Thursday, September 22, 2022

RHONDI AND RODANTHE

Got up to let the pups out this morn, flicked several light switches on and off to ensure there wasn’t a resident skunk passing through; when the harsh reality set in. 

As I stepped onto the back deck I cursed aloud at the pitch-black sky. By the glow of the exterior lights, I could see my breath. With both angst and authority, "FECK" (inserting a different vowel) was all I said.

This is the time of year where I cherish every single ray of light until the time change. I really do love Fall but absolutely hate the short days and long nights that remain when the beauty expires.

Pre-pandemic, the status quo had us hop a late November plane to a sunny destination and regroup in the vitamin D department. This year, respecting my husband’s health and not wanting to venture too far from our health care system, we decided it would be the year of the road trip.

A series of shorter long weekend jaunts to destinations we’ve always wanted to go at least once. Using fewer vacation days, essentially experiencing more.

Top: Miami, via Islamorda, to Key West FLA
Bottom: First stop Bethel NY, then to Woodstock NY for the Midnight Ramble
TAKEN: APRIL & JULY 2022

April was a mid week flight into Miami then we hit the road to Key West. July felt like we were in the summer of ’69 when we landed in Bethel New York (the site of where the Woodstock Festival was held) then headed to the town of Woodstock to celebrate the life of Levon Helm and my husband’s favourite group - The Band.

We have two left before the year is out and our next one is planned for the week of Canadian Thanksgiving. Much farther in distance, this time we are taking the pups. We have rented a house on the ocean and will spend the week embracing the dunes and beautiful scenery of the Outer Banks of North Carolina. 

From the OBX 4x4 highway in Corolla to see the wild horses along the beach, to the ferry ride to cross to the southern banks at Ocracoke, to a simple photo op at the house used as a movie set (Night in Rodanthe - starring Richard Gere and Diane Lane) in Hatteras.

I am truly grateful my chauffeur has the same sense of Wanderlust as I. 

We are always on the same page when it comes to jamming as much as possible into any given day.  So much so that when we hit the hay, at the end of the day, we know we have given it 120% in the experience department.

For the most part, we both agree that resort trips are a thing of the past. In, are us exploring the areas where we can see ourselves spending our winters as snowbirds.

We haven't decided exactly where our two weeks at Christmas will take us with our fur babies. What I do know, is that no matter where the four of us land, we're going to have a blast. Simply because... 

That's how we roll!!

Sunday, September 11, 2022

A TIME TO HEAL

We attended a beautiful celebration of life memorial yesterday. You can't imagine the shockwaves that roared, when he died suddenly and very unexpectedly last fall. 

It was a loving service for a young coworker of my husband’s that will hopefully bring some sort of high level of closure to his immediate family; whom are devastated. 

Rest in Peace Dennis....
TAKEN: SEPTEMBER 10th, 2022

My husband has been very close with both of his parents for years, as he and the lad’s dad had also been coworkers since my guy joined the company (when he was fifteen years of age) and they worked together right up until a couple of years ago, when John retired.

Like most, I never look forward to occasions like these. Primarily because I have deep personal struggles when it comes to processing a death. I’m not sure why, but my inner thoughts are because I have seen so much of it over the years.

Just like weddings, funerals are that similar occasion where you come back in touch with so many you never see on a regular basis.  As weird as this may read, yesterday was one of those days when you were grateful we are able to hug again.

One fella, who I have known for decades, I hadn’t seen in over a decade. Though my husband sees him once a week, it took an occasion like we attended yesterday for us to reconnect.

Others, though we know of the other on some level but have no real connection, reacted to each other with profound respect of each, in hope of helping John and Brenda heal.

Goodbye for now Dennis. Sleep well…. You are truly missed.

PS: Say hello to Smartie for me. 

PSS: He'll be the one making everyone around him smile. xo

Monday, September 5, 2022

A LABOUR OF LOVE

 Nothing will work unless you do. ~ Maya Angelou

A dark 9pm. Embracing the annual tradition of listening to Rock95
TAKEN: SEPTEMBER 4th, 2022

When I took this lakeside photo Sunday night at dusk, I can confirm that I was generally feeling all warm and fuzzy inside. In one word - thankful.

In disclosing that, you would have no idea that my legs, butt, lower back, and shoulders were aching like hell from dragging felled trees down the hill all day then burning them,  producing the glowing bed of coals seen here.

Summers have changed for us on Orillia Lake over these the last twenty years.

Gone are the days of diving off the dock a midnight in the hope a neighbours' flashlight doesn’t catch a glimpse. Here are the days where I walk the property wearing steel spiked shoes for the fear I will fall and break a hip.

For the first time in long weekend memory, I cleaned the cottage and we came home. 

Not because it wasn't going to be another great day, I just couldn't bring myself to work the land any longer.

So, we packed up, my hubby made a yummy dinner... and I curled up, feeding my squirrel friends on the deck, appreciating that I have the best of both worlds.

