Friday, December 28, 2012

Is Online Renting Like Online Dating?

Let me start by saying that I hope everyone reading today had a great Christmas. I know I did, but not for the conventional reasons you're probably thinking. I had a great Christmas because it was relaxing and I didn't have to fret about what to buy people. In turn, I was elated that I didn't have to force my excitement opening a reciprocal gift bought out of sheer obligation. Did manage to surprised with twins with a couple of nice things but I did it for exactly that... the surprise. 

Taking in the sites with the Pups!
Taken: December 27th, 2012
I'm not going to lie. I was worried about taking this amazing trip that I am absolutely enjoying. Probably because I knew I was burnt out and had been for quite sometime.

Upfront, I knew that bringing the dogs would present challenges and it has; also knew it was nothing we couldn't handle, which we have.

What I didn't expect, is that the pets would travel better than the twins, which they did!

From the time the trip was put on the table the dogs were in the mix. Hell, I decided to take the pups before I ever mentioned the travel option to the twins. I had hoped they'd want to come with but boarding the dogs was never an options. After all, they are a very big part of our family.

So many things run through your mind when planning a vacation and a pet-friendly vaycay is even more complicated. I never took into account what was needed for them to cross the border, nor the stress involved with renting a place sight unseen online. Suffice is to say when renting, you are forced to take a leap of faith, before you ever leave home. Then, with great angst, you hang all of your hopes on a couple of low resolution photos. Seriously, after scanning websites for hours at a time (for the perfect place to land), I can totally appreciate online dating and the faith it must involve.

Just for fun, on Boxing Day we ventured to the condo that I had cancelled. I was apprehensive in cancelling because I was very familiar with where it was located. We'd stayed in the area previously (a decade ago) and the photos looked amazing. As we turned off Ocean Blvd I could see the buildings. My heart sank until we pulled to the front of the property and there was a very crowded trailer park between the balconies and the beach. All I could do was sigh with relief.

Our Perfect Christmas Eve Sunset
Taken: December 24th, 2012
Searching for a house online is like agreeing to go on a blind date. I've only gone on one blind date, I was 20, and his name was Jeff. I remember Lori telling me that when he asked her boyfriend about me he offered three units of measure...

"Is she HOT?  Is she cute...? Or does she love her parents?!"

Our Beach House is Africa HOT. The cancelled condo? She definitely loves her parents. Matter a fact, she's is sooo butt ugly that she's still living at home and most certainly will never EVER get laid!!!

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Canada's Waiting 4U Darin... Seriously!

Darin Pierce Designs - Muskoka Divison
2013 Summer Staff Meeting

So tomorrow is the last workday before we break for Christmas. I've never been much of a Christmas elf but when it comes to my workplace team, there's always been a festive camaraderie. We have a dancing 5 foot snowman at the door, the office is nicely decorated, and though we never have a gift exchange, we always have an Open House to wish each other a Merry Christmas. It's great fun but this year, due to logistics, Darin can't make it.

Darin is an Architect. The firm he works for (in New Orleans Louisiana) was hired to do some design work for a build and a renovation happening on Lake Muskoka. Just like my boss, his boss delegates things; as a result, Darin and I got delegated to work together.

As fate would have it, within the last six or seven months, we've chatted almost daily and become acquainted (over a boat load of laughter and and a sprinkle of frustration). Due to some extenuating circumstances, the design process was arduous. So much so that one day he mentioned "after all this work I am never going to get to see this boathouse!" Instantly, I responded, "yes you are, because I am going to bring you to Muskoka, to see it for yourself, when it's complete!!" What he doesn't know is that I was dead serious.

He and his significant other will be our welcome guests. We'll share Orillia Lake with them, then take them to my friend David's place on Millionaire's Row in Beaumaris (so they can experience what a true Muskoka summer home is all about). Just for fun? We'll hop in a boat and cruise by the projects we've worked on so he can finally see them for himself. 

I would be remiss if I didn't touch on the picture of us that is attached. When it comes to a gift, the old saying has always been "it's the thought that counts." I racked my brain on what to do. I wanted to do something special for Darin; so as a result, I commissioned this illustration of us sitting on our dock, and I did it for a couple of reasons.

The first being that I wanted to wish him a very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year. Secondly, I really wanted to formally extend our 2013 Canadian invitation.... and lastly, I felt the need to send him a very special three word sentence.

Thank You Darin!

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Remember This...

I am the first to admit that I have put some really big shoes on my children's feet and expected them to dance. They were never the coolest footwear on the market, nor were they designed with the intent they be the easiest to manage. (I can also assure, that my three were forced to endure said shoe ugliness, with zero bargaining power.)

Admissions aside, the hideous shoes they were expected to wear were always woven from love. A pure and honest love with the intent that they'd help protect them through their upcoming journeys in life.

Never lose sight of this..... No matter what.
About seven years ago I bought a small piece of canvas art that read, "Remember this, that very little is needed to make a happy life".

I recall my son asking me "why I would hang such a thing in the dining room" and my reply was very simple.

Point blank, "you're leaving and you're not taking my credit cards." 

I feel I should share that when my husband and I started to build our life; he had a bed and a stereo, and I had a couch and a television, nothing more nothing less. Neither of us came from independently wealthy backgrounds but it made no matter. With our mutual focus, we managed to work hard enough, to scratch our way to the middle.

A tremendous amount of hard work had us fortunate enough to pay down our home and purchase a cottage in 1999. It instantly became a haven where we could shield our children from certain outside influences. A place where we could let them take off those big shoes I had so firmly glued to their feet.

They may have run barefoot at our new cottage... but that very first summer I purchased five fridge magnets. My intent was they be a constant reminder about life in general. All these years later, the cheesy 2 by 3 inch dollar store magnets remain. They read as follows:

a) "The only place where success comes before work is in the dictionary."
b) "When arguing with a stupid person make sure they aren't doing the same thing."
c) "Always tell the truth it will give you far less to remember."
d) "Treat people the way you want to be treated" and
e) "Smile... it improves your face value"

As their teen years came to fruition (and shit happened) a sixth was added which read "Cleverly disguised as a normal family"

No matter how I word it, nothing prepares one for being a young adult. Hell, I can speak first hand when I say, nothing prepares one for being a parent! All I can say is that no matter who you are, the time will come when you become responsible for whatever shoes you choose to wear.

