Saturday, December 31, 2016


Well, once again the old guy is getting ready to hand things over to that chubby little baby in a diaper. In a matter of hours, a massive amount of new year cheer will be consumed and as the clock strikes 12, people will gladly kiss & hug total strangers. Sounds like me on a random Friday night at the Griffin Pub... Luckily, it acceptable behaviour tonight.

Similar to most of you reading, I can honestly say that when I reflect on the last year, it's with a true sense of positivity and a feeling of personal pride. Exactly one year ago today, I set some specific goals that I've not only accomplished, I've exceeded. I may have worked a ton and a half but I would be remiss if I didn't acknowledge that my inner drive was complimented by the need and delivery of four seasons of exceptional Muskoka weather. 

Barometric elation aside, I guess I am trying to relay that in a nutshell I had a really good year. So very grateful for so many things, yet there is only one place to start. Look at those kids. We're so very blessed. Truly thankful for them, as well as our good health. Nothing tops those two. Nothing will ever come close.

So grateful for a year full of wonderful memories. Thankful for so much.
TAKEN: Throughout 2016

The other side of my so very thankful for coin would have to be all the blatantly obvious things I need to simply let go of. I'm not sure if I ever shared this before but every year between Christmas and New Year Eve, I buy myself a new purse. Just like this electronic journal, my 'purse' tradition has grown with the same personal passion. 

You see, when I ring in the new year with a new purse, it's an official message that I can leave all the crap that followed me and weighed me down within the last year, exactly there. My new purse is only intended to carry fresh opportunities, new goals, and positive vibes. Tomorrow, my current purse stays exactly where it should: in 2016. 

Happy 2017 everyone. As we journey into our seventh year together, thanks to each and every one of you for reading. It is truly appreciated.

Godspeed ~Rhondi

Friday, December 30, 2016


Well, I spent my morning doing the house budget for the next three months, as well as really analyzing the one I had in place for the prior three. The good news is the next three look outstanding. The last three? Absolutely, horrendous. Knowing full well there was more going out than going in, early-November I made a surprise announcement to my grown children: “The Bank... IS CLOSED!”

I should've done it this past summer and I have no one to blame but myself. Against any/all good judgement, I am the one that kept the 24 hour wicket open. It took a couple of very large dollar (hollow promised) 'I'll pay you back' incidents for me to realize they had no intention of doing so; so I finally shut 'er down.

A very necessary... But dreaded task!
TAKEN: DECEMBER 30th, 2016
When I think back, I credit my mother with a number of my character traits but there are two in particular I am grateful for as I muddle through midlife. 

She always taught me to pay myself first, which I do; and the second is that (from her wheelchair) she taught me how to structure/follow a monthly house budget. I still remember she use to make me type it out, after she passed I had a ledger book, now I simply use a formulated excel spreadsheet. Today, I offered to teach my daughter how easy it is; she agreed to try.

Budget mentoring aside, as I look at the next three months, I see some very solid savings into April. I would be lying if I didn’t say that I was disappointed last fall to have to cancel my 2017 birthday trip to China. I worked extremely hard to save that money, and because I have always refused to travel on credit nor retirement savings, a change in plans was my only option. At the end of it all, I just keep telling myself that those dollars were simply needed somewhere else. Somewhere much more important. With a deep hope, that when transferred, they were truly appreciated. 

Now that my first quarter budget is officially done, I need to find my bottle of glue. Time to put that blasted piggy bank I decimated a few months back, back together. You see, many moons ago I went for the really shiny, pretty porcelain finished piggy, when my gut told me the practical purchase was the ugly plastic one with the key in its belly. Again, my own fault.

Now, where the hell is that glue!!

Wednesday, December 28, 2016


A quiet house waiting for morn.
TAKEN: DECEMBER 24th, 2016
Well, once again, that’s it for Christmas. 

So much hype and panic that ultimately resulted in your annual giant turkey and carb coma. Oh my goodness, I don’t know about you but I felt full of holiday food until I went to bed Boxing Day night!

As much as year over year the traditions of the season remain the same, this year I found myself in much different territory. Our last child moved out in mid-December and I admit I am a tad surprised how big I immediately found the house. Not in a bad way, more a truly unexpected one.

One doesn't recall what it's like to not have a roommate until you wake up at 5:30am for work and realize you don't need to worry whom will hear you. For me, I thought that's what I missed most; then Christmas Eve hit.

For the first year ever, I didn't get together with a single one of my children on the eve. To mark another first, they all have roommates. Yup, on the eve I got up in the morn, posted to my blog, ran my errands and settled in for the day. I had an early dinner, watched a movie and headed to bed early. So early, that I woke up at 5am reminiscing on how the kids use to wake us up in the dark. Right up until they left the first time more than 5 years ago.

As I awoke and perked the coffee Christmas morn, I wasn't surprised that it was my daughter leading the plight to head home. She's always been the holiday gatekeeper but I found myself glad that she hadn't changed. You know why?

No matter how much I hate the lack of light this time of year, she provides more than enough energy for everyone around her; it's refreshing.

For that, I will always be absolutely and unequivocally grateful.

Who needs a selfie stick when you have Goobs extra long reach?
TAKEN: DECEMBER 25th, 2016

Saturday, December 24, 2016


For a fella that lives in Grand Cayman....
My recent tan could compete!!
TAKEN: DECEMBER 23rd, 2016
In September of 2014, I parked my butt at a small coffee shop in town to meet with a very close personal friend and co-worker.

He'd recently resigned from the company that we’d both worked for and wanted to meet to share where his journey was taking him next.

From the moment he walked up to me and hugged me, it was like not a day had passed. I remember he had so much to say to me, that he wrote me a letter.

A tad surprised, I started to read. I could feel his eyes watching me as his powerful words brought me to tears.

Well, yesterday I walked into that very same coffee shop and he was sitting at the exact table we shared in 2014. Once again, we hugged.  Just like 2+ years ago, it felt like not a single day had passed. Don’t get me wrong, we’ve spoken on the phone dozens of times; but the last time we were actually in the same time zone together was that rainy afternoon in the fall of 2014.

