20 December, 2012

This and That - The Pre-Christmas Edition…


Now that the craziness of the holiday season is almost behind us, I’m hoping to get back into the blogging state of mind. With everything else going on these days, it’s been hard to keep up.

My Christmas shopping is done and wrapped. Thank goodness for small miracles. I’ve been second guessing a couple of the purchases. Not that I’ve overspent on them, I’m just not 100% convinced they will be appreciated as much as I feel they should be. Oh well, I’m not dwelling on it because it’s the thought that counts – right?

About 4 weeks ago, J and I ordered new living room furniture for Christmas. Only one piece was being customized with different fabric, but we refused to pay a delivery charge twice, so we’re now expecting it to be delivered in time for Valentine’s Day. It seemed like a good idea at the time.

The Gigantic Craft Show has come and gone. After all my hard work, I’m happy to say I made money. Not enough to retire, but enough to call it a success. Will I do the same show again next year? Most likely not. While it was successful, it wasn’t successful enough when you factor in the two “vacation” days I had to use up from work. I LOVE my vacation days too much to give those up again.

J’s mom has decided she isn’t participating in Christmas this year. No Christmas Tree, no decorations, no Christmas dinner. Bah humbug! There will be presents though – both given and received. Apparently she doesn’t despise Christmas enough to give up on the presents. I didn’t bother to ask why she is being so anti-holiday. Somethings are just better left unsaid.

Speaking of Bah Humbug, The Boy is currently between jobs at the moment. His current contract ended a couple of weeks ago and unfortunately, nothing else has come along. I realize no one is hiring right now given the time of year; however I’m hoping he finds something else and soon because his Christmas spirit hasn’t been shining all that brightly either.

We have our work luncheon and secret Santa gift exchange tomorrow. Oh goody. I love nothing more than spending extended awkward moments with co-workers during the holiday season.

So with that, I leave you with the best possible Christmas quote of all time…sums things up quite nicely I think.

“Where do you think you're going? Nobody's leaving. Nobody's walking out on this fun, old-fashioned family Christmas. No, no! We're all in this together. This is a full-blown, four-alarm holiday emergency here! We're gonna press on, and we're gonna have the hap, hap, happiest Christmas since Bing Crosby tap-danced with Danny fucking Kaye! And when Santa squeezes his fat white ass down that chimney tonight, he's gonna find the jolliest bunch of assholes this side of the nuthouse!"  – Clark Griswold

13 December, 2012

A Look Down Under...

As a follow up to my Bonaire - 2012 Photo Montage (and as requested by my other favorite redhead, Crazy Cris), here is a photo montage of some of the wonderful critters that live in the lushious reefs surrounding the island of Bonaire.  Of course, these shots are all courtesy of J.

Spotted Moray Eel

French Angel - Close Up

Hawksbill Turtle (we counted 8 on one dive alone)

French Angel at the Salt Pier

Another French Angel at the Salt Pier

Queen Angel

Brown Spotted Trigger (I Think)

05 December, 2012

Twas the Night Before...the BIG Day...

The BIG day is nearly upon us. No, not Christmas. That’s BIGGER than BIG, but the BIG day I’m talking about is the BIG craft show that I’ve been preparing for since… ummm, June. It starts tomorrow and I can hardly wait to get that beast behind me. I cannot even begin to explain how much I HATE – yes HATE making earrings… and necklaces… and bracelets. It used to be fun, but it’s turned to misery.

I have made no less than 117 pairs of earrings, 120 necklaces and 35 bracelets since June. I HATE it all right now. Seriously. I know HATE is a strong word, but if I see another bead roll across my floor I will lose my mind…again.

I think I’m prepared and I hope I have enough inventory; but in all honesty – I don’t care anymore. I just hope to sell it all. Then, all this misery and misspent time will have been well worth it.

For four loooong days, I’ll be immersed in the world of crafters and crafty hunters. Wish me luck and say a little prayer that my sanity remains intact.

04 December, 2012

Hold On, Here We Go Again…

By the time our early retirement plan comes to fruition, you will be either too dizzy or too confused to follow this blog.

Remember how I said, Ecuador would most likely be our retirement destination of choice and then we had a change of heart and thought perhaps Bonaire could work for us and then we were back to Ecuador and then I think when I last left you we were back in Bonaire mindset.

Well, after doing some pre-retirement homework while we were on island in Bonaire, reality has again kicked us in the pants. Guess what? We apparently are not made of money and once we quit our jobs, we will no longer have a bi-weekly income in which to support the lifestyle we’ve become accustomed to.

So while we could financially make Bonaire work short term, we aren’t convinced it could be sustainable long term. Housing is more than what we want to spend, groceries are on average 5-10% higher than they are here in Canada and the daily housing costs (hydro, propane, water) are significantly higher than Canada.