#feelingblessed

Wednesday, August 31, 2022

MY AMAZING GOAT

My beautiful Annie Banannie once again embracing lake life with me.
TAKEN: AUGUST 1, 2022


I was listening to the radio on my way into work last week and the on-air host referenced a band I’d never heard of as the ‘goat’. I wasn’t much of a fan, so it didn’t really resonate until that same morning show host, days later, spoke of the band again explaining the ‘g.o.a.t.’ acronym in long form as: greatest of all time.  

I giggled to myself after she said it, because it was once again proof of what I tell the littluns I work with all the time, which is that I learn something new every single day. 

The real surprise was because I tend to call my beloved Annie by her nickname, which is my Nanny Goat. Primarily because she jumps around like one whenever we are reunited after being apart for more than fifteen minutes; which is truly a special sight to see. 

Just like our children (Goob, Sweetie & Jukebox), I have always nicknamed for our dogs. 

I remember my estranged sister-in-law asking me if I still had those “silly nicknames” for my children. 

To which I immediately propped myself up proudly admitted yes, because in that moment I knew it was just her passive aggressive way to switch the narrative and attention in her direction. To this day, she's a real see you next Tuesday, if you know what I mean.

Anyway, all these years later, I don’t want to open that can of worms, as she’s in the past and not the direction I am going - BUT I will weigh in on the whole nickname front. 

Just like my grown children, my dogs appreciate my tone when I use their nicknames as a genuine term of endearment.  So much so that when our Puddin' left us on this past June 7th, I had to stop mentioning her name as it made my Annie suffer even more.

The photo I am sharing today is the very first time Annie would get back in the boat that floats with me, as she would always wait on the dock just incase her BFF would in some way miraculously come back to her. Eight weekends later, she decided to finally hop in.

Though is would be tough for me to confirm that Annie is in fact the greatest of all time, our bond is very strong, just as mine was mine was with Puddin' and all that came before her. They know you love them, unconditionally - and not just because they are mine.

You see, if you were to ask me if I believe in love at first sight, my answer would be absolutely! 

As crazy as this reads, I fall in love with every dog, the very first time our eyes meet. 

...Then immediately give them a treat and a nickname.

#BAZINGA

Wednesday, August 24, 2022

LEAPIN’ LIFE BALANCE!

In fairness to Miya, this was a bad throw by me...
I didn't want my lunch break served with a side order of soggy!
TAKEN: AUGUST 24th, 2022

In 2007 at fifteen years of age, when my beautiful yellow lab Toby crossed over the rainbow bridge, I promised myself I would take time to truly grieve his passing and not get a new pup during my extended time of mourning. 

Not only did I have no desire to try and replace him, I honestly believe once you have a unique bond and connection like we did; that bond remains singular forever. 

As a family, we were more than two years before we entertained another dog.

Now fast forward to the realization that our beloved Puddin’ had a rare form of cancer. Her long-term prognosis was grim, yet this time it wasn’t only me being left behind; it was our beautiful Annie. 

They had been inseparable since we'd rescued her at five weeks of age. When she arrived she fit in the palm of my hand, was sickly and unable to eat, and Puddin' never left her side.

Worried Annie may die of a broken heart when Pud parted, we decided to smooth that transition by working with a CKC registered breeder to purchase another Labrador Retriever. 

Miya Maria (seen above) was born on April 9th, 2021, and we picked her up on my father’s birthday in June. We were blessed to have Puddin’ live a year (less two days) from the one year anniversary of Miya joining our pack. 

My point?

When I left my construction management job last fall, I was truly blessed to have several opportunities present themselves - and for the first time in my life (just like I did with Toby) I knew I would be taking my time.

In the end, of the six formal offers I entertained, I had it down to two. One paid more money, the other offered me the option to work from my home office from Christmas Break to Easter without travel.

When I walked away from the money and accepted the other offer in another sector, 48-hours before I was scheduled to start, my current employer asked me back to the table with his counteroffer.

The most important item he presented was because I would report to him and he splits his time leading our teams, I would commute to the Muskoka office the set three days he's in. When he's working from our other company office, I would work from home for those two days. 

It sealed the deal - and I have been grateful to get to balance my home office hours between the house and my desk at Orillia Lake.

I will report that the my current team's much younger than I expected, but I am excited to share that they look to my decades of experience and appreciate it. I love that I have entered the mentoring stage of my career after having so many really great mentors.

Also, I love the fact that those I am mentoring don't care to chase flying pigs into the lake, never beg for my lunch using drool, chase the squirrels I feed until they are ready to drop, nor smell like rotten ass on a rainy day from swimming so much.

...Truly making my work life/real life/doggie daycare life balance perfect!!

Sunday, August 7, 2022

MY HAPPY HAT

This past weekend produced some major heat warnings in Muskoka and the humidex rolled past a balmy 40C. With the UV rays off the chart, I kept my skin slathered in a 30 SPF waterproof sunscreen as I got in and out of the water all day Saturday.

How hot was it? It was so hot that I got to wear 'my happy hat'Not to be confused with any one of my favourite hats, the specific hat shown here, has always brought me happiness.

