December 22, 2019 · 8:49 am
It is a little silly the lengths to which I will go to avoid getting stuck in a pre-Christmas crowd.
The reality is that I don’t fear crowds. I just don’t happen to like what happens to certain people trapped in their hot parkas for too long, among dozens of other people trapped in their hot parkas for too long. It creates a bit of a pressure cooker effect that raises blood pressures and potentially spills over into an eruption of strong negative emotions.
When you add to the mix the ticking clock of Christmas approaching and stock flying off the shelf, it’s that wild card of not knowing when you might get caught in the crossfire of people whose attitude would get them a permanent placement (with glittering gold stars) on Santa’s naughty list, and a free gift card for anger management training.
Despite buying my first presents in August, making about a hundred lists and checking them twice, and stocking up on anything and everything that doesn’t go bad to reduce my number of store visits in December, there are still things that need to be bought at the last minute for the sake of freshness. I accept that.
But to minimize my exposure to people whose tempers need tempering requires strategy, problem-solving skills and a strong Internet connection. Not only does it demand shopping at off-peak times, but around here it also means dodging snowstorms, freezing rain and Ottawa Senators game night traffic.
To calculate the logistics of this early morning weekend run, it starts with a chart of the last minute items, the location of where I expect to find them, and Google searches to verify at what time each store opens.
I’ll then rearrange the order chronologically to try to be at each stop shortly after they open, to zip in and out before the crowds begin, and before the parking lots turn into inescapable mazes of vehicles parked in improvised spots. Continue reading →
Filed under 50+, Christmas, Humour
Tagged as cars, Christmas, compassionate, courteous, courtesy, crowds, early, empathetic, energy, etiquette, grocery, holidays, Lists, logistics, malls, morning, negative, opening, parking, polite, retail, rude, rudeness, shopping, stores, timing, tips
December 8, 2019 · 8:06 am
In recent years, to put a fun spin on our team’s holiday parties, we have added an after-dinner activity. A few years ago we went to a karaoke bar. Last year we attended a stand-up comedy show. This year we thought, what could be more natural for a holiday party than throwing axes with your work colleagues?
I admit that I was a little nervous when the idea was first proposed. I am not a champion by any stretch of the imagination in any game that involves aiming a projectile at a target. Frankly I was less nervous about myself and more nervous for everyone else around me.
But my curiosity did indeed reign supreme in terms of what was involved in throwing axes for the sport of it. What drove me to say yes was the thought that at a minimum, it could be a very bloggable once-in-a-lifetime experience.
After our lovely team dinner, it was time to head over to the venue. Along the way, I noticed that the butterflies in my stomach felt more like a fleet of commuter jets, not really knowing what was lay ahead for us.
The moment we walked in, my senses went into overdrive, but in a good way. Between participants cheering at the top of their lungs, the sound of axes hitting (or missing) their targets with a loud thud, and the strong but pleasant aroma of the wooden targets that filled the air, I knew that I had stepped way out of my comfort zone.
For a brief moment, the “what was I thinking when I said yes?” thoughts flew by, but just the same, I remained committed. Continue reading →
Filed under Christmas, Humour
Tagged as activity, axe, axe throwing, axes, bull's eye, Christmas, events, fun, holiday, holidays, ideas, parties, party, skill, team, team building, technique
September 1, 2019 · 4:05 pm
Don’t we all just love long weekends?
Long weekends are often synonymous with tying up loose ends at work, a sense of pride in a job well-done, a sense of accomplishment, a sense of levity, and the joy of being rewarded with an extra day off to relax and enjoy the fruits of our labour.
In my perfect Pollyanna-bubble world, on the last work day before a long weekend, people are sporting their best smiles, wishing each other a great long weekend, high-fiving each other as they pass each other in the lobby of the office tower. The sun is shining, the birds are singing, and everyone is in the best mood eagerly anticipating the best long weekend ever!
That is… until they get outside. From about noon onward, the city is in complete gridlock.
Traffic is at a standstill, the electronic signs on mall parking lots are blinking “FULL”, the grocery stores are bursting with hangry people with towering shopping carts, and liquor store patrons are lined-up as far as the eye can see.
For some reason, there isn’t a drop of patience to be found as drivers are almost mowing down pedestrians, everyone is blowing yield signs and stop signs, and the world is seemingly possessed by road rage punctuated by a stronger than usual sense of self-entitlement.
It was incredibly validating to hear that it wasn’t just my own borderline introvert lens that saw things this way when I was told that law enforcement officers are posted in the parking lot of the “warehouse-style” store to keep the peace and to direct the crawling traffic. Continue reading →
Filed under Humour
Tagged as angry, calendar, Canada Day, Easter, errands, groceries, holiday, holidays, Labor Day, Labour Day, long weekend, long weekends, planning, plans, retail, shopping, stores, stress, stressful, traffic, travel, weekend
August 12, 2018 · 7:37 am
Regular readers will remember my frustration with myself over my last stay-at-home vacation which seemed jam-packed with projects around the house. As much as I tried to fill my heart with the gratitude of having a nice home and the opportunity to do home improvement projects, I was left very tired and still needed a vacation after my vacation.
