Monday, 24 October 2016

Almost ready to go

The countdown is on with only three sleeps to go before we fly from Regina to New York.  I am almost completely packed, just a hairbrush, makeup and few last minutes items need to be tossed into my bag.  The camera batteries are charged and there is an extra SD card in the camera bag...just in case.

This is a screen grab of the Princess Regal as she sailed last week.  We'll be onboard ship by noon on Thursday.  We always fly out the day prior just to ensure we don't miss the sailing if there is a flight delay or cancellation.  Since there are four sea days before we reach our first port (St. Martin) I'd really like to ensure we get there in plenty of time.  Otherwise it will be a long wait somewhere trying to reach the ship.

My friend's K & J had a near miss several years ago.  They were sailing out of Los Angeles and with the time change took a flight from Regina that was to arrive in L.A. around noon local time.  I don't recall the reason for the delay but they ran up the gang plank just before the ship sailed at 5:00 p.m.  

A few years ago this lesson was brought K and I as well.  We were sailing out Houston; the route was Regina to Denver to Houston the day prior.  Unfortunately, the flight that we were to take was delayed due to high winds in Denver.  We sat at our local airport for 6 hours before flying to Toronto, spent the night in the TO airport, and flew to Houston the following morning.  We made it in plenty of time, but were so exhausted we were in our beds by 7 p.m. that evening.  

Fingers crossed that Wednesday's flight goes without a hitch. We're flying first to Toronto and then onto New York (LaGuardia).  We have a hotel nearby booked for the night and a scheduled car service pickup for the following morning to get us to the terminal by about 11 a.m.  The ship will begin boarding about 11:30 so we'll have lots of time to explore before sailing.  

I'm excited about getting away for a short while.  We've been having some cooler weather so the heat and humidity will be appreciated.  Thus far, the long range looks good...not hurricanes to contend with.

I'm hopeful I'll have internet access on the ship and will be able to check in every once in a while.  If not, see you all in a couple of weeks!

Monday, 10 October 2016

Giving thanks

Happy Thanksgiving to all of my fellow Canadian readers.  I hope you have an opportunity to spend time with family or friends, or if you prefer, time to relax and unwind.  

I spent much of the yesterday preparing our Thanksgiving dinner.  No turkey as I always find we eat so little of it, ending up with leftovers that seem to take until Christmas to use up.  I bought a pork loin roast, rubbed it with sage, thyme, salt and pepper and cooked it in the slow cooker for 4 1/2 hours before popping it in the oven to brown for the last 20 minutes or so.  It was very moist and tasty...there's only a couple of slices and crumbs left so I know it was a success!  

With homemade applesauce, mashed potatoes, turnip, carrots (my son's must have), Stove top stuffing (for my daughter) and Caesar salad (her b/f' J's choice) it was a non-traditional dinner but one that everyone enjoyed.  For dessert we did have the traditional pumpkin pie, although only my son and I had a slice.  

J surprised me with these lovely flowers and balloon.  I especially love the carnations; they were my mother's favorite.  And they're purple, one of my most favorite colors.

After dinner, I left the dishes to the others and went to watch the Blue Jays play the Texas Rangers. What an exciting game especially as it ended in a win for the Jays! Though I must admit I felt a twinge of sadness for the Rangers as the game ended on an error.  

All in all, it was a very good day.  In fact, though my life has been a little trying in the past few weeks, I truly do have much to be thankful for this year.  I have two wonderful children whom I love dearly (despite they both live with me and drive me batty at times).  

And this week, we got the news that the grandbaby is a BOY!  He is growing well, weighs nearly 12 ounces now, and is just over 6 inches in length. We were able to see his little heart beat, his wee hands and feet.  My heart melted at the sight of the latter.

D continues to struggle a bit with morning sickness, and last night had leg cramps that had her in tears.  Baby X has been moving more and she's finding it all a bit strange and occasionally uncomfortable.  She's half way through...though I suspect the latter half will seem to take much longer than the first half.
Fall is well underway; in fact we had our first snow fall earlier this week.  On Sunday the temperature finally got high enough to melt what was left.  I had pulled most of the annuals out of the containers the previous weekend with the exception of a pot of mums and some marigolds.  I haven't checked to see how these made out, but it appears the pansies have survived the brief cold snap.  

