Coping with COVID-19

My world has changed since mid-March. Appointments for the rest of March, all of April and May, have been cancelled. Even my cleaning lady stopped coming. I was living a life of absolutely no commitments and loving it. While some of my friends were finding the isolation very difficult, I wasn’t lonely, I wasn’t bored, and I had no desire to be “out and about”.

The days seemed to fly by as quickly as always. Just what was I doing with all the time I had? I have read a lot of books – but probably no more than usual, I have done a huge pile of jigsaw puzzles – I can get lost in one of them for hours, I have been playing online bridge with one of my bridge foursomes, I have done too much on-line shopping, I have been gardening and I have been baking and sharing the results with neighbours to avoid eating it all myself.

I have the bulk of my groceries delivered using a great system – one where I can “chat” with my shopper if she has any questions about my list. I do make the occasional trip to Farm Boy for fresh fruit and veggies. My pharmacy has a drive-thru window so I have no need to go into the store for prescription renewals.

I started watching the PMs updates at 11-11:30am followed by “the Panel” and then Ford – but soon found this to be repetitive and frustrating since JT refused to answer any of the questions posed by reporters. I no longer watch this but read the paper each morning and do the puzzles – both crossword and sudoko. The TV goes on for the 6pm news. There isn’t often anything worth watching after that!

As the weather improved, so did my social life with friends stopping by or vice versa for a chat on the porch, always trying our best to maintain the required social distancing. From the start, my “bubble” included one neighbour and friend who often joined me at the jigsaw table at my house or hers, was always happy to taste my baking efforts and provided a lot of help with my garden. We also treated ourselves to take-out now and then – pizza, Swiss Chalet, Baton Rouge etc. Having a friend in my bubble – and of course my cat Herbie – helped a lot.

I did have to cancel a planned and booked getaway to Lake on the Mountain in Prince Edward County. That was disappointing but we’ll book again for next year.

I had two telephone appointments with my GP – one a diabetic check and the other my annual physical! How strange those were. I had a better “chat” with my GP than usual and not all about medical stuff. I think some form of these will continue with the doctors only seeing people face to face if the telephone appointment results in a need to do so. It will save everyone time and money.

Now, in mid-June, other appointments are being re-scheduled and I find myself resenting most of them! I would be quite happy to be left in partial isolation without the commitments that make me feel “too busy” most weeks. Being retired is a busy business!

I, personally, don’t know of anyone who has or has had COVID-19. I do know that I don’t want to get it. Between age and my diabetes, they say I am in a “vulnerable group”. We certainly have never experienced these drastic measures before – not for the flu, not for N1H1, not for SARS, etc. This global pandemic is likely the worst event in most of our lives – sort of like a war.

I don’t know what the future holds. Will we have another wave of this awful virus and go back into isolation? I hope not for the sake of most people – people who are still working, kids trying to complete their schooling and for those who get cabin fever if there is a need to stay in the house more than two days in a row. And I have a trip to Italy planned for next Spring – fingers crossed that it can safely happen.

I consider myself very fortunate to have, at least so far, escaped the virus but also because the measures taken to ensure we stay healthy haven’t made my life difficult or miserable in any way. I guess I’ve learned just how lazy I can be, lacking motivation to accomplish much of anything! Isn’t that what retirement is supposed to be all about?



COVID-19 and Staying at Home

These are definitely difficult times for everyone.

If you are young and pre-school or still in school, you want to be outside playing or huddling with your friends.

If you are working, you may be lucky and can work from home, still receiving a pay-cheque – but many are unemployed trying to pay mortgages or rent and to make sense of the Federal and Provincial government programs designed to help ease the financial pain and the anxiety. So far – they sound good, but anxiety grows when trying to figure them out while waiting for them to actually be of use.

If you are retired – likely the best case scenario – unless you depend on income from investments to keep you going. OAS and CPP alone don’t cut it and the market is in the toilet – nobody knows for how long.

