OUR Flophouse once more

Don't worry...it'll be stronger than just tape.

Don’t worry…it’ll be stronger than just tape.

I think I made It abundantly clear in my last post on the subject that I never stopped loving Junkii. So you can imagine the indescribable happiness I feel when I tell you that Junkii is coming home!

And let me be perfectly clear, because it makes me giddy to say it…I don’t just mean he’s returning to Ottawa. I mean it in the best possible sense: that we are getting back together.

I haven’t blogged about this subject since I announced the split, so if I haven’t had a chance to tell you this good news in person, today’s post might come as a shock.

Sorry about that.

I tend to forget that not everyone lives in my head. This has been a much more gradual process for me; Junkii and I have been in close and steady communication more or less since he departed back in November. We’ve been talking on and off for months about potentially reuniting.

There have been times when it looked likely he would return, and other times when he seemed further away than ever. It’s been an emotional roller coaster at times.

While I have never really wavered, over the course of 2016, Junkii has been torn between returning to this life in Canada that he misses – to a partner who loves him, friends who adore his company, and the city and country he considers home – and staying in Amsterdam to try to make the best of the course he had set for himself when he uprooted to resettle in a new place.

After months of talking, I’m still not 100 per cent clear why he decided to move to Amsterdam – or indeed why he decided to stay there for as long as he has – but does it really matter?

Yes, I was hurt by his decision to leave, and maybe I should be more invested in understanding WHY it happened – especially if we’re getting back together and there’s any risk of it happening again. But I prefer to think of it this way: that Junkii hit a point in his life where he needed to go out and explore the world on his own, to better understand himself and to determine the best course for the next stage of his life – whatever that is to be.

And while he has now come to the decision that Amsterdam is not the right place for him, I feel he HAS grown from this experience. That’s why I think calling his choice a “mistake” or labeling it a “midlife crisis” would be to dismiss something that was clearly important to him – to his sense of understanding his place in this world and the important role that he has in the lives of those who love him.

I’ve been told that I’ve been too understanding – too forgiving of Junkii’s actions. I understand that I need to stand up for myself and to look out for my own well-being – but I honestly don’t think one can be TOO forgiving.

Besides, I know I was not blameless in his leaving. Maybe I didn’t show my affection clearly enough; or my attraction. Maybe I didn’t fight hard enough for him to stay when he said he was going, assuming he had already made up his mind. There’s fault on my part too.

So rather than be angry, I want to heal what happened between us and build something stronger.

That’s what I’ve come to after the months of self-reflection, the hours of dialogue with Junkii, and the countless sessions with all of my fantastic friends and family.

Thank you for that time, by the way. Between the small-group therapy over a glass of wine or a pint of beer and the one-on-on counseling sessions over coffee, you’ve all been incredibly supportive and so helpful in letting me process my emotions.

After all the feedback and all the opinions, here’s what my thought process has boiled down to: Junkii is the person I love most; the person who makes me happiest. I want to try, as long as he does too.

So that’s where we’re at. Junkii flies home today.

I know that most of you will be straight-up happy that Junkii is returning, but I’m not so naive as to think there won’t be those with doubts about us getting back together. We’ve all seen too many failed relationships not to be at least a little cynical.

But one thing I know for sure is that every last one of you will be rooting for us…and that support means the world.

Unfair Pay for Unfair Work

636023645617254130165204595_allowanceMy mother has long maintained that she always insisted her kids be treated equally. So for Christmases or birthdays, Mom would always spend the exact same amount on each of us. It was her way of showing that she wouldn’t play favourites with her love for her kids.

Well, I call b*llsh!t.

I have recently remembered (after years of suppressed memory therapy and psychoanalysis) that my weekly allowance was THREE WHOLE DOLLARS per week less than my sister’s.

Cheryll got $10 a week and I got just $7. How is that fair, mother?! Over the course of my youth, that difference added up!

Perhaps, dear reader, you are ready to dismiss my claims out of consideration for the fact that I was the younger sibling. If you assume I had to perform fewer (or easier) chores to earn my keep, think again.

As I recall, we both had to make our beds every day, but there the similarities stopped.

My sister had to:

  • Empty the dishwasher daily
  • Set the table every day for dinner

I had to:

  • Clean the cat’s litter box (you see, right there, that’s not equal work!)
  • Mow the lawn once a week on the not inconsiderable public property beside our house (a task that took about 20-30 minutes)
  • Replace the milk bag with a new one any time the container was empty (okay, that’s not a particularly onerous task, but in a family of four, it was disruptive at dinner time)

And they say that women are not paid as well as men. Well, that’s not my experience!