I don’t know about you but there are very few people I have met in my lifetime that I trust with all of my heart. Glen, is one of them. I went to work for the company he was a partner in so that I could specifically work with him. From the day I started, it was evident that his experience & knowledge were challenged by none. The other tidbit that came to fruition quickly? When we teamed together, we were unstoppable!

Anyway,  my recap aside, we agreed to meet again next week before he returns to Grand Cayman.  As I walked away I waved and yelled with a matter a fact and melodious, ‘I love you…’  Then, when I got home, I immediately opened my lock box and once again read his very powerful letter that was written September 29th, 2014.

It opened with, 'I wanted to take this time and let you know several things, as I have chosen to be so quiet over the last almost year.'  The truth of the matter is that a strong friendship like ours doesn’t need daily conversation nor being together. I guess it’s because I feel that as long as our relationship lives in the heart, as true friends, we will never be part. Chatting face to face most certainly reinforced those points for both of us.

As 2016 closes and we greet 2017, there’s one thing I know for sure. The older I get the more evident it’s become that I am in need of fewer friends. For me, though an extrovert, the premise over the past year has evolved from quantity to quality. Hence, why in the next year, I intend on embracing only those that are truly sincere.

Merry Christmas Eve all. Hug those you love and be grateful for your blessings. Life is far too short to settle for anything less.

Peace Out.

Friday, December 9, 2016


Like most of the vacations I plan, I research them based on personal referrals from friends and family. I select a destination, then ask the masses for feedback. I realize everyone spends their vacation time in different ways, yet if you’ve had a blast, I generally want to start with your personal input. 

Anyway, my point is that personally chasing as many different stamps in my passport before I hit the ripe old age of 57, is beginning to present challenges. Though I hop a plane only twice a year, I have begun to realize that I am a lot of years shy and running out of direct flight/same time zone/kick ass options. Sad, because I live in the Canadian snow-belt, suffer from Seasonal Affective Disorder, and LOTS of sunshine is  #1 on my 'must have' list.  

Future travel concerns aside, for all that are wondering, Riviera Maya did not disappoint. A little over a three hour flight from Toronto to Cancun I immediately hit the ground running. Like always, I knew that I wanted to golf when I was there and among other things I wanted to visit the Mayan ruins in Tulum. Not because I'm a history buff but because I wanted to experience their journey for myself; and I honestly don't think I will ever return.

Nothing like an hour and a half stroll in 31C+ weather.
 Incredible experience just the same.
TAKEN: DECEMBER 8th, 2016 

Though I know my returning won't impact their overall tourism statistics, I will endorse that my last four passport stamps have been awarded in Mexico. For a gal that had reservations about ever going to the country in the first place, I am completely and unequivocally hooked. 

For the record, my primary worry was never violence, more the condition of their drinking water. So, for those of you that don't know, their laws (especially in tourist based areas) have become significantly more stringent. As a result, I have always been able to brush my teeth using the tap water on all of my excellent adventures.

As I head home tomorrow, I've so many things to be grateful for. 

Undeniably grateful that I got to hug a cousin (for the first time in more than a decade) and we weren't at a funeral. My wonderful children that took care of my pups so that I could once again travel n' discover, but first and foremost to my very memorable strapless bra....That absorbed more excreted sweat than any peri-menopausal  hot flash could produce whilst walking the ruins at Tulum. 

Trust me when I report that there's a boatload of really good water in Mexico.

I rung out the best of it from my tank top at the resort.. Just to make my point!

Tuesday, December 6, 2016


As you know, I love to read. Nowadays, I do the majority of it online but there's really something special about being on vacation and actually holding onto a book. That said, I have taken the same author on vacation every year since the year before I got married.

I remember my first encounter with them being at the condo we were staying at, in Madeira Beach, Florida. The gal I was travelling with was in the midst of reading a book called Fine Things. She was telling me about it and it sounded intriguing. When she finished reading it, I borrowed it and was hooked; I have been reading Danielle Steel ever since.

That said, I read more of her now, than I did in the early years. When the kids were small, if I was lucky, I use to get to read two books a year. One driving to our vacation destination, the second driving home. Back then, I primarily borrowed the books from friends but for the last ten or fifteen years, I've collect the majority of them from used book stores and various yard/estate sales.

Anyway, this summer when I was rearranging the spare bedroom at the cottage, I found a stash of more than 3 dozen paperbacks packed away under a bed. Rummaging through, I found a couple that I had never read before, accompanied by a couple of copies of the ones I'd liked most.

Fourth bestselling author of all time, with over 800 million copies sold. We ALL can't be wrong!
When I knew I was headed to Mexico for a couple of weeks (and the weight in my luggage under serious scrutiny) I had to choose carefully how to fill my beachfront obsession. I am pleased to report that the three (new to me) that traveled from home and will return to my bookshelf at the cottage did not disappoint.

With her having written 101 novels... Thanks to these, my total rolled to over 60 read. 

Thanks, Mexico. You provided me with MY KINDA THREESOME!

Sunday, December 4, 2016


As you know, I am the least spontaneous person you will ever meet. Seriously, it’s not that I am a control freak, rather I admittedly have some deep seeded fears of the unknown. As silly as that may read, I work really had to step outside my comfort zone. 

That said, I can’t remember that last time I did something as spontaneous as I did yesterday. Wait, yes I do. It was April of 2015 and it was amazing. Don’t regret that; most certainly don’t regret unexpectedly hopping a ferry to Cozumel for the day yesterday.

The truth is that I was walking the beach in Playa Del Carmen minding my own business. In the centre of the City, down by the pier, there is the most amazing sculpture of a man an woman of the sea. I was enthralled. My camera couldn’t keep up.

My very SEXY ride.
As I headed past it and toward the wharf, I saw the most beautiful modern ferry. Knowing my life insurance was in good standing, I became curious. 

As soon as I hit the main walkway to the pier, they were everywhere.  It was like they were professional panhandlers for selling ferry tickets to Cozumel. Instinctively I knew I wanted to go. The other thing I knew was that I wanted to cross on the nicest ferry at the pier.