Clocking in at more than 30 years of age (which must be at least a hundred and fifty-five in straw hat years) she was my dad’s favourite swimming hat he wore at his camp on Lake Temiscamang. 

She was relocated to a hat hook at our cottage on Orillia Lake after he passed more than fifteen years ago.

As I age, I can confirm 1000% that it is the small things that matter most.
TAKEN: AUGUST 6th, 2022

As I type, I recall all the photos taken of her over those years. Shots of dad in the water when the kids were little, then pics as tweens as they grew up here. Their friends partying, overnight cottage guests, my husband working along the shoreline; and for the very first time Saturday, me. 

As you can see, she has seen better hat days. Like all of us, she is beginning to succumb to the elements caused by the aging process. Her shape has changed, and what was once firm is no longer. In hindsight, I feel she was a tad taken for granted over the years, and now, as her straw weakens as each summer passes, like everything, we tend to cherish her even more.

I don’t know about you, but even with the VID on the way out, this year has been a bit of a shit show for me. I still haven’t processed that my best friend Smarite has died, and I truly wasn’t ready for our Puddin’ to head over the rainbow bridge as soon as she did. 

Though some aspects of my life are the best they have ever been, I feel there are specifics that may never heal - one particularly that my husband has declared ‘a last straw’ (no pun intended, and without any reference to this amazing hat... lol).

If the truth be told, I think that is why I keep my dad’s memory alive through reminders like my hundreds of Petro Canada glasses, his shoes that remain at my front door, and this silly straw hat. 

He was always my closest confidant, and having him near has always kept me going during trying times.

As my eyes fill with tears, I find it amazing how these items can bring forth a flood of emotions. Happiness, sadness, laughter and comfort.... Oh, and let's not forget security. 

Yup, all day Saturday, his favourite hat kept me safe yet again. From my having a sun stroke!

Thanks Poppa xoxo

Saturday, April 30, 2022

Z IS FOR ZOMBIE

 

Our last practice with Ashley ending our summer session.
TAKEN: AUGUST 30th, 2018

A few years back I started doing yoga with the SweenyMeister and a gaggle of gals I worked in the Muskoka construction industry with.

In the beginning, I was leery of the process but by the third or fourth class, I started to compartmentalize my energy for the activity. As I began to understand the purpose of the process, I could literally feel the stresses of my day leaving my body. 

As a result, I truly began to look forward to my Tuesday and Thursday after work ritual. That hour of time I booked for myself at the end of the day, twice a week, quickly  became a haven. 

During those twenty months, I slept better and handled general stress better. As I reflect, I wasn’t looking and feeling like the freaking zombie I am today.

Following that statement, I read somewhere that ‘a zombie in possession of brains must be in want of more brains.’ 

I guess I must be one of those hybrid type of zombies – because after my rollercoaster month of April, my brain won't shut off and I am always in the want of more sleep!

On that note. As I yawn, I will raise my keyboard to the end of another April A-Z year.

...Namaste. 

PS: I wonder how a Hindu zombie would groan that greeting of respect as their lips and limbs fell off?

#yagottalaughaboutit #thanksforreading

Friday, April 29, 2022

Y IS FOR YAWN

Do you want to yawn too?
TAKEN AUGUST 21st, 2021


I remember my mom telling me a stories when I was a kid about yawning being contagious.

Before she married my dad, she worked in downtown Toronto and rode public transit. Thanks to the daily grind of boredom, she would purposely seek out someone to look in the eye and immediately pretend to yawn. 

She would then observe how long it took for everyone else around her to begin yawning; which is DNA evidence of where my warped sense of amusement comes from.

As you can imagine, I'm feeling just as my Miya Maria is looking as we rode home from the cottage last summer. I'm not yawning due to the boredom of the daily grind or sheer exhaustion from chasing my tail, actually it is anything but. 

April has been a whirlwind of emotions for me. Highs and lows. Days filled with happiness followed by days of deep sadness and in some cases total devastation because of my unexpected loss Easter Sunday.

Never one to quit, I am one letter away of finishing the April A-Z challenge and I am glad a persevered. 

I did well to post daily in the beginning... but at this stage, I am just happy I am going to finish. 

...Smartie would have wanted me to.

Thursday, April 28, 2022

X IS FOR XEROX

 

 Always be genuine and unique...
Because everyone knows XEROX is unable to be original!
TAKEN: APRIL 7th, 2022

Wednesday, April 27, 2022

W IS FOR WORDLE

 

Each day I Wordle as I sip my morning coffee.
... and Quordle while I eat my lunch.

When I started my new job everyone in the office was talking about this thing called “Wordle”.

I’d never heard of it, but I had seen a flood of yellow, green, and black square emojis flash across my Facebook timeline. Always cautious of click bate, I never gave it a second through. That was until my entire new crew seemed obsessed with it.

For the first week, I listened to try and understand what the point was. Limited to just one game a day, you have six chances to guess a five-letter word. Each time you hit enter to register your guess, each letter turns a different colour.

Black means the letter isn’t in the word at all. Yellow means the letter is in the word but in the wrong spot. Green means you have the right letter in the right spot.

