29 December, 2014

Nothing Since October? How Has That Happened?

I can't believe that I haven't posted anything since October.  Wow!  I don't know where the time went.  There are the usual excuses - work, family and the many, many craft/jewelry shows that I participated in.  There are times when the time passes so slowly and then there are other moments when the time just screams on by.  Apparently, October through December contained a lot of those latter moments.


Well, rest-assured I'm still here and all have been good.  I've been lurking, I just haven't had the time or energy to put anything to "paper".


J and I were fortunate to spend two glorious weeks on Bonaire at the beginning of December, with plenty of diving, sunshine and relaxation.  You may recall to Bonaire is one of the "finalists" in the places we wish to retire to in a few years, so it was good to spend time looking at the island from that perspective.  We toured many neighborhoods - discovered those that held potential and ruled out a few more of as well.  We looked a potential building lots, got a feel for home styles and made a wish list in the event we decide to explore the building aspect of things.


I think Bonaire is somewhere I could reside long term, I just wish it was a little more affordable.  That's not to say, we couldn't afford it, it just means we may not have the "cushion" I would ideally like to have.  I guess with great reward, comes a certain measure of risk.  What do you think?







22 October, 2014

Random Thoughts - Restless in Canada…


Where has the time gone?  And by time, I mean Summer.  The temperatures have been above normal for October, so that’s not the problem.  The problem is the lack of sunshine and copious amounts of rain.  It’s dark when I wake up and close to dark by the time I get home.  In a few weeks IT WILL be dark by the time I get home and soon, I’ll need to have the snow tires put on my car.  After that, everything goes downhill until April...

I’m experiencing a great deal of “funk” these days – especially as it relates to work.  I’ve got the “seven year itch”, but it’s only been 4 years.  Believe me, 4 years is like an eternity for me right now.  My job duties are in flux at the moment.  I’ve taken on extra/new duties, with the promise of a new hire to take some of my old duties away and as it just so happens, that new hire is still weeks off.   I’ve become so disgusted by this place, that I’ve given up caring about anything work related.  Enough said on that topic…

J and I participated in a new craft/art show this past weekend.  For it being “new”, we are quite happy with how well we did.  Others at the show weren’t as happy.  I’m amazed at how offended people become when their product doesn’t sell like hotcakes.  I hear things like “they obviously don’t know who I am” or “don’t people understand that my product is the best around”.    First of all, I don’t care who you are or how great your product is – if you don’t have what people want to buy, you won’t sell it.  It’s as easy as that.  Now, get over yourself…


J and I have recently taken up mountain biking.  Well, let me clarify, we bought mountain bikes, we bought helmets, and we have bought water bottles, BUT we haven’t quite made it to anywhere that would resemble a mountain.  We have plenty of old railways in our area that have been removed and made into bike and walking trails, so they are a perfect place to re-learn how to ride a bike and to build stamina.  They saying is true “that you never forget how to ride a bike”, BUT you do forget how painful you bum will be at the end of your ride.  Our goal is to continue to ride until the snow falls and then switch to training indoors on our son’s bike trainer.  I’m hoping to get myself into a semi-fit state before next riding season so that we can ride with our friends that are slightly more hardcore.  Fingers crossed…

There seems to be a sense of doom and gloom with the world these days.  Honestly, the world is a scary place - between ISIS and ebola, serial killers, random shootings, the economy, poverty, world hunger and just the everyday jerks, I'm losing my faith in humanity.  I'm not giving up, I'm just continuing to evaluate what's important to me, my happiness and doing what I can to make the lives of others a little bit brighter.

And on that note, I'll share with you my new motto.  It's works well for all occasions - repeat as needed.


10 October, 2014

Gobble, Gobble...

It's Canadian Thanksgiving on Monday here in Canada and that means:
A long weekend;
Fantastic weather. Sunny and warm is what the weather people are saying;
Local county fair should make for some great junk food fixins; and of course...
Turkey and all the trimmings.
On Tuesday, I will commence the self-loathing but until then...have a fantastic weekend!



