Thursday, December 31, 2020

REMEMBERING 2020

 Most Significant Moment: The arrival and living with COVID-19. 

Everything from the toilet paper crisis (the centre pic was my rare cottage find when there was none left within the Province of Ontario), to the end of Donald Trump as the President of the United States. 

I feel 2020 was the year of solitude; served with a side dish of hatred and divide!

TAKEN: Throughout 2020

January: I participated in a five weekend advanced digital marketing (in-class course) in downtown Toronto. An amazing and eye opening experience!

February: Jukebox and his band headlined a local event that was sold-out and attended by all, including my bestie @veronekak.

March: Our entire community rallied around our childhood friend as he battled a very debilitating illness. This event, held Saturday March 7th, 2020, was the last time I was out socially before the initial pandemic lockdown took effect.

April: The unexpected and very premature passing of my husbands step father from ALS. Rest in peace Ivy!

May: No longer able to live normally because of Covid-19, we moved full time to the cottage.

June: We planted and enjoyed tending to our very first cottage vegetable garden. (We have serious plans for expansion in 2021.)

July: We gave Stella, our floating picnic table, a serious facelift and added a trolling motor for speed. She became the talk of the lake.

August: My Sweetie and her sweetie. I captured this Kodak moment the first time JMrex visited the cottage to meet us.

September: I took a step back and made a plan to move forward!!

October: Our tiny bubble enjoyed a Thanksgiving pumpkin carving event. This was also the evening my husband suffered his life altering health issues.

November: The look of the last eight months as we prepare to hunker back in to yet another lockdown.

December: Totally locked back down and hoping this one word is what we all get to experience in 2021.

Sunday, December 27, 2020

TINY BUBBLES

My electronic journal found some bizarre inspiration this morning. 

It was when the vinyl record player that is my mind kept hearing the classic 1966 Don Ho lounge lizard tune: Tiny Bubbles . (The song title is a link for those that have yet to have the pleasure.)

Now I'm sure we can all agree my chosen isn't a festive holiday tune, nor a track that plays into the whole 'reason for the season' vibe. Let's face it, as we crawl toward the end of a year so annoying it continually tripped over itself (twenty-twenty), a song about tiny bubbles within a lockdown mandate shouldn't be considered unfathomable.

My tiny bubble. Featuring my amazing Fab Five!
TAKEN: DECEMBER 25th, 2020

Now, not being one to pet a cat backward just to prove I can, nor jump off the bridge downtown simply because I live in a town that has one with a cool brace over it, I would like to disclose that  months ago I decided to invested in understanding why we were being asked to live in a 'bubble' and what it actually meant. 

As a result, since being told to 'assume the position', I have not waivered from the general directive. All guidelines have been respected. All internet trolls looking to stir shit for the sake of having their voice amplified when they normally wouldn't, were heard.

At the end of the day, it's really hard to believe that it has been over nine months since everything became so hateful and unnecessarily divided. Even amongst my bubble featured here, we have agreed to disagree - leaving certain subjects abandoned and all opinions respected on every occasion.

One subject never abandoned? My obsession with taking their picture.

As a mother, I've I known for many years they hate posing and having me take their photo. I know they don't really want me to, yet cordially comply because they understand (in the end) it may be extremely important... To someone else. 

Thus making my photo taking philosophy the perfect mantra for what will make 2021 tolerable for all. 

In a nutshell? Take the high road and always play nice. 

Just like those in my tiny bubble do every time an impromptu photo op awkwardly presents itself!

Thursday, December 24, 2020

MY HOLIDAY MUGGING

My hug-a-mugga-fulla-java holiday tradition I truly enjoy.
TAKEN: DECEMBER 24th (l-r 2017, 2018, 2019, 2020)

I am sipping a hot cup of coffee in my home office, while streaming the Hallmark Channel of traditional holiday tunes on Sirius. Like most with small children will be doing tomorrow, I am waiting for the sun to rise so I can greet this new day. 

Today is officially the holiday eve when the big fat guy in red loads up his sleigh, and parents everywhere prepare to search of AA batteries until midnight. Though I pride myself to have never gone overboard in the 'buying of crap department', this year I struggled to find the one thing I truly enjoy searching for: my silly holiday coffee mug. 

It started a few years back when I began embracing Instagram. The mug became a unique way to send best wishes to the masses whilst embracing my love of taking pictures. Not an online shopper, before purchasing this offering (the mug on the far right) I really did have to search high and low locally.  

In the end, I chose the one I did for the one-word explanation it illustrates. 

I literally stood in the store talking to myself, wishing the past year had brought more joy and far less angst in so many areas of my life. My 2020 choice resembles what I hope the future will unconditionally bring to everyone. JOY.

Merry Covid Christmas eve everyone. More importantly... 

Java GREAT day!

Thursday, December 17, 2020

MY CHUCK B. TREE


Miss Annie alongside my wee Chuck B. tree.
TAKEN: DECEMBER 11th, 2020

The good news is the holiday countdown is officially on.  The bad news is, I managed to accidentally kill our very festive holiday tree. 

This year, after discovering there was a tree shortage, we picked the best of the height challenged from our local spot the end of November; then proceeded to load up a six-foot tree with the hundreds of lights that usually illuminated our regular nine-footer. 

In hindsight, I fear this was one of many deadly mistakes made.

A week or so in I noticed my wee Chuck B was not taking on water. The second week I noticed my holiday ribbon beginning to sag. Figuring he was sent to market a month before he became mine, then proudly jimmy rigged him on a glass table so his star could reach the ceiling (next to a large picture window), week three had the inevitable happened. Suffice it to say, I had to officially call his very brittle time of death. 

Not one to throw dead needles out before a celebration supper, I decided to refrain from plugging in my beloved 700+ lights until our upcoming Christmas morn. 

Meaning, the neatly wrapped gifts will be lit by a lighter shade of green on Chuck's last day, then I will have him serve as my annual Boxing Day quick burn bonfire sacrifice. In a non-religious or Game of Thrones kinda way!