I haven’t been playing long, but I seem to Wordle in just three guesses quite regularly. 

Don’t get me wrong, I have also burned through my six guesses just as easily.

All in all… Just a really great way to start the day.


Tuesday, April 26, 2022

V IS FOR VICTORY

On our recent trip to Key West, we took in a popular tourist trap simply called “Robbie's” in Islamorda.

I had watched the destination being featured on several must-see attractions on YouTube, so we planned to stop in on our way back to Miami. The experience did NOT disappoint.

This school of more than a hundred tarpon linger for hours at the hope of being hand fed. They actually rise out of the water to grab the fish as it leaves your hand. My husband braved the activity, I watch and took pictures; but had a blast just the same.

Now you’d think the tarpon would be the main attraction, but it was the ornery pelicans. Both bold and somewhat aggressive in nature, they not only steal the fish, but they also definitely steal the show. 

The VICTORY was theirs!

Here are a few pics of our fun adventure.

The lunch lineup
TAKEN: APRIL 9th, 2022

My husband feeding the tarpon (close up)
TAKEN: APRIL 9th, 2022

I tried to warn him there was incoming!
TAKEN: APRIL 9th, 2022

They have no fear!!
TAKEN: APRIL 9th, 2022

A fun $2.50 to get in and $4.75 for the bucket of fish. Good times....
TAKEN: APRIL 9th, 2022


Monday, April 25, 2022

Saturday, April 23, 2022

T IS FOR TOXIC

#meanpeoplesuck

I am sure you’ll agree that there is always one. 

One person you've never really suspected but kind of thought maybe, wanted to put a pillow over your face at your lowest point, hoping they could do you in. 

I should disclose that there had been instances previously, but they had always ended in my having a 'water off a duck's back' attitude. (Oh, it's just so and so... being so and so.)

As you know, this last week I’ve been a mess. I struggled with my letter S because of the sheer emotion of creating the collage and writing the few words I could muster.

Then, out of the blue, I got a series of personal messages from 'so and so,' asking questions about what was happening around me and what had unfurled the night previous.  In the end, I believe this person thought she had information that would shock and devastate me more than I already was.

After she delivered her dramatic zinger, she gave me a thumbs up followed by hug emoji. My reply was swift like a razor blade. 

Don’t hug me,” I said. “You knew exactly what you were doing!”

Deleted, blocked, gone in a social media instant. Screw enabling her any longer. 

That, my friends, is the only way to deal with TOXIC troublemakers...Especially when you're unable to punch them in the face in person!!

Ahhhh, typing that last sentence out felt great. It processed closure for me.

Thanks for listening.

Friday, April 22, 2022

S IS FOR SMARTIE

One of my best friends passed away on Easter Sunday. Though we were separated by thousands of miles, we spoke on the phone at least once a week. He was mere fifty six years of age.

My avid readers will recognize his name as well as his photo, as he has appeared in several journal posts over the years (even has his own label). All very raw and still in shock, I am struggling to deal with the loss. 

As a result, I have decided to share what his oldest and dearest childhood friend "Howie" posted for him on the exact day my letter S was due. 

I think it paints a perfect picture of this wonderful man. The words brought me to both tears of laughter as well as deep sadness. Words can not describe how much I will miss him.

Rest in peace Smartie. Keep my seat next to you warm and your wit razor sharp....Until we meet again.

Love you always xoxo ~ Rhondi

I miss my buddy

He’s gone.  That’s what his ex-wife said to me when I answered the phone the evening of Easter Sunday.

All who knew Brian entered a new world in that moment.

So far, that world is one of shock, disbelief, boundless sadness and equally boundless gratitude; feelings all common in the wake of the loss of loved one. The shock, disbelief and sadness will settle.  The gratitude for all he brought to my world, will remain forever.

His laughter was matched only by his ability to make others laugh.

At the end of grade 7, we went on a class camping trip to Bass Lake Provincial Park.  As far as we could tell, our teacher, modeled his classroom management style after Joseph Stalin. From the perspective of a bunch of dumb, gangly 12-year-old boys, he was mean.

The camping area was a large, rectangular field. Perfect to ensure boys tents lined the perimeter of one side, girls on the other.

In line with our teacher’s overall approach, there was a seemingly endless list of rules. Among them, very precise direction as to when all were required to be in tents and very ominous threats of consequences if not.

As 12-year-olds we had yet to develop much in the way of foresight and probably worse, we had yet to develop any awareness of our limits in that regard.  Despite the dire warnings we came up with, what we believed at the time, was an airtight plan. Immediately after sunset and tent check, we’d leave our tents, bolt across the field under the cover of darkness and visit our classmates with the utmost confidence that none of this would stir even a hint of suspicion. 

Once darkness set in, tent checks complete, the zippers of 16 tents rang out and the charge was on. 

Almost instantly the flaw in our planning was exposed.  Who would think that teachers would patrol the tents after dark? Clearly 12-year-old boys didn’t.

Thankfully almost every one of us detected the flaw immediately, dove back in our tents, with adrenaline surging but safe from suffering the wrath of our teacher supervisors.

