All these months later, my disappointment in what was promised versus what was delivered still really pisses me off!

Anyway, because my hair was already frail, I took a step back and except for root touch up spray to kill the glare, I let it rest for more than two months. Then, through online research, I discovered a natural gloss that washes out which I could apply to cover the blondeness; until my grey could grow out and be blended in with highlights.

You can tell by the picture I am sharing today that by last October, my hair was brittle and because of the overall weight of the length, it looked like crap. It didn't matter what I did. The thing that was once my best accessory, was looking like that super annoying cousin no one wanted to admit they were related to.

Wait, it gets worse. Without notice, my hair started coming out in large clumps in the shower and by the end of January it was significant. My buddy Google said that by repeatedly pulling my hair tightly on the top my head, it was most likely a type of hair loss called traction alopecia. 

I knew it was time. My hair was so damaged that most everything below shoulder length needed to go. So it did. I told my new gal to get rid of everything that needed to go when she very diplomatically said, 'you can come back in a week and we can take more off, it really is best to do this in stages so you can get use to it.'  

She was very empathetic to my journey, and she was absolutely amazing. 

I guess as I sit here and type I wonder how the hell I went from holding my hand up to my ear saying loudly, 'Sorry so-in-so, I can't hear you over the volume of my hair!' To trolling Amazon for hair growth oils and hair thinning solutions.

Three little words. 

Middle age sucks. That is all!

 Actually, that six words... but I think you catch my drift.

Sunday, January 7, 2024

MY EMPTY CHAIR

A very powerful photo of reflection snapped as the sun began to set on December 25th.
TAKEN: DECEMBER 25th, 2023

 
The year twenty-twenty three, though a great year for me professionally,  was also one of staggering loss. Between the people unexpectedly passing, combined with my moving on from those that weren't good for my mental health, saw that final tally exceptionally high.

I'm not exactly sure why, but from a young age, death and great loss has always affected me to my core. 

Part of me wonders if it is attributed to the fact that my parents had me later in life, and I began experiencing death at a younger age than most. I lost my fathers' father and mothers' mother less that three months apart. It was the fall I started grade five; and it hasn't stopped since.

I think the fact that I nursed both of my parents (in palliative homecare) to their deaths by the time I was forty, then lost my very first love unexpectedly at forty three, had something in my mindset give way. I remember the exact moment I made the personal decision to unapologetically live my life to its fullest. To which I have.

This past Christmas, as the house filled with all the smells that represent the holiday season, I paused before I took my photo to say a quick prayer for every single one - living or dead that parted this year.

Whether you agree or not, I believe you truly suffer the stages of grief for both. With acceptance being the final part of the framework that makes up our learning to live with the those we've lost. 

If I am being totally honest, I suppose that is what my empty chair actually represents for me.

...Acceptance.

Sunday, December 31, 2023

REMEMBERING 2023

As the year comes to a close at midnight tonight, there is so much I am very thankful for. So much so, that I have no idea where to start. 

What I will highlight is that our wee, four legged blondie/Oreo filling, simply stole the show (as well as at least a half dozen of my perfectly good slippers). And, that I can finally admit I have discovered a perfect work/life balance; solidifying the saying 'life is short' as my personal mantra. 

Thanks for the memories 2023. They are truly respected and appreciated. I feel blessed that I have such great hope for an even better 2024.

All the best in the coming year everyone. Cheers to all, and thank you once again for reading. 

~ Rhondi

PS: With the past year 99.9% in the rearview, as you reminisce with me electronically you can click links to journal offerings that you may have missed, or wish to revisit. 

Most Memorable Moment (centre): The addition of the beautiful Katie Lulu, that arrived to her new home on January 31st, 2023. She has proven to be a much welcome thread to the newly reunited Oreo Gang and we love her very much. Thanks again @labradorables

(LINK TO RE-READ: NEVER, UNTIL NOW! )


January: The unexpected and shocking murder of my former coworker Ashley Milne (top left) in Collingwood. I have spent the year following this terrible and unnecessary tragedy in hopes her amazing spirit didn't die in vain. Please keep her and her young children in your thoughts and prayers.

(LINK TO RE-READ: A IS FOR ASHLEY)

February: With my sweet Puddin' passing in June of 2022, we thought for sure The Oreo Gang would be displaced for years. That said, with our addition of Katie, Family Furbaby Day was once again a great success.

(LINK TO RE-READ: OUR ANNUAL ADVENTURE)

March: After checking the Salvation Army Store in Gravenhurst for more than twenty years, I was ecstatic to find four more of my wonderful Petro Canada water glasses for the very first time. In a stinking blizzard no less!

April: I always look forward to my birthday trip and this year was no exception. We hit Vegas Baby! What do you do in Vegas if you have no desire to gamble? Guess you'll have to read to find out! (There are also other offering though my April A-Z posts.)

(LINK TO RE-READ: K IS FOR KNACK)

(LINK TO RE-READ: L IS FOR LOGISTICS)

May: For the first time in more than a decade, I moved to the cottage for the summer.  I set up a satellite office and only commuted to work Monday mornings for meetings. I kept telling my husband that we should have named Katie '649'... Because that pup definitely won the lottery.

June: A milestone anniversary had us hop a plane to Montego Bay for the weekend to celebrate. My dad's birthday the 9th and our anniversary the 11th it made for a great reason to getaway. Though we stayed in a much smaller resort hotel than we usually do, we had a great time.

(LINK TO RE_READ: FROM FEAR TO FEARLESS)

July: July was an amazing weather month. I worked for most of it sitting at my desk in a bathing suit. The only thing I enjoyed more was spending time with Goob in the water. You know, it doesn't matter how old they get, I just love having them around.