So, literally within less than 10 minutes of landing at the Playa Del Carmen pier for the day, I was leaving. Off on a boat with nothing but a smile, a bunch of Pecos, in search of an adventure.  I wasn’t disappointed. From the time I got off the boat it was like I had stepped into the mid 1970’s (aside from the Hard Rock CafĂ© and Cartier stores)!

I wandered the street with my camera and settled on a second story restaurant for an amazing Mexican lunch and my very first Margarita. With the ferry leaving to go back to Playa Del Carmen every hour on the hour, after a couple of hours of shopping I paid my 70 pecos and returned to the mainland.

As the ferry left the Cozumel dock I knew that I would be back. All I could think was this would be an amazing place to take my birthday trip. 

Thanks Cozumel. I WILL be back. I'm thinking in April of 2017!

If I didn't have the pictures... I wouldn't believe I went!

Saturday, December 3, 2016


Yesterday, I got on a bus. Not a coach bus like Greyhound provides, nor something as posh as the TTC offers in downtown Toronto; instead I took the Mexican Transit. Essentially a Volkswagen mini-van that seated about 12, desperately needed brakes, and drove at a minimum highway speed of about 100 miles an hour. I knew the moment I got on I was in for an adventure.

As I stood at the side of the six lane highway awaiting my Chariot from hell, I couldn’t help but look at the directional sign in front of me. I didn’t read the words per say, more absorbed what the symbols on the sign meant to me specifically in that moment.

Awaiting my Chariot.
Do I turn around and go back? If I do, will I regret it?

Do I wait a little longer in hopes of continuing on the path I have chosen?

Or, do I just pull out my credit card, take the taxi behind me, in hopes of finding what I need faster? 

In the end, good ole predictable me kept my feet planted, stayed my course, and board the mini-bus.

That said, I’m not sure what you believe, but I most certainly believe in karma. I wholeheartedly believe that if I look you in the eye and smile I have close to an 100% chance you will look back at me and smile. I also believe in the tone of my voice. When genuinely speaking to someone, my tone shows that I am first and foremost, a caring person. If you get something outside of that, I am simply reciprocating the karma vibe I'm receiving.

Yesterday, karma was my friend. Not one of the peeps on that bus spoke English. Not only that, no one had time for a ridiculous Canadian tourist. But the look in my eyes and the tone of my voice had others helping me. I made it safely to my destination and back with the help of bus load of hard working Mexican people that probably didn't earn the price tag of my trip in a year. I was truly grateful.

Now, if I could only get some of the shit heads that are lucky enough to be in my life to get on board with this simple philosophy… Life would be absolutely grand!

Friday, December 2, 2016


Well, it was officially day three and I felt I needed a bit of adventure. For those of you that truly know me, you know my excitement curve lands somewhere around planning on roasting a chicken for dinner and throwing those solid set plans out the window and serving pork chops instead. The vegetables would remain the same; but I’m telling ya, very exciting stuff!

With that exciting scenario in mind, you can imagine when on Day 3 of my vacation being presented with what the popular resort options were. Going through the list, whilst listening intently, I decided it was time to experience my very first “Brazilian”

As you can imagine, I had a million questions. Where do I show up? How long will it take? Will I be comfortable roaming around the resort after I’d finished? So many questions, yet so little time to confirm my reservation. Throwing caution to the wind, I signed my name.

Enjoying a glass of wine after my first 'Brazilian'
When I arrived, I was surprised how many people were around. Honestly, I was expecting it to be a tad more intimate. As I looked around, I just told myself to go with it and not to be judgmental. After all, the service had come highly recommended. Could all the women I’d spoken to be wrong?

Overall, I found it relaxing and not painful at all. It took a little over a hour and a half from start to finish and in the end I left a hefty gratuity. I would highly recommend it simple because of how unconventional it may seem. 

Yup, the Brazilian Steakhouse at the Luxury Garn Bahia Akumal was amazing!

…What in the hell were you thinking?

Thursday, December 1, 2016


If I didn't see it, I woudn't have believed it.
This afternoon I was sitting in my super sexy beach chair when this dude stumbles out from who the hell knows where. As I watched this supposed ‘professional angler wanna be’ wander to the water, I almost had to look for Aston Kutcher and his film crew from his now defunct show PUNK’d.

...No such luck.

I guess I should clarify that the resort where I am staying boasts being a preserved wildlife area. Birds walk along the pool decks truly uninhibited, iguanas roam the lawns, and the fish are like pets. They are so conditioned to being around people that the fish actually jump out of the water to catch a snippet of food you may be tossing to them; just like a pup with a Frisbee.

As I watched this idiot approach the beach I couldn't help but worry. Not only was the snorkelling area full of swimmers that may take a hook but any fish would surely/enthusiastically grab at his line.

All I could do was watch in disbelief. As I rose from my chair to stop him, a lovely British lady stepped up equally pissed off. As I approached the water I could see her finger wagging which intern had this fisher-foe moving along.

She and I stood and chatted for quite sometime. By the end of our chat, we seemed to both come up with a universal label for this angler chap with absolutely NO common sense.

GOOF! YUP... This Fisher-foe was nothing but a fat hairy goof!

Wednesday, November 30, 2016


Well, to nip my Seasonal Affective Disorder in the ass, this past Monday morn I got on a plane.  Because I share my travel adventures with you, this ‘Fall of 2016’ escapade was one I had fiercely researched and booked last June; resulting in my first ever 12-day jaunt into the sunlight.

My Trip Advisor specifics aside, as my departure drew near, I will admit that I did NOT want to go. There was a serious amount of dialogue back and forth about cancelling but in the end, my best friend convinced me that if I didn’t go into the light, the upcoming winter would consume me. At the end of the day, I knew he was right.

Unfortunately, his reassurances and prompts didn’t change for the past couple of  months my mind’s been wound tighter than a nuns’ whoo-whoo. The closer my trip approached, the more I internalized  my dismay. 

