Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Downtown In My Little Town...

She may be small... But like ME she's mighty!
TAKEN: Saturday May 24th, 2014
As you know, I live in what some would consider to be a sleepy little town. It’s strategically located somewhere between ‘almost there’ and ‘just passing through’.

Don’t get me wrong, my first name isn't Belle, and the ornate objects in my home don’t unexpectedly burst into song, it's just that where I live epitomizes a quaint Canadian town.

Now that you have that mental image, think of your Aunt Bertha and her last really bad gout flare up.

When the surrounding Lakes here open up, our population easily triples. Just like Bert's gout filled big toe, it can be painful to experience!

Though I've lived here almost my entire life, it's been years since I've observed the influx of seasonal residents when it's occurred. Specifically, because I've always tried to avoided it. Now that I'm back to spending 90% of my awake time in my home office, I find myself downtown every chance I get. I'd forgotten how clean, pretty, and very welcoming it really was.

What's my point? There's a social media page out there looking for suggestions on how to make our Town GREAT again. Not gonna lie, I'm finding it painful to watch things unfold. Though there's a solid core group of people with excellent intentions... Others, not so much. I will admit that I read the posts yet never comment.

Eventually, my hope is that I’ll gently remind those standing in judgement, that just like our seasonal weather, there’s an ebb and flow to owning a seasonal business here. Challenges that only those that have tried and endured truly understand. 

It was with them in mind that I popped in and out of stores up and down the main street this past Saturday. As I enjoyed the downtown of my little town, I could hear a very clear voice in my head saying over and over “...come to me with a solution, not a problem!"

Like any great strategist, I had to analyze and assess. I think it was Betty. Yet, I can’t be sure.

As you may or may not know, Betty's always been one of most reasonable of the fifteen voices that party inside my head. Guess I must have her set on 'default'.

Smile away Peeps & Happy Hump Day!

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Not A Black Fly Was Stirring....

I don’t believe that I've ever taken a leap of faith using spontaneity as the catapult and NOT had a great time. Today proved that I'm still batting 1000. 

Last week... I received a kind of haphazard, off the cuff, invitation to take a day trip into Algonquin Park. My immediate thought was that it was black fly season, followed by the fact that I really had no desire to spend a day swatting them pesky buggers. Then, the persistent tone of the offer made me understand that the suggestion was being made in an effort for us to spend time together; something, neither of us have really had the ability to offer the other, since well before Easter. 

Still in my jammies when my phone rang at 7:45 am this morning I didn't answer it. I get a million calls from unknown numbers, and in my half a sleep daze, I had forgotten the day trip offer I had received the week before. Three quick calls in a row I knew that it had to be one of three people looking for me. 

I quickly explained that I was busy feeling sorry for myself but thankfully they would hear nothing of it. “I’ll be there in half an hour... BE READY” was the extent of the sympathy extended. I got my ass in gear in time for them to pick me up. They had my coffee waiting and a plan for our day. I was impressed!

It’s been years since I've been a day visitor to Algonquin Park. My Dad use to take me, but chatting today I realized it’s been at least thirty years since my last day trip. Sad really, considering that this haven is literally a little over an hour’s drive away.

Sitting here, I can't stop smiling. You’d think that being 40 feet away from a feeding Moose would be my adventure highlight, or perhaps the fact that the black-flies aren't out yet. Neither!

It’s that I traveled a little over 250 kilometers today and never once did I feel the need to entertain the person I was with. 

…Because being together is all that truly mattered to the both of us. 

It's been 30 years since my last adventure in this neck of the woods...
Taken: May 21st, 2014

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

If I Had A DIME...!

Chatting via email this morning (with my very fave Business colleague) made my day ten times brighter than Mother Nature’s generous post long weekend UV offering. I don’t know about you, but I love laughing via email. As silly as it sounds, I can hear the other person’s voice speaking to me as I read, just as I’m certain they can hear my laughter in return.

As I was playfully multi-tasking my phone rang. In the instant that I read the call display, I said their name aloud. Another former client; one, that most definitely is etched on my short list of all-time favourites.

Oh, I remember it well. It was the week leading up to Easter in 2013. He was starting a ‘small’ renovation and wanted to meet with me face to face so that he could better understand his options. I agreed, only to have him lose my number. Boy, if I had a dime for every time a man claimed they'd lost my number...  I’d be retired and definitely be living large by now!

Chuckles aside and long story short: he and I never met that day. AND... his small renovation, ended up being not so small. As his project progressed, we talked on the phone (sometimes daily) for months until his contractor pulled the boats out of the water for the season in November.

Working the 2013 Fall Cottage Life Show, I heard a very familiar voice announce “I just wanted to say hello..”

Without hesitation I turn and yelled his name and hugged him. Today, I heard his voice again. It'll be weird not dealing with him and his contractor this summer but he sent me something to remember him by. The view from his dock I helped to enhance.... So to speak.

Thanks for the call Dr. C.