Jokes aside, I’m not even remotely surprised about the general fate of my tree. As a matter a fact, as we head back toward grey-lockdown here in Ontario, I will just add it to my long list of... “I didn’t see that coming at me in 2020." Which also reinforces the important message my buddy Charlie Brown (aka - Chuck B) has been reminding me for decades: “It’s not what’s under the Christmas tree that matters. It’s who’s around it.” 

I guess the difference between this year and all others previous, is if you happen to be one of the five in my bubble on Christmas Day, I must ask that you please refrain from standing around the tree with any type of heat bearing or igniting thingamajigs.

Better yet, best ensure ugly holiday sweaters are both flame retardant and cover off at least two of the four hazard categories for arc protection and flame resistance: being the tree itself and a turkey that may burst into flames in the oven. 

Guess as a proactive measure, I should promise to have both fire extinguishers and garden hose on standby to keep our wee bubble of visitors safe from any potential and unexpected harm. Which is soothing in itself. 

But let's face it.... 

Who the hell worries about an ongoing lockdown and world pandemic risk when I'm the one cooking a butter-basted bird?!

#yagottalaughaboutit

Sunday, November 22, 2020

SNOW IT STARTS!

The frozen precipitation I deem a constant irritant and source of months of personal misery landed last week. Allow me to draw to your attention to exhibit 'A' below: my frustrating flakey foe. Stupid f*cking snow! 

My pretty pups posing with my frozen foe!
TAKEN: NOVEMBER 16th, 2020


Dirty chirps aside, like I do every autumn, I force myself to push through this horrible six weeks of time change purgatory, until the days begin to get longer and the UV rays reflect off our pristine white blanket in January. 

With my seasonal affective disorder at its most debilitating in November, I always spend time looking for positive distractions. This electronic journal helped me in the fall of 2011 and in post Thanksgiving time changes since, I have leaned on it more often than not. 

This year, with all that's happening you would think I would want to write more, yet my creative canvas appears completely blank. Therefore, if writing isn't going to be where I channel my energy,  I have resigned myself to the fact that I am going to need another outlet. 

With that in mind, three weeks ago I took a giant step and dug out and dusted off my trustworthy treadmill. It stands proud upstairs, looking out the big picture windows and I enthusiastically offer it social niceties multiple times a day. 

So far, I have yet to plug the power cord into the wall and take it for a spin. Guess its because I'm a firm believer you can't rush back into a physical relationship, when you've completely ignored its purpose for over five years; which is why this weekend I shifted my focused to the upcoming holiday season. 

With the kids grown and gone, there isn't near as much to look forward to as their use to be, yet I do my best to get into the spirit of things. Though I never ask for anything, I do love to gaze at my Christmas tree lights each night for the entire month of December, bringing specific enlightenment to my earlier attempt at a new energy absorbing distraction. 

You see, I put my newly dusted off old chum in the very same spot I always put the holiday Christmas tree that houses those 500+ beautiful LED lights I love. 

Knowing Christmas lights trump everything, I am feeling very grateful I only ever offered a cheerful good morning to my buddy, never hopping on with false intentions. 

Because I know now, that we would have just gotten back into a familiar rhythm, and I would have had to fold 'er up and move 'em to the cold garage, alone, until early January 2021.  Once again proving, the creative process and this silly electronic journal offer me the crystal clear clarity and self enabling justification I crave this time of year. 

Which leaves me hollering, yet again.... Pass the chocolate cake, spark another Hallmark movie, and deck the freaking halls! 

Oh, before I forget. Is there anyone around next weekend to help me move a treadmill?

#yagottalaughaboutit 

Sunday, November 15, 2020

DINING AL FRESCO

In the midst of purchasing our current home, the lawyer called the day it was to close to let us know that the old shed in the backyard was encroaching on the neighbouring lot line. His professional opinion was that we should make the sellers move it. 

Being the superstar handyman my husband naturally boasts being, he instructed the deal to close announcing that he would gladly relocate the shed. Pictured in the photo background, I don’t think he’s opened the door since he moved our crap into it and that was almost twenty years ago!

Anyway, when my father stayed with us in his end of life hospice care the winter of 2005, he was quick to establish friendships with the local fauna including these photogenic furry tailed bandits. 

During his last housebound winter, he introduced an outdoor dining experience like no other - and by the time he left us that June, his newly established extended family understood what a glorious food source this happy go lucky chap turned out to be.

One of my many generations of  friends born the spring of 2020.
TAKEN: NOVEMBER 2020

Once I'd passed that mournful summer without my dad, I noticed not very many of his furry friends remained come autumn. The ones that did escape the owls and foxes were a small family of grey squirrels and they had build a beautiful drey for themselves high up in our back gully. Fifteen seasons later I have fed and nurtured many generations, and all have offered me great memories and wonderful friendships from a distance. 

Now back to the shed that was never moved but still needs to be... Each and every spring I  open its door to see what our six months of winter hath delivered. 

Not because there is anything in there worth salvaging but because I know in spring when others awake with a hungry belly, that ugly brown shed offers one of several escape locations of trust, offering quick easy ground access for all of my dining friends.

I don't think of it as a 'members only' condo unit per se, more an exclusive diners club that offers a covered option should it be raining when I ring that afternoon dinner bell.

...Signifying their dining al fresco restaurant is officially open for service!

Sunday, November 8, 2020

HELLO NEW-VEMBER

Loving life packing only a cellphone, a credit card & a smile!
TAKEN: OCTOBER 10th, 2013

For a number of reasons, this is one of my very favorite selfies I have ever managed to capture.  I snapped it in an absolute coffee induced euphoric state, the morning after landing in Old Montreal with a girlfriend.

As the story goes, I had seen The Eagles at the ACC in Toronto the Thursday night before, then hopped a plane to Montreal to see Bon Jovi at the Bell Centre that Saturday night. 