I got a head-start on this physical distancing with a nasty chest cold just before Coronavirus became a household word. Perhaps that was a good thing – but it just added 2 weeks to what already seems like an awfully long time to be house-bound. While I don’t get cabin fever as some people do, I don’t seem to be able to settle long enough to do anything constructive like cleaning out closets or drawers never mind spring cleaning. I flit from reading the newspaper in the morning, to working on a jigsaw puzzle to checking my email, to reading a book,to chatting on the phone with friends, to watching what is probably way too much news (there doesn’t seem to be much else on TV), to taking a nap, and making up my grocery list for delivery that is a week away (first available delivery slot). I go to bed early and get up when I wake up.

I think we are in this for the long haul and life with COVID-19 will probably create a “new normal” once we can get back to whatever that is.

This is an extremely nasty virus that takes lives no matter your age or your status in life, and is extremely ugly for anyone with existing medical conditions. There aren’t too many of us over 70 that aren’t dealing with something.

To my friends, neighbours and family – I think about all of you often and hope that you stay safe and stay well.


Long Ma and Kumo

For those of you who don’t live in Ottawa, for the past 4 days we have had magical (and huge) creatures roaming our downtown streets.  The story behind this is as follows:

From the ninth level of heaven, Long Ma—a cosmic creature who is half-horse, half-dragon—keeps watch over humanity. But a sinister force that has taken the form of a giant spider slips into his home as he sleeps, burning his wings and robbing his sacred temple. From this time forth, the Dragon-Horse roams the seven seas in search of his missing temple. 

The giant spider, Kumo, takes refuge in Ottawa, the mother-city of all spiders. Buried deep beneath the waves, the temple remains concealed. But the recent work undertaken by the city to build Ottawa’s new transit line has disturbed Kumo, and she is forced to emerge from the ground. Her power depleted, the spider becomes vulnerable and loses control of the temple, which reappears in the city. Alerted by this apparition, Long Ma sets out on the route taken by Champlain several centuries earlier, with the intention of recovering his temple of travel, a shrine that he alone has the power to properly restore.”

Part dragon and part horse, Long Ma stands 12 metres high, 5 metres wide and weighs 45 tons.  With his piercing gaze, Long Ma scours the crowd and interacts with them as his neck rises, lowers and oscillates from left to right. His rib cage swells under the pressure of his lungs.

Beautiful and repulsive, aggressive and gentle, Kumo, the giant spider, will give you chills. Her eight legs and body that synchronize as she crawls around town gracefully. Like a dancer, she wanders, steps over trees, streetlights and bus shelters… At rest, she is 5.7 metres high and 6 metres wide, but she can reach up to 13 metres when in motion.  Fully outstretched, she is about 20 metres long.

The story plays out with a spectacular finale and, of course, Long Ma wins back his wings.

While I sure don’t like the idea of Ottawa being the mother-city of all spiders – this was extremely well done.  The company who made and managed these creatures is in France.

The pictures below were taken by a friend (and very talented photographer), Don Douglas.

New Orleans & Memphis Trip

Day 1:  Ottawa (Kanata Town Centre) to Perrysburg, Ohio.

We were assigned seats very close to the front of the bus.  This was a good thing for 4 of us (and bad for 2) if it was “door side first” to get off the bus at pit-stops, lunch, etc.  This was a good thing for 2 of us (and bad for 4) if it was “driver side first” to get off the bus.  Nancy and Jean were on the driver side and Libby, Miriam, Gloria and I on the door side.  We were all seated together. It worked well – whoever got off first saved a table (if there was time to sit) for the others.

We passed the time playing Quiddler (a sort of rummy style game based on creating words out of letters) and playing Scategories.  The bus stopped mid-morning, lunch, mid-afternoon and our destination was always reached in time for dinner.

Crossing the U.S. border was painful (Windsor/Detroit).  We all had to get off the bus.  The poor bus driver (Ray), had to unload all of the large suitcases (there were 43 of us plus guide (Pam) plus driver), we then lined up, claimed our suitcase and waited for our turn to open it and have it rifled through.  Somebody else went through the bus (and presumably our hand luggage) while this was taking place.  I have no idea what they were looking for.

Our guide had some trivia games, puzzles – and always a movie each day.

We stayed that night at a Holiday Inn Express – pretty much on the highway.  Our large suitcases weren’t going to be available to us until we reached New Orleans – so hand luggage had to be carefully packed.