On that note; it's been my experience  (in the shoe department) life offers us a couple of choices. You can buy yourself a pair of shoes because they look great on someone else, or head to the cobbler downtown and design your very own pair. I can promise that when complete, the designer pair will feel totally amazing to wear and you will always be able to call those shoes your own!

Life lesson #101. Big choices are never easy but at the end of the day they are exactly that.... choices.

Sunday, December 16, 2012

Keep Calm and Carry On!

After an unexpected turn of events last evening; I ended up in my home office, with my Sirus radio cranked to the 70’s on 7. I don’t know about you, but no matter how freaking shitty I feel, music never seems to fail me.

Exhausted and asleep by nine thirty, I was wide awake from two until four this morning watching Love Actually. After falling back to sleep, I woke bright and early to discover one hot mess. The freezing rain outside was brutal and very dangerous; so text messaging over coffee, I decided my day off would be a bit of a chick flick/closet cleaning/get rid of a bunch of bullshit marathon.

Overall it's been a very quiet day. Every once in a while my eyes would get damp; but the blowing of my nose came primarily from the dust bunnies that I captured in whatever closet I was cleaning. Jumping into something big like rearranging furniture or reorganizing every single closet in the house is cathartic for me. It brings me a sense of balance as well as feeling of accomplishment. It's something I usually push myself to do especially if there happens to be a dark cloud hanging over my head.

As you can guess, yesterday was a productive day that very unexpectedly turned downright crappy. That said, I am proud of how I handled my latest challenge just the same. The glass half full part of me is impressed that it produced a bit of ah ah-ha moment. Which is something positive right?

Who knew after all these years, when I would raised my voice (with a compliment of tears) the people closest to me automatically presumed that "she's mad"? When that very statement was verbalized last night, for the very first time in my life, I confidently admitted what I thought was obvious; “I’m not mad… I'm hurt!

I found this sign at a Vintage Store this summer.
Taken: August 2012
I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again. I really don’t like being a bitch. In my mind, I have already approached something from a hundred different angles before I get dark (with a standard house volume that is far too loud). As you can expect, with my excess volume comes a painful razor sharpness to my words.

Almost 24 hours later all I can offer is an apology. I’m sorry if you missed my stellar performance last night. It wasn't my best and at the same token it wasn't my worst.

All I can say to those in attendance (for my one night limited engagement) ... REMEMBER IT.

Why? Because this theater is officially closed!

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Pass Me My Shades & My Walking Shoes

YES this was rented for Dottie & Puddin'...
& YES they will have their own bedroom!
Destination: Myrtle Beach, South Carolina
So after seeing Dave last Sunday, our Christmas plans changed yet again. 

For instance; in the eleventh hour we've gone from a two bedroom condo (on the third floor with a balcony), to a four bedroom home located directly on the beach. 

The guys at work were all like "WOW" but it’s the off season. Why travel that far and not truly enjoy the surroundings? Everyone making the trek should be happy right? Then we agree, both the two legged and the four legged travellers deserve to enjoy!

Though I'm not looking forward to the drive with the dogs; I'm ecstatic that I will get to eat my lunch outside, on the deck, with my sunglasses on in December. I'm bummed that my hamstring is still bugging me, so I don’t suspect I’ll run. What I do know is that I will walk for miles and miles. I’ll walk with the dogs and I'll sing. I will sing every single showtune I know, as well as the 400+ song I have downloaded. I'll decompress, and I know I will relax.

Not going to lie, I am seriously vibrating at the thought of my increasing my natural light intake. Until the Muskoka days start getting longer, I generally feel lethargic and at a little bit lost. As a result, I am constantly ambulatory at work. I wander from window to window, like a drug addict looking for a hit (or in my case a glimpse of natural sunlight). It's so bad for me this time of year, that when I wake in the morning, the first thing I do is turn all the lights in the house on. 

Not sure if I'm alone when I admit that I need/crave the natural light. I suffer so badly that if it's a bright day, I walk at high noon in hopes of helping my disposition. I walk to work in the dark and I arrive home in the dark. I find the days really long and my patience really short. I willingly admit it’s time, and that I really need a fix. 

As bitchy as ever, I guess the bad news is that I’ve just about had it. The good news is I said just about. The great news is I’m gonna make it. By the time I return in January, the slopes will be open, and the white snow will be brighter than the beach sand I left behind. 

Makes me smile and say "take that long Muskoka December days"... TAKE THAT!

Sunday, December 9, 2012

What A Difference A Year Makes

It started with my daughter calling me at the office. When I was buzzed and told "...that’s your daughter on the phone" I instantly knew something was up. Sure enough, she was worried about her twin brother. It’s hard to explain the connection they have. They are very different people but share this really cosmic bond.

Doing what was requested, I instantly called David. When I asked “are you okay” I knew by his voice he was not. I automatically worried he needed money. I've offered a number of times to help but he's always turned me down. He can be overly proud that way, so I try to respect the whole “I’m gonna make it on my own” attitude. He's become very independent and has always been some what stubborn

2011 PRINCE Concert Weekend
Taken: November 26th, 2011
What a difference a year makes;  not to minimize that he wasn't proud a year ago, but I sense he feels that he is expected to handle this particular challenge alone. 

To prove my point, I posted this amazing photo. 

My hope is that it reminds him what a significant weekend this was for me personally, and just how lost I really was. 

I want him to remember how easily he carried me and that I am forever grateful.

Like most things in life, there is always calm before a storm. 

This time last year, David was my chosen lighthouse keeper. He was my beacon, my sounding board and my well respected friend. 

Has the last year offered highs and lows for both of us? Absolutely! Did we make it through? We did, because we love and support each other. Truth of the matter is this week proves we  ALL unconditionally support, respect, and love one and other.

I hope my post makes him feel all warm and fuzzy inside. I hope that when he hugged each and everyone of us this morning he felt our love and energy. I hope in the next two weeks he gets plenty of rest in preparation for our trip. 

Why? Because I am going to kick his ass on the golf course and seriously brag about it! What? You think he doesn't feel the same way? He most certainly does. Hardest part for me to admit is that I know my buttocks is going to get served to me on a platter! 

Bring it GOOB! Just bring it my friend !! 