Actually, come to think of it, the pay scale likely had more to do with age. I did get a raise to $10 a few yeas later (even if I also had to start washing the car). So maybe mom didn’t have a preference for her kids.

Maybe she was just ageist.

Tsk tsk, mother. <shakes head>

Hamstrung!

I even brought my resistance band to do some core training.

I rent a cottage for a week every summer with my friends G&C – and usually I try to incorporate a daily cardio workout as part of that time, just so that, upon return to my regular workout routine the following week, I don’t suffer too much to get back in shape.
The cottage workout has the added bonus of making me hot and sweaty, which is the perfect condition in which to cannonball into the lake and wash away the workout – but that’s beside the point. 

Anyway, this time, I seem to have suffered an injury issue to my hamstring that’s causing me flexibility issues. While playing capture the flag with my nephews on Friday, I developed a charley horse – not severe but persistent. I have, quite literally, been hamstrung.

My flexibility at the best of times is pretty crap, but this problem has been impeding my ability to workout. I already missed my first two days of cardio!

The issue seems to be slowly resolving itself – with careful stretching and targeted massage – and it looks like I might be able to get in a workout today. Sadly, the weather isn’t cooperating. There’s enough space to the workout indoors, but with the rain, I would be less keen for the post-workout dip. 

The universe conspires against me.

Still, my goal, as always, is to swim at least once every day, so I might have to suck it up and take the plunge. And getting overheated before I do so, is probably the best approach.

Blue at First…

Simon LeBon, John Taylor, and whoever their guitarist is now.

Simon LeBon, John Taylor, and whoever their guitarist is now.

Bluesfest has been an annual Ottawa thing for more than 20 years, and I’ve never had any interest in going. There’s just never been a performer I’ve felt strongly about seeing. So when I found out Duran Duran was coming this year, I got excited. This would not only be the first time I got to see a fantastic band that I’ve liked for years… it would also be my first Bluesfest!

It was also nearly my last.

Duran Duran was headlining at 9:30, but with my day pass, I decided to go early and join my friend Reena, who came specifically to see the rapper Nelly. I agreed I would join her for a few songs before heading to the other stage to snag a spot to watch Duran Duran.

I don’t know why I bothered. I don’t like (let alone KNOW) any of Nelly’s music. And standing there watching the overcrowded audience (mostly in their teens and early 20s) did nothing more than make me feel old.

I wasn't THAT close - I just took a picture of the video screen, to show that he's aged well.

I wasn’t THAT close – I just took a picture of the video screen, to show that he’s aged well.

The audience was too tightly packed. They were mostly either high or drunk. Many of them were angry and shouting at each other, picking fights and shoving. It was claustrophobic, and given that the performance was basically a heavy beat with a guy screaming words I couldn’t comprehend, it was not enjoyable.

I suppose had I known the songs in advance I might have had a clue, but I was clueless.

I know. I’m old. You can say it, I don’t mind. But honestly, as I excused myself and pushed my way to the back and out of the crowd, I was never more relieved to be out of a space. It ws hard to get out too, and by the time I escaped that scene, I was ready to say “never again” to Buesfest. It was a horrible experience.

It made me a bit nervous about the Duran Duran concert. Would it be the same crush of people?!

I met up with a couple of other friends, and as we took our spots, I was dreading the crowd getting thicker around me. When would they start to push? But I think the fact that it was an older audience meant people were happy just to take a bit more space and to focus on the music rather than rush the stage.

John has also aged well.

John has also aged well.

The concert was outstanding from start to finish. A few extra lines on faces, a few more grey hairs, but really they’ve kept themselves in good shape – and without any evident plastic surgery. Duran Duran looked great, and they sounded better. Simon’s voice is still in top form.

They performed a nice mix of classics along with some uptempo tracks from their latest album – something I really enjoyed. I know most people wanted the 80s classics, but they’ve been pretty consistently active for 35 years and I would have been happy if they had drawn a few more songs from more of their recent albums.

Of course, they were limited for time. Bluesfest performances are kept short to squeeze in more acts. They only had about 90 minutes to perform and so I’m sure they had to pare down their playlist. That time limit definitely made the concert feel truncated. I would happily pay to see them again at a stadium venue where they can put on a full show. I might have to watch their website for future tour dates.

I have to say they kept it classy. No raunch, no foul language. At one point, while performing Planet Earth, the song morphed into David Bowie’s Space Oddity – a short and poignant tribute to a great artist done in a way that was neither maudlin nor ostentatious. It got the point across without making a big deal out of it.

