Tuesday, April 30, 2024

Z IS FOR ZOUNDS

Zounds! That is another April A-Z Challenge behind me.

Great 'z' word, too bad I didn't come up with it on my own. I read that the word is used to express surprise or indignation - so it was perfect. I'm surprised as well as a tad angered that I couldn't come up with a word on my own.

I don't know if any of my readers can relate, but I always get blocked for the my last few letters of the challenge. This year I had to head to Goggle to help me end my plight AND just like last year, I had to back date my final post.

The last few letters are always a slog. I believe in the eleven years I have done the challenge, only the first three were completed daily and on schedule. In fact, I backdated my  'from the achieves' effort because once the month had passed I decided that I didn't want to stop writing. 

This year, I was surprised how well I did each day on the fly. Very little filler, and I made an honest effort. The fact that I have never used the same word twice - is making each year more difficult. 

As I close out the 2024 challenge, my last task is to post a picture of someone/something that can anger me, frustrate me, but can also surprise me in general.

Thanks again for reading. It is truly appreciated.

Rhondi

Zounds! I can't believe she had to use Google!!
(#yagottalaughaboutit)
TAKEN: JULY 1976

Sunday, April 28, 2024

Y is for YYZ

Waiting to board my sexy ride to Bahamas!
TAKEN: APRIL 10th, 2024

I don't know about you, but we have no apprehension about air travel. In fact, because we fly as much as we do, we have our routine down pat.

Check in on the app the night before, then land at the Park n' Fly when we know the Valet bus is ready to leave for the appropriate YYZ terminal. We always carry on so to fly through security, then book it on foot to the appropriate gate. On average it is usually about a 5,000 step undertaking in any direction.

Though we never settle in at our gate immediately (we tend to wander), I always check to see how full the plane will be by those that have arrived. Then, I head to the windows facing the runway to check out our ride. 

Rain or shine, night or day, take-off or transferring, I always snap a picture of the plane we'll be boarding. 

I know this may read silly, but there is something really beautiful about an airplane.

Though I believe Air Canada have issued us the most travel points to date, I really enjoy the overall West Jet experience. 

That said, I hear on the radio and in the news that Air Canada has the worst customer service rating, which has never been our experience. We've only been stranded once, in Fort Worth Texas overnight, but United Airlines won that prize.

I may be biased, but in all the airports I have been in YYZ, by far, is the nicest. Clean, and very efficiently run. It honestly makes me proud to be Canadian.

My number two would have to be ATL (Atlanta), followed by IAH (Houston).

You may think I would vote CCC (Cuba) as my worst experience, but in fact it was (LGA) LaGuardia in New York.

As to my reason why.... that is for another post.

Saturday, April 27, 2024

X IS FOR X-PERIENCE

Photo copyright: Wrigleyville - Chicago Neighborhoods

As I've mentioned, my travel buddy hubby and I prepare to head to Chicago in June for our anniversary. A huge baseball fan, a trip to Wrigley Field was definitely on his list of things we had to do.

With great tickets set for the Friday afternoon game, I wanted to share a link for a video I found when doing my transportation research.  It shows just how this neighbourood and the ballpark have thrived as a landmark all of these years.

A truly amazing drone footage x-perience that is worth the watch. I promise you will feel like you're actually there.

Thanks, YouTube. 

ENJOY!

LINK: Wrigley Field Like You've Never Seen It Before

(Drone fly through of the neighbourhood, ballpark, clubhouse, fly behind the iconic scoreboard and much more)

Friday, April 26, 2024

W IS FOR WANDERING

Miya Maria and Katie Lulu
My famous Facebook wanderers.
(Photo copyright Meta via Muskoka Bulletin Board)

Because I am fortunate enough to work from home and run a doggie daycare hand in hand, I will confess that I steer a tight ship and an even tighter daily schedule. 

I know I shouldn’t laugh, but in all fairness, what I am about to share is really quite comical.

I will start by disclosing that we do NOT let our dogs wander willy-nilly. We have a large yard, yet once in a blue moon they make a break for it. Kind of like George Clooney in O Brother, Where Art Thou?