The more I compartmentalized, the less I slept. Then, that last straw broke the proverbial camels back and I realized that no matter what I did, nor what I said, some circumstances are never meant to change. So, I shed my worry and got on a plane.

Well, approximately 48 hours since arriving I think I finally may be getting into the swing of things. That said, I'll keep ya posted as I am hoping to take time and write daily. 

Something I haven't done since April...

Photography and my blog.... Two of my favourite things!
TAKEN: NOVEMBER 30th, 2016

Thursday, November 3, 2016


I don’t know about you, but I've a very challenging and volatile relationship with my aging metabolism. Trust me when I admit that I wasn't even remotely prepared for what midlife did to a woman’s body but will go on the record stating this: It friggin’ sucks!

My rant extinguished, I should say that my weight issue started the winter after my father passed in 2005. Over the next several years, I was in complete and utter denial that I was managing my internal turmoil by self-medicating with food. It took a serious weight gain and a personal commitment from within to regain a much needed balance. I had to dig really deep to rid my body of the processed food toxins that had taken over.

How did I do it? I saw myself in a family photo during the Christmas break of 2011. I was in shock. It was in that very instant that I made a commitment to get my life & my body back on track. Having never done so before, I made (and kept) a New Year’s resolution and on December 31st, 2011 (which is when my quest for my waist officially began).

Let's face it. I only know a very small handful of women my age that are happy with their shape and my theory is simple. Menopause blows, big time. I suppose I could spend the money on liposuction to rid the evidence that I gave birth to 3 children, instead I wear clothes that are generally flattering to my shape, while spending my savings on travelling as much as my work life allows. 

Soaking up the sun in Cabo!
TAKEN: NOVEMBER 28th, 2015

That said, though I'm generally comfortable in the skin I’m in, my upcoming vacation has me tentative for the first time since my quest began. This time last year, I could easily look at myself in my full length mirror, feeling as good about my shape as my disposition would allow.  

This year, not so much. Over the last 12 months I’ve put on some ‘stress weight’ that I am having a tough time shaking. It’s not the type of stress I experienced 10 years ago, more the ‘there aren’t enough hours in a day’ stress; which ultimately opens the door for bad food choices, creating even more stress.

Anyway, as I am officially on my vacation countdown, I tend to daydream more regularly than I normally would. When I wander off, I can feel the hot ocean sun on my face and embrace the serenity of my cellphone being locked in the safe.  The other side of that coin is that I also tend to have the odd nightmare as the time draws closer too. You know the type? When you swear the resort ice cream dispenser is calling your name, or when the resort breakfast station chef asks you how you'd like your eggs? 

I think my time stresses are depleted enough that I can stay away from the ice cream machine but my biggest challenge will present itself when I am asked how I like my eggs.

I keep reassuring myself, that I will not respond how I am truly feeling.

Which is..."I prefer my eggs... IN A CHOCOLATE CAKE!”

Thanks for listening & wish me luck. My waist is gonna need it. 

Sunday, October 30, 2016


Last year around this time, my Boss wandered into my office and announced he was starting to use Instagram. Knowing I'm the social media junkie I am, he was shocked when I announced that it's the only platform I’d never embraced. In hindsight I’m not sure why, because from a very young age I’ve always loved taking photos.

After him coaxing harder for me to step up, I tried to jump start my effort last winter. Yet again, I still didn’t truly grasp the concept and it felt extremely forced. Then, this past Labour Day Monday, I woke at the cottage to watch the sun rise. Just as the sun officially peeked through the trees, I unwrapped myself from my blanket, ran up from the dock, and snapped a picture. For whatever reason, I shared my freshly snapped photo on Instagram. It was like a switch flipped and I realized it was about the moment, and what a specific picture offered me personally in that moment.

Flash forward to the past Canadian Thanksgiving Monday. We get such little time together as a family, I was ecstatic for what the day was going to offer. Anyway, I must have taken 100 pictures that day on our trek of Huckleberry Rock in Muskoka. When I got home, I had so many to choose from I didn’t share any. I did update my personal Facebook page but outside of that, I’ve just sat at my desk since and admired the truly amazing day we shared.

With that, I know my avid readers and friends know about my obsession with the Petro Canada glasses I collect. So none should be surprised at what my favourite Thanksgiving picture is. When we arrived back at the house, I asked my 3 birth children and my 4th child (whom I consider a true member of our family) to enjoy a drink with my Dad.

We did.

My Instagram caption read: My very favourite people on the planet having a drink with my Dad.
Cheers Poppa!! #iloveyou #imissyou #familyfirst #wishyouwerehere
TAKEN: OCTOBER 10th, 2016

For the first time today, I have shared my Petro Canada glass obsession on Instagram. 

Not because they needed to look at a bunch of corny glasses but because my photo resembles the respect we all still have for my father. How even after all these years, he is still very much loved and truly missed. Welcome to Instagram Poppa. I’m sure those peeps will love you as much as my Friends, Tweeps, and Google+ Pals.

Now, if I could only figure out why the bazillion hashtags accompany photos....

I'd be cookin'!

Sunday, October 23, 2016


Last week was somewhat of an exhausting train wreck for me. I stayed up past my bedtime four of the five week nights and therefore ended up in bed by 9pm Friday night. Don’t get me wrong, it’s not like I have some super sexy social life happening that I feel I am missing out on something extra special, I just don’t remember the last time my body and mind felt the need to sleep around the clock; and I did just that last Friday night.

Well rested, I did my chores, packed the pups and headed to the cottage. On the way out of town, we stopped to pick up peanuts in the shell for the chipmunks, a kick ass steak, and a small yet perfect pumpkin. When I put the pumpkin in the shopping cart I knew that I had definitely hit my stride. With my favorite season in full gear I knew I’d proudly gotten my autumn on.

You know the feeling. The grin that comes over your entire face when you put on your favourite old shirt that you refuse to part with. For me, wearing fuzzy socks and carving a pumpkin have the same effect. Both are part on my internal mechanisms that prepare me mentally for the season of hibernation that’s fast approaching.