I took a short video of this performance too. It's below, along with a few others.

I took a short video of this performance too. It’s below, along with a few others.

The same is true for their choice to dedicate their first encore, Save a Prayer, to the victims of Nice and all those suffering from the needless violence and hatred around the world. Simon’s intro touched on the fact that music should be a force to bring people together in celebration.

That was certainly the case at this concert. While there were certainly screams, the audience seemed more relaxed. There was no shoving. We made friends with the people around us, and most everyone seemed focused on enjoying the music.

Ultimately, the Duran Duran concert was a MUCH better experience for me than the Nelly concert. Clearly if I ever do go back to Bluesfest, I will need to be very selective in the acts I choose to see…nothing that will be attended by aggressive young people.

Now if you’ll excuse me, I have to go shake my fist at some young people and tell them to get off my dang lawn.

Still got it! I could have watched them all night.

Still got it! I could have watched them all night.

The pants I’m looking for

This is not me...my weight loss isn't quite this pronounced. But I'm still feeling like a champion, even if I've only lost two pants sizes!

This is not me…my weight loss isn’t quite this pronounced. But I’m still feeling like a champion, even if I’ve only lost two pants sizes!

Earlier this week I was feeling particularly frustrated by my wardrobe. Following several days at work of constantly having to re-tuck my shirt, I had had enough. My trousers were all too big, and cinching with a belt just wasn’t cutting it anymore.

I decided to chance it and headed online to my favourite online retailer (F&O) to order myself two pairs of size 32 pants – as a test case.

I knew it was a risk. I had bought a pair of size-32 walking shorts from Costco that still don’t fit me comfortably. (I consider them motivational.) But I also felt like the size 34 trousers I owned from F&O were AT LEAST two sizes too big.

I was hopeful that F&O makes their waistlines a little more generous than the shorts manufacturer. And besides – I could always return them.

Two days later they arrived, and as I pulled them on last night, they fit beautifully! Snug in all the right places and comfortable where it counts. I was overjoyed!

Thank goodness the days of cinching up are coming to an end.

Of course I can’t afford to replace all my trousers at once, so there will still be some frustrating days ahead.

I still haven’t reached my goal weight, but I’m getting close. Of course, I also have a cottage getaway coming up soon. We’ll see how many pounds I gain back when chips and beer are plentiful and I don’t have work to occupy my days.

Attractive Repellant

Another handy feature - it's in a small container that fits easily in my toiletries bag.

Another handy feature – it’s in a small container that fits easily in my toiletries bag.

My life has been forever changed. On my last trip abroad, I discovered a product that I didn’t know existed: mosquito repellant in LOTION form!

Made by Muskol, it’s a nice-smelling, non-greasy lotion that’s easy to apply and that is high in DEET, making it incredibly effective at warding off mosquitos. The fact that it’s NOT an aerosol means you don’t wind up inhaling toxic fumes every time you use it.

Better still, it doesn’t make you feel like you need a shower the minute you put it on!

I would happily buy this product again any time I’m going to a mosquito zone. Well worth the money.

Earworm Wednesday

Earworm Wednesday

There’s been a case of a shared earworm at work over the last week or so. It started last Wednesday, and while I thought it was gone, it re-emerged today with a vengeance.

There are at least three of my colleagues afflicted, plus myself. Maybe more. Given the extent of the problem, I’m hoping this post serves to inoculate rather than spread the problem.

Also… the video is horrible: Una Paloma Blanca by the George Baker Selection. If you were around in the ’70s, this will strike a chord.

Umbrella-Scythe

Pointing out the two limbs that got severed.

Pointing out the two limbs that got severed.

I spent a beautiful Sunday afternoon on my patio this week, just enjoying a warm summer day, the refreshing breeze and my flourishing garden. But an enjoyable afternoon quickly turned to slaughter as the breeze picked up.

My umbrella, which had been so protective, shielding me from harmful UV rays, went careening, scythe-like, toward my hydrangea plant!

I leaped to the rescue, but it was too late. The damage had been done.

The hydrangea is the most expensive thing in my garden. It’s special because it has been grafted onto a short tree trunk, and it gives my small garden more levels, adding variety. And while I was worried earlier in the season that this perennial was not going to come back, it’s now growing really well.

Until the umbrella-scythe fell, that is.

The umbrella severed a couple of branches enough that I had to cut them off and discard them, leaving my plant looking lopsided.

I know time will allow it to grow back, but it certainly wasn’t ready for such a serious pruning just yet!