On this particular morn, break arrives and out the door they go. Annie heads into the gully and the other two follow. I call immediately from the back deck and only one of three return. I continued to call but no furbabies appeared. On go the Crocs, and to the top of the hill I go.

I immediately see them at the bottom of the hill and my tone changes; no reaction. They are literally 100 feet away at the bottom of the hill near the railway tracks. 

It wasn’t until I invited Annie to 'go to the Wal-Mart,'  that the wandering duo book it up the hill home. Less than ten minutes from me putting on my Crocs, we are all back in my home office and back on schedule. 

Minutes after we settle, my phone begins to blow up with messages. Goob even calls from work. It appears, in all their enthusiasm, they tracked (no pun intended) something into neighbours yard directly behind us. 

What I didn’t expect was that the post would go viral locally. Over a hundred shares, cross posted to multiple, to get these poor pup’s home. Seems there was a black and yellow missing in town, hence the post.

But, seriously, just look at the expression on Blondie’s face. I burst out laughing when I saw it. Instinctively she knew that she had ventured to the wrong side of the tracks. Those railroad tracks that is.

Hmm.... Perhaps Andy Warhol was right. With the whole '15 minutes of fame' theory. 

#yagottalaughaboutit

Thursday, April 25, 2024

Wednesday, April 24, 2024

U IS FOR UNFORGETABLE

 

My view (flying home) of where we stayed
in South Beach, Miami. Amazing!
TAKEN: APRIL 14th, 2018

In all our unforgettable travel adventures, there are only three destinations that we’ve returned to a second time. South Beach and Miami, the French Quarter of New Orleans, and the Bahamas. 

Our first trip to Miami was a birthday trek, the second was also for that celebration but we only landed in the city to grab a car and drive to Key West. Because we stayed over the day before we flew home, it makes the list.

Our first trip to New Orleans was for French QuarterFest, where 750 thousand people cram in for a long weekend of amazing music and fun. The second occasion was to take our daughter there to celebrate her birthday. (I have personal friends that live there, so I am sure it shall see us again.)

The first time we experienced the Bahamas, it was a killer Black Friday resort deal on Cable Beach that I booked for a little more than eight hundred bucks each. This last trip, renting a house and having the pool and beach to ourselves – hit the wallet considerably harder. 

My husband and I talk often of what it will be like when our age and probably our health restricts us from moving around as freely as we do. It isn’t something we dwell on, but we know that once we officially retire, the disposable income I save on a weekly basis simply won’t be there as readily as it is now.

Anyway, when we arrived back home earlier this month, I logged in my One Drive dedicated to protecting all our photos and videos. As I double clicked into the folder labelled ‘travel spending’, I opened the excel file that logs all our dates and destinations.

Since February of 2012, we have travelled twenty-nine times; Chicago in June will be our thirtieth.

Here’s hoping that there will be at least thirty more!

Tuesday, April 23, 2024

T IS FOR TOMFOOLERY

 

Celebrating Jukebox's birthday
and embracing the local Friday night music scene! 
(l-r: My Rockstar hubby, Goob, and Jukebox the birthday boy.)
TAKEN: FEBRUARY 9th, 2024

I have always made a big deal about celebrating my children's birthdays. I suppose it is because my mother made no matter about mine. The truth is, by the time I was in high school, the annual day came and went without mention. My husband was raised the same.

So, once our family arrived, we embraced all birthday festivities neither my husband nor I got to celebrate when we were growing up.

Jukebox, as our only Aquarian, always gave everyone something to look forward to between New Years and Easter. And, this past year was no exception. 

The boys landed at the house after dinner and we left in search of somewhere to dine. Both he and Goob chose the Mexican restaurant, and it didn't disappoint. 

With both our guys heavily involved in the local music scene, a trip to The Griffin Pub and The Hall made for the perfect places for after dinner apéritifs - as well as excellent entertainment.

Both venue played versions of songs by The Band as requested by our boys for their dad, and at The Hall, Jukebox jumped on stage to play for a packed house.

When I look at the photos I am sharing, they show how genuinely close we are as a family, and truly reflect how we've raised them... To embrace that great fun is NEVER overrated.