Everyone, that is, but Brian.

Peeking through our tent doors, there he was. His silhouette like a gazelle, bounding on an open plane, all on his own, in the dark, cool, damp, spring air completely oblivious to his solitude.

It turns out that teachers must develop an extraordinary capacity to identify 12-year-old running boys in the dark of night.

But as Brian’s luck would have it, that wasn’t his biggest problem.

In a highly predictable twist of fate, the world’s most fearsome teacher spotted him immediately. We cringed as we heard him yell: “Smart, where are you going?”

At that moment, the magnitude of Brian’s initial mistake compounded significantly.  For instead of responding with something like, “I’m just running to the bathroom”, he chose instead to announce, with a completely misplaced sense of sarcasm, at the top of his lungs, “I’m going to an orgy”.

And to make matters much worse, as he was sometimes known to do, he added, “where the fuck do you think I’m going, you asshole?”  

It was too much for 12-year-old boys. We spent years laughing about it.

And that’s what he did more than anyone I know. He laughed a lot and he helped other people laugh a lot.

Equal to his ability to make people laugh was his ability to build big friendships.  He had more best friends than anyone I know; he did it effortlessly, sincerely and happily.  He was as comfortable with his 3-year-old grandson as he was with the 93 year olds he was working with as part of his studies to become a healthcare aid. 

I will always be proud to call him my best friend as I know many others are too.

The span of his musical taste was broad. Together, we saw John Lee Hooker, The Clash, Peter Tosh, Black Uhuru, Talking Heads, The Police (actually more than the musical kind), the English Beat, Flock of Seagulls, Eric Clapton, the Hip, Nash the Slash, lost some/most of our hearing watching the Headstones at the Rivoli and watched some dude throw a banana 125 meters and land right at the feet of Joan Jett - an act of athletic prowess I have yet to witness again.

But his greatest achievement is undoubtedly his family. His son, daughters and his wonderful grandson; they featured prominently and lovingly in virtually every single conversation. Each of his kids inherited his greatest attributes. 

Among the many things uniting the human experience is our frailty. None of us live perfect lives. We all deal with challenges. 

All of us, in our own way, do the very best we can to accommodate those challenges. 

We love our families and friends and care for our communities, our country and the planet.  We count on those we love in our time of need.

This was especially true of Brian.

I am grateful for every second he lived his life.  

I will miss him for as long as I live mine.

Tuesday, April 19, 2022

Monday, April 18, 2022

O IS FOR ONE

The last thing I did before I left Key West was tour the Hemmingway House.
TAKEN: APRIL 9th, 2022

'I decided that I would write one story about each thing I knew about.'

~Ernest Hemmingway

I know that I have joked here this challenge about 'pub crawls' and 'pool parties' but aside from experiencing the amazing road trip vistas traveling to and from Miami, touring the Hemmingway House was atop of my list of things I wanted to do. 

My husband, wasn't so keen. Touring a home full of cats that just happened to showcase a writing studio that produced seventy percent of Hemmingway's works in the nine years he lived in the house? Meh....

Now I get that not every married couple want to experience the same things, but when my man questioned the whopping $17 price of entry, I told him he could wait outside for me. That way, I got in for half price!

Seriously, from the audio of him delivering his acceptance speech for the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1954 playing in his writing studio, to the amazing architectural bones to the house built in 1851, I feel it was well worth the price of admission.

Sure there was a lot of Hollywood memorabilia but there was also so many original photos and furniture for the time he lived in the home; not to mention an amazing library.

Not everyone's cup of tea. I get it.... But it was a great experience. 

Which is my ONE story I know to write about today.

Saturday, April 16, 2022

N IS FOR NATURALLY

When you have the luxury of something and you decide to let it go, naturally you miss it. Some things more than others, yet I feel great childhood memories always linger and ultimately stay ingrained in us forever. 

Being the youngest of four, ideally I got to spend the most time at my Uncle Louis Camp on the beautiful shores of Lake Temiscaming. 

Built in the mid-fifties, the shelter was a mere 650 sq.ft. but the shoreline and property were perfect. It was never used very much, that was until I entered my 'tween' years and my parents began using it in the summer; rather than renting two weeks in the Ottawa Valley. 

I remember the day Auntie Andy took this photo. A great weekend and us so very happy.
Not quite pregnant with the twins... NOR had I discovered need for quality hair care products!
TAKEN: MAY 1991

They agreed (my dad and his eldest brother) that instead of paying rent, my dad would spend his time and money doing upgrades. A win-win for both - and when he passed, my uncle left the property and its contents to my dad.

My last couple of summers in high school, we lived there every weekend. 

The rents would pick me up at the rink in North Bay and we would head east across the border into Quebec.  (My mother’s brother had a camp next door and my father’s sister was just a wee bit further up the lake.)

I believe it was those amazing summers that helped shape me into who I am today. 

We always worked through the day as there was no television, and some Saturday nights there were at least ten of us playing a board game around Auntie's table next door. My mother was as fiercely competitive then, as I am today.  