I remember embracing the brisk November morning with an extra skip in my step feeling like a brand new person. Not because I was going to venture into historic Vieux-MontrĂ©al and its amazing architecture, but because I had made the life changing decision to quit my dream job; a milestone that happened seven years ago this week. 

My point? 

I think some of you may be surprised to read that for the first time in years, I once again have a skip in my step and I am sporting an ear to ear smile for making yet another life altering choice. I am pleased to report that I have left my sales and marketing position within the construction industry here in Muskoka... and I couldn’t be happier.

Just like seven years ago, my decision wasn't made lightly. It was a transition I had entertained for almost six months. If I am being honest, the reason for the lag was because I had struggled to wrap my mind around the logistics of such a life altering shift. 

Like most things in life, timing is everything. I guess you could say, just like the day I snapped this selfie, I had to invest in myself and trust the timing in my life. Even with that trust, I worried my glass  may feel half empty. Hence those months it took me to finally decide. 

As everyone knows, this isn't rocket science. A job is a job, that in the end you get paid for simply doing a job - and people leave jobs all the time.

In this instance, my personal struggle came with the more than a hundred people I was blessed to get to know and work alongside of with a great sense of pride. It didn't matter which, I was connected to each and every one of them... How could I go?

In the end, transitioning has had zero effect with those I was closest with. Social media has helped close the landline conversation gap and not a day goes by that my phone isn’t a buzz with a meme, a text, or a call from one of many. I guess you could say our friendships are a different kind of payday for simply treating people the way we wanted to be treated. 

As I wrap up my post and head over to Spotify, I can't help but reflect on those amazing few days and two great back to back concerts seven years ago. Today has me embracing, blasting, and singing, a number of those really great tunes performed live. 

But for whatever reason... Already Gone by the Eagles and It's My Life by Bon Jovi seem to be bringing down the house!

Sorry. Couldn't resist the obvious comical musical punchline.

#yagottalaughaboutit

Tuesday, November 3, 2020

TRICKY TRAVEL TALK

Last week, after noticing that some of my Canadians snowbird pals were beginning to flock south until next spring, I decided to open up a social media discussion on the possibility of upcoming travel to the Caribbean in the winter of 2021. 

I knew I might be encroaching on a tricky topic with some controversial dialogue happening, yet in the wide reaching forum I created, my network answered both respectfully and with personal honestly.

Wind blown, cruising the Mississippi River aboard The Natchez New Orleans
TAKEN: MAY 29th, 2019

As I sit here and type, I can't help but revisit the very first comment on my thread. A seasoned traveler wrote – “No travel until I’m vaccinated!”

On the day of the election of the 46th President of the United States, I can’t help but wonder what’s next in both the virus protection and travel departments. 

Right or wrong, a vaccine produced without proof of proper exploratory stages, pre-clinical development and regulatory review for approval, is not something I am rushing to put into my body. 

The shoe on the other foot reminds me that my thread wasn't intended to be a vaccination debate, more about travel input and opinions as I am hoping to hatch a plan and ultimately travel while respecting imposed limitations.  

With my sunny wings potentially grounded indefinitely, I know I could always travel and remain in Canada,  which is probably my best option at this point. I have family and friends out it BC, so that may be my overall 2021 birthday trip goal.

That said, vaccine or not, if the mandatory 14-day quarantine upon return to Canada is lifted, I will be sitting on a beach in the Caribbean quicker a snowsquall can move into Muskoka knocking out a neighbourhood of Bell satellite dishes.

Trust me.... Here, with our unpredictable winter storm crap?

That's 5G, Flash Gordon, blink and pack because you're leaving on a plane, fast! 

#nufsaid

Saturday, October 24, 2020

GOURD-GEOUS & GRATEFUL

2020 Great Pumpkin Carving Event
(l-r) Goob, JMRex, Sweetie, Jukebox, Tam_lya
TAKEN: OCTOBER 12, 2020

For well over a decade, the weekend before Hallowe’en I have lugged a pumpkin into the cottage and carved it the night before it was closed for the winter. For whatever reason, watching my last seasonal effort of the season flickering by the fall moon light was tradition I always looked forward to. 

That said, have you ever had a nagging feeling that something bad was lurking around the corner, and no matter what you did, you couldn’t seem to shake it? This year, I had an eerie feeling my annual pumpkin carve wasn’t going to happen; hindsight has confirmed my ‘spidey senses’ were correct.

In Canada, we traditionally celebrate Thanksgiving the second Monday of October. Feeling unsettled through the month of September, I decided to buy pumpkins for the kids to carve before we ate our family feast.

That evening at dusk, I lit them all and snapped the photo that I am sharing. The next morning, I was headed to the hospital at 3am and today the cottage was closed for the remainder of 2020. I am still dealing with the fact that my life has changed forever.

I don’t want to get into the if and or buts here, I just want to reaffirm that when a loved one doesn’t want to seek medical help you can’t force them and it isn’t your fault. In the end, all you can do is love them and hope they understand how their decisions have effected every single person in their lives.

I am one that has been, and always will be, grateful for the little things in life. Like grown children that willingly participate in a pumpkin carving contest because their mother loves how their simple glow at dusk makes her feel all warm and fuzzy inside.

Peeps... Hug the ones you love. Really tight. Because everything can change in the blink of an eye!

Thursday, October 8, 2020

LEAF IT TO ME

Raking leaves... My pregame for snow shoveling!
TAKEN: OCTOBER 8th, 2020

When walking in the evening with the pups the last couple of weeks, I noticed the neighbouring yards quickly filling with colourful foliage. 

Tonight, a sight to behold, I couldn’t help but giggle thinking those vibrant leaves offer their ultimate beauty… When they are being cleaned up by someone other than me!

As you know, I chronicle in this electronic journal every October just how much I love this time of year. Everything feels crisp, the wood burning stove at the cottage makes everything really cozy, and gravy officially becomes my favourite food group. 

For whatever reason, I find there is a harmony offered in autumn that no other season brings. A mellow sense of calming that I've enjoyed and embraced which always brings me into a familiar cyclical rhythm.