Thursday, December 6, 2012

A Beautiful Three Part Harmony

For a number of reasons, today was one of those reflective days when I asked myself where has the time gone? I gave birth to Anthony James in 1990; Staci Elizabeth and David Earl arrived two minutes apart, two years later. Thank goodness I am one of the fortunate few that has an amazing life partner, and we've happily raised our children together.

Saying 'arriving at today was a lot of hard work' would be an understatement. Their Poppa lived three doors down and was a saving grace. The added bonus was my best friend (their Auntie Andrea) lived next door, and treated them as if they were her own. They say "it takes a village to raise a child" and with the help of our village (two decades later) our children have harmoniously grown into something more than siblings. They have become life long friends.

Staccs,  Goob & Jukebox (aka: JdotP)
Waiting in the rain at the Canada's Wonderland Gate
Taken: July 2009
Their relationship wasn't always a perfect Broadway musical. Like any siblings, they had their own set of challenges.

Growing up, Staci always seemed cast as the icky squeaky wheel. First and foremost it was because David idolized his older brother Jamie.

I remember the three of them sitting at their plastic picnic table (ages 6 & 4) and halfway through lunch, David felt the need to share. “I love you Jamie” he said... “I love you too” was Jamie’s immediate response. Without a flinch of hesitation, Staci grabbed both their plates and threw their sandwiches onto the lawn to the dog.  Like any human dynamic, when it came to this trio, three was more often than not a crowd.

As they grew older, their interests changed. They began to favour a two on one offense. (At times, a two on two,because if her brothers made her cry; Staci always had the luxury of her father stepping in to help.) Through all those years, no matter how bad the fighting got, a truce was always called as we enjoyed the ritual of our "Sunday Supper".

As part time jobs were introduced, all three were expected to be home no later than 4pm every Sunday. From at least 2002, Sunday evenings were OUR time. We would laugh and vent, as well as talked openly about pressures and drama we had going on. To this day, I still miss setting the table and having the dining room occupied every Sunday night.

With Sunday dinners a thing of the past, it amazes me how they've learned to appreciate and love one and other for who they are individually. They have become so closely woven that they have found their own balance. It warms my heart to know they unconditionally compliment and effortlessly support each other no matter what...

In my opinion, they have become, the perfect three part harmony. 

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

I’ll Never Give Up!

Strategy or stupidity? Talk amongst yourselves...
When I woke this morning I cranked the tunes, jumped in the shower, and knew I was going to have a really great day.

Seriously... I felt so gosh darn good that I decided no matter how many lemons were thrown firmly at my head, I was going to make lemonade.

As a direct result? I arrived early for work, I ran a series of solid morning meetings, and I sat perched at my desk wearing a great big smile and uber-positive outlook the entire day. Also pleased to report that I made a couple of large pitchers of PINK lemonade (just to prove that I could take my self imposed challenge to the next level)!

OK. For those of you not in the loop, I am an extremely driven, not to mention goal oriented person. On any given day, my feet work as hard as my mind, and twice as fast. I really do love a challenge. Lord knows I've had my fair share (of every single type imaginable) in the last eighteen months.

For most of those challenges, I was smart enough to put on a helmet. For others, my helmet surfaced about half way through the situation at hand. Regretfully, a couple went all "MMA at the ACC" and for those memorable few, we are all left with some broken bones. My glass half full is pleased to report that after all this time some of those injuries only ache when it rains (others may always offer a twang of pain but only time will tell).

With a great day under my belt, I am living proof that life will always offer constant challenges. All I can say is thank goodness I can totally rock a red helmet; but for my own protection, I am thinking I should just start wearing that puppy 24-7!

Sunday, December 2, 2012

Let The Festive Party Season Begin

20' Christmas Tree at Red Leaves
(The white decorations are full poinsettias
plants set directly in this amazing tree)
When I fell asleep Friday night my eyes were heavy and my feet were sore. When I woke in the morning, I was amazed by a couple of different revelations.

Firstly, I was shocked that I was actually able to stay up past midnight dancing. Secondly, I was impressed that I could physically start my day without the aid of a walker and/or wheelchair. Using personal history as a benchmark, I know for certain that I had a really great time.

This weekend was the annual MBA Christmas Gala at Red Leaves. Every year it's the very event that officially starts my festive party season. From the time my purple lace dress landed downstairs, it was perfect. Lisa and Jennifer definitely know how to throw an amazing event!

I can 't help but brag about how great an organization this is. I have an innate respect for the tightly woven group we are, not to mention the good we do within the industry. This year, I was grateful to meet those attending for the very first time, but sad to report that some of my favorite MBA members had conflicting engagements. They were missed. 

As I sit here and type, I have to ask. Am I the only one that I can't believe that yesterday was December 1st? Today was our annual Santa Claus Parade and it poured rain outside! No matter what type of precipitation Muskoka's experiencing, my life is crazy busy right now, and I'll have something going on until the Christmas break. 

I am away next weekend on "festive business" but my next dance-a-thon is set to take place Saturday the 15th. I'll give you a heads up; after I attend that Xmas event, I won't have the ability to blog for a couple of days. Oh, and zero photos will EVER surface, you can take that bet to the bank. What can I say? I love FUN. It's how I roll!

Happy Holidays Peeps...

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Friendship License Expired!

I hate to toot my own horn but I consider myself to be an exceptional friend. When it comes to the friendship I am going to openly discuss I can't hold back. TOOT TOOT goes Rhondi's horn! 

As your friend, I can be heard saying “I’ll give you the shirt off my back, cross me and I’ll kill ya!” It’s all in good fun but in this particular instance death would expel more energy than I have readily available for such a "friend".  With no energy left, I’ll just go on the record saying that I’ll never feed that expired parking meter again! In fact, our friendship license has permanently expired!!!

It's nothing done in haste, my very good friend and colleague Brad Jones warned me over and over about this person. In fact, Brad helped me see the light last March. Unexpectedly, this person resurfaced in my life the long weekend in July. Knowing it wasn’t a healthy situation, (and my BFF Colleen was furious with me because I had opened up dialogue again) I cut our dysfunctional cord a second time the middle of August.

All of that on record, checking email for the “daily thought” my friend Richard sends through, I was shocked to find an email titled “YIKES”. 