We need to keep reminding ourselves that the amount of money we leave Canada with will be what we have to live on until we become eligible for our provincial and federal government pensions. So, our cash will need to last a minimum of 10 to 15 years from our date of departure. We have some retirement savings set aside, but these are under secured plans and cannot be touched until age 70.

What does all this mean? It means that we’re back to researching Ecuador and other potential retirement destinations. Panama has now been tossed into the ring as a potential contender. Why Panama? Well, Panama has the climate we’re looking for, easy daily access to mainland North America, affordable housing and healthcare, reasonable residency requirements, mainland amenities in Panama City and it would give us the ability to scuba dive in either the Caribbean Sea or Pacific Ocean – both within a few hours’ drive. How awesome is that?

Like the choices before with Ecuador and Bonaire – we won’t know if Panama is truly right for us until we’ve gone to do some exploring, dipped our toes in the Sea or Ocean, left footprints in the sand and downed a few ice cold cervezas while watching the sunset.


03 December, 2012

Bonaire - 2012...Photo Montage

Artistic Photo by J

Gumby Enjoying the Sunset - Day 1

Love the Boat Name:  "Free at Last"

Lac Bay, Bonaire - Heaven on Earth

Gumby Enjoying the Salt Pier - Best Dive Site on Island

1,000 Steps Dive Site - Only 60+ Steps to the Bottom, 
Feels Like 1,000 with Dive Gear On

Gumby Enjoying A Couple of Cold Ones After a Hard Day of Diving - 
Polar, A Nice Import From Venezuela

21 November, 2012

Post Vacation Funk...

Our vacation was fantastic. We had great weather, great scuba adventures and of course great company - overall it was a huge success. The downside however, was the lack of rest.

We went with our usual group of scuba friends and needless to say, there was no shortage of laughs, beer or knocks at our condo door at all hours of the day and night. I truly enjoy the camaraderie of the group, but also long to be left the hell alone after a long day of diving, sunshine and fresh air.

I now recall why on previous visits to the island, J and I chose to stay away from the group at other accommodations on the opposite side of the island. Are we anti-social? Perhaps we are, but I’m not apologizing for liking my privacy.

I find that after working for months on end – day in and day out in a “social” work environment with meetings, phone, calls and various interactions with co-workers, I need a time-out while on vacation.

Don’t get me wrong, I love these scuba friends and am blessed with their friendships, I just need time to myself too - time to decompress, rejuvenate, sooth the soul and recharge my batteries.

Now, enough of my complaining – there will be plenty of time to rest once I’m retired. Until then – J and I are on to planning our next vacation adventure (most likely without the group). Vacation requirements: somewhere warm, sunny, with a beach and plenty of peace and quiet. Oh and cheap airfare would be swell too.

Stay tuned for photos of this past trip – likely next week after I get my life back in order.

02 November, 2012

It Was Snowing This Morning...


That's all I have to say about that! 

31 October, 2012

Nine More Sleeps...

Yes, it’s ALMOST that time of year again. Time for me rejuvenate and store up on some sunshine and vitamin D before the long winter ahead. It’s time for me to pack my bags and scuba gear and head off to a place where memories are made, good times are had and the ocean is explored.

For some, Disney is the happiest place on earth, but for me it’s Bonaire. You may recall this is one of my contenders for places to retire, so J and I plan on using this opportunity to do some more research into the actual cost of living, average cost of vehicles, neighborhoods, etc. Five years is still a long way off, but at least we’ll be getting an idea of how expensive things actually are.

I can hardly wait to get there and park myself at the beach bar for a beverage or two - for a live webcam view of it, take a look here.  Maybe you'll see me there (in a week and a bit)...

Here are a few photos of the island from vacations past…



By the way - all of the above photos are courtesy of J and if you are interested in seeing more of his work, go here.

26 October, 2012

Noise...

Is there a place you can go to escape the man-made noises that we are overwhelmed by each day? Whether it be the sounds of traffic, office noise, television, radio, the hum of a florescent light fixture or your neighbor cutting the grass, noise is everywhere.

I watched a program on Discovery Channel the other night and it got me thinking about the noise we are surrounded by every day. Most times we aren’t even aware of how loud things have become because we’ve either grown accustomed to it or don’t know what we are missing in the first place.

The segment focused on a gentleman who is endeavoring to capture the sounds of species that are on the brink of extinction. His plan is to preserve natural sounds before it’s too late. He had a great quote that went something like “we won’t even know what we’ve missed out on or that it was even there in the first place thanks to urban sprawl and the number of people that are now on the planet”. It’s a sad but true statement.