The leaves fall and get cleaned up. Enough wood gets split and piled. The garage gets cleaned out of spring and summer crap... and weekly outdoor burning of yard debris kicks off with the help of a wee bit of gasoline. 

For some strange reason, specific fall activities seem to help me prepare mentally for the bright white blanket that arrives in early January; when my snowshoes relieve my angst.

All of that shared, I can’t help but be preoccupied with the fact that this will be the first fall in the last six that I won’t be jumping on a plane for a burst of November vitamin D. 

I was chatting with my bestie today. She also suffers with Seasonal Affective Disorder in the same way I do. With everything locked down, we discussed what the next six months of darkness may offer. I know there’s no magic wand that can help but I am hopeful our daily check ins and dialogue will get us through.

As World Mental Health Day approaches October 10th, I can’t help look to the inspiring quote: “When darkness comes, let us not condemn the dark, but light a light to illuminate it.”

They mean that I need to buy more happy lights, right?

Because that’s how interpret it... as I head online with my credit card!

Monday, September 21, 2020

MY STEADY SEPTEMBER

My Annie on the left and my Puddin' going full tilt on the right!
TAKEN: September 20th, 2020

Vacation the first week of August may have been a total bust but the weather the last week of summer more than made up for it. I don’t know about you - but there has always been something with the end of September atmosphere that genuinely put an extra skip in my step. 

For obvious reasons, as fall approaches each year I always make the effort to give my pups as many unique experiences as possible. I suppose it’s because I know, for the most part, nature is preparing us to hunker down in darkness as we wait for the pre-winter snow to arrive.

As you can see from our last adventure photos, Annie is as active as toddler on steroids but the signs of Puddin’ officially becoming a senior are starting to visibly show. Therefore, I have decided that this fall has to be about a balance. Not just energy level balance. Overall life balance; not only for the pups but for me as well.

Such a big and important thought process (and learning curve) for me right now. 

In my effort to strive and achieve it, I will no longer be working 50 hours a week and on call from sun up until sun down. I have disabled all alerts on my phone and I honestly try my best to power that sucker down before I serve dinner and leave it off until I wake the following morn.

That change combined with an inner twang for more personal balance, resulted in me reconnecting with my very best gal pal. It’s not like she and I were estranged per se, just both got busy with life in general and became accustom to the Bluetooth on the road home doing all the legwork for us. 

I am pleased to report that this very steady September has us getting back to basics where the first question we ask the other is “...How are you doing?” I had truly missed that. 

You see, for the last several years I had been so focused on others and their demands, that the little things that mattered somehow got lost in the shuffle. I guess you could say that prior to making this small, almost minor change in behaviour, I was always in search of the answer as to how to create change.

Then, on the evening of September 10th, I realized that I no longer wanted to wait for the opportunity of change. I understood whole heartedly I had to pull up my big girl panties and encompass and embrace the change I was searching for.…So I did. 

The rest is up to me.

Sunday, August 30, 2020

MOOSEKOKA MUSING

Orillia Lake Muskoka
Just hanging out at the cottage with my big bad bull Moose. 
TAKEN: SEPTEMBER 2018

I was driving home from work last week and I quickly called one of my closest confidants. I thought I had forgotten to thank them from paying for lunch. 

Once connected via Bluetooth, I was reminded that I had in fact already thanked them for lunch, and they in return thanked me again for listening. What followed was quick and very candid conversation about the makings of a meltdown. 

I can speak from experience when I admit that when I finally submit and actually melt down, the emotional fallout can be nuclear. The bigger tell is that final straw is never usually the root cause,  it's just the particular moment housing my last semblance of personal strength when a cherished trust is broken.

Because most know and read me as a full blown extrovert, you may be surprised to learn that I am actually a very private person. I tend to listen far more than I share, and when I do share, it’s generally about generic life experience rather than anything of a very personal nature.

As a people pleasing lass I can count on one hand the number of lifelong friends I have and I firmly believe I've had more than one soulmate thus far in my lifetime. 

You know, that certain someone you have an immediate connection with the moment you meet and that connection is so strong that you feel you've known them your entire life. You immediately know they're special and meant to be in your life - which describes my aforementioned lunch date perfectly!

Soulmate status update aside, I guess my musing point is that in all my years I have learned that many things come and go. Things like people, possessions, pets as well as my patience for personal and professional politics and shell games. 

Though I have never been one for looking back with regret, I have always tried to forgive myself for not having the foresight to see something bad coming my way. I guess you could say that is one of the systemic problems with my rose coloured glasses I wear with such pride.

Those suckers can make a brown bull moose charging me head on, appear in my favourite shade of red.

Even worse? 

They always seem to have a smile on their face!

#TrueStory #seephotoabove

Thursday, August 20, 2020

A SNACK BRACKET

My very favourite client was in the office last week and he said to me… “Rhondi, just like you, I’ve had Covid-19.”

We burst out laughing after he continued with, “At the end of all of this, I’m not sure if it will end up being nineteen pounds, or nineteen kilograms!” 

I don’t know about you, but as an emotional eater, I can generally peg the time of year when circus music begins to chime in my ear signaling me to buy stock in the most profitable potato chip company. And I can assure you, every fall, any and all are generously sampled; as part of my annual stock purchase evaluation.

What can I say. I was a fat toddler. I was power fed homogenized milk, and in those days the perception was the fatter the better. The good news is I shed that baby fat, the bad news is those formed fat cells follow you forever.

I have always been athletic and outgoing but when perimenopause clicked in everything changed. My body absorbed food differently and in one year my metabolism changed exponentially. It was in that moment I knew I was being put to pasture.

Kicking and screaming and the better part of a year later, I lost the excess weight and changed my lifestyle. That was in 2012.

Even with a major change in lifestyle, winters and my seasonal affective disorder in this harsh tundra have me pulling my gravy crutch out of the hall closet bringing the five or ten pound of weight gain that accompany it. The good news is those extra pounds were always shed before I ever had to appear in any sort of summer shorts or swimming outfit. 