I am in a really great place. I have my life exactly where I want it to be. The last thing I need is someone chirping in my ear telling me how they are superior to me athletically, intellectually, and just all around better looking. "See You Next Tuesday?" Yes you are. Being a part of my life? Not even remotely an option!

There you have it. I have officially sent my first specific blog message to a very specific person. Dude, without further adieus, this post is for you. GET LOST! 

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Puddin’ Up The Christmas Tree

OK Dottie here's the deal...
Stairs to sofa, sofa to stereo, then we hit the mother load.
This tree's goin' DOWN!!!

Hath hell frozen over?

I decided the first week of January this year that I'd never put up another Christmas tree EVER. Let's just run with the fact that if I had to start calling my favorite festive decoration a “Holiday Tree" I was finished. I refused to give into the darn politics of it all! 

As silly as that just sounded, I will recant and admit that I've officially folded like a lawn chair in the festive tree department. Last night, I drug a small 48” fibre optic artificial tree out of storage. I set it up downstairs on the wooden stereo that plays my 78 RPM records. My wee tree is nothing special but it does looks great lit. I haven’t decorated it yet because I knew I would have some "on the fly scenario specific testing" to complete prior (aka Project Christmas Puddin'). 

Puddin' is a great dog she really is, but as a puppy she gets bored easily. As an example in one week alone; she chewed a brand new pair of never worn (to die for) Liz Claiborne shoes, a pair of never worn (comfy) shoes for work, as well as the second pair I bought to replace the first pair consumed.

She gobbled the cords on my straightening iron, my hair diffuser, my laptop, as well as 90% of the items in my makeup bag. Guess I am embarrassed to report that I didn't assess that she was tall enough to cherry pick things off my dresser and the dining room table...but I ultimately fooled a fool. I've installed very tall shelving and began closing my bedroom door every single morning!

Puppy or not I'm glad I decided to put up a tree. I am pleased to report I just moved the project tree in question to nice wooden desk by the laundry room door. Scenario testing complete. Let the decorating begin!

Sunday, November 25, 2012

Note To Self: Bring Sunglasses Baby!

I worked yesterday morning. When I finished, I headed into town. There were people everywhere. I could tell by the chatter of dialogue around me that most were focused on their holiday shopping. Truth? I am completely over the moon ecstatic that I don’t have to do any Christmas shopping this year. Well, that’s not entirely true; there are two very special young ones I'll shop for but that’s about it.

I guess I should start by saying that when I was first married I tried to be the consummate holiday hostess. I’ll be honest, I quickly tired being the one doing all the work, not the mention the one that incurred the boatload of expense. By the time the kids started school, I began dreading the planning involved in trying to get everyone together. Wanting to break the cycle, I came up with an idea, and discussed it with my husband. 

We had been travelling to South Carolina as a family from the time the twins were ten months old. I figured with all the money we spent "entertaining and gifting" if I budgeted properly, Christmas would be a wash and we'd get a great family vacation out of the deal. On a lark (over wine one Saturday night mid September); we asked Nana Ann, Poppa Peter and Auntie Andrea Glazier if they would entertain going south for the holidays. They said yes and the rest was history.

I could have gotten 5K for his Tickle Me Elmo that Christmas...
GOOB's face the moment he saw it? PRICELESS !!!
Taken December 25th, 1997 
Because of the kids age, we'd stay overnight just above Washington DC.

Once we arrived, I put up a small tree on the TV, then hung Christmas lights out on the balcony. Best part was how bright the sun was on Xmas morn. We all wore our sunglasses to watch the kids open their gifts.

From the very beginning we made a personal choice as parents to instill in our children that Christmas was never about the "stuff". Instead we taught them that the holiday season was about our being together. That said, we won't all be together for the very first time this Christmas.

I am glad the twins have decided to make the road trip just the same. With Dave on the Nintendo DS, I know we'll have a blast playing Family Feud. Not to mention singing aloud to Bob and Doug's rendition of the 12 Days of Christmas. I know we will have a fantastic time because at least we'll be together.

What's going to be the real fun? Trekking 1600 kilometres with young Puddin' and the Dot along for the pet friendly ride. Lord help us! Oh, and pass the cranberries.

Thursday, November 22, 2012


“... frustration is a common emotional response to opposition” 


Though I started today in an excellent frame of mind, it turned into something unexpected (leaning toward downright confrontational) by lunch. 

When placed in a situation like today I try not to frustrate. I am sure it’s because I consider myself to be an above average communicator. (That, and the fact that I force myself to be extremely diplomatic.)

My verbal communication skills are key to me. They give me the ability to break something into its simplest form and easily articulate all the required detail. That skill is expected when giving solid direction. It's been my personal experience that people gravitate toward that style of leadership and appreciate it.

Let me back up. It's bigger than communication. It's about reading people. I know for a FACT that I can read people incredibly well. The tone of someone’s voice and how they interact with me gives me a pretty good read on whether or not what I am saying is resonating. 

Now to my point. For the last couple of days I have been trying to mentor someone that refused to concede that I may know more about a specific scenerio. I’ve taken it slow, I've gotten louder, and I've gone on the record with “you’re not hearing me.” At the end of the day, I can tell you right now they won’t be successful because they've made it about Rhondi and not the task at hand. Truthfully? Should have played the well known preschool teaching principle of “close your mouth and open your ears” 

I get the whole Mars/Venus thing I really do. But like anything in everyday life when something is broken you try to fix it. In this case it appears you can’t fix stupid… I mean stubborn! 

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Happy FIRST Anniversary To US!

Today is the first anniversary of Ya Gotta Laugh About It; not only is it the first anniversary, today represents my 100th post. When I look back at my stats, my very first offering received a whopping 58 hits, my how times have changed. They’ve changed thanks to all of you!

In preparing for today I took a peek at the past. When I look at the previous 99 posts they all have a unique and neatly woven slant. As silly as it sounds they all represent something really close to me at a point in time when I needed share. Some tell a story that only I know, some were so painful to write they still bother me to read, and some were just me being lighthearted and fun.

I’m not proud to admit that this time last year I was lost and extremely lonely. I started this thingamajig as an outlet; a way to personally cope and not focus on the boatload of negative energy in my life, hence the title. Irrespective how the name came to be, one year later I am pleased to report it’s been a very interesting journey.  It really does feel great to know I have come out the other side relatively unscathed.