The tomfoolery started as soon as they landed at the house.
A great time was had by all!!
TAKEN: FEBRUARY 9th, 2024

The next morning I posted the top photo of to my social media platforms.

It read:

What a night. Everything was perfect. 

I sang with my boys and danced with my man.

Who says living in a small town is boring? 

Never, ever, would any of us utter those words.

Happy belated birthday dinner celebration Jukebox.... Thanks for the memories. 

We love you both very much.

Monday, April 22, 2024

S IS FOR SLEEPY

Law360 reported April 16th, 2024
that on the second day of Donald Trump's
"hush money" criminal trial he fell asleep.

There is so much that I could write here, but because I really try focus on the humorous, I am just going to leave this picture of the orange man that will be running in the next United stated presidential election. 

Late-night TV show host Jimmy Kimmel commented on the remarkable moment, joking: “If Biden is ‘Sleepy Joe’, I guess that makes you ‘Dozo the Clown’.”

Jon Stewart, host of The Daily Show, also made some hilarious comments, saying: “Imagine committing so many crimes, you get bored at your own trial. ‘Move on to the good stuff’.”

My fave has to go to Alex Cole via X: #yagottalaughaboutit




Saturday, April 20, 2024

R IS FOR REMINDERS

Jukebox showing off the very first car he owned!
TAKEN DECEMBER 1994

It seems lately, my husband and I are having more conversations with friends and family about financially helping our grown children in the here and now, rather than them having to wait to inherit the little bit that may be left after we pass.

I have written here before that as a young couple that transitioned into a young family, my father never gave us money. Instead, he would come across the street and say, "I bought six bags of milk today and only need two." Then proceed to put the other four into our fridge. His style of tithing is one we have whole heartedly adopted.

We prepare freezer meals all winter and deliver them to their homes, I buy sundries on sale (TP, paper towel, dryer sheets, laundry soap etc.) and keep them in storage at the house. In turn, I ask about once a month what they are in need of. I know our gestures are truly appreciated, just as my dad's were.

In fact, being long past the need to exchange gifts at Christmas, we spent a thousand dollars in grocery store gift cards for the boys. Because as well all know, right now in Canada, the most expensive vehicle to drive is a grocery cart - and we figured it would help them through the winter.

All of the above are reminders of the need to help at home first.

I wish that wasn't the case but in this post pandemic financial climate - it seems to be the very harsh reality.

Friday, April 19, 2024

Q IS FOR QUALMS

My latest LinkedIn post.
#truestory #wordstoliveby

The key to success is having no qualms about failure!
(Read that again. Let it sink in.)


Thursday, April 18, 2024

P IS FOR PAINFUL

 

In the Yukon, doing what he loved to do most.
I will miss you always xoxo
TAKEN: MAY 2008

It has been a painful week for me, as yesterday was the second anniversary of the unexpected death of my closet friend and confidant; Brian 'Smartie' Smart.

I can't believe it has been two whole years since I have heard his voice. 

I swear he crosses my mind every single Thursday afternoon when my phone doesn't ring. As my eyes fill with tears as I type, I can attest that our friendship was one that neither of us ever took for granted.

Being his friend was always a constant reminder of what unconditional support looked and sounded like. So much so that we never missed an opportunity to say 'I love you', and have the other automatically reciprocate with an genuine, 'I love you too...' 

So much so, that I believe the void of him leaving me will never be filled, as I don't believe I will have another friendship like ours in this lifetime.

I miss you Smartie. No matter the pain, I am grateful every single day we had together. 

The laughs, the love, the razor shape wit, even the fears and tears that were both shared and shed.

Until we meet again.... 

Wednesday, April 17, 2024

O IS FOR OBSERVATION

Goob and his Mama embracing their personalities!!
TAKEN: JANUARY 2007

Have you ever noticed that the people that are dismissive saying "I've never paid much attention to looks" are generally genetic freaks of nature that are extremely good looking? 

What the hell is with that?

I don't care what anyone says. I am of the opinion that beauty may attract the eye but it is their personality that truly captures the heart. An amazing personality is much more unique than the superficial. It breeds character and just how genuine a person really is. 

