Tuesday, July 29, 2014


I have become a quitter. Yes, I admit it. I am a quitter. The beauty of it is that I am actually finally able to quit. I'm not doing anything that's required for my livelihood. I'm no longer supporting a family with my activities.

During this past week I sent a letter to the local newspaper. Part of it looked like this.

     I have appreciated the opportunity to write columns for your newspaper during the past year and a half.
     At this time,  I wish to suspend my writing to pursue other activities.  If possible, I might like to send a guest submission from time to time.

Interestingly enough, I received a response which included regrets and confirmation that I can send them anything at anytime. I received no offer of a pay increase. The good news...I'm able to cross this off my bucket list. I've been published.

My volunteer hospital job, has also fallen by the wayside. I've lost interest. I have not as yet officially quit, but I plan to do so. It occurred to me, that obligations, such as regular work shifts and column deadlines, do not fit into my current lifestyle. Substitute workers are hard for me to find each time I have company, go on a trip or want to do something else on certain days.

The last time I was at the shop, I jokingly suggested that I should come back in ten years when I have nothing else to do but stay home and volunteer. Sometimes, we are far too fixated on doing what we think we ought to do. Often we see things as obligations, when they should no longer fall into that category. In the process, we miss opportunities.

So now, I'm down to five desired or essential activities (in no particular order). Housework is not on the list, 

One, is ukelele group. It's undemanding. You show up or you don't. I like it. I need to practice more but it's fun, costs nothing and is pressure free. My tante gave me some money and told me to buy myself a gift. I now own a ukelele.

Number two is blog writing. I've severely neglected this of late and I actually enjoy it and am hoping to take more time to get back into it. This is today's. Tomorrow's is also almost done.  

Thirdly, it seems, that you get to a place in life where visits to various doctors, optometrists, physiotherapists and the like take over. Suddenly, appointments are your excursions, your outings, your social life. I believe I'm getting close. I don't like trying to schedule these around other things. Time to simplify.

Fourth is to spend time with whatever friends and family I chose to spend time with. We can do things, or do nothing. We can bake, dance, sing, act foolish, dine out, mall walk, or just hang around and reflect on our lives.

Fifth and final is working on achieving my bucket list...and my new (soon to be published) bucket list add ons. I've already missed one opportunity. (Honest Eds is gone, so no lining up for turkey). Wouldn't want that to happen again. I don't want regrets.

A friend recently said something like this to me. Getting old is like waiting on the edge of a cliff. You never know when that final push will happen and, the older you get, the closer it will likely be. You only have so much time left. You only have so many books left to read. You only have so many vacations left to go on. You only have so many meals left  to eat. How do you want to spend that little time? Do you want to go on doing what you're doing or do you want to change? Do you want to make that time worthwhile for yourself? The answer is clear.

Saturday, July 12, 2014

A Howling, Super, Moon

I'm not sure when I developed such an appreciation and interest in the moon, the natural satellite of the earth. It probably happened sometime during the lunar landing years of my younger life. Maybe it was the many visits to planetariums and space museums. Perhaps it was the influence of the too often played Andy Williams' Moon River song. It could have been my years of teaching about space and lunar phases. Who knows?

On July 12th, tonight, we hope to be seeing a super moon. At that time, the moon, which travels in an elliptical orbit around the earth will be at its closest point and thus appear to be fourteen percent larger and a third brighter than normal.

I'm hoping that the skies will be clear that I might take advantage of a sighting. Odds are currently not in my favour, so I'm glad I took a good look last night...close enough. I did hear some howling, but I attribute that to our tiny mutt and the rest of the neighbourhood canines. I don't believe it was hubby, although I'll double check tonight.

To me, this week's super moon is a beginning. It's a great beginning to the upcoming busy weeks.

The last time I saw a super moon, it was on the shores of Lake Ontario and it was spectacular. It was on March 12, 2011.  See blog of that date "The Moon Was So Bright That....".

If it's not visible tonight, we'll all get another chance in August and September. Enjoy.

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Four Days in Paris - Day One

Subtitled:  A Canadian on a German Bus in France

I've been back for almost two weeks. Where does the time go? Actually, truth be told, I wrote a newspaper column and about seven or eight tripadvisor reviews while thoughts were still fresh in my head. Usually, my brain is like the produce on the metal supermarket rolling racks...somewhat mushy, spotted and marked down for quick sale. If that makes no sense whatsoever, I've just proven my point.

So, at the risk of making this sound like a boring travelog, here goes. Four of us, my cousin, his wife and her sister went on a wonderful trip to Paris. We left from a tour bus parking lot in Saarbrucken and while we waited for our bus, we were all pleased to locate one of those new fangled automated toilet facilities. I must confess that our novice efforts involved a lot of screaming, cursing, yelling, and wasted coin as we each took a turn. On the bright side, this now allows us to cross another item off our bucket list.

Our bus arrived...a double decker condo on wheels. We took our seats and after a short trip, arrived in Paris. I surmised that we were there because I recognized the language on the signage as similar to that on cans, cereal boxes and miscellaneous packaging back home.

The bus driver gave us a brief overview of the city as he drove. He spoke very quickly, in a German dialect which I found challenging. I understood about a third of what he said, which I expect was about one third more than the family from Kentucky managed to decipher. I did catch the all the important words like wasser, beer, and sekt, all of which were being offered on the bus for a very reasonable low cost. People appreciated this because to say that prices in France are high would be considered an understatement.

I was impressed with the fact that the driver could multitask by actually driving in Paris and talking at the same time. Traffic patterns were definitely unusual.  As much as it often looked like a giant parking lot, without traffic lights, painted lines, or apparent organization, the chaos moved with relative ease.

Before long, we arrived at the foot of the Eiffel tower....taaaadaaaaa! I made it! Then, a cruise tour down the Seine.

There were many school groups aboard who screamed every time we went under a bridge. It was impossible to hear the headset explanations of where we were so before long, I put my device aside and cheered along with the kids. This garnered me some strange looks. Must have been my accent.

Day one couldn't have ended more perfectly. We checked into Hotel Mercure (link to tripadvisor review below). Once we were cleaned up, we hopped back on the bus and were taken to dinner at a lovely typically French bistro. We were served a four course meal with unlimited wine, water or soft drinks and we enjoyed music, singalong and comedy from an accordianist and guitarist. There are photos and videos, but let's just say, what happens at the bistro, stays at the bistro!

***My review of Hotel Mercure with photos -