Wouldn’t it be nice to discover some untouched wilderness, where the only sound you hear would be the wind through the trees, birds in the forest or the beating on your own heart?

Is there ever a time in your day when things are completely silent around you?   Tell me, are you comforted by silence or would you prefer background noise?

“Listen to the sound of silence.” – Paul Simon



24 October, 2012

Making Money…Every Little Bit Helps…


In our quest for reaching the 5 Year Plan and as a means of maintaining our early retirement, J and I have been tossing about ideas on how to make some extra money.

As you know, I already have my back-up plan – Flamingo Tongue Designs, although I don’t suspect this to be as successful in a third world country as it currently is here in Canada, but I guess only time will tell.

As you also know, J is the resident photographer in our family. He takes 100’s of photographs when we travel – both on land and underwater, so it seemed only natural that he use his God given talent for good and tries to sell some of them. This is also a hobby/business that would be ongoing and self-sustaining no matter where we end up. If you ask me it’s a win, win.

So with that said, J’s been spending hours, upon hours, sifting through his photos, organizing and submitting them for approval to various micro stock photography sites. It’s been a tedious and sometimes frustrating process - the submission guidelines are tough and the whole process is over-the-top time-consuming, but he’s persevered and has finally been approved and some of his content is now available for purchase here.

Remember to check back often because new content is continuously being added and if you like what you see, please feel free to purchase something – after all every little bit helps the cause (aka me) and may just secure you a seat on my beach. LOL!

23 October, 2012

Trolls and The Wedding From Hell...

I don’t even know where to begin other than to say – WTH! I hadn’t planned on posting this, but the more I think about it, the more worked up I’m getting and I think the world needs to know that there are selfish trolls amongst us.

This past weekend, we (J’s entire family) had the pleasure of attending the most chaotic wedding EVER.

I don’t know what people are thinking or in most cases – not thinking. I’m trying to understand where bad behavior comes from. Is it a learned response or is the under 30 generation to blame for their self-entitlement attitude and inconsideration for others? I’d like to believe it is a learned response and that the entire generation is not made up of “self-absorbed, whiney, the world owes me so much and I don’t want to work for it morons”.

Let’s start by saying that J’s niece got married. If we could overlook the fact that the groom is “a piece of work”, it should have been a wonderful family moment. Unfortunately, it turned into mayhem, tears, more mayhem, near disasters, more tears, some shouting, a near heart attack and let’s not forget – sore feet.

A little background – the wedding couple are supposedly “poor”. I use poor loosely since they seem to have money to spend frivolously on other things, except for their own wedding, but then again why would they spend their money when they have obvious suckers for friends and family who’d be more than willing to spend their time and money to throw the “lazy-ass” couple their own wedding.

A year ago when the happy couple announced they were first getting married, J’s brother (the father of the bride) offered to cook and cater the “intimate” wedding for 50. When he agreed, it was also thought, the wedding would be held locally, so J’s parents (the grandparents of the bride) agreed to help their son, throw their granddaughter a wonderful intimate wedding.

Fast forward to 6 months ago – the venue changed from locally to 4 hours away. Father and grandparents of the bride feel sorry for the bride-to-be because she is “poor” and can’t afford the wedding of her dreams, so they still agree to cater her wedding, which has now turned from intimate to 180 people…4 hours away from where they live. Here’s where the phrase “no way in hell” would have came in handy.

Fast forward to last week, father and grandparents of the bride spend 2 days shopping and another 2 days prepping, cutting, cooking over 10 roasts, gravies and sauces, buckets of potatoes and buckets and buckets of salads. Then, they were required to load the mega amount of food into their van and then drive 4 hours away the day before the wedding to get everything put into the venue that would host the wedding from hell.

Fast forward to Saturday (aka the day of the wedding from hell). Where to begin?

• The “minister” was 45 minutes late. Apparently he wrote the wrong time down, so when he received a frantic call, he immediately raced to the venue. He must have been in such a hurry to get started, that he forgot to take his gum out of his mouth, so we had to watch while he smacked and chomped away through the entire ceremony. I guess that’s not so bad, considering he also kept referring to the bride by her nickname and not her actual name.

• Once the wedding procession started down the aisle, it was a race to the finish. They were moving so fast, cameras could not focus fast enough to get photos. Once again, not the most awkward moment – no, that time came when the groom thought it appropriate to high five every member of the bridal party (and yell boo-yah) when they reached the front of the hall. Tacky? Absolutely. But wait, the bride and groom also thought it was totally appropriate to high five once they were pronounced “man and wife”. Tacky? Wait, we agreed it was.

• Drinks and snacks were to be served at starting at 5:30. Seems that no one initially knew who was supplying the snacks, but after some confusion, we started just throwing some stuff on platter and putting it out.