Are there scars? Absolutely! Can I look at every single one of them with understanding and love? Like everything in life, some things are harder to reconcile than others. Some wounds have only recently scabbed over but in time I am confident they too will fully heal. They always do.

Thank you my friend. This says it all.

I am grateful for each and every one of you that have inboxed me with your comments and concern, as well as your unconditional support and feedback. I am humbled by all that made an effort to stop me in the grocery store, yell to me in any given parking lot, or start a  phone conversation or text with …“Hey Rhondi did you post? I love your blog!”

A year later, I'm quite proud of this funky little make work project. It  has brought my sister and I closer together, helped me grieve the loss of loved ones, not to mention was the conversation starter that blossomed a life changing friendship.

It's been a blast! Be it my love of chicken or a memorable three word sentence; my HENS, my dogs, my Chiroprator or something as simple as a surprise... it's all been extremely cathartic to share.

On that note, I'd like to show my appreciation to each and every one of you for reading. Your support has in turn helped me understand first hand that "life is too short to let the glass half empty crap win".. So HEY each and every one of you folks.. THANKS!

Sunday, November 18, 2012

See Ya Next Summer Smartie!

Let me start by saying Whitehorse, YT is 5,675 kilometers away from me, proving what I know to be true,  distance is not for the fearful. Let's face it; distance means so little when a person means so much. Here goes...

A very quiet and relaxing Friday night led to an early morning rise. After coffee Saturday, Brian text letting me know he had hoped his meetings would end by mid-afternoon. Just like that my Saturday was solidified and my 'quest for a really great dress' was on.

The good news? The shopping was amazing. Bad news was I didn’t find a dress. The really bad news was when I hooked up with Brian after his meetings he refused to continue shopping. “I didn’t come all this way to hold your purse and yell at people within earshot 'I’m not paying for that’…!” We headed out on foot and agreed that shopping was not an option.

The Hilton Hotel Downtown
"Aren't you glad you called in sick the
day they were shooting The Godfather?"
With our 'no shopping rule' in place we walked through Dundas Square and trekked farther up Yonge Street. We then turned around and headed all the way down to The Esplanade for a really nice dinner. We walked back to Nathan Phillips Square; enjoyed the fake snow being produced for The Cavalcade of Lights, then made our way across to the Scotiabank Theatre. Because Brian refused to expend his energy bowling, he conceded and let me browse one of my very favourite stores (Chapters on Queen Street). Tired, we decided to walk back without seeing a movie. 

With our arms locked in comfort, our laughter filled the air. I can’t believe the natural chemistry this friendship has enjoyed for over 20 years.

As our night ended we hugged, he kissed me on the cheek, and I told him I loved him. As he hailed me a cab, I headed back to my hotel. All I could do was smile and remind myself that July will be here before we know it.I can tell myself that all I want but I miss him already.

Oh, just so you know, I did find a dress on Sunday. A very elegant, very sexy, purple lace ditty that I know he would absolutely love. Not because he looks at me like that but because at the end of the day he didn't have to pay for it!

Cheers my friend...

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Walking Singing Bopping Thinking

When I left work tonight I was exhausted. A pretty good day all around but by the end I just wanted to head home and crawl into bed. Knowing that wasn’t an option I rallied. Thank goodness I had my walk home to look forward to; fresh air, brisk pace, and great tunes.

Walking tonight I was definitely in the zone. Not because a certain rhythm called my name but because it was cold outside and I am afraid of the dark. Seriously, the gully by the golf course totally freaks me out. The quicker the beat the faster I walk.   

Motivated I plugged in and fled. Peaceful Easy Feeling (Eagles), Save The Last Dance For Me (Michael Buble), Always Look on the Bright Side of Life (Monty Python), ending with Tears of a Clown (Smokey Robinson). My specific song lineup had me home about four minutes faster than normal. Impressive considering I was wearing heels and zero caffeine was involved.

Point of my post is that the last song unusually caught my attention. Tear of A Clown has been stuck in my head since I attended my very first Panda Game Weekend in Ottawa back in the fall of 1984. That said, tonight the lyrics resonated “the tears of a clown… when there’s no one around…”. As I arrived home and headed down the driveway I wondered; was it the beat of the song or the serious message that has had me obsessed for decades?  Without hesitation I knew my answer. Who cares?

The words in the song may describe how I've been feeling BUT I am pleased to report that I have another 573 song downloaded that I can listen to. Once again proving my glass is half full. 

Just the same, I found this interesting rendition of my song on YouTube. Still love the original the best. Sorry Smokey just keepin' it real...


Tuesday, November 13, 2012

...Answers Are in Front Of You My Love

I read a Facebook status this week that had me doing a double take. It read “I wanna be my old self again…” and my heart sank. All I could do was close my eyes and take a deep breath. The status update belonged to my only daughter.

My Sweetie n' Me
Taken: July 2002
Staci and I have always been close. She’s a really great egg. She has always been a very hard worker and isn’t remotely mean spirited. Can her buttons be pushed? Absolutely but at the end of the day find me a woman's that can’t be! One of her most amazing qualities is that she's kind. She's kind, sincere and very trusting.

It’s been tough few months watching her transition to her next set of life choices. After she finished school last spring, I thought the sky was the limit for her. I figured she’d stay in the smaller city to the south and continue in the field she had graduated from. Instead, she insisted on moving back to Muskoka. To respect her choice, she was unconditionally moved home.

Let me start by saying when it comes to interacting with people, Staci isn’t me (and I know she just said “Thank God” out loud as she read that). I am an extrovert and she is an introvert. She has a core group of 50 friends and I have a core group of 2000 acquaintances. I can count my true friends on my hands (with no toes required) and she does the same with her acquaintances. What can I say, she's her father and her twin brother David is me.

No matter how I try to justify, it still bothers me to sit back and watch people take advantage. But let's face it, those types of people are everywhere in day to day life. Only Staci can weed out the good from the bad, which is probably why I really haven’t said anything. I'll admit, her return home has us living more like roommates. That said, she's an adult; and though we may live like ships passing in the night, I think it's time. Time to put our energy and love together and get her back to her old self again.

How will that happen? By helping her sort out exactly where she wants to be and how she wants to get there. Matter a fact, I think she and I should start by making a list. I think we best finalize her list in front of the pool and walking along the beach in South Carolina over Christmas. 