This year? We locked down. I filled up. The rest is history!

I want to shed the pounds I’ve gained yet I am a creature of habit. 

If gravy has a crutch, my philosophy that if I share with the pups I am really only taking in 1/3 of the calories must be a motorized wheelchair. One chip for each of you, one chip for me. One jelly bean for each of you, one jelly bean for me; and trust me, I am always fair in the distribution department.

I guess you could say that the only way the dogs keep the upper paw on me is because they don't have to share their dog cookies with me. Though I must say, on occasion the label on the front of the box has made it cross my mind.

Not gonna lie.... Those gravy covered Milk Bone dog biscuits definitely land within my mid-winter snack bracket!!

#yagottalaughaboutit

dog and cookies on orillia lake
It would appear that Annie and I have similar snackage struggles
TAKEN: AUGUST 7th, 2020


Monday, August 10, 2020

MY MARRIAGE COIN

 I read somewhere that marriage is an institution designed to let you annoy one special person for the rest of your life. Yet, I’m sure when you flip my blog and bitch about marriage coin really high into the air it would read: The perfect marriage is between a blind wife and a deaf husband.

I know you’ll probably find this hard to believe, but since opening my own business in 2004, as an entrepreneur I quickly learned to hone two very specific social skills. 

1. ALWAYS take a 24-48 hour cooling down period before speaking to whom you’re truly aggravated with, because words can never be taken back.

2. AND...Smile and be thankful for every piece of shit pie eaten that generated revenue. 

As you can see from my last couple of electronic offerings, this Covid crap has me crazy cranky.

The cherry on top of that statement is our first official summer vacation together since 2012 was received worse than Bob Dylan going electric and sadder than Levon Helm leaving The Band because of it.

We may have only been at our cottage, but it rained six out of ten days and by this past Saturday morning (when our water pump failed yet again) we both hit the ‘this fecking sucks’ wall. It was clear in our Sunday morning volume alone, we both really needed to take a break. 

I moved home with the dogs. He did not.

Now, I should share, we rarely fight nor even disagree.

The two of us at my company Christmas Party
TAKEN: DECEMBER 2000

In our many decades together we have learned to skillfully navigate each other for continued success. In this instance, our small cottage space, two wet dogs, and a thrice mis-installed water pump got the best of us.

How bad was it? If a successful marriage requires you to fall in love many times with the same person… I’m thinking by Labour Day weekend we might be ready for a lunch date.

That said, I can assure you that it was so bad, my best girlfriend will be making one of those famous ‘escape a really bad date’ phone calls; fifteen minutes in.

#yagottalaughaboutit

Saturday, August 8, 2020

ONE GIANT STEP

 Have you ever had one of those days where no matter what you try and accomplish, you take one step forward and two steps back? 

Well, the fat lady is tuning up to start singing to signal the end of my vacation, and gosh darn dammit if the last seven days haven’t played out exactly like that!

Since we connected water in early May, I have loved living in my little Covid Casita. But if I'm being honest here, the five days of rain last week drove me a tad bit stir crazy. 

Usually when I am antsy and frustrated, we hop in the car and go vrooom zoom for a change of scenery. Imagine wet dog everything and misplaced car keys. 

I know, right? Two. Steps. Back!

Y'all know I love my pups and that they love me. This is proven daily by the fact that they both have to be within two feet of me at any given moment. 

So, this past week, to avoid major rainfall/lake water stinkage, I towel dried them as much as possible, leaving me with a clean towel crisis that offered impressive expletives that I usually save for that crazy orange man south of here. 

I kid you not, when an electronic friend checked in via text with, “hope your week off is okay and quiet.” I instantly responded with, ‘I did laundry in the rain this morning... Livin’ the dream!” 

Truth of the matter is, when I saw the long-range forecast, I wanted to cancel and take a different week. My husband did not. I get it. He has the privilege of a maid and cook; so I can totally empathize with why we wouldn’t entertain a reschedule.

That said, I read an online article this week about the pursuit of personal happiness. It was from a husband’s perspective. It explained how it isn’t his job to make his wife happy. It is her responsibility to ensure she is happy with her choices and herself, which I agree with 100%.

So, when cleaning out the closets this past week, I came across a two-person pup tent I'd purchased for the kids many years ago. I set it up on the lower deck and looked forward to falling asleep over the water and waking up to the morning fog. 

I think I could market this space on Air BnB!
TAKEN: August 6th, 2020

People on my Facebook immediately joked that my husband had finally sent me to the doghouse but the truth of the matter is I hit the jackpot and got the hell out of the extra large doghouse for a good night sleep. 

Then, when heading up to make morning coffee, I broke the zipper on the door, took it down and hauled it into the trash.

Killing the tent after one might have been my two steps back. BUT baby, my night outside alone in the fresh air?

One giant step forward!

Tuesday, August 4, 2020

COTTAGE RAMP UP!

Only yours truly could be lucky enough to take their first summer vacation since 2012 and be blessed with rain all but the first day thus far. 

The crappy part is that the single sunny Saturday wasn't even taken as a day of rest, instead it was spent repairing and reinstalling the ramp attached to our floating dock system.

Notice the first step onto the ramp is missing?
TAKEN: AUGUST 1st, 2020

I think any repairs or renovations bring out the true personality of you and your life partner, which is probably why smart peeps pay someone to complete their chores to simply avoid the aggravation; automatically slotting us into the “sucker for punishment” construction category.

I’ve joked here numerous times that I married Canada’s Worst Handyman, which is exactly that, me teasing. If I was on the outside looking in, I would see that neither of us are lazy, nor less committed to accomplishing what we set our sites on.  We just approach any project we do in very different fashion. 

I like to have a firm plan from the start and my husband likes to jump in without even understanding if he has the right tools and material to finish.

I hate to be interrupted when I am in a task-oriented mode and he absolutely loves an extra five trips to the hardware store while the work is in process. Drives me bat shit crazy!
 