I should take a moment to explain, the “we”. As much as it was J’s brother and parents’ idea to cater this thing, we (aka J’s sister, J, the Boy and myself) couldn’t hang those 3 family members out to dry, so we stepped in and started schlepping food, drink, setting tables, etc., etc. for 180 people.

• It is “alleged” that “helpers” were apparently hired and on their way to assist with the meal service, so the family members could actually sit down and enjoy the event; however by the time the meal was ready, no servers were present. What does that mean? My theory is that the groom purposely did not hire them. Why pay for help when your bride’s family will do it, right? It’s a good thing I have years of wait service under my belt, The Boy had a year of culinary management.

• J’s mother had few too many meltdowns throughout the day, as she does not work well under pressure. For obvious reasons, she had a personal stake in this day and then couldn’t even enjoy it.

• J’s dad, having undergone triple by-pass in the Spring has never fully recovered and the stress of the day overwhelmed him. Shortly after supper was served, he began experiencing chest pains, but he would not tell anyone that he had forgotten his nitroglycerin medication at the hotel. I had saw J’s dad clenching his chest, but instead of telling J’s mom the reason why, we had simply said he wasn’t feeling well.

• J’s mother got royally upset with all of us because we insisted that she needed to leave because J’s dad wasn’t well. She started yelling at us and was upset because we all ruined her day. Excuse me? Yeah, I was behaving and bit my tongue on that one.

• Finally, J was able to wrangle his parents back to the hotel. En route, apparently J’s mom was complaining at J’s dad that she had to leave, how it wasn’t fair to her, blah, blah, blah. I guess J’s dad then snapped and told her, he had to leave because he was having chest pains. Apparently that shut her up and then she was as nice as pie. Stress – it does stupid things to people.

The “piece de resistance” came during the speeches. Everyone, EXCEPT the family of the bride were thanked for the contributions to the couple’s special day. At this point in time, I was too exhausted to care and was grateful that J’s parents had left because that surely would have sent them both over the edge...and to emergency.

It’s sad. I believe it wasn’t done intentionally, I just get the feeling that their generation is out of touch with reality or the people around them. Feelings of others don’t matter. As long as they get what they want, when they want it, their life is complete.  Trolls...the world is full of them.

I wish them the best in married life, but in all honestly, I could care less I ever spent another family gathering with either of them.

Rant over…I feel better now.

13 October, 2012

Still Alive and Kicking...

I wish I could tell you I won the lottery and skipped town, but such is not the case.  This has been a busy month - there's been weddings, Canadian Thanksgiving, family commitments, busy work schedules, blah, blah, blah.  No spectacular excuses, just life.

Oh yeah, I've also been crazy busy getting my jewelry inventory built up for the big show in December.  Yes, I realize December seems far off, but in reality - not really because yet to come is another wedding, our pre-winter scuba getaway to Bonaire and then voila...the show!

So, there you have it.  Just thought I stop in to say hello.  Miss you lots.

Well, since I'm here, here is a sea glass piece I just finished - 13 pieces of Puerto Rican sea glass and fresh water pears.

 

01 October, 2012

Take a Trip, Clear Your Mind...

After a couple of years of wandering aimlessly through a couple of different college programs, The Boy has decided to take a year off from his search of post-secondary knowledge. In hindsight, J and I should have encouraged him to do this sooner, as it would have save a lot of time, money and frustration by everyone involved, but as parents, you want your children to succeed, have more and do more than you personally.

During my generation, we finished high school knowing we were lucky to be heading off for college because many of our parents didn’t have that ability. They simply finished high school and entered the work force, got married, started a family, etc. A post-secondary education wasn’t expected from them, or in some cases it wasn’t even an option.

In this day and age, we expect our children to be destined for greatness and when greatness doesn’t come exactly how and when we expect it – on our terms and schedule, we become overly concerned that there is something fundamentally wrong with our children or we begin to second guess our parenting ability.

Having experience those exact misgivings, we’ve taken a step back and reevaluated what’s important. The Boy’s happiness is our # 1 priority. God knows, we don’t want him to pick a career path for the sake of shutting us up and be miserable for the rest of his life, which in turn will make him resent us.

On the other hand, he’s not going to be lollygagging about doing nothing but playing video games for the next year. J and I expect him to be a contributing member of society and with that will come a job - eventually.

But before the job, he’s gone off on a little adventure – to Ireland. He’s been saving for a couple of years for this one and is paying for it himself, so I wasn’t about to nag about the need to get a job over the need to travel. That would be downright hypocritical because we all know I would easily pick travel over a job.