I have met men that have turned my head at a glance. Two sentences in after opening their mouth, my opinion quickly changed and they were toast. I don't know what it is. I talk to people for a living but there have always been those I talk to, and THOSE I wanted to talk to.

It's that time of year again when the volume of people I deal with quadruples. I'm not complaining, just stating a fact. They guys at work say that the reason so many people want to talk to me is because I give good phone. 

What does that mean? ....That I have a face for radio?!

At best, I think I have a nice smile (good dental hygiene is a definite for me) and I feel I have a good heart. I don't care what anyone says, people can sense that.

Let's face it, when you surround yourself with the right people and you love yourself for who you really are, it creates an unmistakable happiness. 

That may seem simplistic but that has always been my personal observation.

Tuesday, April 16, 2024

N IS FOR NOTABLE

 

A reminder of an important notable...
As my travel buddy hubby takes in
the views from the top of El Faro, Mazatlán
TAKEN: DECEMBER 2nd, 2019

Monday, April 15, 2024

M IS FOR MATES

Just LOOK at these friends of mine...
TAKEN: AUGUST 11th, 2024

Last August, I posted an Instagram/Facebook story that had me sitting in the front seat of our car and my pups in the back. In my one hand was a large McDonald’s french fry container, in my other, my phone set to video. My husband in the drivers seat, rolling his eyes.

When I hit record, I began by talking in a proud and convincing voice, stating: “I’d like to challenge each and everyone of you, that believe I don’t have any friends…. Just look at these friends of myyyne!”

Now, I realize that it's hard to get the gist of a video clip from a still photograph, but check out the focus on the faces of my co-pilots. Not a worry in the world, except the desire for me to share the remaining excess sodium clad yummies in the big red box with the big yellow M.

I will admit that in the last four plus years, the only thing my husband and I drive thru at this establishment for is a cup of their freshly brewed coffee. That said, because fast food is no longer an item we bring into our home, on the odd occasion I may have gone rogue.

As I have shared here many times, I am an emotional eater. The higher my level of stress, the larger my need to self indulge (with not good food choices) gets.  Now a days, the first thing stopping me, is the number on the scale. That, and the astronomical dollar value they want to charge when I get up to the window. 

the combination of both of those major factors is why in the last year, popsicles became my guilty pleasure of choice. I simply buy those suckers on sale, pop them into the freezer, then I'm good to go.

Truth?  For the record, my pups look exactly as they do above, when they hear me opening the wrapper of a grape one coming fresh out of the box.

Like I said.... Just look at these lovely three mates of mine!

Saturday, April 13, 2024

L IS FOR LIMESTONE

Yesterday, we hopped the jitney and headed downtown with the express interest of touring the Queen's Staircase.

These amazing sixty six steps are a major landmark here.  

Historians tell us they were hand-carved by roughly 600 slaves, who used pick axes and hand tools to cut their way through solid limestone. The entire staircase took over 16 years to complete. 

It was only decades later that the impressive staircase was then named in honour of the over 60-year reign of Queen Victoria, “who had signed a declaration to abolish slavery on her ascension to the throne in 1837.” 

We also toured Fort Fincastle, to which the staircase provided the escape route. 

Constructed in 1793 from cut limestone, protected the harbour from pirates. The original cannons (3-30lb and 2-20 lb) though rusted from the salt air, are still onsite. We really enjoyed the heritage and history of our visit. 

From the center of town and back, we feel those more than twelve thousand steps were very well spent.

The magnitude of what took all those years and
600 slaves to carve, is eerily present when you walk around
the bottom of the limestone chasm.
TAKEN: APRIL 12th, 2024

Friday, April 12, 2024

K IS FOR KEEN

No one around. and nothing 
but the sound of the waves
(and each other) to keep us company.
TAKEN: APRIL 11th, 2024


I'm not exactly sure how my travel buddy hubby and I got so obsessed with adventure, but I remember the day when we opened a savings account specifically to fund our travels. It was in the late fall of 2011. 

The first couple of years we travelled in mid winter, then we discovered if we traveled in late November and early April, we could get two passport stamps for the price of one in February. Then, I discovered the holy grail of travel called Black Friday, and our long weekend mid-winter getaway was added to our line up.