August: As reminisce about the year gone by, I think it had to be the 'year of the concert'. I think there were seven in total, with four being my country quartet. From a bucket list perspective, Chris Stapleton won that prize. Man, Budweiser Stage is a great venue.

(LINK TO RE-READ: MY COUNTRY MUSIC QUARTET)

September: Per the work plan, we added another layer to our estimating team, a new project coordinator. I began her training right the first week of September, so I moved home to have a shorter commute. Labour Day Monday (Lab + Our Day as the photo shows) was my last day living at the cottage full time. Made no matter, it was a really great month!

October: This nod goes to spending Canadian Thanksgiving week in Nashville. Boy, did we cram as much in as possible before returning home. The Mother Church of Country Music left me speechless, as did almost everything about this amazing city - including the Opry.

(LINK TO RE-READ:SIMPLY, UNFORGETABLE

November: They say some of the best decisions you make are the ones you think about the least. Well, we bought another boat. A 20 foot Doral bowrider that gets delivered the first week of May (weather pending). Can't wait to load up the pups...

(LINK TO RE-READ:WE BOUGHT ANOTHER BOAT)

December: Well this month is crammed with memorable moments. It closed out another milestone year at work, had us spend valuable time with family and friends, and our home was filling with both birthday and holiday spirit. Not just the birthday on the 25th but the 5th, when Katie celebrated her very first birthday.

Sunday, December 17, 2023

SOME AFTERPARTY PETRO

TOP: Our festive holiday view of the falls in our sleepy little town
BOTTOM: Watching the sunset, waiting for my coworkers to arrive.
TAKEN: DECEMBER 15TH, 2023 

Last Friday, my husband and I rented a large AirBnB home overlooking the Bracebridge Falls, and hosted an afterparty for fourteen; which included the seven coworkers I am closest with and some of their life partners.

I was pleasantly surprised by the individual reactions I received as they walked through to the kitchen and spied the gaggle of Petro Canada glasses neatly lined up on the counter. There was one on display for each of us.

None of them readers of my electronic journal, I told my story of how my collection of over two hundred glasses came to be, then poured them a spot of holiday spirit.

I explained that whomever enters my home for the first time, always has to raise a glass and have a drink with my dad. Because my home couldn't sleep ten like the rental could, I brought my glasses to them -  as if they were entering my home for the very first time.

 As I told the story, one of the project managers I work with (who is the same age as Jukebox) Facetimed his parents so that they could meet me and hear my silly story about my glass collection. Similar in age, they remembered when my conversation pieces were all the rage. 

Then, as so many do, promised to keep an eye out for them in Southern Ontario and have their son deliver them to me. As it does whenever anyone offers to help grow my obsession, it warmed my heart.

As I reflect on the last year, I am grateful it has been exceptional. I think I finally have this work/travel life balance thing in check. I took the business to the next level at work AND I got to have a drink with my dad in some pretty cool places. 

Under the stars at the Bellagio fountains Las Vegas, in the sun on a beach in Jamaica, rockin' Broadway in downtown Nashville, and with fourteen work buddies overlooking the beautiful Bracebridge Falls. 

Life is really good!

And keeping my pops memory alive with my Petro Canada water glass collection is just an added bonus!!

Saturday, December 2, 2023

RAMA-LAMA-DING-DONG

Seated in the tenth row, waiting for the BNL to take the stage.
TAKEN: DECEMBER 1st, 2024
Last night, my hubby and I had a nice dinner in Orillia, then headed to Casino Rama to see the Barenaked Ladies and their Hometown Holidays Show; they are only performing six.

I will start by saying that there was so much musical talent on that stage, it makes you proud that they are Canadian. And though I love their mainstream hits, I really enjoy their holiday offerings, and I am pleased to report that the evening offered a perfect blend of both.

Their comedic banter provided a ton of belly laughs and we headed home extremely entertained.

The buzz of listening to everyone exiting talk of how amazing it was was an added bonus, with both of us admitting it was far better than we were expecting it to be. Once again, money well spent, and another music concert ticked off the list.

My apologies about the photo quality. I left my phone and home and my husbands' needs to be put to pasture - PRONTO!

PS: Here's a great podcast link with Ed Robertson titled Don't Let Revenge Breed Resentment (click to listen)

The amazing Ed Roberton (center) flanked by
Kevin Hearn (l), Tyler Stewart (drums), and Ed Kreegan (r)
TAKEN: DECEMBER 1st, 2023

Performing my favourite song off 'Barenaked For The Holidays'
CLICK TO LISTEN: God Rest Ye Merry Gentleman w/ Sarah McLachlan
TAKEN: DECEMBER 1st, 2023

Bringing down the house with Brian Wilson!
TAKEN: DECEMBER 1st, 2023

Wednesday, November 29, 2023

FOREVER SEEKING SAVINGS

Seems I have everyone in the house looking for a great deal.
Thanks for your help #OreoGang!
TAKEN: NOVEMBER 26th, 2023

Several years ago, we were given a rustic and colourful plaque for the cottage that reads... “Don’t be too busy making a living, that you forget to make a life.” It was truly appreciated at the time, because the truth of the matter is we have always worked longer hours than most. 

Though we've both worked a lot to acquire the little bit we have, I credit where we are at to the fact that we have never been shy when it comes to looking for a great deal. Take travel for an example, I don't think I have paid full price to get on a plane since we began all our galivanting without the kids in the winter of 2012.

Every year, I always seem to find that one gem that surfaces, for at least a day, book it, locking in the price. Did you know that there are some days better than others to book travel? It's true, and I have my discounted hotel and airline tickets to prove it.