That way, she can ring in the 2013 with a tan and a solid mission. Because let me tell ya, when it comes to this gal, the sky's the limit! 

I love you my Sweetie...

Monday, November 12, 2012

She’s One Tired Social Butterfly

WOW, today was brutal for me. I am positive that I depleted 95% of my Serotonin enduring my whirlwind Saturday alone. By the time I got home from the surprise birthday party (which I’d totally forgotten about) Sunday, I swear I was buying the above mentioned precious chemical via high interest credit.

What I did to myself this past weekend, takes me a good 72 hours to recover from. The real downer to my situation is that I honestly know better. And that admission right there makes me nothing other than a total sucker for punishment.

I've honestly known since Labour Day this stretch until Christmas would be a marathon and not a sprint. So when I reminded myself today of the remaining chaos, I just shook my head and rolled my eyes.

It's a crazy busy time of year for me at work and it just so happens that my social dance card is jam packed full as well. As I booked my room this morning in Toronto for the weekend, I just sighed. How did I get myself into such a free fall of social obligation?

Well, just like the HENS, Brian’s business trip was postponed a couple of times. In both instances, it didn’t matter when they happened I was in. Just so happens they fall exactly seven days apart. You’d think in seven days I could recover. Normally I would, but this week has me out of the office more often than not. I’m not complaining, I just have to focus my downtime.

That, and the fact that sometimes I should just say NO! I should say no but I won’t, don't want to, and probably never shall again. Life is too short and I have just recently discovered it can be really very fun.

Three word sentence? Fan-freaking-tastic! I know it's not a sentence silly but at least you get the gist...

Sunday, November 11, 2012

If You Build It They Will Come... & Cluck!

True to form, I am seriously bagged. I'm pooched, whacked, bushed, and all and all just deadbeat wrecked but it was totally worth it. I had a great day yesterday and finally packed it in around one o’clock this morning.

Yesterday had been tentatively planned and cancelled six times this year. But you know what they say? Lucky number seven! I worked yesterday; grabbed my much needed Chiropractic treatment, then headed into the light, I mean hen house.

Colleen, Annie & Me. The original HENS
What started almost five years ago with a couple of girlfriends has really turned into an amazing sisterhood. 

We ARE the Hens! 

Some I see regularly, some I stay in touch with via Facebook, and some I only see in the hen house. We land, we catch up, we eat, we roll. We sing, we dance and we crash, precisely in that order. 

The food and fun was to die for but it’s always the laughter, insightful conversation and camaraderie that makes it so meaningful. Like any great event, you have to have a highlight reel. That's right, before we make new memories we have to discuss and howl with laughter at the memories we already have. I’m sure next year the heated discussion at dinner about my specific lingerie choices (and the laughter that ensued) will be right up there; Shades of Grey and whatever happened to my Friday caller will be numbers two and three.

As the evening progressed, it got loud quickly. The best part about how big our group was this year? Our singing really sounded remarkable considering our blood alcohol levels. Who knew every single one of us, knew every single word to BTO’s Taking Care of Business. And that veteran Hen Stephanie, had a photographic memory for song lyrics. Man can she sing Led Zeppelin! Bazzzinga Henfriend!

All and all, this year we hit an out of the park home run. When it comes to this crew, there will never EVER be a dull moment. That right there makes the breathing through my eyelids today totally worthwhile.

Friday, November 9, 2012

What’s Your Sign Baby? Exit!

I totally answered this question today but that's not the reason for my post.

My friend Tim landed in the hospital unexpectedly this week. Last night my quirky sidekick Colleen and I stopped in after work to say hello. Tim didn’t expect to see us so we didn’t stay long. For the record, he looked like he was feeling, really really crappy! A little blunt? Nah, I know he appreciated our surprise; because let’s face it, I only do good surprises.

To the point of my post. Joking around last evening I asked Sir Tim a question and his response was “I am a Libra.” Thinking the morphine just kicked in I dismissed it. Then I recalled Colleen talking 'signs' earlier in the evening. Chatting on my way home tonight, Tim mentioned his sign yet again. That (combined with the dialogue I had with a bat shit crazy Architect I had to sit next to for dinner a couple of weeks back) got me thinking. Is there really any truth to astrology?

Just like my Dad, I have always read my horoscope. I’m an Aries; and by definition of what RAMS are, I pretty much fit the profile. So I immediately wondered; who am I compatible with and who am I not? I started to dig.

Tim’s a Libra. He’s easy going, fair, creative and a good communicator (it doesn’t mention humour but he’s crazy funny). I see how we get along. Colleen is a Cancer. We’ve always loved the qualities the other possesses and together our synergy makes us the perfect business woman. Keeping that trend in mind, one of the most important people in my life right now is a Capricorn. Their traits are very similar to an Aries. I was shocked. How can it be that we get along? I thought the rule of thumb was that 'opposites attract?' 

Honestly? I don’t care what the stars say and I guess that's because I have a pretty simple personal philosophy. If I want you in my life you’re in it, if I don’t you aren’t.

Direct enough for you? Guess I really am an Aries through and through!

Thursday, November 8, 2012

20 Things Real Men Never Say!

1. I think Barry Manilow is one cool dude.

2. No, I don’t want another beer. I have to work tomorrow.

3. Her boobs are just far too big.

4. Sometimes I just want to be held.

5. Sure, I’d love to wear a condom.

6. I have not been to the mall for ages, let’s go shopping and I can hold your purse.

7. Screw Monday Night Football. Let’s watch Dancing With The Stars.

8. It’s late. Put your clothes back on and I’ll take you home.

9. Honey, I’m going to the store, do you need tampons?

10. I know you just blew me, but I need a kiss.

11. I’m sick of beer; give me a large fruit juice with a lemon twist.

12. Great, your Mother is coming to stay with us again.

13. This movie has way too much nudity.

14. I better get rid of these old Playboy magazines. I don’t look at them anymore.

15. Damn, we’re late for church!

16. No, I don’t want to see your sister’s boobs.

17. Put your bra and panties on for Christ’s sake.

18. I wonder if my gorgeous neighbor Tammy knows that her bathroom drapes are open. Maybe I should tell her.

19. No way, you weeded the garden and washed the car last week, it’s my turn now.

20. I understand.

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Wednesday, November 7, 2012

A Penny For Your Thoughts?