I'm grateful that there are still warm days ahead.  I'm certainly not ready for winter just yet!   

My next trip is getting closer, just 17 more sleeps until we leave for New York and our cruise to the Caribbean.  We'll be on-board ship on Halloween, and will be dressing up as the three blind mice. :)  My friend K is creating mouse ears from fur and head bands while I'm crocheting us the tails we'll pin to our pants.  We'll wear these with black pants and shirts, and sunglasses.  These costumes are light weight and easy to pack!

I'm thankful for the opportunity to travel once more this year.  Fingers are crossed there will be no more storms.  (For those of you who were impacted, either personally or your friends and family, I hope that the damage was limited and that all will be repaired in short order).  

I would remiss if I failed to mention how thankful I am for the audience who reads, and comments on my blog.  I've been less active the last while, both writing and reading/commenting, so I'm thankful you've stuck with me.  It's so nice to know I've got support from those I know only through the pages of our blogs.  You've all become such a integral part of my life and I love hearing what's happening with you.

Have a wonderful week everyone!


Saturday, 1 October 2016

Life is complicated

Again, another busy week is nearly over.  It started last Sunday when I flew out to Ottawa for a conference.  My co-worker from Saskatoon traveled with me.  Funny that, as it was billed as a direct flight from Regina, but we "stopped" in Saskatoon to pick up passengers. We arrived in Ottawa about 6:30 p.m. that evening although our meetings didn't start until 1 p.m. on Monday.  However, unless I had taken a red-eye flight arriving at 6:30 that morning I would not have made the meeting on time. The next flight for my co-worker would have had her arriving at 2 the first day.  We often say, you can't get there from here....and there is a certain amount of truth to it.

After unpacking at our hotel, we wandered down the street and around the corner to the Baton Rouge for dinner.  We sat and visited (in other words, we complained about work!) for quite some time before we took it back to the hotel.

Parliament of Canada
On Monday morning, after breakfast at the hotel we went for a walk to Parliament Hill.  I brought my camera with me, though I may as well have not.  I took a total of 4 photos (two of which I'll share here)

Everywhere we went there was construction.  The Supreme Court building, the Parliament building, the War Memorial, the Arts Centre, and many of the streets were surrounded by barriers, and full of equipment and workers.

All of this is in preparation of Canada's 150th birthday July 2017,  It's good that it's happening, and since D and I have been there before it wasn't a big disappointment.  I'm not sure what some of the other tourists were thinking though.

On our way back to the hotel, we stopped outside for D to have her smoke break.  I spotted this little guy running around.

Then it was time for a quick lunch and to get the meeting room in our hotel.  Before it started, we ran into the manager who organized the event, and she was steamed.  The hotel had assured her the room would hold 50 people.  They were right, as long we basically sat on top of one another.  We took to calling the room the sardine can.

Despite this less than auspicious start, the event went very well.  I made a presentation on Tuesday afternoon and it seemed to go well.  I'd done a run through with my staff in our office the week before to prepare for the questions I might be asked.  They did a good job of pointing out specific questions, and at the conference I was only asked one.

I flew home on Wednesday afternoon, my daughter picked me up at the airport and I was back in the office on Thursday.  That was a busy day as I had lots to catch up on even though I'd only been away for three days.

Speaking of my daughter, oh boy here we go again.  Shortly before I left Parksville, she called to ask if she move back home.  I said "no", but then she went on to tell me that her landlord was hounding her for October's rent (in mid-September) saying that unless she gave him the money the water and power would be cut off that weekend.  I buckled...and she moved in the weekend I arrived home.

Life with her in the house is complicated.  My son and I are both considerate of one another's space; she is not.  For the first few days I felt smothered as she followed me around the house AND never shut up!  I like my peace and quiet ...when she is here there is very little of that.  Either she's talking or she's listening to her television or music in her room at a volume I find unnecessary.  Plus she has mounds of stuff.  It is a good thing I have been eliminating things as my basement and apare room are now full to capacity.