Anyway, with our purchasing a boat, I figured that I wouldn't get to travel for my 2024 birthday. Then, as Black Friday approached I couldn't help but hunt for that one really sexy four night deal. Though I came close to hitting the 'BOOK' button on the Trip Central website, I refrained. 

I know my husband is disappointed but he is the one that wanted the boat, and there are only so many pennies in the piggy bank. I have always been adamant that we never travel using our line of credit, it must to be part of our weekly savings stipend; which has been allocated elsewhere.

I'm sure something will come our way so that we can get out of dodge for a few days next April. But until it does, we need to remain focused on the fact that we have made a really expensive purchase and didn't increased our debit load.

As I sit here and type, I realize that our new twenty foot girl still remains unnamed. That said, as I look at the picture I am sharing this post I feel we should be leaning toward "The Paw Patrol."

I think it's perfect.... Because I know there will be six of them thar thangs (4 black and two yellow) making sure everyone on Orillia Lake knows they are on high alert, with their new ride confirming just what lucky pups they truly are!

Tuesday, November 21, 2023

RED SKY SKUNK PATROL

One of the prettiest morning sunrises I have ever experienced at the house (no filter)
TAKEN: OCTOBER 21st, 2023
Moving home from the cottage early, it was around the first week of September when I spied a skunk walking across the back yard, then continue to confidently toddle into our gully which is quite vast.

I immediately contacted the neighbours whose fenced in yard was where Pepe exited from. They nonchalantly informed me that they knew they had striped visitors at night, yet failed to mention the situation to us; which in itself really stunk!

You can imaging that the last thing we needed was our three dogs getting sprayed when out for a pre-dawn pee, so that weekend we put up motion censored spotlights around the yard and I purchased a 2000 lumen hand held spotlight so that I could survey for eyes glowing in the yard before the dogs ventured out.

We've lived in our home more than twenty years and this is only the second time I have seen a skunk at dawn. The last time was more than ten years ago. I know they surround us but until this fall, our 6 a.m. schedules never crossed.

Anyway, this morning I had been out with the pups before my husband left for work and after pouring my second cup of java, I spied the most beautiful colours rising on the horizon. I grabbed my phone and headed back outside alone.

The colours were muted at first but as the sun rose higher, the colours intensified. It was absolutely breathtaking.

As expected, social media filled up with similar photos around Muskoka of the beautiful morning sky with the 'red sky at morning' reference. 

Though I expect my red sky/skunk patrol will continue indefinitely, I don't expect to witness another sunrise as I did this morning for a very long time but there will always hope.

Speaking of hope, I hope we never cross path with them rascally striped smelly varmints we have been patrolling for every single morn...

Wish us luck on both counts!

Saturday, November 11, 2023

WE BOUGHT ANOTHER BOAT

Well, we unexpectedly bought another boat. 

It will be our fourth motorized vessel in the twenty plus years we have owned Orillia Lake. It wasn’t a planned purchase but one we both agreed on. It is a twenty-foot Doral bowrider; in absolute mint condition with less than 100 hours of total motor use time.

Feel free to help us name her!
TAKEN: SPRING 2023

Greatful that Cousin Jim (rear seen here, with his grandson on the rod) decided to upgrade!
TAKEN: SUMMER 2023

The first few years after our cottage purchase, we got by with a five-seater paddle boat, a row boat, and parasailing board the kids could dive off of. Ultimately, the first motorized boat we bought was an older SeaRay waterski boat. 

We bought it to encourage our kids to want to stay at the cottage more often. It turned out, we would float with the pups in the middle of the lake so that I could read a book in the sun and never used it for much more than that. 

Wrought with mechanical issues, we ended up giving her away to a friend of a friend as we were tired paying to have her repaired.

Our first...
TAKEN: JUNE 2010

Next, was our beloved Bessie Bowrider that we paid a whopping $300 for... and the trailer was included in the price.

Her saving grace was that her previous owner was a mechanic. Sure, she would take in a wee bit of water through the week but nothing a ShopVac couldn’t remedy. The pups loved her.

Spottie & Puddin' rocking Bessie bow rider!
TAKEN: AUGUST 2014

A neighbour kept the road open a couple of winters ago, and she was stolen from the end of our driveway. Not wanting to invest in another, we replaced her with Stella the floating picnic table - which is propelled by an electric trolling motor.

Always a conversation piece on the lake, our bubble as well as the pups were grateful for Stella during Covid. 

Spending the afternoon on Stella
(l-r: Miya, Goob, Mac, Annie, Cappy-T, Puddin')
TAKEN: AUGSUT 2022

Now, we know better than most, that this (new to us) bow rider is far larger than we need, but our final decision to buy took multiple things into consideration.

Though older, it has been babied and has only had one owner. We know for a fact that they could have sold her online for far more than we are paying, but a good home was one of their personal criteria. That, combined that it is a familial sale made the price so good, we couldn't refuse.

Lastly, our decision came from the fact that we know that we will eventually be selling the cottage (not sure when but it will be sold) and this boat will keep us and the pups touring the amazing lakes in Muskoka for years to come.

To be honest, it isn't the $3,500 price tag that concerns us, it's the price of fuel to get her off the dock. 

So grateful we already own a killer trolling motor!!

#yagottalaughaboutit

Sunday, October 29, 2023

CARVED ONE, THEN CLOSED IT

The Oreo Gang making sure my husband is disconnecting the water intake properly.
(Miya Maria on the rock, Katie Lulu on the step, and Annie Bannanie on the hill)
TAKEN: OCTOBER 29th, 2023

Over the years, more often than not, we head into the cottage for the last Saturday in October so I can carve a pumpkin. Then, the following morning, we pack everything up and close it down for the season.