Have you gotten your autumn on yet?
TAKEN: OCTOBER 22nd, 2016
Yes, that’s correct, I hibernate. It’s usually in the back bedroom with the covers over my head, curled up with my pups, wearing a couple layers of fuzzy socks, and Netflixs playing a loop of the sappiest chick flicks just released. Once winter hits, from Friday eve to Monday morn, I become as anti-social as a Mama Bear hunkered down in her bunker with her cubs. Should I have to exit, my departure is as swift as my return. Which usually involves a baseball cap and yoga pants, which are two defining elements of my winter wear collection. Even when I ski or snowshoe on Sundays both are included and no makeup is ever in place. 

So, knowing that is ever pressing on my horizon, you can imagine the mania and euphoria that Fall provides. It’s almost like I make every extra effort to bask in all the activities that aren’t an option over our long Canadian winters.

As I type this morning I can’t help but stare out the window at my favourite tree on our property. It’s the one behind me in the pic my husband snapped yesterday. I love it because every year, it’s the last one on our lake to give into winter. Like me, it holds out kicking and screaming. 

Its colour remains brightest the longest, and when I return from my vacation mid December it will still have some of it’s red leaves attached as it simply refuses to conform. Just like me, it pays no attention what the others around it think or do. Why would it? Why should it? Like the tree, my roots are strong and my persistence even stronger. 

So, if you haven’t yet, get the hell outside today and get your autumn on.

I promise you’ll love it …and you can thank me later!

Thursday, October 13, 2016


If you're nice to an animal, it loves you for life. 
If you're nice to a person, who the hell know what's going to happen.
~ Higher Perspectives (via Instagram)

Last summer, our eldest pup Dot had an episode. At that point, we knew she was pretty much on borrowed time. Then, about the middle of August, her temperament really shifted and she became aggressive toward the other pups. In hindsight, I believe that leading a pack of three was taking its toll on both her mind and her body.

So, after an aggressive growling and barking stint on a cottage Wednesday night, it was decided on that coming Saturday we would put her down. With no word of a lie, once those words were uttered aloud, she did a complete three hundred and sixty degree behavioural flip. It was almost like she instinctively understood that we’d decided her gig was up.

Well, more than a year later she’d doing very well. The majority of the time she moves slower than molasses in Muskoka in January but she still has an amazing quality of life. We help boost her into her bed in the bedroom when her hips decide to stay in the living room; but outside of that her disposition is great for a senior citizen.

My challenge with her is that winter is approaching and how do I help her manage in the copious amounts of snow that will fall.  I knew I'd need to keep her mind sharp as well as her feet moving in the house because she won't be able to spend an extended amount of time outside. After careful thought I came up with an answer…peanuts. I figured if she can chase the squirrels outside at the cottage, why can’t she chase them inside around the house.
Dottie waiting by the door for her exercise buddies to return.

I started with the back deck. She has a dog chaise by the sliding door but when things are cooking she scurries from the deck to the dining room windows, back to the deck, to the living room windows and so on. (This weekend, I am placing a feeder on the big tree below my bedroom window so they can entertain her through the day.)

Not gonna lie, all the dogs have hopped on the bandwagon. I have been feeding the peanut hoarders for a couple of weeks and they will literally come within a foot of the sliding glass door when the last nut has been squirreled. I know some readers will say they are a menace and that they aren’t very smart; but our deck seems to be the hot spot for their buffet this fall. That said, I think they are anything but stupid.

Didn’t take them-thar suckers long to realize food was coming out but the dogs ain’t!

Annie and Puddin' getting in on the action.
TAKEN: OCTOBER 12th, 2016

Sunday, October 9, 2016

Wednesday, October 5, 2016


Well, it’s that time of year again. When our local economy for tourism dwindles and the plethora of cottagers close up until the lakes open again next year. That said, I think you really have to live here to truly appreciate the seasonality of income and the impact it has on our year round residents.

As you may or may not know, this coming weekend is when Canadians celebrate Thanksgiving. As a result, our Oldtimers hockey team held a food drive last night to help feed our families in need. No one gets paid for their time, nor the resources they provided and their only reward is knowing they are providing a very valuable and much needed community service.

2016 Muskoka Oldtimers Fall Food Drive
TAKEN: OCTOBER 4th, 2016

Short story long, when the knock came to our door last night our three dogs went bonkers. Through the glass in my front door, I could see two young girls wearing hockey jerseys with identifying lanyards draped around their neck. At the end of my drive, a pick-up truck to carry the donations they would have to walk to collect. Immediately, I knew it was the food drive being promoted over the local radio station, so I hollered over the dogs asking them to sit tight as we gathered our items.

As we wandered back up from the door and glanced out our kitchen window, we noticed the girls were headed next door. My husband joked that “they’d give way better stuff than us,” so we watched. We could see our neighbour, whom had done an extravagant exterior landscape renovation this past summer, speaking with the girls. Then, for some very personal reasons I’m sure, closed their door and sent them away empty handed. We were in shock.

After about 10 minutes of dialogue, we realized our opinions on the matter had us racing to the bottom. Bitching about what we’d witnessed wouldn’t make a difference, yet packing up another bag of food on our neighbours' behalf, just might help feed another family in need; which is exactly what we did.

We bolted down the street, explained why we wanted to give more, and I asked the girls if I could take their picture. Not to point out the glass half empty but to post and thank all of the students, parents, grandparents, uncles, sisters, cousins, brothers, for their servitude. 

I know last night I announced to my Facebook friends that I was feeling a rant coming on, which is probably what they were expecting to read. Instead, after a good night sleep and some reflection, my mindset has changed. A day later, I have reduced my emotions to a 50/50 race between hope and karma. 

Hope, yes I definitely felt hope last night. Young people giving back, working hard and staying positive and the majority of the community working together. Yet after what I witnessed from my neighbours, the other side of my brain is pulling an equally strong Karma vibe. 

Guess only time will tell on all fronts.

Thanks for reading.