The reality is that after a few unusually tough years when mind, body and spirit didn’t have the energy to spare to turn a screwdriver or to declutter a drawer, the to-do list got pretty long. Fortunately, the energy and desire are back and ready to tackle the list, but there are only so many hours in a day to get to everything.
Just the same, when I think ahead to next year’s stay-at-home vacation, I have already committed to myself that every waking moment should not be filled with house projects. I want my vacation to be just that… a vacation!
To get to that point, I have made a commitment to myself that between now and then, I needed to find the time to knock one or two projects off the list each week. They just need to get done in small consistent increments.
When the prize is genuine unstructured play time, not spent with a paint roller in one hand and a drill in the other, I think this should be an easy resolution to keep rather than the old habit of deferring the projects to my vacation time.
So far, the plan seems to be working.
Which leads to the next question… So what do I want to do during the next stay-at-home vacation? Continue reading →
Filed under 50+, How to, Inspiring
Tagged as activities, books, cinema, enjoyment, fun, holidays, joy, movies, music, reading, relaxation, running, simple, simple pleasures, stay-at-home, things to do, time, vacation, vacation planning, Writing
June 3, 2018 · 8:14 am
Maybe it’s a product of having a busy life and many interests, but I long for the day when I can take a vacation and for it to be entirely made up of time to put my feet up, read a good book and just relax in well-earned peace and tranquility.
Don’t get me wrong, I love being a home owner. I also love taking care of my investment. The problem is that through a normal work week, when you factor in time for social activities, writing, cooking, cleaning and laundry, there isn’t much time or energy left to bring out the power tools and the paint cans to knock things off my home maintenance to-do list.
And even when I do set aside time for do-it-yourself (DIY) projects, I want it done right the first time. I don’t want to rush the project and risk making a mess. For that reason, it needs a generous time allotment.
It would be one thing if I had no natural inclination for DIY projects or if I hated them, but I don’t. I actually think they are a joy and a privilege.
The worst part is that I am responsible for the to-do list and I tend to expect a lot of myself, so the list does get a little ambitious.
That being the case, the list of projects often get deferred to the only time where time and patience are in good supply: vacations… or should I say, stay-cations. Continue reading →
Filed under 50+, Humour
Tagged as DIY, do it yourself, energy, garden, hardware, holiday, holidays, home, house, Lists, maintenance, observational, observational humour, paint, painting, patience, planning, projects, renovations, staycation, summer, time, to-do, tools, vacation, vacations, yard work
December 3, 2017 · 8:22 am
Regular readers probably know that I have my moments where I might be considered a bit of an oddball, especially when it comes to my borderline-obsessive love of fruit cake. It hasn’t always been that way though.
When I was younger I would have a couple of pieces from the overflowing tray of treats passed around the table at Christmas, and I’d be set for the year.
But it was in my body’s rejection of gluten a decade ago, that I had to stop all foods involving wheat flour including fruit cake.
For something that I only ate once per year, it wasn’t a catastrophic loss, but with each passing Christmas after that, I grew to miss the tradition that much more. I also grew to appreciate it as one of life’s simple pleasures at the most wonderful, most festive time of the year.
A few years ago, I even wrote a poem about my hunt for the perfect gluten-free fruit cake. It wasn’t easy. The hunt, not the poem.
Around here, not a lot of stores sell gluten-free fruit cake and for the ones that do, I found the experience to be a very pricey one and sometimes a disappointing one. I remember one in particular that lived up to all of the hype and negative connotations about heavy and dry fruit cakes, and added a few more.
Then inspiration hit. How hard can it be to make gluten-free fruit cake for myself? Continue reading →
Filed under Christmas, How to
Tagged as allergies, baking, Christmas, dessert, easy, festive, food, fruit, fruit cake, fruitcake, gluten, gluten-free, holiday, holidays, human interest, intolerance, Noël, nuts, recipe, recipes, traditions, treats
November 13, 2017 · 6:39 am
With the fall season well underway and the official start to winter just on the horizon, I often feel like a squirrel gathering nuts, which is not too far from the truth, actually.
For those who might not be familiar with Ottawa, winter can offer its share of merciless days in terms of bad weather conditions. As a result, roads and driving conditions can get pretty treacherous.
If we hit a weather pattern of several days of heavy snow or freezing rain (or both), I tend to go out only if I really have to. And on those days when I have to go to work, I stick to the essentials: a commute to the office and back, and that’s it. I won’t do errands on the way home.
It’s just a question of safety… well… that and the fear of getting stuck in a parking lot where a plow hasn’t arrived to remove the snow which continues to pile up.
For that reason, I tend to stock up on certain items to ensure I have a decent supply on hand, and to not stress out if my errand schedule goes topsy-turvy when Mother Nature and Old Man Winter get cranky.
Here they are, my top 10 errands in preparation for winter:
10. Flu shot
Getting a flu shot is not so much a weather dependent preparation, it is just a seasonal one for which I feel a need to make time for it, to avoid the flu, avoid the line-ups and maintain good health through the winter season.