For me, this year in particular, was like no other at the cottage to date. I worked from my upstairs office space four days a week,  and usually in my bathing suit. Though my workload was grueling and my days were long, there is something to be said for looking out from your desk seeing the water.

As you know, this was our wee Katie's first year at Orillia Lake, and she embraced everyday like it would be her last. Saying that she loves absolutely everything about cottage life would be an understatement. 

Miya, though still a pup herself, simply couldn't keep up with KT's high energy zoomies. Annie, now a sexy senior in her own right, stayed at my feet the majority of the season, with the odd burst of puppy like behaviour shining through about once a week; it was perfect.

As far as upkeep goes, each year we tend to alternate from interior upgrades, to exterior elbow grease. This past season, a lot of our focus was spent outside. 

We had wanted to replace all main floor flooring this year, but a milestone anniversary had us take a last minute trip to Jamaica in June to celebrate. I love how we mutually decided, with a 'let's go for it' for good measure, that my saved flooring dollars would more than pay for our unexpected excursion nicely.

That said, though I know I will get my new floors next spring, a bush hog for the exterior is definitely a must have as well. Every second 'working the lands' year arrives with such optimism. We always have such a positive outlook on the clearing, hauling and burning brush at the cottage property from hell.

This year, we finally came to the terms that we aren't in our 30's anymore - and we are definitely Stihl in need of extra help, as no one ever offers. (Get that? Stihl, I mean still!)

Anyway, as an aside, as a woman in construction in Muskoka I can't stress enough how hard it is to find good ticketed trades to service the home and cottage industry here. 

Closing our cottage gives me hope we may have reprieve on the horizon. As you can see from my Sunday morning pic, we officially have three new furry plumbing apprentices.

All wanting wanting to help with the task of turning off the water for the season.

#yagottalaughaboutit

Thursday, October 26, 2023

MY COUNTRY MUSIC QUARTET

Old Dominion - top left (ScotiaBank Arena) TAKEN: January 28th, 2023
Zac Brown Band - Top right (Budweiser Stage) TAKEN: July 14th, 2023
Chris Stapleton - Bottom left (Budweiser Stage) TAKEN: August 17th, 2023
Mary Chapin Carpenter - Bottom right (Ryman Auditorium) TAKEN: October 8th, 2023 

I have always appreciated all types of music, but for the last six or seven years, I have found myself gravitating to the channels offerings country on my Sirius satellite app. Suffice it to say, not many were surprised to discover that we landed in Nashville.

I think what might surprise most, is that all tickets purchased for my country music quartet were purchased with less than a month of them all landing on stage. All (except Chapin Carpenter at the Ryman Auditorium) were purchased off Ticketmaster - resale.

Now, I am not proud of what I paid for the tickets, with Old Dominion being the least expensive at a little over $100 each, and Chris Stapleton being the most expensive at just over $1,500 for the pair.

My first three experiences, were so high energy that I headed for the exit with little to no voice from yelling so loud, the fourth (an intimate acoustic presentation) moved me to my musical core. All of them left me completely and unequivocally entertained. Honestly, concert dollars very well spent!

I have always been an avid concert goer, and no genre is off limits. For instance, when we were in Nashville, we toured the Country Music Hall of Fame and explored some of the roof top honky tonk's on October 9th. Then, walked back to our condo off Broadway just in time to sit on our balcony and watch the sunset. 

On a whim, I logged onto Ticketmaster and purchased two stage left Jonas Brothers tickets at Bridgestone Arena (where the Nashville Predictors play). With less than an hour left before they hit the stage, we took our ten minute walk to the venue. They too brought down the house.

Ramping up to perform (Joe's hit) Cake By The Ocean to a packed Bridgestone Arena.
TAKEN: OCTOBER 9th, 2023

Anyway, I remember having a conversation with my brother this summer and he felt the need to point out that my dogs were a luxury. Though I understood his point, I told him that 'my dogs were a necessity that my husband and I couldn't live without'. 

Which in a nutshell, aside from being a mega fan, is why I clicked the Ticketmaster button and bought the Stapleton tickets; exactly three days later. 

My dogs a luxury? Nope. 

It is my concert going habit that wins his specific label. All the monies spent on tickets, hotels, flights, food and spirits? 

THEY... THEM....THOSE.  Will always be the biggest luxury of my life!!

Tuesday, October 17, 2023

SIMPLY, UNFORGETTABLE

Last week, when I posted photos of my Canadian Thanksgiving travels on social media as they were happening, I was proud to share that we had included experiencing the spectacular 'Mother Church' of country music in downtown Nashville, Tennessee. 

What I was somewhat surprised to admit (after leaving the building) was that my amazing and intimate musical experience presented at the Ryman Auditorium was simply mind blowing!!

My beautiful exterior shot from across the street, and our third row balcony
seats preshow. (No video or photography is allowed once the show starts.)
TAKEN: OCTOBER 8th, 2023
Yet, it's hard to believe our weeklong vay-cay happened somewhat coincidentally. 

You see, I have a coworker that traveled to Music City last spring to see Luke Combs perform at Bridgestone Arena. With my husband and I having two full weeks off at the end of the year, I thought I would checkout the Air BnB she'd been raving about for availability.

Turned out our festive holidays timelines weren't available, yet the week of Canadian Thanksgiving was. Without a plan, we booked The Burnham (a ten minute walk to Broadway) and we had less than a month to hatch the rest of our plan.

I knew instinctively, we couldn't go to Nashville and not experience the Ryman Auditorium. Without hesitation, I purchased tickets to see Mary Chapin Carpenter and Shawn Colvin. 