So, with that said – he packed his bag, jumped on a plane and off he went to tour Ireland. He’s been gone since last Saturday and will be back this coming Saturday. It certainly isn’t a backpack across Europe kind of trip, but this is something that’s definitely out of his comfort zone.

I’m hoping somehow he’ll become inspired by his adventure and with that inspiration will come clarity - clarity on what he wants to be when he grows up or maybe he’ll choose the lifestyle I’ve always wanted for myself – beach bum extraordinaire.

Only time will tell how this adventure will impact his future and until then, we wait.



25 September, 2012

Dr. Seuss I Ain't...

Life as I know it is out of control. I just need to get a grip and a grab a hold.

Of something, anything to hold on tight. Better yet, I’ll take a flight.

To the hills, mountains, forest or beach – just anywhere that’s out of reach.

From the hustle and bustle of corporate tussles.

To gain respect, to gain control. In the end, it sucks your soul.

Going here, going there, never really getting anywhere.

In the end, I know I’ll win, but until then – it’s spin, spin, spin.

I’m told things happen for a reason. Like wind, rain and change of season.

Don’t lose your mind, don’t lose your soul. Just grab a hold and take control.

Good things are meant to last, but until then – they can kiss my a$$.

10 September, 2012

Technology - A Double Edged Sword...

I LOVE, LOVE, LOVE technology - when it’s not inconveniencing or annoying me.

It has simplified many tasks in my daily routine, but at the same time – it has added so many complications.

I like how I can check my e-mail from anywhere, receive text messages from family and friends, update my website remotely, check weather, find directions – all while being on the move, but at the same time, I dislike all of those things. I’m a slave to technology and not proud of it.

I dislike how I’m expected to respond immediately to e-mails and text messages. No matter where we are, we can be found, we can be hounded and we can be pestered.

I like the “good ole days” – when you left the house, no one could find you find you until you wanted to be found. No one knew where you were going or where you had been.  Life was simple...

Just because we have the technology to annoy instantaneously, doesn’t mean it should be used that way. Those who need to get a hold of me might as well understand one thing - I’ll get back to you when I feel like it, if I feel like, on my time. Know one thing - if you pester me too much, I’ll ignore you – forever.

And that - is what technology has done to me.

04 September, 2012

September? How'd that Happen?

I can’t believe its September. Where did May, June, July and August go? In some aspects, time passes so quickly these days, but in others, it just simply drags on forever – like weekdays vs. weekends.

Today was the first day back to school for the little ones, so my commute was littered with school buses, anxious looking children and ecstatic looking parents. By the end of next week – everyone will look miserable again.

This past weekend was my friend’s 50th birthday party/zip-lining extravaganza. We had a BLAST zip-lining and I would highly recommend it if you haven’t done it before. Fun, fun, fun! If you’re not an adrenaline junky before you start – you will be by the time you’re done. The after party/picnic was also a huge success. The weather was spectacular, food was great, but then again food always tastes better when you have great company and Saturday was no exception.

Yesterday was a holiday (thank goodness), so time was spent cleaning up the house since it had been neglected for a few days prior to the party. I also spent some time organizing all of my jewelry pieces, supplies, photographing finished pieces, writing descriptions, etc. I like the creative side of the business, but dislike all the fine details and business aspect of it. Maybe it wouldn’t seem so much like a task if I actually had the time to dedicate to the tedious details. Soon…soon....

Today, I’m in recovery mode. It’s a good thing I’m at work today - now I can catch up on some rest. Ahhh…

30 August, 2012

Things I Won't Miss...

I’m sure my tune will change when I’m finally relocated to Ecuador, Bonaire or some other southerly destination, but right now at this moment in time, here is a list of things I won’t miss…

1. My alarm clock. Waking up on my own will be a blessing. I should have all of the time in the world to do what I want, when I want, so my alarm clock won’t be a necessity any longer.

2. My commute. I can think of so many things I can do with an additional 2 hours every day.

3. The daily grind of a 9-5 job and all of the office politics that go along with said job. I know I’ll miss the paycheck but I think all the negatives outweigh that one positive.

4. Fast food restaurants. Yes, I know they are convenient and I am not one to frown upon their usefulness, but I’ll be glad when they are no longer an option for me.

5. Big box stores. Convenient? Yes. Cheap? Yes. Soul sucking? Absolutely! I can’t even put into words the despair I feel upon entering these big box stores. Is so much stuff really necessary?

6. Commercialization. I guess this goes along with items 4 and 5 above and so many other things I witness every day. I’m tired of mini-malls, shopping malls, the suburbs, condo developments and everything else commercial. Everything has the same appearance in one town as it does in every other town in North America. I want something different and unique.

7. Television. Yes you heard that correct. J and I are hoping to give up television. This will be a bigger task for J than for me, but it’s something we are entertaining. There’s another 3+ hours we’ll get back every day.