So, over the years I have learned that when we have a plan, there needs to be at least a three Saturday buffer to ensure we start without having to stop. To some it might read like micromanagement on my part, but I consider it as a solid investment in both efficiency and productivity... and the solemn promise from this cat not to argue whilst the task's being completed.

As you can see from the photo I am sharing, last Saturday has the top step from the deck onto the ramp missing. We never had a step there before, the ramp was always attached higher up. But by dropping the ramp and anchoring it differently, the hope is the ice won’t pummel it into submission again next winter.

Who wants to bet me that I don’t get a step installed this summer unless I do it myself?

Hey, I'm not trying to be a bitch here. 

I just have decades of historical data to prove I know the outcome of said bet hands down!

#yagottaslaughaboutit

Sunday, July 19, 2020

SUNDAY STORM DAY

I worked to get my weekend cottage chores done yesterday so that today could be an official day of rest. Well, that idea tanked quicker this morning than Donald Trump touting hydroxychloroquine as a cure for Coronavirus!

Meaning, my ‘no sun Sunday’ has the radio blaring and phone beeping with official tornado warnings, which in turn has me hunkered down inside with Spotify blaring, sipping a spicy Caesar, embracing a shitty Sunday storm day.

When given lemons? Make a Caesar and listen to Spotify!
TAKEN: JULY 19th, 2020

As my Bose speaker begins to play Kacey Musgraves and her song titled Rainbow starts; it seems eerily fitting.

“When it rains it pours,” is how the song begins. My struggle is that it feels like it has been raining for five friggin’ months, only in the non-precipitation sense.

Like most, I have struggled with this atmosphere I will officially label here as The Covid Climate.
I no longer watch the news, refuse to click on anything associated with the orange man, and find myself distancing myself from 90% of all social media. Lately, the only place I find any sense of normalcy is via Instagram. 

Probably because it’s hard to go wrong with pictures of the Muskoka landscape and Georgian Bay sunsets, as well as really cute pups. For the record, touting some serious cucumber envy, I also feel vegetable and flower gardens deserve an honorable shout out; way to go all you gardeners!

Anyway, if you dial your blog memory back, you’ll recall that people told me to stop being an alarmist when the virus first loomed.  Since then, so many have reached out to me via personal message sharing that they felt they too had been so sick. 

More worrisome is that most admitted they never shared being ill, purely because of the judgement of others that tended to follow; seeing as everything happening around us was fake.

I don’t know about you, but I have no idea how I managed to be graced and associated with so many scientists and immunology experts lately. Must be because Facebook University wasn’t an option for me in the mid 1980’s.

Who knew the first half of 2020 would produce such an elite number of scientific scholars?  Certainly not this cat. Well done Mr. Zuckerberg, for officially replacing both ethics and journalism worldwide with a meme.

With my sarcastic rant exhausted,  I know for a fact I am going to survive my 'no sun day' as well as the rest of this pandemic nonsense. 

How? Just ask my buddy Kacey, she knows. She tells me… That there has always be a rainbow hanging over my head!

Which has to be better than an Wile E. Coyote approved ACME anvil, right?

PS: If you haven’t heard the song, here’s a link, (Click here)

PSS: You’re welcome. She's awesome.

Monday, July 13, 2020

LONG LIVE THE VCR

Once again, it's the little things in life that make me smile.
TAKEN: JULY 11th, 2020


This past weekend, I decided to start going through cottage totes I had packed up and put away. I knew before I began that if I didn't need what was inside, the items were going to be loaded onto the four wheeler and hauled up the hill.

My project began a top a beautiful cedar closet that has been home to two black totes that had been there forever. I grabbed my step stool and hauled them cats down. 

Very much to my surprise, I discovered they were filled with VHS tapes. 

Instantly, my sexy bonus light, signaling that I'd entered the lightning round lit up. I dropped the lid, quickly sailed across the room, and opened the top drawer of an old dresser/make shift TV stand. 

Now this dresser stand is a classic faux style antique, which I will refer to as a fine crafted, wooden flat screen television stand. Vintage in nature. Traditional in design. Lawn Sale value: $5.
 
With all my might, I pulled on the swollen top drawer that probably hadn't been opened since the totes were stored, only to to discover my prize inside. (Don't judge the whole time lapse thing. Think VERY expensive flat screen television stand.)

Anyway, the drawer was full of taped movies. As a matter a fact, three of the four drawers were filled. 

VHS tapes with family home videos, television specials, kids movies as well as some of my favourite classic movies. I suddenly felt all warm and fuzzy inside.

After an amazing weekend of watching great memories, I can't help but reflect on how easily I haphazardly jumped on a new technology band wagon all willy-nilly, with zero regard for this collection.

Truth is, when the kids were in high school, I began collecting us DVD's. When they went away to college, I began scouring bargain bins to add to my collection. 

Everything I have ranges in price from a $1.99 to $4.99. I am embarrassed to share that I have accumulated hundreds of DVD's. 

With no streaming option, the last couple of summers I have struggled to pick a movie, so imagine my excitement in the moment I discovered this treasure. 

It was like finding a long lost trusted friend on social media and you unconditionally needed to catch up with them. A total breath of fresh air....Which brings me to my point. 

Rhondi Rule #908: Never discount a strong connection you've previously had by replacing it with something shiny and new.

Chances are the original will turn out to be that cozy blanket and pair fuzzy slippers that you've been quietly missing for the last fifteen years.

Give or take a change in technology or twenty two!

Friday, July 10, 2020

HAPPY TO HELP

A minute and a half away from celebrating my 5th anniversary with my current team, Tuesday was an extra special day for me at work.

A client walked into the office and handed me this lovely gift with a heartfelt personal note to say thank you. Though we socially distanced, she offered an ear to ear smile when I told her I would hug her if we weren't in the midst of a global pandemic.

bottle of wine gift at Big Orillia Lake
Thanks Alberta!
TAKEN: JULY 7th, 2020

She's such a lovely lady. One that knows when she calls at the last minute and asks for help, I offer it unconditionally. Not because I want to sell her something, but because I pride myself on providing great customer service; one of the most important and successful career hats I have worn for close to 20 years.