We had dinner at a nearby restaurant called  “Frickins” ( guess this is a combination of Finger and Chicken) not far from the hotel where we enjoyed beer, wine, and large platters of very tasty quesadillas – and all for $13.87 each.  You gotta love it.

Day 2:  Perrysburg, Ohio to Chattanooga, Tennessee

On the road again at 07:30am (which meant a very early wake-up call to get 2 ladies showered, dressed, packed and fed).

Day 2 saw us having breakfast in Ohio, lunch in Kentucky and dinner in Tennessee.  Talk about seeing the country!!  Our hotel was a Doubletree Inn with REALLY TALL beds.  Running leap anyone?  If my memory serves me correctly, this was one of the few hotels that actually had a restaurant of its own – and we had a very nice dinner, with wine of course!

Day 3:  Chattanooga, Tennessee to New Orleans, Louisiana

From Tennessee we crossed into Georgia.  I blinked and the next thing you know, we were in Alabama.  It was time to turn our clocks back one hour – sure made this one a long day!!   A few more rousing games of Quiddler and some giggles over a game of Scategories passed the time.  We crossed into Mississippi for lunch and then finally – Louisiana.  Our mid-afternoon stop was at the Louisiana Welcome Centre and by about 4pm, we were in New Orleans at our Hotel – The Drury Inn & Suites.   Room keys didn`t work so it took a while to get settled.

Drury Inn & Suites (our hotel for most nights) offers “Kick-Back” from 5:30 to 7pm each evening – 3 free drinks per person plus food (hot dogs, mac & cheese, chicken strips, baked potatoes, maybe chili, potato chips and nacho chips, sometimes carrot and celery sticks, etc).  The three free drinks were a definite – but we decided to go elsewhere most of our dinners.   Breakfast was cereal, oatmeal, biscuits & gravy, scrambled eggs, sausage patties, make-your-own waffles, toast-your-own bread or bagels, sometimes fruit, and yogurt  –all served on Styrofoam plates/bowls with plastic utensils.  The coffee was dreadful (and in Styrofoam cups).  This became a theme throughout the trip.

Another “feature” of the Drury hotels was the bathroom set-up.  The toilet and tub/shower were in a separate room from the sink/vanity.  This was fine – made sense.  However, the toilet was extremely low and there was nothing around it – it floated in the middle of the room.  One had to count on one’s leg muscles to get up or down.  This was a challenge for me, for sure!  I felt like I was back in Justin and Cheryl’s house in their Jack & Jill bathroom!!

Day 4 – New Orleans

We got to sleep in – well sort of.  Our City tour started at 9am – a whole lot better than having to be on a bus at 7:30 or 7:45am.  A New Orleans tour guide joined us and we spent the morning learning a lot about the city and the horror that took place in 2005 when 80% of the city was under water following Hurricane Katrina.  We saw one of the famous cemeteries – folks cannot be buried underground because of the high water table and cremation has only recently come into favour.  We learned about the two basic religions in the city – Catholicism and voo-doo.  We learned that one year’s tuition at Tulane University is $50,000.  We learned that in New Orleans, a banquette is a sidewalk.  We sampled beignets for the first time – sort of like a smaller and puffier version of our beavertails but dusted with powdered sugar – and lots of it.  We learned what a “shotgun house” was – sort of like a trailer with the doors at the front and back instead of the sides – made for good air flow and if anyone shot a gun at you, it would likely go right through and come out the other end!

We learned the term “over-served” and used it a lot throughout the remainder of the trip.  If one drinks just a tad too much, one says “I was over-served”.  We loved that one.

We learned about “Drive-Thru Daiquiri Bars” – yes – just like MacDonald’s – only for daiquiris instead of Big Macs.  No wonder they coined the term “over-served”.

Our tour ended just before lunch and we were dropped off in the French Quarter to do our own thing until it was time to leave for our dinner/jazz cruise.

We headed first, at the recommendation of our City Guide, to Po’boys for lunch to check one of the “must haves” from our list.  This turned out to be a very small deli-style place where you lined up to place your order, waited to hear it hollered out when it was ready and did your best to find someplace to sit and eat.  More paper plates – in fact, I think this time it was just paper.  By now we have learned that in the U.S. you share meals.  The portions are simply enormous!