Sunday, October 2, 2016


I was originally suppose to be home staining the exterior of the house this weekend. Then, toward the end of the week, Mother Nature decided to forecast light rain for the entire weekend. Not wanting to lose valuable outside chore time, I figured I could burn brush at the cottage instead.

Well, it became evident early Saturday morning that it wasn’t going to rain. So, we bolted into town to pick up a couple of items we needed for next week. Like I do most Saturday mornings, I headed to the Habitat for Humanity Re-Store to check for the couple items of crap I collect. No glasses for my Dad, yet I did score another edition of Trivial Pursuit for my Mom. (I think that brings me to 10 unique versions).

Standing at the checkout, I bumped into my high school physics teacher. We had attended an event together this past summer and it was nice to see he and his wife again. They admitted to be Re-Store regulars too, as they refurbish and sell antiques. Anyway, when he noticed I didn’t score any glasses, he asked about the game. I explain that Trivial Pursuit was not only my Moms favourite game but mine too.

That said, I went on to explain to he and his wife that I am the polar opposite to a pack rat. That I do a clean sweep of my home and cottage twice a year and if I haven’t needed or used items in the prior six months I get rid of them. Then I said... “Look, whether you believe it or not, I am very particular about the crap I collect.”

Without missing a beat, he quickly replied, “I can tell. Just look at your husband!”

These are a few of my favourite things!
The four of us immediately burst into laughter. My husband acknowledged the quip as a good one, and I acknowledged that 30 years later, we are in fact the others most cherished collection. 

You know what? It’s spur of the moments like the one I experienced yesterday that once again confirms the notion that I have always believed; it really is the small moments in life that make things memorable. 

That, and if nothing else… 

Ya Gotta Laugh About It…!

Thursday, September 29, 2016


For the last number of months, I had been talking with a really fab co-worker about a milestone birthday she had approaching. Though I repeatedly tried to convince her that she was worthy of a kick ass destination celebration, she'd decided to take some time off and celebrate in a very low key fashion. 

Well, from her announcing that 'low key was she' mindset, every chance I got, I encouraged her to pack up her man and get on a plane.  Short story long, when they decided to bolt to Jamaica, I squealed with sheer delight.

A tad puzzled by my overzealous reaction, I explained my story that all of you regular readers are all too familiar with. That my mother died at the young age of 57, which has left me with a very deep (and somewhat distracting energy) to embrace adventure; which includes getting as many different stamps in my passport before I arrive at the age when she passed.

I don’t know what it is... but the thought or news of death rocks me to the core.

Trying to ensure my mother shared our day...

I’m not sure if it’s because I started experiencing death from a preteen age, or it's the long standing deep seeded feeling I have that I will die young. Either way, the last couple of days have affirmed what I've believed since my mother passed in 1987; life is short and be sure not to let it pass you by.

Why so reflective? In the matter of 24 hours, two young lives were lost in the small town which I live. One was the age of my eldest and the son of a friend I went to high school with, the other a business acquaintance that occupied my Sales & Marketing lane. One was somewhat expected due to illness, the other, my lane occupier, was a very sudden loss that has left a large part of our community in shock. 

As I began searching for a photo to accompany my post, my thoughts immediately shifted to my Mom. In turn, I rummaged though boxes, dusting off all of the proofs from my wedding day in 1988. Out of the blue I remembered asking the photographer to take pictures of me with the last photo I have of my mother before she became ill.

When I was done reminiscing over all of the proofs, I realized something. In almost 100% of the photos taken at the house, her picture is propped on the handmade coffee table my brother made, as well as her last Lazy Boy chair is in sight. I honestly never noticed that detail until tonight.

I can't believe it. Almost 30 years later, how amazing is that?

PS: I couldn't help but put the photo focus on my Mama.

Mom and Me with my Jr. Bridesmaid Joni.

Thursday, September 22, 2016


Well, it’s official. Today marks the first day of Autumn.

Though I am quick to admit that it’s my favourite season, I loathe what the last six weeks of my fave represent. Shorter days, longer shadows, ending with the grand finale labelled the shortest day of the year. As I embrace the trees glowing in beautiful colour, I truly have to prepare myself mentally for going to (and arriving home from) work in the dark.

To make matters worse, this year marks the earliest I have ever started using my happy lights. Not by months or anything, but when you obsessively track total daylight hours, a week can feel like an eternity; added on to your already light deprived sentence. As of today, it will take all my waking energy to keep me upbeat until I get on my plane into the sun at the end of November.

Whatcha talkin' bout Willis...!
TAKEN: August 6, 2014
Seasonal Affective Disorder whining aside, I wanted to share that I noticed this morning that my move into town is taking its toll on the pups. More specifically, Puddin’.

Just as the change in daylight affects me, her lack of cottage freedom is seriously effecting her. 

When it comes to being at the house, she needs to be tied 100% of the time. Yes, it’s true. This beautiful pups pic is posted on the 'Most Wanted' bulletin board at our local bi-law office. Not because she’s violent or aggressive, just a tad too vocal and enthusiastic when people pass our house; hence why she instinctively knows her gig is up.

As I got myself ready for work before daylight this morning, I noticed her sprawled out on the love seat at the end of my bed. She was lethargic and didn't even bother to lift her head when I tried to cheer her up. As I wandered back into my ensuite, I couldn't help but acknowledge her aloud... "Suck it up, Buttercup," I said.

"... There's absolutely NO money in the budget for you to go into therapy too!"


Sunday, September 11, 2016


Yesterday was one of those forecasted rainy days that I'd been looking forward to all week. Got my indoor cottage chores done, got my in town shopping chores done, then headed to the salon and had my hair chopped off. Hold your gasps of disbelief, it's not like I ordered a number 3 razor buzz cut. Yet, my long curls that flowed to the middle of my back, are now the shortest they've been since 2012. No regrets here. I'm glad I did it. Just like in other areas of yours truly, I was in need of change.

At this stage in my life, I consider myself blessed. I knock wood because nothing is neither tragic, nor conflicted; though I will admit that some thing's been bothering me for an extended period of time. It was never a great big boulder in front of me, more an annoying pebble in my shoe. For whatever reason, I'd buried that annoyance deep, as well as any ability to deal with it. As part of this next wave of change, I am pleased to report that the pebble has been dealt with .