10 September, 2014

Friendship...


Friendship is about being there to listen when someone needs to talk.


Friendship is about being able to talk and having someone there to listen.


Friendship is about doing things out of the kindness of your heart and not expecting reciprocity or monetary payment.


Friendship should be unconditional and not about personal gain.


Friendship is about telling the truth regardless of the topic.


Friendship is about support and support can be given in many ways.


Friendship should not be one-sided.


Friendship should be everlasting and not fleeting.


Friendship should not be insincere.


Friendship should not revolve around Facebook.


Treat your friends they way you wish to be treated, otherwise your friends will move on to find real friends that are worthy of their time.  Remember that…

 

28 August, 2014

I Wonder...


I wonder what’s wrong with the world and the people in it.  Can’t we all just get along?


I wonder why people feel the need to share so much on social media sites.



I wonder where sea gulls nest.  I’ve yet to see a sea gull’s nest or their babies, so I’m curious.  I could Google it, but I don’t really want to know.  I’m just content to keep wondering about it.



I wonder how fast mice can run.  Have you ever seen them run across the road?  Those little guys sure can move!



I wonder why I procrastinate.  I would feel better getting things done, but not bad enough to get moving on it.



I wonder when I became so jaded towards certain people in my life.  I’m one to forgive (sort of), but never forget.  I’m trying to overcome these feelings, but it’s not easy.   



I wonder what all the fuss about this ALS ice bucket video challenge is about.  I understand the disease, but enough with the videos already.  I’m beginning to think, the original intent has lost all meaning and now it’s just for kicks.  I’ve been nominated and I will do it, but only to show I’m not a poor sport about it.



I used to wonder what the “P” stood for in relation to airplanes (i.e. P-51 Mustang).  Thanks to my family (who Googled it), I now know it stands for “Pursuit”.  That could come in handy in a game of trivial pursuit.



I wonder what it will be like to get up in the morning without the aid of an alarm clock.



I also wonder, who wrote the book of love…



In case you were wondering, this is what it looks like inside a lobster cage in Halifax Harbour, Nova Scotia (this is my new favorite obsession BTW).


21 August, 2014

Random Thoughts - Fleeting Summer, Canadian Woes Edition...

Where has summer gone? Or did it even arrive in this first place? I don’t know about where you’re from, but here, it’s been cooler and more rainy than usual. We have an “old wives tale” in our area that says when the golden rod starts to flower; there will be frost in approximately 6 weeks. Well, the golden rod started to flower about 2 weeks ago, so if the tale is true, there will be frost on the ground by mid September.
My friends that I told you about a while back have officially moved to Panama. I’m so happy for them, but I won’t lie – I’m super jealous too. I know my time will come – if and when J and I can agree on a retirement destination. We each want different things and at this point, our only compromise might be splitting our time between 2 spots. Not the wisest move financially…

The Boy has been home from school for a visit in between semesters. It’s been really nice having him home, but soon he will be back on his way and once again, our house will be quiet…and clean…and the refrigerator will be full.

I’ve been participating in WAAAAY too much of things and not enough of others – too much food, too much drink, too little exercise and with that, my butt has become WAAAY too large. I had been doing so well up until mid July and then things just fell apart. I refuse to get on the scale because that will just cause me great anguish. I have every intention on getting back on track after the long weekend. Yes, I’m procrastinating…

As a Canadian, I’m tired of being gouged by shipping companies because I live in Canada. I’m disgusted by what things cost to have something shipped across the border. I order a lot of things online. On average, I pay more than 4 times for shipping to Canada than if I lived in the US and THEN, I still have to pay any exchange fees, plus customs and brokerage charges – pure B.S. We live approximately and hour and a half from the border, so in order to combat this, I’ve opened up an account with a US company that will accept shipments in my name in Niagara Falls, New York. They charge $5 per package when I go to pick it up. Yes, I’m still paying gas and my time, BUT I think it’s money well spent. It’s my way of sticking it to the “man”.