8. Stuff. I can hardly wait to get rid of my excess stuff. I plan on starting the liquidation process next spring, but the liberation won’t be complete until it’s all gone and my entire belongings will fit into a few suitcases.

9. Lack of Time. I know I will find other things to fill my day, but I’m most looking forward having some time to myself - to do something, anything or nothing at all.

I guarantee, there will be more to come, but those are the big ones right now.

Legal Disclaimer: I reserve the right to change my mind on anyone of these items should the need arise.

27 August, 2012

Incentive Travel...

I have found the absolute perfect solution to many of my work woes.  Incentive travel.  Yes, instead of a monetary bonus, companies actually provide their employees with travel rewards.

Incentive travel programs allow employees to work towards a tangible reward. Also, a program such as this offers the possibility to satisfy each human being’s inherit desire to see and travel the world. As an innovative way to motivate employees, the positive impact an incentive travel program within a company can bring is worth looking into. The following three steps will help you in launching an incentive program which can potentially show an increase in business, employee retention, and office place morale.

I intend on putting this little tidbit into the "Suggestion Box"...




21 August, 2012

I'm In...

Good news (I think). I’ve received confirmation that my jewelry has now been juried and I have been accepted to participate in the craft show I was telling you about last week.


So with that, I’m revving up production.  I'm exhausted from just thinking about all the work and it hasn't even started yet.


It’s exciting to know that my stuff will be getting a lot of exposure at that show, but at the same time, it’s frightening to think about the “what ifs”.


What if I don’t have enough inventory to last the entire 4 day show?


What if I have enough inventory because absolutely no one buys a thing?

What if I don’t make enough money to pay for the show entrance fees?


What if I lose my mind because the eccentrics at the show drive me over the edge? You know who I’m talking about – those over-the-top “crafty” people.


What if there is a home-baked goods booth set up beside me? I’m doomed to lose my mind and all my money for sure.


Now that think about it, I could really use some chocolate chip cookies.  You know, to give me energy...

16 August, 2012

Round and Round We Go...

Up and down like a see-saw…

Round and round like a merry-go-round…

Back and forth like a ping-pong ball…

Do you get the picture? No? Me neither. Indecisiveness is the name of the game at the moment. I’m not typically an indecisive person, but when it comes to this 5 Year Plan, I can decide which end is up.

Those of you that have been around long enough know the story. Before we decided to put the 5 year plan in motion, we had always talked about “wouldn’t it be nice to win the lottery and move to Bonaire”. Then when we heard about how economically one could live in Ecuador, we realized we wouldn’t need to win the lottery to make our dreams come true, but instead we would just need to focus our energy into paying off our debts within the next 5 years and with that “The 5 Year Plan” was born.

When started looking into Ecuador in greater detail, we were excited about all of the opportunities that would be available to us like cheap real estate, cheap cost of living, good healthcare, better quality of life and then something happened. Doubt crept into the picture and we started to second guess that decision. We became concerned that our hearts have belonged to Bonaire for so long and that perhaps Ecuador wasn’t the place for us. There were a lot of other factors that lead to our angst – like having to learn a new language for example, the talk of increasing real estate prices in Ecuador, crime levels, etc., etc. The reasons were simply excuses brought on by fear of the unknown.

It was with that turn of events, we refocused our energy on Bonaire. It was certainly a comfort thing – we knew the place, we love the place, English is widely spoken, so why not make it our home? In no time, we were into full investigative mode. We talked for hours about our dream life on that tiny island. It was a wonderful, elaborate dream and then like any dream, reality slowly creeps back in and you wake up with a jolt.

And that is where we are - reality has sunk in. As ideal as Bonaire would be, it’s expensive and it’s not a day-to-day lifestyle we could sustain long term without both having to work full-time at our “hobbies” in order to make enough money to make ends meet, which would be in addition to some form of rental income required just to be able to enjoy those extras in life. Nope. It wasn’t going to happen. I realize working in paradise is different than working in “real life”, but it’s not something we are prepared for. Our whole goal all along is to work less, enjoy life more and we just couldn’t see that happening on Bonaire. Sad, really – reality is harsh.

Today, we are back on the Ecuador bandwagon. Are you getting dizzy yet? I am.

There are things we want, that Bonaire just couldn’t give us long term. There are things that Ecuador might not be able to provide for us either, but at this point, the pros of Ecuador outweigh the pros of Bonaire.

We aren’t looking at it as settling any longer. We are looking at it as a realignment of our life goals. I’m sure I’ll have many more days of indecision, fear and regret before the process is over, but for now, I feel good.

Have a great day!