Like every single person that is reading this electronic journal entry, I have some very serious crap that is buried deep. It's taken me a long time to compartmentalize specifics (which is code for defining a personal coping mechanism) but it works for me. My epiphany was when I recently realized, that over the last 30 years, 25 of mine have been about seeking light at the end of the tunnel, and the last 5 of mine have been the real journey. Those were the years that have been spent learning how to embrace the light that has been chased so hard and earned.

Out of clutter, find simplicity. ~ Albert Einstein
Speaking of light... I woke in the dark this morning, grabbed my robe and slippers, then headed outside to watch the sun rise. Bundled up, I went up from the dock, grabbed my camera, then snapped my photo at 7:08am. With my moment captured, I finished my coffee, packed everything up, and moved everything home for the season. Not gonna lie, it feels different this year, and finding the words to describe are hard.

If I had to find one word, if I had to choose only one?

I guess I'd just simply define it as... peace.

Thursday, September 1, 2016


Well, today’s September 1st and I'm sitting in my home office at dusk, wearing an over-sized sweatshirt, yoga pants, and a really hideous pair fuzzy socks. As it comes to a close, one thing I do know for certain is that my day was especially cool for a couple of reason. One being when I woke up this morn, the temperature was a balmy 9C. (Which is 48F for all my non-metric focused peeps).

When I rolled over at 5:45am this morning, clicked on my happy light, then simultaneously received an email alert; which is not uncommon for yours truly. You see, a large part of my job is employee relations. As an internal customer service, our payroll software sends out birthday and work anniversary notices to me for everyone within our company, so I may personally offer good wishes. That said, when I picked up my Blackberry this morning, my awaking email cheerfully announced the work anniversary reminder was for... Me!

I posted this to Facebook exactly a year ago today.
(C) IDP Muskoka

The graphic I am sharing was the Facebook cover shot I prepared to announce (a year ago today) that I was transitioning. I remember being both nervous and excited as I walked to meet the Sweeney-Meister and Coop for our very first carpool adventure. A year later, I am grateful for that time we've shared. This last year has evolved into an amazing job, as well as a very important friendship I am grateful for.

You know what? All of that said, temperature wise this morning and this evening may have been cool... But I mentioned today was cool for a couple of reasons.

My 1st official Tamarack North anniversary? 

Pretty freaking cool!

Sunday, August 28, 2016


So much changed for us when this summer was over.
The photo I am sharing popped up as a Facebook memory this past week with a heading that read: 9 Years Ago Today.

I am honest when I admit that in that moment, I fixated on my screen with a weird sense of disbelief. I didn’t share it that morn, rather just looked back at that particular Facebook photo album from that really great family day.
By the time I headed home, the humidex told me that I was going to bolt through town and sleep at the cottage for the night. It was so warm outside that I actually stayed on the dock until dusk. 

As I sat there with the pups, I could hear a gaggle of kids enjoying the new slide their parents had purchased at the start of this cottage season. I could hear the radio playing in the background and the one young lad singing confidently, just the way my children and their visiting friends use to. I immediately daydreamt about just how much I miss my kids coming out here and the year-round fun we’d had since buying the place in 1999.

In the midst of that moment, I took a picture of Annie lovingly listening to the kids playing. Her expression told me that she wished she could be across the lake playing too. So, when I got up this morning, I proceeded to edit the photo only to wonder when the last summer was the kids let me measure their annual height on the door jamb in the downstairs bedroom.

Imagine my surprise when the tallest height read “GOOB 2007”.  Smiling, I immediately ran my index finger to the bottom to find the very first entry. The smallest height reads ‘SWEETIE 2000”. As a matter a fact, she and Jukebox had less than 1” in height difference on that very first measure. The summer of 2007 wasn’t only the last time the measuring took place; it was the very last summer we spent vacation time as a whole family at the cottage.
With all 3 having summer jobs and me working most weekends with my business, I am realizing for the first time this week, that it was that summer in which they'd evolved and began their official transition. From that September, I traveled with them for sports, took them into the city for concerts with friends, but the family oriented times became fewer and farther between. The only constant we managed to keep was our ‘Sunday Suppers’ which only happened because I made it a house rule that everyone be home by 4pm each and every Sunday. 

You know what? As I wandered around the cottage in between typing breaks today, I realized that I have a large plaque on the wall outside the boys bedroom that is titled ‘Life’s Little Instructions’. It offers 53 points of worldly advice. It starts with sing in the shower and ends with #53 stating to call your Mother.
If there’s one thing I can be grateful for (almost 10 years later) it's that they all willingly embrace my phone number. Which is emotional to admit... 

Has not always been the case.

Sunday, August 14, 2016


Like everyone I know, I am grateful for the break in humidity, after muddling through two heat waves in as many weeks. It’s cooler this morning, but I still didn’t sleep well last night. I am at the point where I think I may need to start taking a sleep aid. Part of my issue is unplanned stress, the other is the restlessness of the dogs in the night because of the heat; last night was because they slept the day away thanks to the much needed rain.

I know it’s been a while since I’ve posted. I’ve written almost everyday, but I am going through a very personal and somewhat dark time, so my keyboard is getting a bit of a brow beating. The one thing I did want to share, was the amazing day I spent with my daughter last weekend. She has some exciting things happening in her busy life and I love the fact that she is comfortable sharing them in my confidence. I have to say, though she still struggles some days, I am so impressed with how she’s doing. Some well deserved inner peace happening there to say the least.

There's nothing life a day on the dock with your daughter!
TAKEN: AUGUST 6th, 2016

Having enjoyed our day so much, I stopped in to see her at her place of employ in the midst of my cottage commute last week. We laughed and hugged like best friends. You never truly know what life may bring, and at this point in time, she’s the one offering me strength. It really is tough being the “sugar” to everybody’s cup of tea, all of the time. That could be why I talk to myself…. I always treat myself the way I want to be treated.