Now that you're a reader, we'll always effortlessly keep in touch.


Wednesday, May 14, 2014

My Unexpected Record Scratch Moment

I've always found the sound of a needle being dragged across a vinyl record to be one of the most effective sound effects ever. No matter what is happening around you, when you hear that very distinct sound, it’s like time stops.

Errrrrrrrr….. Imagine hearing that sound for a solid three seconds, combined with me shaking my head back and forth quickly in disbelief, for at least the same amount of time. THAT, is what I consider a ‘personal record scratch moment’. I had my very first in years last weekend.

Here's EXACTLY what a personal record scratch moment looks like!
(...Except I wasn't smiling.)
Taken: DECEMBER 2008
I was standing in my kitchen and words were spoken. Words I never thought I’d ever hear again. 

It was like I was immediately jolted to another day and time. It was so long ago that there were covered wagons in the street and my pretty petticoat was covered to up to my knees in mud. 

Seriously, I mean (as an example) why couldn't this defining personal moment whisk me away to a one of those really sexy and erotic times I've dreamt of? You know, the type they always play out for women in the movies?  I'm totally fecking due!

Instead, good ole practical and romantically delusional me, gets transported back to a time of harsh reality. Not gonna lie, I'd take any When Harry Met Sally moment over bamboo shoots underneath my toenails any day!

What have I done about it? Picked myself up and dusted myself off. 

Glass half full?

Maybe my moment didn't have me pass go: Lord knows I didn't collect $100. But... It most certainly DID NOT have me land on Boardwalk, with a hotel on it, and no money in the Bank.


Take THAT glass half empty!!!

Sunday, May 11, 2014

My Mom....

Happy Mother's Day Mummy.... I miss you very much.
Taken: July 1947
This is my Mom. 

If you haven’t met her via a previous post, allow me to introduce you to my mother Inez.

She was 17 years old when this photo was taken and the only one I own that was taken before she was married.

Though I have very few pictures of her, that doesn't mean that all of my  life long memories aren't vivid, colourful, and still very much alive.

She was a fighter.

She won most every battle she set her mind to, but sadly, she eventually lost the war. She passed in 1987 of ALS (more commonly known to the masses as Lou Gehrig's Disease).

Any sadness in my reflection aside, I would be remiss if I didn't acknowledge that today is OUR day. The one & only that is dedicated especially to the both of us for a job well done.

Happy Mother's Day Mummy...

I love and miss you very much.

Thursday, May 8, 2014


This afternoon I logged onto my Facebook to find this amazing homage, posted by my very favourite Comedian, on his personal Facebook page. It moved me so much that I wanted to share. I immediately asked his permission and Ron enthusiastically said YES. 

Rest In Peace Farley.... Very well said Ron!

Ron James with his dear friends Farley & Claire Mowat.
This photo is personal property of RON JAMES.
All rights reserved.

I don't make a habit of posting the ubiquitous photo of me with my arm around celebrities mugging for a 'selfie' but when that 'celebrity' (and the term seems so tawdry and trite given his status in 'Letters') was one of Canada's literary lions, who recently passed into the 'Big Mystery', I make an exception. 

Farley Mowat and his wife Claire were my friends, who kindly invited me to lunch at their home in Port Hope while on tour several years ago. Look at them in this photo! Beaming! Lovers until the end! They were SO cool!! Authentic. How could you not be, given the world they were born to and the adventure they lived together?! Snug in their cozy cottage, packed with totems of a life fully realized, they shuffled from room to room referring to each other as 'Mr. and Mrs. Mole'. The cantankerous rebel who did not suffer fools was hostage to his woman's twinkling eyes and she to his. 

Over lunch they spoke of their travels to the far points of frontier, like the Orkney Islands of northern Scotland! You won't find that destination on a Carnival Cruise Line itinerary! They told me how they'd walked beaches there looking at spear points, awls and primal scraping tools from the last Ice Age. No shuffleboard on the 'Fiesta Deck' and buffet for this pair of octogenarians! They were engaged in the wider world of wonders. Curious. Searching. Exploring. As betrothed to each other as the planet they loved.

I sat at the foot of this sage all afternoon enthralled. Nursing my second shot of London Dock none-the-less that he poured us...before noon! I remember thinking, 'This is what it would be like if Yoda drank!!’ His World War 2 Major's hat on the wall…caricatures from earlier days when his beard was full and shoulders broad…photos of he and Claire sailing...he and his Labrador retrievers…bawdy jokes in the bathroom…myriad awards…on a late model television set sat a dory Paul Watson hand carved for him in prison…original leather bound editions of Franklin's expeditions! And then his books. They sat high on a shelf in the living room. 48 of them! 48!! And it struck me: 'Dear God Farley', I said, 'the titles aren't in English!' They were in every language but Romulan! 'Never Cry Wolf' in Arabic…'And No Birds Sang' in German…'A Whale for the Killing' in Spanish...The Dog Who Wouldn't Be' in Chinese…'Lost In the Barrens' in Dutch...Siberia', in some tongue you'd be speaking while you milked a yak in Irkutsk! 
Farley looks at me with a humble sigh and says, 'Well, there it is. A life'. 