Over those years, my cousins next door evolved into my sisters, and to this day I cherish all of their children, as I have watched them marry and raise their own families.

As an aside, we did offer to buy my dad out in the late 1990's (he was welcome to stay until he died) and he turned us down. Less than two months later, we bought in Muskoka. 

Just fifteen minutes from our home, we were blessed to offer our children the same shelter I had been given surrounded by loyal friends.  To this day, we still own it but that doesn't stop me from reminiscing. 

... About the first summer we had propane lights, the summer we hand drilled the well with a sledgehammer, or the first time I didn't have to jump in the lake because Poppa put an indoor shower in. Oh, and the fact that we conceived our children there.

All, such amazing and truly vibrant, life long memories! 

Friday, April 15, 2022

M IS FOR MERRIMENT

As I have written here before it takes more effort to frown than smile. 

Ya Gotta Laugh About It
Christmas morning fun - seven years ago. Look how little my beautiful Annie is?
TAKEN: DECEMBER 25th, 2014

Like a lot of people I know, I have previously struggled with depression. It first appeared and was identified post-partum after Jukebox was born but as the years went on and I conquered the worst of it, I am always aware it could be lurking around the corner.

As a result, I have always been very open in our home about the importance of personal mental health, and as my children entered adulthood and real-life struggles appeared, I was always asking if they wanted to speak to someone outside our core.

I believe advocacy is critical because I had about a year and a half of extensive psychotherapy when the children were small, and during that time, my Psychotherapist armed me with a toolbox of solutions that I still use today. As a result, to this day I am forever grateful to her.

I know in society today that medications usually win as a solution over root cause analysis, but for me, I wanted to understand why I didn’t feel like myself so I took a deep dive and have never been on any type of medication except Advil since leaving her sessions almost twenty years ago.

So, when I was aptly reminded that Dickens wrote that 'Christmas was the season of hospitality, merriment and open-heartedness.' I instantly knew that this was the photo I wanted to share for this letter.

Photographic proof that we truly are all aboard the mental health MERRIMENT train. 

It's just how we love to roll!!

Thursday, April 14, 2022

L IS FOR LIFE

 I truly believe that if I threw my life problems into a heap with everyone else’s that I’d quickly scramble to get mine back. 

Not because I wouldn't have preferred to get rid of them, but I feel that being surrounded by the mound of everyone else's, mine would seem pretty insignificant.

The point of my post?

Much happier times on a Mommy/Daughter trip to New Orleans.
TAKEN: June 2019

Life is forever full and evolving of lessons. You either learn from them, or you don’t.

I understand that everyone is different and what may seem like a boulder in front of some (stopping you from moving forward) may only feel like a simple pebble in someone else’s shoe. 

For me, I always try and draw on life experiences and understand what I have learned. I try to use those lessons to help me push through the noise and crap and keep moving forward.

That last bit of advice is based on personal experience. Though it may seem simple, life in general is tricky. Some lessons offer relief, as if you've only scraped your knees. Some feel as though they've truly broken your heart and spirit; while others, bring and offer wonderful opportunity.

I'm a simple gal, that was lucky to marry a man that makes me laugh. As we look toward retirement, we know one thing to be true. We have raised our three children to the best of our ability and wish all of them the nothing but the best. Truly hoping they all find happiness.

So you can understand that it just breaks my heart that almost seven years to the day, history repeated itself. Personal choices were made and once again we were blamed.

With regards to the latter instance,  I have resigned myself to the fact that the current situation is just LIFE!

Sad, yet completely and totally acceptable from where I type... and absolutely fine with the second round of estrangement.

Wednesday, April 13, 2022

K IS FOR KEY

 I am going to revisit this letter with a better explanation. I am just too upset to share the horrible experience in Grassy Key at this time. 

At more than $800 for the night, we had to share the place with cockroaches.

Thanks for understanding ~ Rhondi

The KEY was as old as the cockroaches that were staying in the room with us!
TAKEN: ARPIL 8th, 2022

Tuesday, April 12, 2022

J IS FOR JOVIAL

 There are so many words I could have selected for this letter. 

Justified, joyful, jaunt (a very long one) yet I ultimately chose JOVIAL. 

I picked it because it was how I felt when my spouse and I reconnected with my brother (pictured below) over a fifteen hour phone call. Which is truly amazing, considering the three of us hadn’t spoken in as many years.

My big brother in the downstairs room where he first played me Hotel California on his new stereo.
TAKEN: 1983

Growing up, I was the youngest and he the eldest of four. 

Though I have many vibrant memories, my mom making him sit with me to go through the Sears Wish Book catalogue when I was about seven stands out; I can see us sitting at his desk.

That specific exercise was to help her establish what I was hoping Santa was going to bring, which must have been a drag, because as my senior he knew the real deal.

All these years later, I know he did it because he was made to, but I think he will be surprised to read that I still remember our very first Christmas in Ontario at 190 Shier Street like it was yesterday. 