After lunch we split up.  Gloria and I and another gal we met named Doris went off one way and headed for Bourbon Street.  We simply had to say we had been there……so now we can say that – and not a whole lot more about it.  It is very seedy, lots of small bars – perhaps it is better to see it at night – but I’m not sure I would feel very safe doing that.  Our next stop was the St. Louis Cathedral and Jackson Square, followed by more beignets at le Café du Monde.  We say majestic statues of Andrew Jackson and of Joan of Arc (affectionately called “Joanie on her Pony”).  From there we shopped in the French Market and the Flea Market before making our way back to the pick-up spot to have our bus take us back to the hotel.  Sore feet, tired legs, extremely hot (at least I was).  The temperature was a very humid 90+ degrees in New Orleans and the sun was out most of the time.  IT WAS HOT!!

The bus left the hotel again at 6pm headed for The Natchez – our paddle wheel steamboat where we were to enjoy a jazz dinner cruise.  Well……we could say we sailed on the Mississippi River and I guess that’s something!  The dinner was a buffet, crowded, lined up for ages – couldn’t hear the music at all and we got into a dust-up with a group of 3 ladies who accused us of stealing their table.  I will never forget the look on Miriam’s face as she declared that THIS WAS HER SALAD and popped a small tomato into her mouth for emphasis.  They complained to our trip guide – but then discovered they had made a mistake and we weren’t sitting at their table after all.  The wine was great.

Day 5 – New Orleans

On the bus by 8am headed for Oak Alley Plantation in Vacherie, LA  – a sugar cane plantation, still working.  The Live Virginia Oaks were magnificent – some of them 300 years old (merely middle-aged).  We toured slave cabins, the magnificent main plantation manor, had our first mint juleps (yummy) made with bourbon and then another lunch on paper followed by a gift shop.

From here we headed off to Laplace, LA for a Swamp Tour with Cajun Pride Tours.  This was fantastic.  We were in a flat-bottomed, low sided boat, with bench seating and a swamp tour guide who looked like relative of Crocodile Dundee.  The swamp was positively breathtaking – quiet, peaceful and beautiful – and not a mosquito in sight.  We saw quite a few alligators and large turtles.  The alligators enjoyed the “floating marshmallows” that were tossed to them.

Our guide had brought with him a young ‘gator who was passed around for us to hold (it may have been small, but its mouth was taped shut for good reason).  It was soft and silky and didn’t seem to be much bothered by all of the handling.

Back to the hotel for Kick-Back and then we headed out in search of the “best” jambalaya – at “Mother’s”.  Well, the jambalaya was good – as was the shrimp creole – and it was on real plates – but you still had to go to the counter to order it yourself.  After dinner we had a great game of Shang Hai Rummy in the hotel lounge.

Day 6 – New Orleans, LA to Natchez, Mississippi

Bags outside the door for 6:30am and on the bus for 7:30am.  We headed for Natchez.

Lunch was at Mammy’s Cupboard – another culinary experience.  One washroom, nothing for handicapped folks, food just so-so and Mammy herself manning the cash register.  It looked like she hadn’t moved from that spot in 40 years.

After lunch we arrived at Frogmore Cotton Plantation and Gins in Ferriday, LA.  Again, this was a working plantation and our tour guide was the “lady of the house” herself.  Rather than plant cotton, this industrious family provided cotton ginning services for about 35 cotton plantations.  We toured slave cabins (circa 1700), the kitchen house, laundry house, etc and the usual gift shop.  The weather had turned cold and misty.  Quite a change from New Orleans.  Jackets were required.

Our hotel for Day 6 was a Hampton Inn & Suites – but it might as well have been a Drury Inn – I didn’t notice much difference.

We didn’t join the larger group who were going for dinner to another diner type place – we ordered in pizza and played cards in the hotel lounge.  We did miss the hockey game and were relieved to hear that Montreal had prevailed and had won Game 7!

By the way – we learned early on – and nothing changed as the days went by – that cash is the preferred tender in many/most shops and restaurants.  It was difficult to find a place that took credit cards.