When I changed careers in 2004 and went into business for myself, it was serious grassroots market research that defined my path to the here and now. Having never really been in sales prior, I discovered very quickly that with my keen ability for analysis that sales and marketing was definitely that sexy little black dress that absolutely fit me perfectly.

Shortly thereafter, my dad fell ill and he lived his last six months in hospice care in our home. While managing that, every single free moment of every single day was spent on the phone in my home office. 

You see, in the midst of his end of life care, I was trying to build something special. That something special, had been clearly identified by the large amount of data I had collected and analysed. 

That said, I would be lying if I said I did it alone. There were two great friends coaching me on how to get a seat at the 'big peoples table'. One still remains one of my closest friends and has an MBA in marketing, the other was a friend with a degree in journalism; with a brilliant mind, and marketing background. 

I could always count on the latter to be brutally honest with me. He ghost wrote for my clients for those first few years.  His name was Greg; he has since passed.

I remember how hard I worked that first year. When things really started to blossom, with a keen respect for his knowledge I  asked Greg to review my 3 year business plan. 

All these years later, I will never forget the moment he looked me in the eye and told me that I was onto something.  Three months after that, he and I celebrated after my very first full page ad appeared on page A5 of the Toronto Star. The  value of the upload of that one ad in 2005: $60,000. 

Print led to great success with radio, then in 2007 I produced my first series of television commercials. I still watch them every once in a while to prove to myself what I'd actually accomplished. It was a life changing.

Not gonna lie, it is always nice to daydream of those years gone by, yet when a simple gift bag arrives for the little extra effort that was supplied, makes one realize they're on the right track.

Proving, one should never bet against karma .

Sunday, July 5, 2020

VAYCAY STAYCAY


Today is the last day of my five day staycation that was spent at the cottage. 

Bonfire at a cottage on Big Orillia Lake
I absolutely love an evening bonfire!
TAKEN: JULY 3rd, 2020

Funny how one forgets how wonderful time off in the summer can be when you you travel three of four times every winter. Not gonna lie, I've missed the sheer simplicity of this.

I've missed the early morning coffee sitting next to the water and evening bonfires listening to my favourite songs. Time here is very structured yet extremely relaxed. I love that if I don't want to wear clothes, I don't!

As I sit here and type it's hard to fathom that his is our 20th summer on Orillia Lake. There have been lots of changes over the years yet most everything is still the same. Most owners have come and gone but life here remains as it was 20 years ago; without young children. 

Speaking of children, there's a young family across from us that have children the ages ours were back when we purchased. Sometimes I find myself watching them and I think of Jukebox and Goob and their buddies spending hours upon hours in the water, coming out only to grab some grub and right back in they'd go.

The picnic table we had for them that could sit a dozen children was cut in half to save space. A couple of years ago we put billets under it. 

This summer we built her out, named her Stella, and added a trolling motor. Only to discover that I regret ever chopping the thing in two.

All of the decks, landings and stairs will be replaced this summer and though we have a shower upstairs, we chose to rebuild the outdoor shower in preparation for our staycay. 

My outdoor shower is right up there with skinny dipping for me. It feels great!

...Just like these last days have.

Tuesday, June 30, 2020

ELBOW BUMP BLUES

This past weekend we had our very first 2020 visitors out to the cottage. Relax, they're a part of our inner circle of ten as it was my son Jukebox and his very lovable and quick witted girlfriend. 

They arrived just in time for lunch on Saturday. We spent a quiet day. Enjoyed a nice bonfire, then a hearty breakfast before they had to head back into town so she could work a Sunday afternoon shift.

It wasn't until they went to head up the hill that I realized how much my behaviours have changed, as I backed away and told them I didn't want a hug.  

In lieu, they both got double elbow bumps!

I love this photo. She is clearly matching his wit and he knows it!
TAKEN: June 27th, 2020

When Covid-19 first hit, I was deemed an essential worker and continued my modified Monday to Friday routine. Our leadership team immediately put a policy in place that you had to meet certain criteria before you could enter our office. 

If you did get to enter, you were made to stay on the mat inside the office door. 

As shaking hands was no longer an option, I would offer a quick a curtsy as my standard greeting. In turn, most men would bow to reciprocate and we'd have a wee chuckle.

It has only been since phase II came into effect that I gradually introduced the elbow bump. If you're near and dear to me, I'll shrug, pump, then roll my shoulders prior to offering my elbow just so the recipient knows there's a little extra special intent coming their way. (Guess you could say it was the closest thing to a hug I could create.)

Not gonna lie, I am so over this entire pandemic/plandemic thing, yet I'm not going to debate either side of that double sided coin, seems to just fuel the base of either opinion; which isn't the intent of my post.

What I will admit is that I miss the simple things we took for granted. Silly things, like chatting it up in the coffee aisle of the grocery store or letting my pups have a play date. But most of all I am going to miss travelling, so much so that I try not to even think about the next twelve months and what they may look like.

As I prepare to take a Canada Day cottage stretch staycation, I can't help but reflect on how ill I was in January and how I'm reading that if I did in fact have Covid-19, the antibodies from having the virus don't last long term. 

...Go figure.

Guess that right there is just another great big middle finger moment 2020 wanted to generously send my way! #yagottalaughaboutit

Sunday, May 24, 2020

DEAL WITH IT!

When I was a kid, my summer days were spent by the lake and my evenings spent playing cards or board games by propane powered lights with my mom and extended family. All these years later, those memories are still very fond ones.

Naturally, when we purchased our own cottage back in 2000, a wooden game box for puzzles and everything else needed to keep preteens busy was one of the first things created. They would swim through the day and if it rained, the game box was immediately cracked open before the television was ever turned on.

As I type, I can hear that classic pop-o-matic sound of a game of Trouble clicking away, or squeals of an exciting game of snakes and ladder in need of a referee well underway.
Their favourite card game was crazy 8's and I feel like they played thousands of those with my Dad before he passed in 2005.