Growing up, I was always in awe of him. He had cool friends, played in a band, did well in school, and always seemed to have a very specific direction. I'm sure the latter had something to do with my mother but I can’t say for sure.

In our clan, he was the first and I the last. Bookends per se, for all the family adventures and stories the others grew up with. He was closest to our mother before her death, me to our dad before his.

As I share the photo I do tonight, you can see I tore it trying to take it out and scan it. So once again this challenge, I share another Kodak moment that is a picture of a picture. Funny how times have digitally changed.

As my big bro sent a text in song for my birthday, I giggled and smiled from ear to ear.

Not just because we’d reconnected…. But because he’d become my newest electronic friend, as well as he has always been one of the very few people I have always enjoy talking on the telephone with.

Who’d a friggin' thunk it? Not this cat!

Monday, April 11, 2022

I IS FOR ISLAMORADA

After a whirlwind long weekend, I am back in Canada, browsing the bazillion photos I took and realizing how much I loved staying in Islamorada.

One never knows what to expect when planning a road trip with Google Chrome and Trip Advisor. In this instance, both those knocked our first night stay out of the freaking ballpark.

The Chesapeake Beach Resort was a total shot in the dark for us and we got lucky!

Our least expensive night of the lot and we had a blast!!

Not because of the night life or five-star restaurants in the area, but simply because of the vibe. Completely laid back, which was exactly what we were hoping for.

Home and settled, we both agree that on our next ‘Toronto Raptor Road Trip’ to Miami to see Kyle Lowry, we definitely have to factor in an two additional nights and head down highway 1.

... Because regardless of everything we did and enjoyed on this bucket list trip, Islamorada was by far (most unexpectedly) the high point in the overall experience department. 

Made it through the car rental process and we are on our way down Hwy 1!
TAKEN: APRIL 6th, 2022


Checked into the hotel and over to Wahoo's for some seafood!
TAKEN: APRIL 6th, 2022
                                                                                          

Our view as the incoming boats settle in for the night.
TAKEN: APRIL 6th, 2022


Chilaxin' by the pool which is where we stayed until it closed.
TAKEN: APRIL 6th, 2022


Enjoying our 8am sunrise as we prepare to head to to Margaritaville
TAKEN: APRIL 7th, 2022

Saturday, April 9, 2022

H IS FOR HAPPY HER-DAY

 

Ya Gotta Laugh About It
By the way, this shot took four cupcakes!!
TAKEN: April 2, 2022

Today is the amazing Miya Maria’s first birthday and I can’t begin to express how much joy this little rascal has brought to us and everyone she meets around her.

I knew I would be away to celebrate with her in person, so I planned a little party and photoshoot before we left. Excited at the thought, I told my husband what I wanted to do. As expected, he rolled his eyes, told me I was crazy, then drove me all about town to shop for props.

My first stop, Dollarama. I immediately made a beeline for the party section. As I perused the plethora of beautiful birthday hats that man with the ever-rolling eyes whom refused to stay in the car piped up with, "you know, she’s not going to keep that stupid thing on her head.” Knowing he was right, I made a second purchase of the headband you see here.

Next stop, Dollar Tree. For better candles and the hope for a nicer hat. No hat but I scored the candles for a buck then headed to Wal-Mart in search of the perfect cupcake. Only packages of twelve mini ones there, and my driver and I agreed we did not need to eat the leftovers. Grabbed what else was needed and back to the car we went.

Open the hatch and there you have it. Miya had shredded the hat, ripped apart three of the four headbands (which now simply read APPY RTHDAY) and the candles were missing. All I could do was carry on my quest. All my husband could do was laugh!

Not to take my eye off the ball, into the grocery store I went and headed for the bakery. What the hell, they wanted $1.99 for one stinkin’ cupcake?

Again the man with the ever-rolling eyes who officially named it Let’s Laugh At Rhondi Day chimed in yet again, “there is no way she is going to do this thing in one cupcake.” 

Dang, he was right again. So this time I rolled my eyes and bought a pack of four.

There really is no handbook for what stupidity looks like. But on that day, this quest officially deserved to post my picture next to the word in the dictionary. 

Over six attempts, with three dogs, four cupcakes and one headband left I did it. Not proud of the journey but happy with the result.

Please join me in wishing the beautiful Miya a Happy Her-Day. We celebrate her today as she was the perfect gift I gave myself last year at this time.

You see, on this day last year, she was MIYA BIRTHDAY PRESENT!

...Thanks again for reading.

Friday, April 8, 2022

G IS FOR GORGEOUS

A tiki boat riding into the sunset at the southernmost point of the United States
TAKEN: APRIL 7th, 2020

Early morning Sunrise in Grassy Key
TAKEN: APRIL 8th, 2022


Thursday, April 7, 2022

F IS FOR FIFTY-ISH

I have no issue being FIFTY-ISH. Just get a tad impatient when a plan goes off track
TAKEN: APRIL 7th, 2022 

Since my first, these bucket list birthday (long weekend) celebrations have always evolved. First, I would like to give Air Canada a big shoutout, because their excellent round trip air fare to Miami and killer flight times, made this adventure achievable.