Day 7 – Natchez, MS to Memphis, Tennessee

Bags outside the door for 6:30am and boarded the bus for 7:45am.  Mid-morning break was at a highway rest stop – we were not impressed.  There were washrooms and vending machines (that didn’t work) and that was it.  I guess it guaranteed a quick stop.

We arrived at Graceland – OMG – ELVIS LIVES!  We had lunch in a little diner called “Rockabilly” and it was worse than horrible.  They had no milk for milkshakes, the staff had a major attitude and the food was awful.  A shuttle took us to the mansion where you were given a headset and could do the tour at your own pace.

The house itself, given the celebrity of its owner, was not huge – and it certainly wouldn’t ever win any interior decorating prizes – pretty over-the-top gaudy in most rooms and downright wild and crazy in others.  The grounds, however, were beautiful and peaceful in spite of the crowds wandering around.

A shuttle back took you to Elvis’ car museum, his 2 planes (The Lisa Marie and one other smaller jet) and a plethora of gift shops (14 of them) where TCB (Taking Care of Business) was definitely alive and well.  Talk about a place to mint money!

Following check-in at our Drury Inn and, of course Kickback, we headed to Beale Street, the Blues musicians, street performers and then some.  We found a restaurant (The King’s Palace Café) with real dishes and tablecloths – the wine even had a cork – and there was entertainment!  We were there for the evening – enjoying a wonderful “Cajun Feast” that consisted of Shrimp and Crawfish Etouffee, Championship Gumbo, Blackened Catfish, Voodoo Potatoes, Voodoo Chicken, Fried Green Tomatoes, rice and if there was more, I can’t remember.  We had specialty shrimp and gator chips for appetizers – and more wine.

The entertainer was David Bowen – an older gentleman who played guitar and sang the blues as if he had been doing it all his life – and I bet that was exactly the case.  We got up to dance – all of us – and had others doing so (with some persuasion) as well.  I’m not sure what the other diners thought of us but we had a great time – the best night yet.  We all purchased David Bowen’s CD as a great souvenir.

We were “almost” late getting back to the bus – the tour guide was on her way to try to find us – so we took some ribbing from the others.  Once again we had been “over-served”.  Our wonderful evening, with alcohol and entertainment, cost us $30 each and that included a generous tip.  Imagine!

We all felt we could have spent another entire day in Memphis – but that wasn’t on the itinerary.

Day 8 – Memphis, TN to Louisville, Kentucky

Bags at the door again by 06:30 and then the usual breakfast.  Mid-morning break again at a rest stop with unfriendly vending machines and line-ups at the washrooms.  Lunch at yet another Bob Evans restaurant….the first one seemed fine….but they get pretty boring after you’ve been to several.    This is basically a driving day – no sightseeing.  Our watches moved ahead one hour mid-afternoon.  This time we had to “buy” our 3 free drink tickets at the Drury Inn front desk – the “buy” was simply the state tax – first time we ran into that.  Arrived in Louisville late afternoon and YEAHHH – there is an Olive Garden restaurant in sight for dinner…..after Kick-Back, of course.  Something didn’t sit well with me and I can tell you that a very low toilet, with nothing on either side of it isn’t an easy challenge no matter which end is up!!

Day 9 – Louisville, KY to Troy, Michigan

Our day started with the usual early wake-up and bags at the door by 6:30am –we won’t see the large suitcases again until we get home which calls for some strategic packing of the carry-on.  After another Styrofoam plated breakfast, we headed off to Churchill Downs for a tour of the facility and the Kentucky Derby Museum.  The place was huge – much larger than I had envisioned.  We were taken right out onto the track where the horses (quite a few of them) were being exercised/trained.  The main screen where the race is shown and the odds and winnings posted was 15,000 square feet in size.  Very impressive!  Of course there was the usual gift shop before boarding the bus again, headed for another Bob Evans restaurant and then Troy, Michigan for our final night at a Drury Inn.  Following Kick-Back (we got to like those) we were delighted to discover a TGIF Friday’s restaurant attached to the hotel.  Our “last supper” was a great one – good food, good wine, good friends!