As a 1990's country follower, I was familiar with the success of Carpenter,  I only knew Colvin to have one hit with 'Sonny Came Home.' Without reserve, I clicked that famous Ticketmaster button and bought us 3rd row balcony tickets as shown above.

From the moment you approach the exterior architecture of this historic 2,362 seat live-performance venue, you could feel its distinctive vibe. An Instagram follower hit the nail on the head when he commented on my exterior shot with... "Oh the ghosts that reside there, you can feel the history when you visit!"

He's right, this is hallowed ground filled with her spiritual sounds. It truly is a sacred place for any music lover, celebrating all music genres in every sacred pew.

Oh, and the Mary/Shawn duo literally brought down the house. 

The entire evening was... Simply, unforgettable.

Thursday, September 21, 2023

FALL COTTAGE LIFE

I honestly make an effort to watch the sunrise at least once a cottage season.
(This photo represents my 23rd year.)
TAKEN: SEPTEMBER 16th, 2023

Personally, I feel the one thing about owning a cottage, is that you yearn to be there whenever you’re not, with an underlying goal to never leave once you've arrived. 

One of the many silver linings for me, is that it's the bubble in my life where my peeps around the lake  simply know and love me as 'that cottage gal from town'

Over the years, they have come to the realization that I don't have much desire to use makeup, nor that I need to make any type of fashion statement. I don't think they even know how much effort goes into my hair in the real world;  which IS absolutely super spectacular!!

The negation of all of those time absorbing little things on a daily basis only scratch the surface of the perks of cottage living. I am much more in tune with the amazing energy that being next to the water creates, because that is how I spent my formative years. My husband enjoys it, yet I feel he would agree to sell this space I love, in a heartbeat. 

His internal loathing for the cottage is that my "Honey-Do Chores Together Lists" drives him bonkers - and every weekend, there are tasks that must be done. I swear the only thing that keeps him focused is that he knows there is a cold beer in the fridge waiting for him when we're done. So, even with retirement on the horizon, we continue to persevere.

As the days get shorter and colder, I have the time to reflect on how my cottage life this summer and my personal work life balance have evolved yet again. 

Me working from there full time and having (two out of three) dogs in need of a level of constant engagement, was more exhausting than I ever expected. I swear my right arm bicep grew this summer by throwing items to be fetched into the lake from the top deck... With double muscle growth happening on those peak days I had to endure the rain; ensuring my mature Annie didn't get lost in our puppy kerfuffle.

Either way, with my cottage office space in full gear, I believe I will be able to stay right up until it is time to winterize it. We have done weekends in the past but never lived there together through the week after Labour Day. 

And you know what? I am excited to try. We've never ventured into this territory in our twenty three seasons.... 

Should be interesting!

Thursday, August 31, 2023

BLUE MOON MUSINGS

Earlier this week, I brought the dogs into town as I had both in-office and site meetings, and moving them for the night made the most sense. On in-office meeting day, the gang of girls were as good as gold. Site meeting day, all freaking hell broke loose.

After I got the steam to stop rolling out of my ears, I cleaned the upper level disaster zone, then posted on social media:

Anyone want a dog or three?

Had an early site meeting on Lake Muskoka, only to return home to discover the dogs 'ate my homework!'

...AND my brand new sandals, two pairs of flip flops, three pens, and a jumbo role of toilet paper making it look like it snowed in here!!

#notimpressed #bad #katielulu #anniebananie #miyamaria #thissucks

Left: The Oreo Gang on National Dog Day
Right: Some home office evidence of evil!
Taken: August 25th & 29th, 2023
When I was going through the comments and reactions, I noticed our breeder responded saying  that her gang had been evil devil babies as well, noting, 'there must be something in the air.'

It was in that moment I had a genuine lightbulb moment. It dawned on me that the blue moon was upon us. Could that have been what made them all go batshit crazy?

So, I Googled, can a dog sense a full moon? This is what came back (via wagwalking.com): Your dog may seem to be much more alert, they may bark and howl more, they may growl, begin to chew things they normally would not, and may pace a lot if they are feeling restless and antsy. In all my years of having pups, I had no idea.

What I will say, is that when Katie came home in January, I was already working from home four days a week. I had a plan for her ongoing teething and had puppy proofed our home. As she grew there were challenges but nothing like what I came home to a couple of days ago. The difference this week was I knew all three participated; which has never happened before.

I will say, they do have a good gig living at the cottage but it's not like they are living in a van down by the river in town. They've got it really good. I will admit, now that I've calmed down, I think they are all beginning to suffer from a bit of separation anxiety as our routine is really quite regimented.

I start work an hour early every day so that I can exercise them three time a day, which they have come to know as recess. With three dog beds at my feet at my top of the stairs make shift cottage office, they tend to sleep while I work and talk on the phone knowing recess will eventually arrive. 

At the end of the day, I guess I'm just really pissed they ate my shoes. Even then, I suppose it's my fault. 

For whatever reason, I seem to keep buying their favourite flavours! 

#yagottalaughaboutit

Saturday, August 19, 2023

TAXATION TRASH TALKING

Can you believe this isn't even our trash at the end of our driveway?
TAKEN: MONDAY AUGUST 7th, 2023

As we headed home the Monday of the August long weekend, I witnessed something I hadn’t in out more than two decades of cottage ownership. It was the local garbage truck backing down our private road, offering the first shred of proof that my big tax contributions really DO pay for something.

When we initially bought on Orillia Lake, that first summer, our American neighbours invited us over for lunch. We thought it generally hospitable, then early in the onset of us sitting down we discovered they had a specific ask: Please, 'always keep your garbage picked up’ was their reason for our invitation.