9. Snow tires
Local garages are usually run off their feet at this time of year as many drivers book an appointment to have winter tires installed on their vehicles. Given how bad the weather can get, I couldn’t imagine driving without them anymore.
8. Kitty litter Continue reading →
Filed under 50+, Christmas, Humour, Lists
Tagged as back ache, Canada, Canadian, chiropractor, Christmas, clothing, coat, dry skin, emergency, errands, flu shot, funny, gloves, hats, holidays, human interest, humor, humour, ice, list, mitts, Ottawa, preparation, preparedness, prevention, shopping malls, shovel, snow, snow tires, sweater, Top 10 list, top 10 lists, weather, winter, winter gear, winter weather, wintry
June 11, 2017 · 3:58 pm
In keeping with tradition, last month I booked some time off for some rest and relaxation from the office and to take in the festivities of the Eurovision Song Contest, from the comfort of my couch here in Canada. For what seems like ten years now, Eurovision has been the focal point of my version of “spring break”.
The first few days of my time off consisted of jotting down some blog ideas floating around in my grey matter and puttering around the house, getting chores done. With those out of the way, when Eurovision came on, I could truly let myself get swallowed up by my sofa, pillow, blanket and cat, and to completely disconnect from the world.
That is… until I woke up Tuesday morning to find I was already disconnected from the world.
No Internet service!
After a series of attempts over two days to restore my Internet service over the phone, with the assistance of cheerful client service representatives, it finally took a site visit from a technician on Thursday to get everything fixed up.
Once I was on the couch, with pillow, blanket and cat, watching the Eurovision semi-final #2, my cares completely melted away with each passing costume change, wind machine, and key change.
The next day, I watched semi-final #1, and on the Saturday, I watched the finals live with the other 204 million viewers around the world. Everything seemed right with the universe again.
But those few days I was without Internet, I surprised myself at my dependence on it. How do people actually go off-the-grid anymore? Continue reading →
Filed under 50+, Humour, Inspiring, photography, Writing
Tagged as application, art, artist, blogger, blogging, connection, creative, creative life, creativity, days off, disconnection, eurovision, Eurovision Song Contest, Facebook, funny, grounded, hobbies, hobby, holidays, humor, humour, Instagram, Internet, off-the-grid, online, perspective, photographer, photography, planning, plans, relaxation, social media, software, staycation, tools, Twitter, updates, vacation, writer, Writing
May 29, 2017 · 8:26 pm
Isn’t it wonderful when you have enjoyed your vacation time to its fullest and completely immersed yourself in activities that were so far removed from your day-to-day routine… to the point of forgetting the details of your day-to-day routine?
That being the case, you know it was a good vacation when…
Ice Bar, Stockholm, 2005
You have a hard time falling asleep on cue, to wake up in time for the return to your regular morning routine.
You wake up with muscle or joint stiffness but no recollection of what could have caused it.
The prospect of wearing long pants again makes you cringe.
The prospect of preparing a lunch-to-go makes you cringe even more.
You overshoot your morning routine prep time by half an hour.
Even your pets are seemingly sad to see you go back to the regular routine.
You’re not freaked out by the guy who cuts you off in traffic on your first morning commute. Continue reading →
Filed under 50+, Humour, Misc blogs, Travel
Tagged as balance, break, commute, computer passwords, forget, forgot, fun, funny, funny stories, holidays, humor, humour, insomnia, lunch, memory, office, office humour, refreshed, rejuvenated, relaxation, rest, return to work, routine, sleep, travel, travel blog, vacation, vacation planning, work, younger
April 12, 2017 · 6:54 am
10- Slow down the pace
To me there is nothing better than just chilling, listening to classical music, sipping coffee and enjoying the peaceful silence of a holiday morning when everything is closed. Monday to Friday is always so busy. The extra day in a long weekend is for me, an extra chance to recharge.
9- Give the cat some extra attention… when she is looking for it
Usually by mid-day Monday on a long weekend, Miss Ivy is a little sick of having me around, but I’m certain she appreciates the bonus time to play and spend time together.
8- Indulge a little
While I generally stick to a healthy eating plan, a long weekend is a nice opportunity to break up the routine and maybe have a “cheat day”… especially if the long weekend includes a major holiday that involves feasting.
Usually, I read before going to bed. But whenever the opportunity arises to chill and read in the morning or the middle of the day is a serendipitous pleasure every time. Long weekends seem to offer that freedom of extra time to slow down the pace and check out a good book. Continue reading →
Filed under Cats, Humour, Inspiring, Lists, Misc blogs, Writing
Tagged as barbecue, books, brunch, Canada Day, Civic Holiday, dinner, Easter, family, Family Day, feast, fitness, friends, holiday, holidays, Independence Day, inner peace, Labor Day, Labour Day, long weekend, Memorial Day, naps, reading, recharge, relax, relaxation, sleep, Thanksgiving, Veteran's Day, Victoria Day