It has taken several conversations to get her to relax and tone it down a bit.  In addition, she works two jobs, Monday to Friday at her full-time job, and then three to four shifts evening or weekend shifts at Sport Chek.  She also spends time with her boyfriend at his place so isn't as bad as it could be.

She's already talking of staying here until after the baby is born.  While I dread the thought, it does make sense both financially and practically speaking.  I expected that I would spend a couple of weeks with her after baby is born to help her settle in.  This way, we'll do it at my place where we are both comfortable.  The way I see it, with any luck, she'll be back living in her own place by the end of spring.

Friday I spent my day catching up on housework, laundry, vacuuming, and grocery shopping.  I also went to the hairdresser to get my mop shortened....I feel human again!  Today, was yard work.  All of the containers have been cleared out of the annuals as we are expected frost later this week, and I swept up leaves.  The lawn still needs to be mowed, but it's warmed up considerably this afternoon so I decided to catch up on blog posts and hang out inside.

I'm looking forward to Sunday as I have nothing planned, perhaps I'll sleep in or lay in bed and read a book.

Have a great weekend everyone and Happy October!

Sunday, 18 September 2016

Vacation complete

I posted this yesterday on Facebook about mid-afternoon. "Three loads of laundry done, one more to go. Got my nails done, bought groceries, made my bed, did a few dishes, cleaned the cat litter, took out garbage. Huh, I guess the vacation is officially over."

Amazing how quickly one gets back into the routine of home....whether one wants to or not.  My son did a great job while I was away, he had kept the cat litter clean, done a load of dishes, and kept my flower containers watered.  I do need to get out there and do some dead-heading and mow the lawn and the house needs vacuuming.  He did do the basement so I only have the main floor to do.

But before I get back into the here and now I want to share a few more photos** from my trip.  The first two are for you, Kim, as I thought of you immediately when I saw it.

This is the new home my cousin B and her husband G moved into this spring.  It's a park model, just over 500 square feet of living space. It is a mobile home, but looks and feels like a house with drywall and siding.   It has a lovely front veranda, with a view of the mountains across the way.

I was so impressed with the interior as well.  You enter into the home into an open plan living room, kitchen and dining room.  The large windows on the right side are in the living room and dining room.  

The kitchen is well equipped, with a full size fridge and gas stove, a decent amount of cupboards, as well as a lower set in the dining room to act as a sideboard.  

Beyond this space is a nice sized bathroom with a large shower (the space would fit a bathtub) and it has a window as well (it is to the right of the dining room window).

Beside the bathroom is an alcove for the stackable washer and dryer.  Across from the bathroom is the side door entrance and beside back door is the furnace. Then finally, at the back of the home is the bedroom, which fits a king sized bed, a closet and built in dresser/cupboard. 

After living in an RV for 8 1/2 years, this new home is a welcome change for B and G.  They are living in a new development (you can see the owners home in the background) so there is still lots of construction going on.  There a few neighbours, all of whom are currently living in RV's. By the time all the work is done B expects there will be a dozen residents, some permanent and some who live there only in the summer.  

Shortly after they started building their shed (12 X 12 for storage) they discovered a momma bunny had made a nest and delivered a batch of bunnies.  We call them B's bunnies as she has been caring for both mom and babies.  The little ones recognize her voice and come when she calls to feed them.

Aren't they just adorable?  Unfortunately I don't expect they will all survive as there are hawks, eagles, and owls in the area, plus they live just off a busy highway. But perhaps they way they procreate, it is likely for the best.  

In fact, we suspect momma bunny recently gave birth to another litter.  This one is located a ways away from B's home in a pile of construction materials.  

I really enjoyed my visits with my cousins and uncle.  This photo was from our dinner on Thursday evening.

That's Uncle Gordon with his girl-friend Judy.  I'm to his right, with cousin B beside me, and her husband G beside Judy.  G's mom is next to B, and G's daughter S and her boyfriend are at the end of the table.  

Uncle Gordon is the last of his generation.  He's 84 years old, still golfing and bowling once a week.  He's an incredibly sweet man with a wicked sense of humour.  