That said, when sipping and lounging in the pool with some very friendly American ladies my age, they disclosed that since travel locked down happened, the prices in Key West have more than tripled. 

Not gonna lie, when we discovered a room for the night (in the perfect Duval Street location with parking) was a sneeze under $1,000 Canadian, we had to revamp my 'Born Day Bash' and only stay one night in Margaritaville. 

That said, no regrets on the choices made, as upper, lower and middle keys are all very expensive.  As our plans evolved, we realized that the money was saved for a reason. 

Ultimately that (after the last couple of years) we were both worth it. At the end of the day, this adventure wasn’t about spending our time in Key West, it was about experiencing the road trip and drive. 

So back to my long winded point...

The pic I am sharing was taken at the Southernmost point of the United States which is only 90 miles from Cuba. The sun was sweltering, and as you can tell by my hair and non-existing makeup, that the humidity was off the charts. 

Made no matter. As my man watched in shock, I stood up on the knee wall and happily snapped a selfie.

Why not pose with next to the monument like to people I cut out of my photo?

Because the line up for an official photo op was hundreds deep and this FIFTY-ISH, very task oriented gal, had places to go, pictures to take, sun to soak up, pools to float in, and a Duval Street pub crawl to prepare for.

Ya, with regards to the latter, we had an early dinner, watched the sunset at Mallory Square, walked in and out of six of seven places sipping the same drink, and were both in bed before 10pm.

Don't judge. At least our dinner wasn’t the 4pm blue plate Florida Special at the Ponderosa. 

Close, it was 6pm at El Meson de Pepe and the plates were red.

Proving we’ve still got a ton of game left in us!!!

Wednesday, April 6, 2022

E IS FOR EVERLASTING

Knowing I was leaving on a jet plane and not wanting to fret about finding free time, I worked at pre-choosing certain words. So imagine my surprise when going through my external hard drive last week, I came across this beautiful image offering the perfect inspiration. 

April A-Z
One of our early ocean adventure with my lifelong friend (and guardian angel).
TAKEN: APRIL 1994

I apologize the resolution is so low, as I believe this is a picture of a picture taken many years ago. I also recall it was gifted to me the following Christmas after we took this trip in a frame. So, this image was truly what our generation considered to be 'a Kodak moment'. 

Auntie Andy (as our children refer to her) moved in across the street from my dad before I got married. We'd known who the other was from high school, yet never connected until we bought the house next door to her family duplex, making her our next door neighbour; we immediately became inseparable.

She was there when I told my husband I was pregnant with Jukebox, then in turned stayed with him while my husband was with me when the twins were being delivered. Until they passed, we considered her parents, whom had great impact on how we raised our children, as an extension of our own.

As I sit her and reflect, I can’t help but feel a tad emotional. There are so many people that pop and in out of your life, and very few that stand the unconditional test of time. Which I guess gets me to thinking.

I believe I read somewhere that most people are lucky enough to have five true friends in their lifetime – but I dare to wonder what defines a true friend?

Social media has me see people that were buddies in high school sharing all the love in the claiming they love the other ‘to the moon and back’, yet behind the others back, they do nothing but complain and bitch and moan about them.

Over the years I have had a lot great friendships. Several have come and gone, primarily due to a change in circumstance. Then there are those that rise to the top and you will be unconditionally connected until you die. 

That’s Andy and I…. 

Forever embracing a true and EVERLASTING friendship for the rest of our lives.

Tuesday, April 5, 2022

D IS FOR DOGHOUSE

To think I only went into the grocery store for a loaf of bread!
TAKEN: JULY 2021


I read somewhere that a dog truly only has one fault, which is that their life is too short. A simple yet powerful statement that I happen to agree with 1000%.

Don’t get me wrong, in all of our years owning pups, several shoes, random clothing, expensive furniture, as well as dinner thawing on the kitchen counter have all fallen prey. All chewed and ultimately enjoyed the good old fashion canine way.

One might think that the above list would be enough fuel to encourage yours truly to get a bird; but not this cat (no pun intended).

This is the second time we've transitioned a new pup into our pack as we prepare for her beautiful senior leader to wind down. Though it's a lot of personal investment that first year, it is truly worth it. 

In our situation today, our newest pup has had the benefit of some great training her matriarch never absorbed no matter how hard we tried. From the day my beloved Puddin' arrived home more than a decade ago, she has always marched to the tune of a different drummer.

Truth is we had to build her a run to keep her in check. We use to have to tie her as she simply would not listen. We have our theories as to why, and we are the first to acknowledge that we are in no way dog whispers. Again, we highlight we are just struggling parents with an audience that now have four legs rather than two.

That said, as we age and so does our pack. We hear others say "We do not want, nor will have another dog in retirement. We want to travel."

Knowing we have no desire to spend capital outside of Canada, we too want to go south in the depths of the Canadian winter months. Should all things align, we will head south, and our pups will come with. I think the key is something called 'square footage'

Meaning our mobile DOGHOUSE will need to be much bigger than the back of our Mazda CX5 as shown in my photo!