Now we knew we were buying the place from a couple of hippies, that was a given based on the interior décor and paraphernalia, not to mention the Mexican sweat tent located near the water. It was a cash deal with a three week close, so we were relieved knowing they had to take all of their crap with then as part of the agreement of purchase and sale.

Well, we bought the end of November with a December 20th close. It wasn't until spring when we really got a good look at the lay of the land that we discovered there had been a garbage dump at the upper level where we would park our car.

Flashing again to our lunch date, the nice folks from Connecticut informed us that they had previously had terrible trouble with bears, skunks, foxes and other wildlife - as the upper garbage buffet was serving yummy meals, year round, 24-7. 

I remember we spent our first twelve weekends just tending with the mess and all these years later, shards of glass show up out of no where after a downpour, as a reminder of the shits show we willfully purchased.

Out of respect for the ask and our own common sense, we have never left trash out for the taking. The truth is that we have access to a commercial garage bin and are not charged tipping fees; which has made our habit an easy one to adapt to.

What I will say, is that as the driver backed by, he rolled down his window to comment that as first on the road, he recalls that we have always have out trash out. My husband let him know that we NEVER leave our trash at the end of the drive. It is always taken into town.

What we do, is we pay it forward. We've let our cottage road community know, that if they have extra trash, to leave it at the end of our drive. No need for them to pay tipping fees, when the only service we get for our tax dollars goes unused. 

I guess my point is if these were the only two bags of garbage left at the end of my drive in a year - they would have the value of a trip for two (all inclusive) to beautiful Jamaica.

FIRST CLASS.... and with a private car escorting them to the resort!!

Monday, July 24, 2023

SMILING WITH MY DAD

Technically a 2nd cousin we consider her a neice.
We truly consider her father my husbands' brother.
TAKEN: JULY 23rd, 2023

In my life thus far, I have had the privilege to come in contact and get to know an above average number of people; and none compare to this sweet girl my husband proudly calls his 'very favourite cuz!'  (Slang for cousin.)

Due to multiple neurological surgeries as a toddler, she's technically classified as developmentally disabled - but I swear, if everyone on earth had her optimistic outlook toward others, the world would definitely be a much better place.

Anyway, home to do chores Sunday, in late afternoon I was sitting at the kitchen table and I could hear someone calling my name from afar. As I looked over my shoulder out to the street I glimpsed a grin from ear to ear. There she was, her arms waving with excitement that she would get to stop by for a visit.

When we arrived outside she noticed my Petro Canada glass I had in hand. She commented that it was pretty and I told her the stories about my collecting them. She curiously asked me, "did I ever meet your dad?" She continued, "do you think he remembered meeting me?" So into the house I went to get the photo albums.

Pictures of our families camping at my dad cottage. Photos of her mom (which we lost to cancer in 2004) with her dad and siblings, all of us having a blast with my dad. She loved looking at all the photos and said she enjoyed my husband and I reminiscing.

Then came the big moment. I asked her to have a drink of Sprite with my dad. 'It's tradition', I said. She was elated. 

As she stood behind her bike and held up her glass, he tone became particularly firm and serious.

Make sure you hold the camera up on an angle from above.... she said. 'I don't want people to see my double chin.'

A beautiful heart and soul that also knows how to take a proper selfie. Not gonna lie, I was shocked that in the moment she directed me so specifically - but just look at that smile. The photo is absolutely gorgeous.

Just like her!!

Sunday, July 9, 2023

NIFTY NINTIES NINTENDO

When I moved to the cottage last week, I brought along items that could keep me occupied without an internet connection. Books I haven’t read, puzzles I haven’t done, recipes I haven’t made, and the Super Nintendo Classic that Jukebox lent me years ago.

Now, I should share that I am in no way a video ‘gamer’. 

The controller may be smaller but the level of frustration is not!
TAKEN: JULY 8th, 2023

Even though the mini knockoff (of the original full-size console we owned in the early 2000’s) is preloaded with twenty-one games, I have only ever played one - Super Mario World. Believe it or not, playing it holds some great memories for me.

You see, when Jukebox (who IS a gamer) first started playing as a tween, this is the one game we always played together. So, with my chores done and my husband on the couch with a bum ankle, I decided to take a step back in time. Using a smart TV that doubles as my second computer screen, I fired up this bad boy.

When the music came on I was immediately taken back to sitting on the floor in front of our old 20” coloured TV on Toronto Street. He and I in our jammies, on Saturday morn, where and when we always had fun.

Back then, when I struggled with the lower levels my son would sense my frustration and step in and help me move forward by completing the level, as he was worked toward beating the entire game; which he did multiple times before the system was sent to pasture.

Like I always say, you can’t stop change only manage it. More than twenty years later, when I struggled to remember how to access the secret worlds (back then I had my son) I discovered a had a new copilot to help me through: Google.

That said, playing this little gizmo sends the same message decades later confirming my efforts are consistent and equal from playing on Saturday mornings all those years ago... 

I STILL and always will suck at playing video games!

Important Notable: 

Though every five deaths Mario tells me my game is over, I am not going to give up. 

It might take me all summer to get through the first level but my glass half full will be very pleased it didn't take me until Thanksgiving. #yagottalaughaboutit

Tuesday, July 4, 2023

HAPPY CANADA D‘EH

Poor Miya Maria. She drew the short Canada Day photo op straw.
(Don't feel too bad, she had a chunk of roast chicken as her reward!)
TAKEN: JULY 1st, 2023

When the Canada Day long weekend was approaching, it is safe to say my Weather Network app was getting ten times more screen action than everything else installed on my phone.