And his life inspired. Sitting in a dreary classroom at Chebucto Road School in Grade 7, reading 'Two Against the North' and 'The Viking's Grave', sired a desire to commune with the power of Canada's holy lands beyond the tree line. I actualized that childhood dream ten years ago and kayaked Arctic Finger Lakes in the Barren lands, three hours north of Yellowknife. The world Farley's words had painted in a kid's imagination still shone bright in memory. I joined a Dene elder from Fort Resolution who’d come to hunt caribou for a pot luck supper in Fort Resolution. Cresting a hill in the chill of dawn, I saw a raven flying low to the land and remembered Farley's words in 'Never Cry Wolf', that when you see a raven, wolves aren't far behind. Sure enough, there they stood, Javex white and splendid proud in morning's magic hour. 'Farley was right', I thought! 'Wolves and ravens are buddies in the hunt!' And to think the disparaging moniker of 'Hardly-Know-It' was applied to him. Only in Canada could the ivory towered dilettantes and philistines he held in such justifiable contempt turn so viscously on their own. I beg to differ with their slander readers. I saw those wolves as well as many other things, because Farley Mowat taught me how to look for them in this world, thanks to his books.

'Well there it is. A life' 

And what a life it was Farley. What a life. Thanks for sharing it with us. ~ RON JAMES

(c) Ron James. All rights reserved.

Wednesday, May 7, 2014

It's An Executive Decision…

Going through some legal and financial papers this afternoon, I realized that it’ll be two years this upcoming May 2-4 long weekend, that I moved to the cottage (and lived there) for the entire summer. Where the hell has the time gone?

Personally, I know that in that time I've worked my fecking ass off.  Matter a fact, there are patches of time in the above mentioned lapse, that I barely remember what I did with my spare time. Most likely because I know I rarely had any.

That said, this summer will be different. As an independent contractor, I'm not expected to deal with the day to day drama of disgruntled customers. It’s been an adjustment but truthfully one of the reasons I left my old job. Turns out, in my search for a solid challenge & truly happy customers... I hit the mother load !

My new home office view.
My old buddy Don gave me this flower last summer
... Proud to say he was the BEST co-worker EVER!
Taken: August 8th, 2013
Happy happy happy, I have decided to once again move back to the cottage for the summer. Truth is, it's been in the back of my mind since the very minute I changed jobs.

It seems like such a waste for me to sit in my downstairs office, when I can be working in the sun where my pups are happy, and my domestic skills are sharp. 

Believe it or not, the one things I've been struggling with is the installation of high speed internet. Today I made the executive decision to ignore those silly little voices and just get it installed.

With so many other stresses removed from my life, installing the internet is just going to make me that much more efficient. For instance, I know I will be able to handle a far bigger workload if I'm smiling AND have great tan. KIDDING!

The fact of the matter is that with over 300 DVD's in inventory, I can stop buying them out of the bargain bin and just use Netflix’s. That right there justifies all of this as a solid money management decision. 

Keeping this cat out of the WalMart video section?

Just paid for the installation of the Primus dry loop!


Monday, May 5, 2014

Pssst… Ya Got Any Rubbers?

I woke up at 4am this morn and hauled my ass out of bed for what turned out to be the rest of the day. Not because I’d had enough sleep, but because my hot flashes seem to have embedded themselves into a pattern of complete and total inconvenience. 

Anyway, it was no surprise, that by mid afternoon I was a great big bitchy zombie that was ready for a nap. Exhausted, I fought back. I got up from my desk, pulled on my rubbers, and headed straight for the gully.

Up to my ankles in gunk & loving it!
Taken: May 5th, 2014
For a million reasons, the silly ravine (just off the back of my yard) takes me back to my childhood. Not that I've ever lived with the luxury of such a haven in my backyard growing up, I just feel like a little kid whenever I venture out.

Where else can a single stick, some running water, and ankle deep mud deliver such an escape? ...Not to mention that it kinda sounds like a Super-dee-Duper fart machine as you tromp around in the sloppy gunk.

I know, I know, my girlfriend told me she suspects my enjoyment in the mud has something to do with some sort of rebellion. She says I'm "perpetuating a behaviour that wasn't deemed acceptable when I was child."

Who knows? Who cares! 

...I've simply labelled it a guilty pleasure.

I understand that some may not deem my behaviour proper. BUT... If you consider my playing in a ravine full of mud, in a pair of bright hot pink rubbers immature... I don't want to share what I'll be doing during the first midday summer downpour on my dock.

I fear THAT guilty pleasure (which I've labelled #482) may throw you over the edge!

She may look nice and dry... But I can assure ya she ain't!
Taken: May 5th, 2014