One problem solved, but my next complaint is that some websites (i.e. Converse.com) will not sell to me because I do not have a US credit card. Their site clearly says shipping to the US only, so my “US address” now solves that problem; however I cannot complete the purchase because I do not have a US credit card, nor will they accept payments from my PayPal account because it is also registered in Canada. eBay and a million other companies don’t seem to have a problem taking my money, so what’s the deal with Converse? What do they have against Canadians? Another case of pure B.S.

For those of you that are “friends” on Facebook, you know that J has shipped his first wholesale order for his wine bottle creations to a winery in Malibu, California. We also participated in an outdoor festival a few weeks back and his creations got a lot of positive feedback…and some sales too. He’s also aligned with a local home decor company and has some of his pieces on consignment with them. We’re pretty excited about his success so far and are hoping the orders continue. If you’re interested to can like our page on Facebook – either click on the link just search Surfing Flamingo and voila.

29 July, 2014

Holding Pattern…



Do you every feel you can’t move forward because your feet seem to have been cemented in place?  Well lately, I feel like most every day.
Work is the biggest culprit – there have been lots of changes, lots of changes to come and until those changes are finalized, my job duties are like a revolving door – constantly changing with the winds.  Don’t get me wrong I like change, but I also would like to have a sense of where I’m going to be long term and by long term, I mean for at least for the next few years. 
We are short-staffed and I’ve been called upon to take on more duties until a replacement can be found.  How can they find a replacement when they aren’t even looking?  It’s been almost 6 months with no end in sight.   I’m not one to shy away from a challenge or hard work, but I also don’t like being treated like the “fix-it” girl – especially when it won’t be recognized in any way shape or form by the “powers that be”.   By the time next year’s review period comes along, they will have conveniently forgotten about all the extra work I’ve done, problems I’ve fixed and money I’ve saved the company.  I don’t expect the world, but a little recognition would be nice.  Crazy talk, I know.
One thing I take great comfort in knowing, they will miss me when I’m gone to the Caribbean…. permanently.  I know everyone is replaceable, but I can guarantee they won’t find another one of me. 
Until then, smiles everyone, smiles! (Can anyone tell me where that line is from?)

18 July, 2014

Happy Friday - Random Thoughts...


I’m so happy it’s Friday.  I’ve been working “summer hours” for the past few weeks and it’s great – work an extra hour each day and then leave at noon on Fridays.  If only we could do that year round.

Our friends booked their “one-way” flights to Panama this week.  Yes, they are retiring early!  I’m sooo excited for them – a little jealous too, but mostly excited.  I know our time will come – “patience grasshopper”.

We haven’t been to the beach in a couple of weeks now – mostly thanks to bad weather and prior engagements.  I can honestly say that without those weekly excursions, my “life-balance” isn’t what is should be.  I’m not at all at peace with the world at the moment.

Our annual reviews are upon us here at work and let me say, what a @#%$ waste of time.  Our raises have been predetermined months ago and no matter how stellar my performance has been, I do not have the ability to earn over and above the predetermined about that everyone gets straight across the board.  With that said, no matter how bad I’ve done, that will also not be reflected.  Waste of time…

I’m gearing up for a summer festival in a couple of weeks.  I will be showcasing my jewelry and J will participate with me by including some of his wine bottle creations.  This will be the first outdoor venue for us, so let’s hope the weather holds out.

All in all, life is pretty good at the moment – especially now that it’s Friday!

02 July, 2014

Things...

I’m having a tough time with this blogging gig lately. I don’t have anything to say – surprising even for myself! I feel so many people have lost interest in it as well or perhaps is the Summer weather keeping everyone active and away from their computers. That’s a nice thought, but I’m thinking the fad might be winding down. I’m not giving up on it just yet, but only time will tell.