I will compare it to a flip of the coin scenario. Rain we stay in town. Sun we stay at the cottage. Well, sunshine prevailed for the entire weekend marking the fact that I officially got moved in.

It has been several years since I have lived here for 100% of the season. I am glad to be back and am very grateful that this is the first time in my entire career, that I only commute to the brick-and-mortar office with the fancy sign out front just once a week.

When I changed jobs a year and a half ago, I negotiated that I would work from home two days a week. Two led to three, then three led to four. I am hoping by the end of the year, everything will be done via ZOOM.

Though I manage my time well and my boss is pleased with my productivity, my workdays definitely last longer when working from my home or cottage offices. Why? This doggie daycare/obedience school thing-a-ma-hoochie I am running has a very strict schedule that must be adhered to.

So, I start an hour earlier everyday to ensure our 9:30am and 2pm breaks get rid of any excess energy, and they will sleep at my feet for the duration. With two puppies and a high energy senior on point, I need to keep them on track, or all hell breaks loose.

I am serious when I share that I will be working away and balls and toys start getting banged into my legs or dropped at my feet and I must firmly say, “Stop... It isn’t nine thirty yet!”

And believe it or not, they stop and settle until my phone pings that it’s time for recess. I’m not complaining just reflecting. Never a dull moment, and I wouldn’t change a thing.

Well, maybe the shitty internet connection because of all the rock that surrounds me, but that’s a post for another day.

Friday, June 23, 2023

FROM FEAR TO FEARLESS

As I mentioned in my A-Z Challenge posts, my husband and I had a milestone anniversary to celebrate the first week of June, so I booked us into a boutique hotel close to the airport in Montego Bay, Jamaica.

In years past we had spent a week in Negril, and a couple of years later a week in Runaway Bay, both over an hour from the airport. The last thing we wanted to do on a romantic four-night getaway, was to spend time riding an overcrowded resort bus. 

So, we both agreed Montego Bay was an experience we hadn’t had, and with our excellent flight times and the super cheap price tag, it was a travel no brainer.

Anyway, because we were staying at a 140 room hotel that offered very few resort-like activities, it would be on us to amuse ourselves. Because we both love to snorkel that was an early morning given. I love kayaking so I was pumped, however, my husband had never had any desire to try... So he was left to sit on the beach.

 For 90% of our visit the sky was overcast, and it was perfect.
(As we ran 40+C with the humidity without direct sunshine.)
TAKEN: JUNE 9th, 2023

Day one, out I went. It is hard to describe how amazing it was with the planes flying over me while I paddled. When I returned in, I asked if he wanted to try and he worried he would lose his new glasses. (Lamest excuse ever but I respected his decision.)

Day two, out I went again. When I returned, he commented on how fast I was paddling and how far I was going (code for me to tell him more so he would have the confidence to try). I explained that they weren’t tipsy at all. If he kept his core in the centre of the floating plastic entertainment center, he wouldn’t fall out.

Day three, he decided to try. By now, I knew when most of the planes were overhead to offer him the best experience. I brought my phone in my waterproof camera case that morn, as I knew this was a pretty big milestone for him. Before we knew it, over an hour had passed.

I don't know about you, but I love trying new things (except when it comes to food). I won't put myself in harms way but I definitely like living in the travel moment. So as silly as this may read, I am proud of my husband for going out of his comfort zone.

Kayaking may not be a big deal to most... But I love that we both had a blast touring around in the clear waters of Montego Bay!

Monday, June 5, 2023

TOLIET PAPER EATING TODDLER!

When we brought our wee Katie home at the end of January this year, we knew that we would have to budget for the added expense of having three pups. Little did we know that our second biggest expense would be due to unusable toilet paper!

My point being, look at those eyes. She definitely has a mind of her own.

Working away at my home office desk, I turned around to catch her in action.
TAKEN: May 31st, 2023



When I first met our two options from the litter of Miss Minnie’s nine littluns, I asked our breeder which she would recommend we select. Her choice was the other yellow female.  When I asked why, her response was one word; “her personality.”

“It depends what kind of dog you’re looking for,” she continued. “She will definitely be high energy". At the time, with Miya being so young, 'high energy' wasn't a deal breaker. 

The truth is I chose her because when we'd visit, she would immediately come to my husband and sit on his feet. Cute at the time, but now I am pretty sure she was terrorizing others in the pack and needed a safe spot for protection based on her mischievous tactics. 

The night we paid for her and we brought her home, we were told she would challenge the weaker male dogs in the pack. As we head toward her seventh month birthday next week, I have come to realize that those early behaviours have evolved, translating her into a bit of a bully.

With me in charge and Annie as our four-legged pack leader, Miya is a very competent co-captain. Yet our Katie insists on continually trying to run the show. Both the other ladies allow it to simmer on low until she crosses that evolutionarily line... Which is when all hell breaks loose.

Because I work from home four out of five days a week, I see and hear it all. Sometimes it is comical, other times painful to watch as both the big dogs run her until she barrel rolls to take her down a peg and back into her place in the pack.

Don't get me wrong, she is a beautiful and very intelligent dog. Though her dad was an award-winning retriever and her momma a beautifully bred gem, I am beginning to think she may have a couple of screws loose. Either that, or she is crazy like a fox!

A fox that loves to shred two ply toilet paper... that I am pretty sure she hopes I didn't buy on sale!!

Sunday, May 28, 2023

FORGET ME NOT

We landed at the cottage Friday night to a couple of pleasant surprises. First one was that we weren’t carried down the hill by blackflies and mosquitos. Second was, when I opened the kitchen door, my view was filled with a wonderful sea of blue.