Just how sweet is evident with the gift I received yesterday.  

I had been out shopping, when I arrived home I found a note on the front door from Flowers Direct informing me that a delivery had been made to my neighbour's home.

The note attached from Uncle Gordon, Judy, B and G saying they missed me already.  I shed a few tears....I miss them too!

And finally, I'll wrap up this post with one of the last photos I took on my trip.  After dinner on Thursday I headed back down to the beach to see the sunset.  What a way to end my vacation!

** For those who follow me on Facebook, you've seen most of these photos previously.  


Thursday, 15 September 2016

Short in time, long in memories

As I'm writing this, the sun is shining, the birds are calling, 16C and it is another wonderful day on Vancouver Island.  I arrived here last Saturday about 11 a.m. local time.  After picking up my rental car I made the trip to Parksville with my first stop at the local beach.

The tide was out and there were some clouds in the area, but it was still a beautiful day.

The park was filled with people (even though these photos don't show it).  There was a walk just ending as I arrived, several tennis matches underway, and numerous walking the boardwalk and out onto the beach.

From that moment I felt as if I was home.

 I've spent a lot of time with my cousin B and her husband G at their new home in Whiskey Creek (more on that later).  It is about a 15-20 minute drive from Parksville.  I've gone for coffee in the morning, returning around lunch time or shortly thereafter as B likes her afternoon nap.

On my way back one day I stopped in at Englishman River Falls.  The drive to the falls is not long, only about 10 kilometres off the highway, but it is a narrow highway with lots of winds and bends.

The trees are simply massive! They tower above, providing shade and the sunshine filters through.

I stopped in the parking lot and made my way up to the top of the falls.  There are marked paths that one can follow to go down to the lower falls as well.  I chose not to take the walk for a couple of reasons.

First, I'm not nearly as fit as I was after a month of walking when I was in Parksville in January 2015.  Second, my cousin warned me to watch for bear warning signs.  That freaked me out just a teeny tiny (a LOT) and I was worried about walking alone.  There were several walkers/hikers out but there points where I felt I was alone in the woods.

I did make my way part way down the trail to spot where there was another set of falls dropping into a large pool.  The lighting wasn't particular good for photos (and I don't know how to manually change the settings) but I think you can see the steam that was coming off the falls in the back ground.

I'm certain I'll be back someday, in better shape and with company so I can attempt the rest of the trail.  If there are any bears I'll only have to outrun that person. :)

It is a very beautiful spot and I'm so glad I had a chance to visit this time.  It was definitely too far to walk from Parksville - I've really enjoyed having a vehicle so I can explore a little further.

One evening I took a drive to Qualicum Beach to another beach area. There are several restaurants and small boutique hotels on the ocean side, and several condo units on the opposite side of the highway.

I took my book with me and in the late afternoon sunshine enjoying the weather.  I took a walk along the pathway to one and then to the other before returning to my hotel for the evening.

Yesterday, I had decided I would get up early in the morning and try to catch the sunrise.  Well, that didn't work because I hit snooze (twice!) and by the time I got the beach the sun was well above the horizon.  But that's okay because the beach was lovely at that time of morning.  There were only a few people out and about and while somewhat cooler than the day time temps, it was perfect for a walk on the boardwalk.

The birds were out in full force.  To the left is a sea gull - I think the lighting was off, which seems to who him with a white head. (My cousin E insists it is an eagle, but I'm doubtful).  G and B thought I had captured a shot of a blue heron but I'm almost certain this is a Sandhill crane.  I'll check with my younger brother when I get home...he's the nature enthusiast in the family.  If you have any suggestions let me know.

Finally is another of my favorite views from the beach of Mount Arrowsmith. Is it any wonder I want do live here?  I keep saying I'm living in a postcard.

Tomorrow I leave and I'm a little (a lot) sad about having to head back.  B has convinced me to come spend a week here at the end of June, beginning of July next year to go whale watching at Telegraph Cove.  I think the timing should work out well so I'll start planning for that early in the new year.

Well, should sign off and go enjoy the sunshine.  I've got more to share so hopefully will get another post up in the next day or so.

Take care and I hope the sun is shining where you are!