Day 10 – Troy, MI to Ottawa

Our last early wake-up and hopefully the last Styrofoam plated breakfast for a long while!  We stopped just short of the border at a duty-free shop where I got a 40oz bottle of Appleton Estate Rum for $17.00.  That was a bargain!!  At the border (Port Huron/Sarnia), we were prepared for the same sort of hassle we had coming over.  Instead a gentleman in uniform boarded the bus, asked “are you all Canadian Citizens”?  YES!  “Did you all stay within the allowed $$ limits?”  YES!  “Hold your passports up in the air”…….picture a busload of senior citizens madly waving their passports – and we were off again.

We dropped fellow passengers off in Kingston, Brockville, and Prescott and arrived in Kanata about 5:30pm. It felt good to be home.  We had a lot of fun, saw some interesting places, and would probably do something similar again – but not quite so far away.

SOME COMMENTS (mostly dislikes but a few positives as well)

  • Low toilets, Tall Beds
  • Many Cash-Only stores and restaurants
  • Styrofoam plates and plastic cutlery
  • Line-ups for meals, washrooms, etc
  • Rural Living – most hotels far from amenities
  • Rest Stops with nothing other than vending machines that didn’t work and far too few toilets
  • En route meal stops – MacDonald’s, Bob Evans, Pilot stores – this comment should be self-explanatory
  • Would have preferred a New Orleans hotel right in the French Quarter
  • Would have loved more time in Memphis
  • Might have been nice to make water available (for sale) on the bus
  • A shopping stop would have been nice – even just basics such as a drugstore
  • We did enjoy Kick-Back and those tequila sunrises!


I’VE BEEN OVER-SERVED   (I have had too much to drink)

KICK-BACK  ( Happy Hour)









Another Feline Update

Back to the vet this morning with all 3  – my friend & neighbour Doris came again to help me get them corralled and loaded up – for their injection of fluids and pain medication.  To my surprise, the bill had already been paid.  My good friend Kris (who is also one of the realtors I work for) had found my vet and pre-paid the bill.  There really are special people in this world!!  What a lovely and thoughtful surprise.  Needless to say, I had a good weep over that.

They suggested I try real flaked tuna in water to get them to eat – anything……so – tuna it was when we returned home.  Blaze and Herbie ate every bite of the small amount I offered them.  Olivia sniffed and walked away.  Very worrisome.  She is my oldest kitty – 13.

Off to the grocery store to pick up some new dry food (junk that tastes good) and some fancy feast – which they used to get as a treat until I thought better of it and switched them to a more healthy morning treat.  Halleluljah (or however you spell it)!  Olivia ate some of it. It is what she used to get at the breeders before I got her so I guess it is her comfort food.  All 3 had a small nibble of the new dry food.  Maybe we have turned the corner.  I have my fingers crossed.

My counters are covered with different types of canned and samples of dry cat food, syringes and cat bowls….and, I have thought of something brand new that they were offered about 2 weeks ago as a treat – hairball prevention treats.  That is the only thing new to their diet.  They each had 3 or 4 of the little treats.  Could that have done it?  They are now in the garbage just in case and I will talk to the Global Pet Food folks about that.  If they are at the bottom of this, they must be powerfully nasty to have 3 or 4 treats make my cats this sick.  I’m grasping at straws!!

Let’s hope tomorrow is a new day and that I have 3 cats who are anxious for their breakfast.



The City Does it Again

A whopping 9 out of 10 councillors in the executive committee (read Jim Watson’s people) voted against a competitive process for a new Casino in Ottawa.  What is wrong with this picture?  How can you vote for something without even seeing what the options are?  How can you vote against the very nuts and bolts of process in public sector?

I want what is best for Ottawa – and I don’t care where it is!  I do understand the pros and cons related to Rideau Carleton Raceway but to approve it without having any details about other possibilities just does NOT make sense to me.  And now they have put a caveat on it – that the winning casino bidder (is there even a bidding process here?) must pay for transportation improvements around the track!!  They seem to be doing their very best to ensure the casino goes to RCR and then fails.  RCR themselves have said they couldn’t commit to paying for city infrastructure without seeing the costs.

There should, at the very least, be an open competitive process.  A PROCESS.  Imagine!  This is public sector.  The City of Ottawa has already sole sourced one very large project in Lansdowne Park.  They developed a process for a reason.  Why aren’t they using it?