Aside from the first couple of trips I booked with an agent, I don't think I have ever paid full price since I took over the task. 

The jaunt we are on now had me book our round trip airfare on December 29th, 2023 for a sneeze over $300 each. The house we are renting had just gone on the market, so I knew we would be one of the first tenants to stay. I don't believe we will be able to travel here for the reduced dollar value I paid, ever again.

Always keen for the deals I find, my husband simply goes with the flow. With my work life as hectic as it is, I knew that this go round was going to be about peace and quiet for me. When you look at the photo I am sharing, you can see I am getting exactly that. Aside from that private island off in the distance, there is no one around but us.

So, to be fair to the quiet my husband has had to endure, today we are going to head to the curb, grab the jitney for a $1.25, and head into town for lunch. That said, it will be interesting where we land for grub. 

I just checked the port schedule and there are a Carnival, MSC and Norwegian cruise ships at the dock. 

Meaning only us, and over 12,000 other peeps looking to get conch fritters.

The one thing I do know?

None of them peeps are coming back to the house for a cold been after lunch!  

Thursday, April 11, 2024

J IS FOR JOY

Well, it’s that time of year again. 

When after months of waiting, I arrive at my destination of choice to celebrate another trip around the sun. 

This year has me nicely perched next to the ocean, in a luxury home we've rented, in the Bahamas.

Once again, I packed a #petrocanada
glass so I could watch the sunset
...and have a drink with my Dad.
TAKEN: APRIL 10th, 2024

Yesterday was an OK travel day. The airports are always hectic but we have learned to navigate them with a ton of off the cuff comedy and a boatload of patience. Afterall, I know where I am going to land, and I realize that in itself is a privilege most never get to experience.

As our taxi zipped along the highway next to the beautiful blue green ocean, I felt myself become overwhelmed with emotion.  I found myself fighting back tears. Tears of joy.

Joy that we can afford to travel as we do, and joy at the best life I have been obviously blessed to be living.

In a nutshell, I will leave you with this. Life is short people. When in doubt, please always refer to Rhondi Rule #779:

Make sure you don't celebrate your 75th birthday.... by living the same year 75 times!

Wednesday, April 10, 2024

I IS FOR ICED

A little something concealed in my Christmas gift.
She got me!
TAKEN: DECEMBER 22nd, 2023

 As I type, I am sitting comfortably in a fourth row window seat on West Jet flight WS 2520. Next stop, a safe touchdown at Lynden Pindling International Airport, The Bahamas.

Yep, it's that time of year again when I hop a place to celebrate my next trip around the sun. Because I am always away this week, I have always tried to pick my flight day word to the daily corresponding letter ahead of time, so that I can write in transit and not worry about getting blocked.

From what I can gather, the internet craze of getting "iced" took hold around 2010. Actually, I remember a coworker that was my age (at my previous play of employ) telling me her kids use to ice her all the time. She'd find those suckers every where - and never didn't she fold and not drop.

For those of you that don't know, getting "iced" is what it's called when you unexpectedly find a bottle of Smirnoff Ice that someone else has left for you.  Once found, the challenge is to immediately take a knee and drink the content of the bottle - STAT. This past Christmas was the first time it had happened to me.

As I have written here before, I am the old gray mare headed to the glue factory in the Google culture workplace that surrounds me. Makes no matter to me, I love the youthful camaraderie that swirls around the office a warp speed.

The one young gal that I work closest with has such amazing stories to tell of how she and her sisters have always taken great pride in successfully concealing the jolt and happily watching the other (or others in one instance) drop, kneel, and drink that I began to realize what a craze it truly is.

All the stories came flooding back as I popped the top and snapped this pic. The one thing I didn't do on that fateful day was take a knee.

Afterall, that last thing this old hack wanted to do was throw out her back a couple of days before Christmas! 

#yagottalaughaboutit

Monday, April 8, 2024

G IS FOR GESTURE

 

Give me a minute....
 I want to tell you how I really feel!
TAKEN: APRIL 8th, 2022
It's hard to believe that the picture I am sharing was taken two years ago today.