Not sure what type of bloom they were, I snapped a pic and reached out via social media in search of some help. The consensus came back that they were a flower called Forget Me Nots

Per Google, I discovered that they are a short term perennial which are a symbol of true love and respect. A wonderful cottage tribute with perfect timing as I approach the first anniversary of the death of my beloved Puddin’.

This pre-covid polaroid pic of her (taken by a friend of the kids) remains on the cottage fridge.
I will never forget her.
TAKEN: MAY 27th, 2023  

I don’t think my heart has been this hollow for the loss of a furbaby since my yellow lab Toby left us in March of 2007 at the ripe old age of fifteen. He was so special that we were over two years before we entertained another pup.

Back then, I didn’t want another yellow lab as I truly felt the space he took in my heart could never be replaced. It was only after our beagle rescue Daisy was hit by a car that we agreed it may be time for another yellow.

From the day in 2012 when she landed home, we knew that Puddin’ was special. Even as a wee bit of pup, her outgoing personality shone through from the beginning. She was forever by my side and really chill until her one true flaw kicked in. Which was when out of the blue, she would haphazardly run up the drive to confront people on our street.

She was never malicious or vicious, her outburst of random barking and jumping up and down in the same spot was just super annoying and it always ended up being a tad embarrassing having to endlessly apologize to the passerby.

I have always professed it was an ingrained effort to protect her home and her pack. My husband always chose to believe it was a simple set of loose screws!

Anyway, when we purchased Miya’s sister Katie in December, our third yellow, it was never to replace my girl.  It was a specific set of circumstances that fast tracked having another in our pack. 

As she settles into her first summer on Orillia Lake, I think the flowers Friday were just Puddin’ stopping by to say hello. Just as we bloomed with daisies the summer after Daisy's death, the yard is filled with a sea of blue for my sweet girl.

She can rest easy knowing I could never forget her, she was a very bright light in my life.

So much so, that when my time comes, both her and Toby's ashes will be buried with mine.

Sunday, May 7, 2023

MY HEARTBROKEN SMILE

As life would have it, my hair began to grey prematurely in the late 1990’s. As a result, I would book an appointment and off to the popular high priced salon I’d go.

Then, when I went into business for myself in 2004, I began doing my own root touch ups to spare the expense. The trouble with that, is that for the last decade it has become an ‘every third Sunday afternoon’ ritual.

I will openly admit that during the pandemic, I came very close (multiple times) to growing the chemicals out of my hair, then would ultimately fold like a lawn chair and get the touch up brush out.

As a matter of fact, if I am being brutally honest, though my mindset for going grey was always there, it just wasn’t as strong as my inner voice of vanity and personal pride not to.

Well, a couple of weeks ago, I went to get my haircut. Granted, it had been a while, but my stylist was generally worried about the state of my already dead hair that was forever entertaining the grim reaper; so I launched the 'next steps' dialogue.

Well, at the end of my workday Friday, a two-hour ritual to begin my transition was set in motion.

This is what a heartbroken smile looks like.
Stood next to the dark wood siding to cut the glare.
(Yep, my eyes are closed.. because even I couldn't stand to look!)
TAKEN: MAY 5TH,  2023

Though I am certain I was specific that I wanted to take a year to transition, and our starting point would be a warm caramel shade, the one mixing the bleach personally decided full on blonde (with white clumps - you can see the frizz on the right) was the way to go.

Suffice it to say, when she finished, I cried. And cried. And cried. And cried. My husband, the wonderful man he is, quickly and quietly hid!

With tears streaming down my face, I went home to my personal salon, plugged in my gadgets, and took a half a can of coloured root touch up spray to the white hair that framed my face. Then, freshened up my make-up and forced myself to go outside and take the selfie I am sharing here.

As you can see, my eyes are closed. It wasn't intentional, yet I am posting it because I suspect subconsciously I couldn’t stand to look at what I had just done to my already dead mane.

Well, as I have said here before, I will say again. You can’t stop change, only manage it.

Though my stylist did offer for me to return the following day and add low lights to offset, I turned her down. Not only did I not want to incur any more expense, but I also didn’t want to add anything else to my already dead and overbleached coif.

Instead, I decided to wait until after I've returned from the Caribbean in a couple of weeks and see where the sun and salt from snorkeling have my hair colour and I landing.

BUT if last Friday night were any indication, I would say there are going a couple of bars in Jamaica that are going to meet a blonde woman crying in her glass of spirits, with a man quietly hiding under the table sipping a beer.

Then again, maybe not. It’s not like anyone knows me there. 

Because hell... When I looked at myself in the mirror again this morning, I still didn't recognize the person looking back!!

#YaGottLaughAboutIt

Sunday, April 30, 2023

Saturday, April 29, 2023

Y IS FOR YAHTZEE

As I’ve written before, it’s not always easy having two places to maintain a mere 15 minutes apart. I’m in no way complaining, rather just pointing out that the weather has so many things happening on the fly. If we stay home there’s work to be done and if we head to the cottage its offers the same loaded buffet of chores. 

That said, all these years later, I have never focused my energy on the work. For me (in either instance) it keeps me outside and exercising, or inside with the tunes cranked cleaning; until I can get outside soaking up the sun.

After the work is done, we literally let the games begin. 

That's fifty points baby!
TAKEN: July 2013
If you recognize game pic I’m sharing, you’ll know it takes little skill and a lot of luck to play. It tends to be what we easily agree on playing first.

It always seems neither of us want to think too much after chores are done. To make it a tad more interesting, we play an entire Yahtzee page, which is six games at once.

The other side to that coin is that I very rarely ever win. It can’t be because I have less skill, because you’ll agree it take none to play. 

My issue is in the luck department I have absolutely none!