My day was skipping right along yesterday when I sent a friend of mine (that I thought was deer hunting) a quick comical text. For obvious reasons, I wasn't expecting a response until dusk. Instead I was surprised to received a detailed text quickly. All I could do was stare at my phone.

He was unexpectedly at the hospital with his Father and they were running tests. Though I would consider us close (I knew his Mother had passed) he'd never mentioned his Dad was ill. Of course, immediately I wanted to help. Knowing how confident and strong willed he is, I willingly stepped back.

We chatted at length today and he offered a few more details as well as his very personal perspective. I have an amazing amount of respect for this person, not to mention the journey he is about to take. I know he'll have the unconditional support of his wife and family but it's still going to be a very personal journey for him. Though he and I can literally talk about anything; when it comes to this conversation, I have to let him lead. This has nothing to do with me other than I want him to know that I'm here for him no matter what he needs. 

When something like this happens I always step back and ask myself a million cosmic questions. The most specific being "is there a predetermined reason that we are in each others lives at this moment in time?" I've been asking myself that question a lot lately. When it comes to this lad, I don't really care, I am just extremely glad we are. I honestly believe he and I are meant to be exactly where we are in our friendship at this point and time in our lives. Some may find that silly, I do not.

I'm here for you no matter what my friend...
So my thoughts drift. I can't wait to see him next. I am going to wrap my arms around him and hold him really really tight. Then I am going to offer him the only words I know when it comes to an ailing parent. 

Telling him I love him wouldn't exactly be appropriate, so all I will do is offer him my positive energy and whisper in his ear...

"It'll be OK".

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

My Knee Jerk Decision Had A Price...

I have always embraced my ability to measure and make quick decisions.

As someone who continually over analyzes, I'll admit that the odd time I will make an unconditional decision without assessing the overall risk. For me, a rare knee jerk decision always results in a strong dedication to my choice.

For whatever reason, I tend to commit to any long shot far longer than I should. Not because I have doubt but because I am (for lack of a better word) "committed". Guess it's safe to say that my ingrained optimism can sometimes end up being like kryptonite .

As my harshest critic, the hardest pill I ever have to swallow is my own. At the end of the day, I have to admit (gulp) that I was wrong. I don't mind being wrong because I always find I learn from it.  But in the case surrounding this post I was really far gone wrong!

How far gone? Someone had to turn around and buy me a vowel. Actually, on this one, I needed all available consonants, as well as the entire Greek alphabet purchased. Makes no matter now, it's over and done with.

...Once again proving to me that life is really tough right up until the minute it isn't!

Monday, November 5, 2012

My Big Sister is My Forever Friend

"Our roots say we're sister.
Our hearts say we're friends!"
Taken: June 2005
"I don't believe an accident of birth makes people sisters and brothers. It makes them siblings, gives them mutuality of parentage. 

Sisterhood and brotherhood is a condition 
that people have to work at..." 
~ Maya Angelou

I had a great call with my sister the other night. It was totally amazing and long overdue.

When the phone rang I thought it was my girlfriend Andrea and started to chat accordingly. It wasn’t until she questioned the dialogue that I realized it was my big sister calling. I was ecstatic!

Though she and I have plenty in common, fact of the matter is we were born a generation apart. When I was young, that constantly presented challenges because we shared a bedroom. It was her record player, they were her records, and I was nothing but a big fat boil on her ass...

We may have been born almost a decade apart but certain challenges have kept us tightly woven together. I remember the day I arrived home from school to discover she'd been asked to move out. I was nine years old. My father was furious at my mother, and I was lost. For almost a year I was kept in the dark but she eventually sought me out. When I told my mother we'd met, I was instructed "never to speak to her again." Still a very painful memory.

I'm not pleased to admit that I too rebelled against the regimen. Just so happened my Dad wasn't going to let history repeat itself. After all these years, I honestly feel that her misfortune's a credit to my good fortune. She truly paved my way.

The biggest thing I am grateful for? That her timeline in life was different than mine. As a result, we raised our families together. Because she never drove (and I had Fridays off) for the better part of a decade we spent Friday's together. I look back at that now and willingly admit that I couldn't have survived the 90's without her!

As sisters, when all is said and done, there are very few things we are truly competitive about. All night, head to head, Trivial Pursuit jumps to the front. But nowadays SongPop seems to be tripping the radar. Truth? Just so we're clear, I know she lets me win the odd one so I'll keep playing. Just so we're really clear, I am totally fine with that approach.

I love you Andrea... I can't wait to spend an entire week on the beach with you. Just so you know, it's not going to be like Jamaica was last year. The packing weight of Trivial Pursuit totally trumps the shoes and extra crap I take on this trip. 

Two words. BRING IT!

Sunday, November 4, 2012

The Hammer n' Me And Smartie Made Three...

The Three Caballeros
Taken: July 2002
Boy this photo takes me back! I found it at the cottage yesterday and had to share.

It was snapped more than a decade ago. It was taken at a company ball tournament, that hosted the  North American Manufacturing facilities. I think back with fondness and a real comfort that these two lads were/are a very big part of my life.

The sweet gentleman chirping in my ear is David (aka The Hammer) Grant and he was my boss at the time. Looking at the photo, I’m pretty confident he’s just insulted me. All in good fun; because let's face it, if it got him a laugh, he went for it! With that in mind judging by the veins bulging out in his neck, I’m positive he didn’t like my retort, nor the fact that I refused to put my arm around him for the photo. I lost Dave to ALS on December 12, 2011.

The handsome bloke on the other side of me (that I have my arm comfortably around) is one of my dearest friends and someone that holds a very important place in my life.  Brian (aka Smartie) Smart and I have been friends since we met in 1994. He didn't grow up in Muskoka but married a gal that did. Boy, our friendship was an outta the park home run from the start.

Since he moved to Whitehorse it's never made much matter that he lives a million miles away from me. Whenever we chat, it's like it was yesterday. Brian and I have never been farther than a phone call or email away.  (He FINALLY got a Blackberry for work a few months back so BBM has softened our communication plight.)