As I sit at my desk at the cottage, I can’t help but think how many things have changed in my life in the last year. So much so that I am excited, albeit a tad nervous of what’s coming my way in the next year or two. That said, I know there won’t be any expansion of a canine nature. The three I have are a mitt full of work. Matter a fact, right at this very moment, they are playing their very favourite game. It’s called... “How to cram 3 dogs under this desk!”

I guess Annie loses this round, because she’s sitting on Puddys’ head. In no way, shape or form, should she lie beside my chair, as the rules of the game clearly state that you must be UNDER my small desk for the entire time I am working at it. Shame on her for arriving late to the party.

On that note, I only have one other important notable to add this morn.

… Holy 14th of August Batman! I can't believe it's the 14th of August!!

(l-r) Puddin', Dottie & Annie experiencing separation anxiety from Sweetie!
TAJKEN: AUGUST 6th, 2016

Tuesday, August 2, 2016


Like every other Canadian reading this electronic entry, I'm sure you anxiously awaited this past civic long weekend to roll around again. I don't know about you, but I was so sad to see it over, by 9am this morn I knew I would be bolting back out to my cottage in hopes of making my weekend last just a little longer. Not gonna lie, sitting here typing in my swimsuit, I am tickled to report that I made the perfect call.

Were the hell does the time go?

Like most empty-nesters, we have a busy summer calendar. Yet, for varying reasons, this particular long weekend landed us short on time. As I sit here looking up from my laptop, I find it hard to believe just how quickly the season's flying by. With our fall vacation booked and the summer nights getting cooler, I can’t help but start to shift my focus onto our plans to renovate the exterior of our home is September.

I don’t have an issue with what has to be done, but I do know my husband works about 55 hours a week and the last thing he wants to do is swing a hammer and run a table saw. I’m not kidding when I say, he has no issue watching me work outside. Actually, I get angry when he feels he need to pitch in. I sit at a desk for 9 or 10 hours a day. He does not. He has an extremely physical job. When it happens that I do need his help, I’ve always given him the choice of what task he wants to tackle. I handle the others.

When we arrived at Orillia Lake Friday night, I gave him a run down of every crappy indoor & outdoor task I wanted to accomplish. It was up to him to pick one. Little does he know that the rest of the list was filled with things he truly hates doing more than swinging a hammer and running a table saw; so our solid effort and teamwork saw the outdoor shower relocated. If I'm being honest here, which I always am, it's the one thing I truly wanted done. I know it may be construed as sneaky to admit that I stacked the list... but at the end of the day the choice was his.

How the hell was your weekend? Mine seems to still be in full swing. Matter a fact, at this rate, it may last until the end of next weekend. First thing on the list for me to work on then?

A much better tan!

Monday, July 25, 2016


Unless you’ve been hiding under a rock the last few weeks, I’m sure you have been experiencing this amazing summer weather. With the majority of my evenings and weekends being spent at the cottage, accomplishing my outdoor/yard type chores at home's suffered. So much so, that when my husband got home from work this eve, he put his hands on his hips and felt the need to announce just how long the grass had grown.

As you can expect, unconsciously, his comments didn't stop. I felt bad for Jukebox, because he obviously felt jammed in the middle. In turn, though it was very amiable dialogue, I sensed he felt the need to apologize that the lawn wasn't cut. As I've said before, and I'll say again: I sit behind a desk all day. I love the exercise/fresh air of working in the yard, and have zero expectation that I receive any help with said chores. I suppose I do have one small caveat to disclose, which is, don't look a great big stinkin' gift horse in the mouth!

Anyway, by the time he'd made it into the house, his steady rant of comments resonated and I started to laugh. When he asked me what was so funny, I told him that I could go to into my home office and send a shout out to Facebook, asking if there was anyone that wanted to come on over and help me mow my lawn. He didn't know what to say....

"Hell, I figure I have at least one buddy that wouldn't hesitate to head over and start-a-mowing," I said. Then continued..."But I fear they may only agree if you'd hang around, have a beer & watch us do it!"

Not another word was said. Cool as a cucumber, I got out of my dress clothes, hooked in my headphones, and opened the garage door. Suffice is to say that my photo illustrates exactly how my lawn officially got mowed this eve. 

Who says a bitchy wife needs to lose their temper to get what they want? Not this cat!

I always knew having two kickass lawn mowers would come in handy!
TAKEN: JULY 25th, 2013

Thursday, July 21, 2016


In early stages of my electronic journal, I asked a simple question to the Ya Gotta Laugh About It masses (of about 35 readers) which was: do you ever feed an expired parking meter?

It was a quirky post about acquaintances that drift about your life at their leisure, then went on to explain how an acquaintance differs from a friend. Short story long, I ultimately categorized them as parking meters whose egos ultimately need to be fed. 

All of that said, a prior business acquaintance fed my expired meter yesterday. Out of the blue, my phone beeped touting those words that always make me curious... 'howdy stranger!' I smiled because I was perplexed, the number wasn't in my phone, so I immediately googled the area code that appeared on my screen. When the location appeared, I knew it had to be someone I hadn’t spoken to face to face since last summer, nor had a text message from in months. I must admit, not only did it feed my ego, it was a very pleasant surprise.

Pleasant surprise or not, I immediately wondered where the hell they got the cash to feed my meter. When I asked them what was up, they explained I had crossed their mind as they'd traveled to an old supplier we both use to sell for. What ensued next, was a great electronic conversation. Even though I no longer work in the industry, it was like I’d never left. Mission accomplished; my ego had been fed.

At the end of the day he asked about a mutual acquaintance we had. Someone he had met through me in the summer of 2012. It was that very inquiry that made me think of the parking meter post from 2011. I told him where I was at with this acquaintance he all these years later he only had four works in return. “I told you so,” was all I read.

Funny thing is? As acquaintances go, I honestly knew he was right about them in 2012.

Who the hell knew parking meters were so observant... and I,so gullible!

Medford, Wisconsin.. Where I met the industry person that fed my parking meter today.