14 August, 2012

Culture That Doesn’t Come from Yogurt…

When I was a lot younger, I had dreams of becoming a stage actor, but even back then, I had the nagging need to make ends meet instead of throwing caution to the wind and following my dreams. 
 
The closest I get to those dreams of magic and whimsy now are watching as an audience member.   I have an ever-growing wish list of performances I would love to see one day – even a couple of operas too.
 
La Cage Aux Folles – A story of two gay men, a straight son about to be married and the introduction of the soon to be conservative in-laws.  It’s all about remaining true to themselves, regardless of what others may think.
 
La Traviata – A story of a woman, gone astray, living the life of wild indulgences until she meets a true gentleman, but their relationship is bound to disgrace his well-to-do family.  Can they find true love or will it come too late?
 
La Boheme – Another story of love, lust, despair and jealousy.  What more could you want?  True love is once again found, but tragedy will strike in the end.
 
Let go of your preconceived notions, step out of comfort zone and try something different.   The theatre is a great place to start. 
 

13 August, 2012

Random Thoughts – Monday Blues and Then It’s Winter…


I’m feeling out of sorts this Monday. I don’t know why, I just know that something’s not right with my world at the moment. Probably, just the Monday blues. I should start feel better by 5:00 pm - I usually do.

My boss is on holidays this week. Thank goodness for small miracles. Another week like last week and I might not have been able to contain myself or the rage he creates within me.

I had dinner with an old co-worker last week. Our meeting reminded me of how much I miss working with her. We could be silly together, laughing about anything, everything and everyone that crossed our paths throughout the day. It was nice to have a funny, carefree co-worker. I don’t have that here and I miss it.

I wish I could go barefoot in the office. I hate wearing shoes. I’m constantly kicking them off under my desk only to have to scramble to put them back on when I need to go to meetings, the printer, supply room or the restroom.

This morning I was reflecting upon “what I did this summer” and apart from walking on the beach on the weekends, J and I have not done anything exciting or accomplished anything substantive around the house. The spare room is still in need of drywall, paint, finishing touches, etc. Oh well, at least some beach memories have been made.

The evenings and mornings are starting to get cooler. After the scorching summer we’ve had, the coolness is welcomed, but it’s also a gentle reminder that “you know what” will be coming soon enough.

On the topic of “you know what”, J pointed out that the wild goldenrod plants were starting to flower. An old wive’s tale has it that once they’ve flowered, the first frost will be coming within 6 weeks. I can’t even think about that or else my funk will only worsen. They do look pretty though…



10 August, 2012

Say What?

Summer is still upon us and I’m loving every extreme heat moment of it, but my thoughts have slowly been turning to the holiday season that’s not too far around the corner. I know – it’s a sure sign of insanity.

Believe me, I’m not wishing the next 3.5 months away; however I’ve had a dose of reality in that I’m not remotely prepared. You see, I sort of diddle-farted around and didn’t get my application in for participation in my usual November craft show and now, I find out there is no more room. Eeek!

Flamingo Tongue Designs has done well this year overall, but I relied on that craft show to increase my sales into the “almost break-even” range.   Shame on me for procrastinating.  What am I going to do now?

Well, after some scrambling, I found a bigger and better show to participate in – if I’m accepted. It’s a juried show and my work will be judged before I’m accepted, so you never know which way it might go. The entrance fees are twice as much to participate in it, but it runs for twice as long (4 days as opposed to 2), soooo technically by my theory, I should also make twice money. At this point, making enough to pay for the entrance cost would suit me fine.

The show’s attendees in previous year have exceeded 10,000 people, compared to 2,000 to 3,000 at the previous show. I was comfortable with my inventory level for a show of 3,000 people. I’m not so comfortable with my inventory level for a show of 10,000 people.

So, my panic has begun. I need to get cracking and start up my “sweat shop of one” again. I haven't been accepted yet, but I can't wait.  The thought of it is making my fingers ache already…

If the show is successful, it will be a huge boost for my 5 year plan; however if the show is a bust or my jewelry doesn’t interest the attendees, it could spell disaster.

“A dream doesn't become reality through magic; it takes sweat, determination and hard work.” – Colin Powell



08 August, 2012

Message in a Bottle...

I realize it’s already Wednesday and I’m just now getting around to telling you about my weekend, but things have been busy. Well, maybe not so much busy, as I’ve been lazy and I've been competing in the new Olympic event of "couch-surfing".

Anyhow, it was a long weekend in Canada. It was one of those holidays that you get, but you don’t really understand its purpose. I’m okay with that – it was a holiday and I am thankful for it nonetheless.

So, part of doing nothing exciting all weekend involved yet another couple of long walks on the beach on both Saturday and Monday. Once again, it was peaceful.