Yesterday was a holiday here in Canada – Canada Day. Seems pointless to have a Tuesday off. By law the holiday could have been “moved” to the Monday. That would have made perfect sense to have a long weekend in the middle of summer, but alas NO – common sense does not prevail in matters such as these. So now today, feels like Monday all over again. Aghhh!

Work continues to be a “means to an end”. I don’t love it, I don’t hate it (most days) – it just happens, I get paid, repeat. It’s progress review time here at the moment. I hate them – they are a waste of time and I suck at trying to make myself sound more important than I am and my job more interesting and useful than it truly is. I’m terrible at kissing up and won’t do it – they could keep their money for all I care. To sum it up - it’s crap.

As I’ve mentioned before, The Boy is continuing his education through the summer months. We haven’t seen him since the end of April. I know it’s only been a couple of months, but I miss him. The house is so quiet and clean without him.

Summer is passing by like a flash. Here we are into July and what have I done with my summer so far? Nothing, no plans to do anything either. Although J and I have made a point of going to the beach almost every weekend since the beginning of April. It’s only about a half hour drive and once we are there, we take a 10 mile round trip walk up and down “our beach”, beachcombing and just letting life pass us by. It’s been quite enjoyable and there is nothing quite like the sound of waves rolling in to soothe the soul and calm the mind. Truth be told, I could use that walk every day.



23 June, 2014

Because There Is Nothing Else Going On...

Happy National Pink Flamingo Day!


You're welcome!

10 June, 2014

Wine Bottle Creations by Surfing Flamingo...


I mentioned in a previous post that J and I were creating a business plan that could assist us with our post-retirement sustainability plan.  I mentioned I would continue to sell jewelry as the area we are looking at retiring to has a great cruise ship business. 

Well, J is also getting in on the "crafting" experience.  Here are some of his Surfing Flamingo creations (wine bottle candle lanterns and wine bottle wind chimes).  I personally LOVE them, but then again, I'm kinda bias.  Tell your friends - we will ship with the US, Canada and internationally too!









04 June, 2014

Diddlefarting…

That’s what I feel like I’ve been doing lately – slacking, procrastinating, stalling or diddlefarting – the act of doing very little, while appearing to be very busy.  Diddlefarting is an art form and I’m proud to say that I have mastered it through many years of practice.

In my previous jobs, I had plenty of time on my hands, so I became creative with how to pass time while maintaining the sense of having an extreme workload.  If you want, you can read about the finer details here.  *Disclaimer:  Results may vary.  Use at your own risk.

Now, I’m very busy (for real), but with that said, I’m feeling burnt out this week and with that comes lack of motivation to work on the mundane task of this job.  So, for the time being, I’ve brought out the binders and sticky notes and it’s time to practice a little diddlefarting.


Tell me, do you diddlefart?

28 May, 2014

We Are Boring People…

Apart from our early retirement plans, and our scuba diving/travel adventures, J and I are truly boring people. We have little to no social lives, we don’t go to many movies, we don’t go to many organized events and we don’t participate in organized sports and we are basically okay with that. I like my quiet time. Don’t get me wrong, I’m a very social person when the opportunity arises, but I don’t need to participate in social activities on a regular basis.

This train of thought came about when I was speaking with The Boy this past weekend. He asked what we’d been up to since he’s been off at school. My response was “nothing at all”. To that, his response was “What’s wrong with you guys? You used to be fun.”

He’s right. We weren’t always this boring, but have somehow evolved over the years. I realize age might have something to do with it, but mostly it started around the same time our 5 Year Plan came into focus. Preparation for early retirement costs money and money doesn’t grow on trees, so sacrifices needed to be made and mindless fun and frivolity and careless spending was one of the first things to go.

Do I miss it? Occasionally, but then I refocus on “the plan”. I’ll be having more fun than I can possibly handle once my feet are planted firmly in the sand, sitting under a palm tree, ocean breezes blowing through my hair, cold beverage in hand. Short term pain for long term gain…or something like that.