Firstly,  I should say that you can tell by the expression on my husband's face that my very specific gesture wasn't directed at him. He knew it was directed at the Rainbow Bend Resort in Marathon (Grassy Key), Florida. 

Now, if you tend to read here about my travel adventures, you'd know that my travel buddy hubby and I love to check out new destinations. So, when the VID ended, we decided to fly to Miami and drive to Key West for a four day long weekend.

Though our round trip Air Canada flights were a steal, the road to Key West proved to be very overpriced and lackluster. I am disappointed to report that we felt it was NOT money very well spent. 

That said, we honestly thought we had a pretty good plan. We flew into Miami, landed before noon, then swiftly grabbed our airport rental car.  We hit Islamorada for that first night (expensive but fun). Downtown Key West for the next (crowded, crazy expensive but fun). Then hit the Rain-Blow RearEnd Resort for a night (insert the sound of a cat puking up a hairball here).

I knew as soon as we arrived in Marathon, the more than $800 Canadian I had spent to be on the ocean was a terrible mistake.

We checked, in then when we were unloading our things, we immediately noticed a lingering odor in the air. 

Next to our 2nd floor room, was a large bay of shallow water, filled with garbage and smelly seaweed, and the odor was almost stomach turning. As a result, we stayed in our room and watch the Masters golf tourney and ate an early dinner we had bought at the local grocery store. 

Not to throw baby out with the bath water, after dinner we decided to check out the pool. It was full of algae with visible garbage floating in it. Back to the room for more TV time we went. 

The next morning we walked out of the restaurant (where our  breakfast was to be free) because it was so dirty we didn't want to trust the food would be safely prepared.

There is more... 

As I checked the drawers in the morning to make sure I husband didn't leave anything behind, I was startled as a bunch of cockroaches scurried to quickly to get out of sight. I physically felt sick knowing they'd comfortably shared our very expensive accommodation; to which we were officially out of pocket for.

I did write about it two years ago. The photo I attached and description said it all; and how I left it until now.

On a final note, I wanted my A word this challenge to be for appendage, but I didn't want to start off with a rant. 

So, after careful consideration, and my strong desire to share this specific experience, my thesaurus had me arrive at the word gesture for my letter G.

#yagottalaughaboutit

Saturday, April 6, 2024

F IS FOR FORTUNATE

Just a couple of life long friends catching up while unconditionally supporting each other. 
TAKEN: AUGUST 11th, 2016

I have been fortunate to be surrounded by amazing friendships my entire life. 

The truth is, I can count the number of those wonderful peeps on two hands (with the help of a few of my toes). I suppose I relate to each and every one of those people by referencing the simple saying that, 'good friends are hard to find... and impossible to forget.'

The friendship I am sharing today started in the early throws of high school. I was a year older, and he was one of the most genuine and comedic people I had ever met. From that initial introduction, I simply wanted to get to know him better and spend more time with him. Just like yours truly, my parents loved absolutely everything about him.

He left our small town for university and never came back. I stayed, and I am still here. Yet, thanks to the evolution of the internet, I see him and hear his voice almost every single day.

The photo I am sharing was him stopping into my place of work to bring me lunch and catch up. He was on a solo cross Canada/US motorcycle tour that spanned more than fifteen thousand kilometers. It was the last time we've seen each other face to face outside of social media.

He was back to see his parents this past Christmas, and though my path of reconnection was paved with good intentions, I sat at my desk and worked on an eight million dollar construction estimate. Before I knew it, he was back on a jet plane and home again.

I expressed to my husband how disappointed I was that our window of time to visit had closed and he'd already left. My husband had a great suggestion. 

He thinks we should simply hop a plane and show up unannounced at his post retirement storefront on Vancouver Island. Lord knows we'd know when he'd be there. 

....Fortunately, we have his regular Facebook posts to thank for that!

Friday, April 5, 2024

E IS FOR EPIPHANY

Me, dealing with a terrible situation
after my hairdresser unexpectedly
turned me into a blonde!
(I just keep on keepin' on!.)
TAKEN: MAY 25th, 2023

Don't get angry, enraged or insulted.

Rise above the bullshit.

Flick your light back on.

Shine it brighter than ever. 