It was great to spend time with him last June and I can't wait to get together when he returns to Ontario week after next. We hope to hit Actinolite for dinner so that he can see my son David, and I want to take him to this amazing 10 pin bowling alley downtown I love. Most of all, I can't wait to wander the streets of downtown Toronto and chat.

My glass on this one is definitely half full. I can't believe that I get to see Smartie face to face twice in one year. From where I'm standing, that makes me one lucky gal!

Saturday, November 3, 2012

Officially Closed For Business!

As predicted, I awoke this morning with bells on and a mission in mind. When I have a lot of different things I need to accomplish, I get myself organized before I even start. That way, with a plan of attack and I am far more productive.

Still in my jammies, one look at the local weather forecast had me instantly change my list of things to do. Without hesitation, I knew first up had to be closing the cottage. So I hauled out my long johns, located my gloves, and chose a winter coat. I threw that puppy on and SHAZAM! Found twenty bucks in the left hand pocket so I was giddy from the get go.

Once I landed, everything went like clockwork. Started in the upstairs bedroom and worked my way down (packing and cleaning as I went). Keep in mind I'd carted crap in there since March and most of it had to make its way up the hill today.

Clothes are clothes. I have cottage items that stay put but my 182 bathing suits needed to make their way home. The suits were nothing compared to the shock I received packing the upstairs bathroom. I have a floor to ceiling shelf and that sucker was packed. An entire bag full bag of hair and skin care products alone. Holy small fortune Batman!

Peace Out Orillia Lake. See ya next season!
As I headed downstairs I was amazed at what had to be packed. I can’t believe the amount of food I lugged up the stairs. So much so that I had to bring an additional chest freezer in from the garage to house the overflow. The good news is that there was little waste.

Everything from the outside was brought inside and everything was put where it needs to be for the duration. The downstairs bedroom is packed to the rafters and the door was sealed so that if I do go in over the winter it will heat quickly.

I’m not sad the cottage season is over. I love winter. I know I’ll enjoy downhill skiing on Sundays and I’ve been thinking. I haven’t owned a pair of cross country skis since before the kids were born. Seeing that I won't run during the winter, maybe I can cross country ski the golf course with the dogs. I've walked the course via snowshoe for years because I've always had a dog on a lead. Knowing they'll both stay within earshot? That right there makes me want to go shopping!

Peace Out Orillia Lake… You’re officially closed for business!

Friday, November 2, 2012

I'll See Your Rake And Raise You A Shovel!

Well hello again and welcome to the official opening to my weekend from hell. I'm here to report that my list of things to do, is as long as the days will be getting everything accomplished. As I dozed off last night I was pretty sure the snow may impede my ability to get the fall leaves cleaned up. When I pulled in the driveway after work today, all I could verbalize aloud was "this is one hot mess!"

I honestly don't mind doing the leaves. I love the exercise as well as the fresh air. It's also the time of the year that you can really observe what going on in the back forty. It's wide open and absolutely beautiful. If it's a nice day, you may see a couple of deer or maybe even the resident fox. It really is great living in the centre of town and feeling like you're actually out in the country.

The fall leaves have been a bit of a bait a switch chore for me this year. For about the last month, I'd land home telling myself that 'I would start' but it seems something to better occupy my time always came along. Standing at the top of the hill tonight, I've some major regret that I have haphazardly postponed the annual task.

2011 Official Leaf Raking Day
WOW! If Mom's using a rake... we're gonna be here for a while!
Taken: November 29, 2011

Why the fret? Well, the yard gets dumped on so bad that every year the fallen foliage always gets shovelled. 

You read that right; I grab the big honkin' snow shovel out of the garage and go to town. Because the yard is quite large I also enlist the help of a 20’ x 20’ tarp (to load them onto and haul them over the hill & into the gully).

You're probably wondering why I don't use a leaf blower. Simple, the shovel is faster and easier on my ear drums. I was hoping we'd have one last sunny spurt to dry them out a little but I am thinking I'll have no such luck. My procrastination has them suckers thicker than a seven layer dinner and wetter than a ....never mind, you get my point.

So here I sit, staring at the screen, carefully weighting my options. Maybe I should call both high schools Monday and offer Community Service hours to students to clear my yard. That way, I can get up bright and early tomorrow, head to the cottage, and warm it up one last time before I shut it down. That leaves me Sunday (no pun intended). One whole day to get the "in town stuff" on my list done. All else fails, I'll can continue working on my list next weekend.

Wait a minute. Next weekend I am getting together with the HENS. I wonder if I can get high school students to clean out my garage and put up my exterior Christmas lights when they're done the yard?

There's no such thing as a bad question right?!

Thursday, November 1, 2012

Thanks For The Memories

I have a big weekend coming up. If you must know it's because I am closing the Peacock’s Nest for the season. As I do every year, I've been watching the weather like and hawk. Tried all week to arrange one last cottage adventure but the forecast of snow confirms it's time. I'll give me an “E” for effort; I'd love to keep it open, but closing it down is the right thing to do.

Like any great story; this cottage season had a start, a middle, and an end. When I look back to this past winter ending, I was a little lost on how my next chapter would unfold. I celebrated my birthday with a bang and never looked back. I became focused. I dug in my heels and told myself that everything was going to be alright. As silly as it sounds, once my mind was made up it was as simple as that.

As an aside, I always try to include a picture with my post. Something that either inspires my thoughts or helps me understand where I'm at in the moment. This photo was taken in July 2007. I chose this particular photo for a reason.

Cottage Life July 2007
When I look at it, (myself then vs myself today) I can clearly acknowledge that am not the same person. 

Not because my life then was filled with darkness and now I have light; but since it was taken I've become a much more independent person far less controlling of my surroundings. 

I use to feel like a bit of a puppeteer. To compound that,  I never had the ability to let anything go. I no longer feel the compulsion of either. I honestly only worry about the choices I make. Guess that's why they are called "my choices".

This past cottage season I have met some amazing new people and enjoyed some incredible personal milestones. I promised myself I would do a back dive before the season ended and I did. All I can say is thank God I have an amazing Chiropractor. As bizarre as its sounds; as I pushed  my personal fitness boundaries he’s one of the things I am truly grateful for.

Thanks for the 2012 memories Orilla Lake. After this weekend, the next time you'll  see me I'll be wearing snowshoes, which in itself produces one of my favourite three word sentences...

 Fine by me!