The more I read, the more ridiculous it all appears.  Do we really have a bunch of buffoons making decisions on our behalf?  This is frightening!

My Vacation – May 2013

I got back 10 days ago from what should have been my dream vacation in France and Italy (with a brief stopover in Monaco).

The itinerary was perfect – 6 nights in Nice, 1 night in Genoa and 5 nights in Viareggio – a beachside resort in Tuscany.

While the scenery was breathtakingly beautiful – and the number of yachts in each harbour unbelievable – the “tour” part of the package was too challenging for me…..starting with what felt like miles of walking in Charles de Gaulle airport!!  I’ve been in many airports, large and small, but this one ranks up there among the worst…….very spread out and nothing to see or do – just the occasional overpriced sandwich bar.  They even charged for internet service after a free 15 minutes at a kiosk.

Rather than dwell on the negatives (and there were quite a few) – suffice it to say I didn’t see everything on the agenda and I returned home in bad shape.  The trip was meant for “extreme mountain goats” – and I certainly didn’t qualify!!!

I will let pictures speak for themselves.  As you will see – we covered some very lovely territory!

The best part of the whole trip – I travelled with two of my very best friends!

Update on the Painting Project & What’s Next

I just realized that I left you hanging about my paint colour.

Alpaca went on one wall – two coats – and was left to dry while the rest of the main level was being sanded, patched and readied for painting.  IT WORKED!!

I’m not quite sure how to describe it – it is soft taupe with a hint of grey – absolutely no pink or yellow undertones (YEAHHHH!!!) and it suits my decor very well.  It looks very different on the actual walls than it does on the little colour strip you pick up at the paint store and, yes – it looks different in different rooms and under different lighting conditions.  I’m happy with it and that’s the main thing.

On to the next project – landscaping the grass right out of my front, side and back yards!!!  I’m going to cash in my future and do some sort of combination of shrub and perennial gardens with dark mulch, riverstone and artificial grass.  Yes – fake grass.  I have HAD IT with grubs, skunks digging for grubs, cinch bug, and weeds of every variety.  With the “no chemcals” rule – you just can’t win.

Take a peek at or at  It even has little brown bits and thatch in it – so very real looking – and feeling.  Expensive though – thus the landscaping to reduce the amount of “grass”.  I’ll keep you posted on this one.  Waiting (waiting forever) for a couple of designs and estimates.  I’m hoping this will pay for itself in 6-8 years and it is warranteed for 10!



LCBO Votes to Strike

We are lucky here in Ottawa.  If our source of wine is turned off, we can always slink across the bridge to La Belle Province and stock up – and likely with better choices and better prices!!

Workers in the LCBO want more money.  SAY WHAT?  They already earn, from what I read, more than just about any other retail job on the planet.  What is so special about putting a bottle in a bag, or stocking shelves?  What is unique about these retail workers  is that they are provincial government employees…….and, therein lies the problem.  Back to the trough – but – the trough is US!!

Let’s privatize this monster for once and for all.  I know it is a profit maker for an already strapped provincial government – but I’d rather have some competition in this arena than it be used as a source of tax revenue.  It must, however, be privatized without a myriad of government rules and added taxes (I must be dreaming!!).

At the very least, wouldn’t it be nice to be able to pick up the bottle of wine for dinner along with the groceries you are purchasing to make the meal!!

I think I’ll make an LCBO run while I can!!


Happy 2013

Seems like eons since I last posted anything – but it hasn’t really been that long.

I’m so glad the “happy holiday” season is over.  I may try to escape it all next year by running away somewhere…..maybe even completely by myself!

Christmas decorations are now down, outside Christmas lights turned off and that’s it for another year.  I managed to come down with my annual nasty chesty viral cold last week – and in spite of laying low since last Thursday, it isn’t getting any better.  I can usually count on 10 days of misery with these darned things.

On the brighter side – I am going out today (to share my germs) to see Billy Elliot at the NAC – tickets have been purchased for months now – so I’m not going to miss this.  I’m going armed with kleenex and cough lozenges – and of course, it’s snowing AGAIN.   I hope I’m past the stage of sharing this bug with my friends.

I wish all my friends and family nothing but the best for 2013.