Fall so deeply in love with your own life

that anyone who tried to wrong you

becomes a laughable, 

ridiculous, distant, memory. 

~ Unknown

My epiphany last spring was to finally stop giving others more latitude than they could ever be granted by others on a good day. 

Instead of focusing on the colour I was dealt, I fired my hairdresser. 

...And it felt really good!

Thursday, April 4, 2024

D IS FOR DISCOMBOBULATED

Well, it is day four of the challenge and I am already behind the eight ball. A tad discombobulated if you catch my drift. It’s not that I have writers block, as that usually happens around the letter O.  

With this being my eleventh attempt at this marathon, the same thing happens every year. I think I am far more organized than I really am, then in preparation to jump on a jet plane for my birthday trip, work trumps A-Z every time.

That said, what a difference a year makes. Aside from sucking the hind tit on the challenge, my work life balance is amazing. I love my job and am looking forward to the adventures I have planned for 2024.

The honest truth is that some days I just have more drive than others. There have been several times in the last decade where I have been a tad overwhelmed and wondered if this was the end of the challenging writing road for me. 

If you’re stopping by for the first time, I am pleased to report that today isn’t that day!

As far as the word I selected for the letter D. Due to what I have on my plate, I may be emotionally confused or uncertain that I will stay on track for the challenge....

But say my word of the day three times fast. How fun was that ???



Wednesday, April 3, 2024

C IS FOR COMPANIONS

Top Left - The Kids and Toby
TAKEN: JUNE 2008
Top Right - Hubby, Daisy and Dottie
TAKEN: MARCH 2012
Bottom Right - Puddin' rocking the dock!
TAKEN: SUMMER 2017
Bottom Right -  Miya & Annie soaking up the ocean breeze in Outer Banks
TAKEN: OCTOBER 2022

Growing up, my mother was a cat person. The idea of letting a dog in the house was simply a hard NO.

Then, once my husband and I married he explained how he'd always had a dog. To his credit, he did entertain a cat or two until he refused to getting a third. Instead, when I was getting ready to go off on maternity leave with Jukebox, we decided to get out first dog. 

The methodology behind the decision was that I would be off work for sixteen weeks and I could house train a dog and change diapers as part of my daily routine. Well, my son slept through the night after three weeks, and I got up with the dog to take a leak in the night for almost six months!

Giggles aside, in all our decades together, the overall canine tally is nine. Three of those are still alive and living their best lives with us. It is in my will that the ashes we have accumulated be buried with my remains, and I don't think I will ever not have a dog in my life.

Because the truth of the matter is, a bond between and person and their pups is like no other. Not only are they our life long companions, they are always along for the ride no matter what ups and downs life brings

They personify unconditional love and I swear if you treat them right, they will love you more than they love themselves.

Tuesday, April 2, 2024

B IS FOR BANANA

An interesting vantage point of the inseparable Oreo Gang!
Maya and Katie on the left and Annie riding solo on the right.
TAKEN (left) March 2024 and (right) June 2020

Like a lot of people my age, from Monday to Friday I eat a banana in the morning. 

Because I work from my home office everyday except Monday, as you can see in the photo on the left, the other four days I am expected to share my excellent source of potassium with my pups.

As any Labrador Retriever owner will attest, the breed pretty much eat anything and everything. Yet, for some reason my Annie (seen riding shotgun on the right) turns her nose up every morn at my standard offering. Blueberries, yet. Banana, not a stinking chance.

Now I'm no rocket scientist, but part of me wonders if it is her instincts kicking in as to why she turns up her nose. You see, as a small pup, she garnered the nicknames "Annie Bannanie and Nana Banana." 

Could it be that she just doesn't want to buy into others considering her a cannibal? You know, an animal that eats her own kind?

After all,  Edwardo Savarin was hilariously accused animal cruelty and chicken cannibalism in an article in the Harvard Crimson (as portrayed) in movie The Social Network.  If you'll, recall he fed chicken to a chicken while taking care of the animal for his initiation into the Phoenix Club.

Every time my girl turns up her nose, that exact tidbit scoots through my head. Then again, the other side of that proverbial coin could be that she simply doesn't like the texture.