21 May, 2014

Constructing a Post-Retirement Future…

The early retirement plan is chugging along.  I wish I could say it was ahead of schedule, but such is not the case.   If anything, it’s lagging behind slightly.



We have made a conscience decision that J would not go back to work.  He would instead spend his time working on the projects around the house, maintaining the yard and really just getting us in a better position to get the maximum return on the house when it’s time to sell.   



Well, who knew we had so much unfinished business around our place.  He’s been off work a year now and the to-do list is still a mile long.  Believe me, it’s not for lack of working on things.  In fact it’s far from it - we finish one project and two more come to mind.  There are things we could probably leave and let the next home owner deal with – like new closet organizers, but since we don’t want to leave a dollar on the table, we are working to make things perfect.  Although we realize - perfection, like beauty is in the eye of the beholder.



In addition to all our house projects, we continue to try build and grow our existing businesses.  We have begun to think “sustainability”.  What type of business could sustain us when we move?  We don’t expect to make enough to completely support ourselves, although that would be nice.  We hope to earn some extra money to assist in the long-term “sustainability” of our island lifestyle – even if it’s just enough to buy beer.  Our needs are simple…



If we move to Bonaire, I intend to continue my jewelry business, as the island is a prime location for cruise ship traffic.  J’s custom cards and photography will also do well.   We also plan to have a rental casita to help with the income earning potential.  We are working on a few more ideas, but we’ll see how things progress first before we announce them.   



There are so many variables, that our plans can’t be 100% finalized until we know for sure where we will end up, but rest-assured, I have back-up plans A-Z all ready to deploy when the time comes.  Until then, better get back to work…

14 May, 2014

Random Thoughts – The Weary Edition…

I don’t know what has gotten into me today, but I am exhausted – mentally and physically. The simple thought of walking to my car tonight after work is exhausting me. I’m thinking it’s the weather as it’s been grey, dreary and raining for a few days now.

Yesterday was our first warm day / night of the year. It is so nice to have the windows open at night and listen to the sounds of the frogs croaking and rain coming down. It’s not so nice once stupid dogs start to incessantly bark somewhere in the distance. If I could only figure out where…

The pace at work continues at a rapid speed. I guess it’s a good thing because my days flash by like lightning. It would be nice to actually know what day of the week it is though.

My sister-in-law is coming home for a visit from Ireland this week. J and I will head to Toronto to pick her up from the airport on Saturday. It will be nice to see her, but alas – I’ll have to forgo my nap that day. *sigh*

On the upside, it’s a long weekend in Canada. It’s Victoria Day – in honor of Queen Victoria’s Birthday. Doesn’t really matter what the day is meant to be for – to Canadians this weekend typically is the official “kick-off” to summer. Campgrounds will be busy, BBQs will be fired up and beverages will be cold and flowing freely. God Bless the Queen! Now, if we can just get a little more of that summer weather.

Happy Wednesday, which I thought was a Thursday!

06 May, 2014

Vote For My Friends...Please!


My friends have entered a contest to win an all expense paid vacation for one month to Panama. The contest is sponsored by International Living. These are the same friends that have an early retirement plan in mind for next year. So by voting, you'd be helping them out to get a head start.

They are currently in second place in the voting, so it would be much appreciated (by me and them) if you could go to this link and vote for them. If you have more than one computer in your house - vote on each one of them, smart phone - vote with that too, at work - even better.

VOTE NOW!

Let's help them live the dream....

29 April, 2014

Random Thoughts – Missing in Action…

Where to begin?  I promised a full trip report from our trip to the Galapagos in March.  It’s now almost May and let’s be honest - that report isn’t going to get written.   I’ve been too busy at work to mentally process anything by the end of the day.