As I reflect in my 20th summer at our cottage, I can't help but notice how much things have changed.

The kids don't come by very often anymore and the majority of my time is spent alone, yet I still love playing cards and board games. The difference is now it's against downloaded robots or an online audience.
 
Playing Phase 10 while listening to the Blue Jays play.
TAKEN: JULY 2018
Every once and a while I can convince my husband to play but it's not really his thing. In the summers since the kids left home, it has always been a negotiation to gain his interest in participating.

For instance, in summers past, though I absolutely hate baseball (which is another post) I would concede that we could listen to the game on the radio if he'd agree to play a board game or a couple of games of cards in return. With this summer season cancelled, I think I am going to have to become super creative.

With cottage life officially underway and no sports to use as bait, I'm thinking I may need to bust out a topless option with benefits for Canasta to get him interested in participating.

Either way, I'll deal with it. 

Get it?
Cards?
Deal?

That said, feel free to insert eye roll or head shake now.
A solid groan would also be totally appropriate!

Friday, May 15, 2020

KEEPING IT REAL

This is US at Orillia Lake.
TAKEN: 2008

More than a decade ago, I worked for a big fat guy that was an absolute donkey. Because I don’t like to degrade without inserting context, he was also extremely militant and generally very rude.

I remember he use to constantly page me over the loud speaker. “Rhondi, can you come to my office?” Which was code for me - that he needed to be fed.

When I heard, “Rhondi, can you come to my office, please!” I knew I was going to get a good old fashion ass kicking, because something out of my control had pissed him off.  The latter happened far more than I care to share.

Why did I stay? Truth is, I loved the job. 

I loved the job, the industry, but most of all the other people on the team. I guess you could say that I absorbed his poor treatment of me right up until the specific moment when his poor treatment of me was the straw that broke this loyal camel’s back.

Which leads me to my point:

With everything that is happening surrounding COVID-19, I find myself having similar conversations with my children about how they were, and are being treated (or mistreated) since this pandemic hit.

As I’ve mentioned, my daughter has two front line jobs, one at the hospital and one at a grocery store. She isn’t sure she wants to continue with both once the province opens up. I don’t blame her. One employer values her, the other does not. 

As a mom, all I can do is listen and let her talk things through with a sense of optimism that she'll hear herself rationalize her concerns; which I hope will eventually help her understand what she truly wants to do. 

Pre-pandemic, both my boys were doing very well in the restaurant industry. One can’t work because of underlying health issues and the second took a front line job so he could continue to pay his bills. After a month, his new employer exceeded his previous wage in hopes he would stay in their employ long term.

I guess the big picture question is should they return to the status quo or should they look to transition? At this juncture, no one has a crystal ball to tell me what the future will bring, so I can’t really be of assistance, simply listen and support.

For me, I'm just keeping it real. I have firmly instilled in all three to always treat people the way you want to be treated, in hopes that energy is returned. But more importantly, they always need to stand unconditionally strong together and support one and other no matter what.

COVID-19 or not, I will circle back to the nasty boss I mentioned at the beginning of my post. 

By sharing with them what happened to me in 2008, reinforces my point to them that substandard employers that don't appreciate young talent may come and go.

.... But family is forever!

Thursday, April 30, 2020

Z IS FOR ZAP

Jukebox, Goob, and Sweetie on Huckleberry Rock.
TAKEN: OCTOBER 2018
ZAP... Just like that, the month of April is over!

Having paid homage to the twenty six letters of the alphabet in the last thirty days, my 8th annual A-Z Blogging Challenge is officially complete. As expected, as every year previous, I truly struggled with the last four letters. 

As my readers know, this year has been exceptionally difficult for me to stay focused from a daily post/timeline perspective which is why I’ve played catch up from the start. 

Seriously, with what’s happening around us with Covid-19, I was asked to do an above average amount of website optimization, social media training, and freelance copy writing. Some nights in the last month, I’d still be sitting at my home office desk at 11pm; writing for a purpose.

That said, the other side of this crazy Covid coin is that we lost 3 family members in as many weeks. 

None of us able to pay our respects. None of us able to grieve those wonderful lives lived. Instead, we had to look to each other via Facebook and text messages to process what’s to be considered the new normal? 

Anyway, last week on the local radio station a listener was asked, ‘what’s the first thing you’re going to do when social distancing relaxes?’  Their response was, ‘hug my mother.’

Do you know what am I going to do when we can move freely? Beg my grown children to take a much needed break with us.

With two of my three working as important front line workers (that also live with front line workers) and the third an asthmatic that lives with a front line worker, they will all need and deserve some well deserved TLC.

As I officially finish my 2020 challenge, I ask that everyone hang in there and always remember to be kind and considerate. None of us have a GPS to offer direction for what is happening right now. 

Never lose sight of that.

Thanks again for reading.
Rhondi

Saturday, April 25, 2020

V IS FOR VIEWPOINT

So much has changed within the social media ring since 2013 when I began doing the A-Z Blogging Challenge. As I share my 203rd unique April word today, with just 4 letters to go, I would be remiss if I didn’t touch on the shift in online behavior.

Because anything posted here is essentially my viewpoint, I feel I need to be clear. I always welcome that yours can differ from mine. All I expect is maturity not mudslinging when discussing a valid point.  It’s as simple as that.

Lastly 99% of what I share on my Facebook Ya Gotta Laugh About It page, is essentially about the humour, not politics nor religion. 

Please, never lose sight of that!

#yagottalaughaboutit


Thursday, April 23, 2020

T IS FOR THREESOME

Fourth bestselling author of all time.
We ALL can't be wrong!
TAKEN: DECEMBER 6th, 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 her 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, a few summers ago 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.

When I knew I was headed to Mexico for a couple of weeks that December, I choose carefully to fill my beachfront reading obsession.

I am pleased to report that the three (new to me) paperbacks that traveled from home, returned to my bookshelf at the cottage the following spring, and they did not disappoint.

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