Either way, I an 100% confident that one of my scenarios is the one that is actually correct!

#yagottalaughaboutit

Monday, April 1, 2024

A IS FOR ADVENTURE

Today marks the start of my eleventh April A-Z Challenge. 

Whether you're a regular reader or not, I can assure you that this month in particular always turns into a bit of a roller coaster ride for me. You know, a real writing adventure per se!

My buddy Dusty and I having a sunny winter snowbank adventure of our own.
TAKEN: EARLY 1980's (photo credit to my late mom)

From a very young age, I have always embraced writing. As I look back, I believe that part of me feels it was understanding the stages of the creative process itself that had me smitten from the start. 

The thought preparation, development, cultivation, the editing, and finally the implementation. With my implementation now being when I hit my website publish button - not flipping the page of my lined scratch pad.

That said, as a mature twenty nine year old, the public school systems back in my day differ from how they function today. Like cursive writing, creative writing was something that was both taught and encouraged. As a matter of fact, the best submitted efforts appeared regularly in our small town weekly newspaper.

For the record, I was first 'published' in said paper grade four. It was a poem, and I still that clipping my scrapbook that mother saved from our community rag. Public school poems evolved into the effort to write songs in high school. Once I left for post secondary school, the only writing I needed to have a stamp attached and the envelope get dropped off at the post office.

Then, when my kids left the nest, on that fateful night in October 2011, I registered for Blogger and the rest is history.

Writing for me is like the game of golf. Just because I like doing it, doesn't mean I am any good at it.

I read somewhere that adventure starts by standing still. In my case, for the last ten Aprils, adventure has always started with a blank page and the letter A.

Wish me luck - I am going to need it!!

Saturday, March 23, 2024

SQUIRRELING MY NUTS

It's that time of year again, where I look to the jar of nuts I have squirreled away all winter and decide how many of those precious gems I am going to spend on each venue, creating a great 2024 concert season. 

Since starting my newest position two and half years ago, I have gotten into the habit of transferring the monies I am paid to do site visits and inspections into a savings account. Knowing full well, that those dollars/nuts will be earmarked for more bucket list tickets.

Because he is in such demand, and focuses primarily on playing football stadiums, my No Shoes Nation buddy won't be headed north of the boarder anytime soon. So, I knew eventually hopping a plane to see him perform was going to be a must. 

Then, shortly after Jimmy Buffet passed, and he and fellow parrot head Zac Brown decided to join forces for their Sun Goes Down Tour. I immediately began making plans to head to into downtown Chicago for our wedding anniversary in June.

Though not a concert, the next tickets to be added here will be for my hubby.
A 1pm start on June 14th at Wrigley Field (Cubs vs Braves)
TAKEN: MARCH 21st, 2024
Though the concert is one of the reasons for heading to Chicago, there are a lot of other items that are a must see. 

An afternoon baseball game at Wrigley Field, a trip to legend Buddy Guys bar in hopes he shows up, an architecture river cruise, and definitely lunch at Lou Malnati's for their famous deep dish pizza. Oh, and let's not forget the fireworks at Navy Pier and a selfie at The Bean!

With our Soldier Field, second tier fourth row adjacent to the stage tickets secured, I am now on the Ticketmaster hunt for Wrigley Field resale tickets.  Which, where my husband wants to sit, are currently running at about the cost of a heart transplant at a private hospital outside Canada. Therefore, I am still squirreling away my nuts to purchase.

I suspect those will be purchased after my annual birthday trip in April. This year we are headed to a luxury oceanfront home we've rented with a pool in the Bahamas. We both love snorkeling, which will be steps through our private gate, so it was a no brainer when West Jet packaged our round trip flights for just over $300 clams each.

Yep, Bahamas is where I spend the clams I have shucked, Ticketmaster is all about my squirreled nuts. Which should not be confused with my 'being nuts'. 

...For obsessively chasing really great concert experiences!

Just sayin'.

Saturday, February 17, 2024

TAMING MY TRESSES

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Three little words. 

Middle age sucks. That is all!

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

Sunday, January 7, 2024

MY EMPTY CHAIR

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

...Acceptance.