Why have I been busy at work?  Well, while I was on vacation, they finally terminated a long-term, painful employee in our department that has been a thorn in the side of many for years.   Hence the reason for my busyness – I’ve been asked told to take on some “extra” work until they can “figure things out”.  So, in addition to my already busy contract portfolio, I now am responsible for our trademark and corporate portfolio.  Honestly, I’d gladly give up contracts for trademarks and corporate because there is WAAAY less drama and interaction with the outside world.  When did I become so anti-social?  Good question.

Now, back to a brief synopsis of our Galapagos trip.  I wish it could say it was the best trip ever, but alas it wasn’t – all thanks to some high-maintenance travel companions.   You really do get to know someone when you travel with them, but I must say however, that I’ve traveled with these people at least once a year for 10 plus years and NEVER have I experienced what I did on this trip.  Let’s just say, their nicknames are now SIR & HER COMPLAIN A LOT.  From now on, I’d rather travel with teenage girls. 

Believe me when I say, I am VERY grateful for the opportunities I’ve been given and I appreciate and embrace everything about the culture of the country where I’m visiting.  Not everything is fantastic all of the time, but if you let minor inconveniences, differences in food and culture get you down - you might as well stay home.   Some people have yet to learn those lessons.  Enough said in that topic.

I’m proud to say that The Boy has successfully completed his Blasting Techniques course.  This success has been a huge boost to his self-esteem and mine as a parent.   He finally has a goal in mind and is actually returning to school next week to fast-track through the summer for Drilling Techniques.  By this time next year, he’ll have completed both a two year diploma and one year certificate program.  Let’s hope the momentum continues.

Our early retirement planning continues.  We still aren’t committed to one destination yet.  Just as we think we are, our investigations turn up things like electricity charges in excess of $900 per month and we then have to re-evaluate things somewhat.  Only time (and money) will tell where we will end up…

Ahhh, to have more time…and money…



06 April, 2014

April Beach Treasure...

Today was our first walk on the beach for the season in Canada.  We started out with hats and gloves, but by the end of our 4 mile round-trip, we were toastsy (actually sweaty) and the sun was shining brightly.  There is still a lot of ice on the lake and it will likely be there for a few more weeks before the open water reaches the shore, but it was a wonderful, sunny day.  It's been a long, hard winter for sure.

The beachcombing was also fantastic and I was able to collect a few treasures that had been uncovered by the winter winds and receding water.  Here is one photo of a large purple, frosted piece.   Purple is said to one of the rarest of colors, needless to say, I was super-excited to find it.




01 April, 2014

A Snippet from the Underwater Galapagos...

Well, there's a longer blog post in the making about our recent trip to the Galapagos Islands, Ecuador.  It is a truly awe-inspiring place to visit, but for now, I present a bit of our underwater experiences.

Here's a little snippet prepared by J - filmed using my GoPro camera (which I should point out - I've never used since buying it over a year ago).  I did get to open the box though.  I think I'll let J keep it - he's pretty good with it.

video

17 March, 2014

I'm Off To See Some Boobies...

Get your minds out of the gutter...I'm actually headed to the Galapagos Islands.


Blue Footed Booby


Red Footed Booby

I'm hoping to post some photos from Ecuador provided we have wifi.  Hasta luego...

10 March, 2014

Introducing....Surfing Flamingo!



You may remember awhile ago, I introduced a logo, which has a work in progress.  Well, this is the final version…





Well, the plan for its use is still forming, but we know the logo will be incorporated into whatever we decide to do when we retire early, which by the way is still 3-4 years away.  *sigh*



We have some great ideas, but those ideas are dependent on a number of things that we can’t finalize until we are finally on location.  Surfing Flamingo - for now, is the name of our new Etsy shop.  There you will find some of J’s photos for digital download, his custom greeting cards (not your regular Hallmark line) and some of my beach-inspired jewelry. 


I’m still running my shop, Flamingo Tongue Designs (hmmm I see a pattern forming in the names) – could that be a hint of where our hearts belong? 



In any event, please feel free to stop by Surfing Flamingo or Flamingo Tongue Designs and see what we’ve been up to.