After the wind and rain we had on Sunday, the beach was full of glass treasures on Monday, so I was in my glory. Apart from all of the beach glass, shells and driftwood we find, we also find lots of other junk that’s floated away – plastic bottles, old hats, beach balls, sand pails, sunglasses and garbage. This weekend, I found something I’ve never found before…my first message in a bottle.

I could tell from the bottle that it hadn’t been in the water that long and that the bottle itself was from a local winery. I was a little dismayed that it hadn’t originated from some far away land, but guess with it being found in Lake Erie, the most exotic I could have hoped for would have been Sandusky, Ohio or perhaps Chicago, Illinois. Regardless, I was intrigued by my find.

We weren’t equipped to open the bottle right there on the beach, so we brought it home and before we opened it, we took some photos.





Upon opening it, we discovered that it was written on behalf of a 5 year old girl, vacationing in Port Stanley (about 80 kms/50 miles) from where we found it. The note was written on July 27, 2012 and we found it on August 4th. If I was any good at math, I would calculate rate of travel per day, but I’m not, so we will leave it at - it travelled 50 miles in approximately a week.

The note asked that if we found the bottle, we would write or phone the little girl and let her know where and when we found it. I plan on sending her a postcard in the next day or so. We also plan on writing our own note, putting in the bottle and sending it on its way again.

With the flow of the current in Lake Erie, I anticipate the bottle could make it as far as Buffalo, New York if the conditions are right. It should be interesting to see if we get a response to our note.

01 August, 2012

Getting My Glue On…


I’ve never considered myself a crafter. I don’t like felt, craft foam, glitter or sequins, BUT I do love my glue gun. It’s a heavy duty industrial model – not one of those wimpy crafty ones. It’s a manly glue gun (if there is such a thing) and I have the burn marks and blisters on my fingers to prove it.


Anyhow, I’ve taken a bit of a break from the jewelry side of things to explore my other creative side – the one where I get to use the glue gun.


Soooo, here is what I’ve created with some picture frames from the dollar store, some white spray paint, some glue and of course, some of my sea glass treasures.  The photos in the frames are courtesy of J.  I think I’ve found another excuse to go on vacation…I need more glass and J needs more photos!




You would not believe what sea glass picture frames have been selling for on Etsy by other artists. Let’s just say, I could quit my day job if I sold enough of them.

31 July, 2012

Soothing The Soul...

J and I are fortunate to only live approximately 30 minutes away from Lake Erie and as you know, we both LOVE, LOVE, LOVE the water and beach and spend as much time as we can there in the summer months. We usually get there at least one day on the weekends.

When we go to the beach, we don’t typically go to swim or sunbathe, but go for a long walk instead. With a wetland and biosphere bordering that portion of the lake, we are able to walk for literally hours without running into another person. It’s truly rejuvenating to just wander in nature, where the only sound we hear is the lapping of the waves on the shoreline, the wind blowing through the poplar trees, the cry of passing sea gulls or a faraway screech of a bald eagle looking for his lunch.

When we head out, we don’t have a purpose in mind. We usually walk for a couple of hours in one direction and then turn around and head back. Along our route, we pick up treasures of all kinds including beach glass, shells, rocks, driftwood and anything else that interests me. J takes his camera and I take snacks. We talk about everything and nothing at all. It’s nice.

I don’t know how to explain it, but it’s an experience that soothes the soul, calms the mind and resets your life balance (if there is such a thing). It’s how life should be – simple.

30 July, 2012

Wonderful Weekend and Then Monday Comes…

I don’t usually hate Mondays, but I do today. I would prefer to come to work and do my job without drama – especially on Mondays. Alas, it’s not meant to be.

Instead, I get to deal with internal sales people. Let’s just say, sales people and the legal department cannot possibly live cohesively. I’ve tried and failed - miserably.

All I want to do is do my job.  My job is to point out legal risks and all the sales people want to do is sell product and they could not give a rat’s-ass about legal risks. They want to make their commission.

Honestly, they’d prefer if I was not allowed in the building – it would make their job easier. Believe me, I’d prefer if I was not allowed in the building – it would keep my blood pressure lower than it is at the moment.

The worst part is - they are cowards. If they have a problem, it would be so much easier to call us and talk about it, but instead they play stupid games and call meetings to discuss the legal department behind our backs.  BUT, guess who they call and inconvenience when they are being sued for ignoring the risks we pointed out?

Well, I’m done with their crap. They’ve crossed the line and once you’re on my bad side, there is no turning back – I’ll despise you for life.  If they think legal has been difficult in the past, just wait. 
There, now that's off my chest...I hope everyone DOES have a fantastic Monday (unless you are one of the aforementioned sales people).