Guess in the future I’m gonna have to tie the umbrella to a fence post with some framing wire. It already has a pretty heavy base, but apparently not heavy enough – and I’m not ready to bolt it down to the deck. That’s a little too permanent, and I like having the flexibility to move it around as the sun moves across the sky.

My, how quickly a mood can turn. 😡

The right side of the plant is now a lot more sparse. I suppose some of the plants below it are getting a bit more light, so there is an upside.

The right side of the plant is now a lot more sparse. I suppose some of the plants below it are getting a bit more light, so there is an upside.

And if I am choosing to focus on the positive, my impatients are doing wonderfully well.

And if I am choosing to focus on the positive, my impatients are doing wonderfully well.

Earworm Wednesday

Earworm Wednesday

I’m in the process of collapsing my CD collection. Not the whole thing – just my pop music CDs. I want to keep them, but they certainly don’t need to be on display, so I’m putting the discs and artwork into sleeves and discarding the cases.

Anyway, in going through this process, I have come across a few CDs that I had forgotten even existed. One of those is “The Divine Comedy” by Milla Jovovich. While’s she’s best known as an actress, she did release an album of music in the mid-90s that was actually quite good.

This process gave me the chance to revisit the album and I even ripped it to mp3 format – something I have resisted doing with my CD collection just because it would take SOOOO much time (and memory).

Anyway, since I found the CD about a week ago, her song “Charlie” has been cropping up as my earwrorm quite regularly.

Choose Friends, Always

Nadia, Ellie, and Sue - wandering off to find mischief.

Nadia, Ellie, and Sue – wandering off to find mischief.

I’m not going to try to explain how I came to be part of a fantastic, fun-filled, friend-fueled weekend getaway at a beautiful farmhouse and a lakefront cottage near Tremblant Quebec.

Quite frankly, the tale is kind of the epitome of a “you had to be there” scenario, and really, the story about whom I knew and how they managed to invite me along is beside the point.

Suffice it to say that I and three of my closest friends were invited for the weekend, to hang out with our host, Craig, and to celebrate a 50th birthday with his own tribe.

This group – about 16 people who have all been best of friends for decades – had no clue about who we were. We were mostly strangers to them.

We could easily have been seen as infiltrators to their clique – and had that happened, I probably would be writing a very different blog post – but instead, they welcomed us with open and generous hearts as a new and valuable addition to their group.

They included us in their party games, in helping prepare the amazing BBQ steak dinner, and in the after-dinner dance party that erupted spontaneously and went on until the wee hours.

I’m inspired by open-minded people. I am in awe of people who embrace new experiences and who delight in engaging with new people; new friends.

This group is comprised largely of fifty-somethings, and with such a big group, it would be easy for them to limit membership to existing acquaintances. But while they might be “of a certain age,” they have the energy and joy of teenagers. I aspire to maintain that kind of open-mindedness as I move through life.

I know I’m halfway through my 40s, and I have my own tribe of friends, but if we can have as much fun as these people and grow our group as we get older, we’ll be doing well.

My grandmother taught me to be a social creature – but this weekend was a great reminder that it’s important to maintain that social openness throughout life.

I already have an extraordinary group of friends, but it’s never too late to build more connections with good people.

I’m gonna take this opportunity to post all the photos form this weekend – of the birthday party and of the rest of our time. I’ll use captions to explain what you’re looking at, but be patient. There are about 45 photos
.

First night at the farmhouse, we enjoyed a campfire and s'mores.

First night at the farmhouse, we enjoyed a campfire and s’mores.

A few shots I took around the property - out the front door of the farmhouse.

A few shots I took around the property – out the front door of the farmhouse.

I'm obsessed with leading lines in photos, and fences make for an easy subject/

I’m obsessed with leading lines in photos, and fences make for an easy subject/

...and so do dirt roads.

…and so do dirt roads.

The farmhouse. So peaceful.

The farmhouse. So peaceful.

The front porch is a nice place to sit in the mornings, on a rocker in the shade, with a coffee in hand. Picasso stands watch.

The front porch is a nice place to sit in the mornings, on a rocker in the shade, with a coffee in hand. Picasso stands watch.

We couldn't have asked for nicer weather - clear skies and hot.

We couldn’t have asked for nicer weather – clear skies and hot.

The rear of the property - and the campfire by daylight.

The rear of the property – and the campfire by daylight.

On Saturday afternoon, before the party, our small group went to spend a few hours at Craig's nearby cottage, and to swim in the lake.

On Saturday afternoon, before the party, our small group went to spend a few hours at Craig’s nearby cottage, and to swim in the lake.

Picasso spent more time in the water than any of us - but that was good because he cleared away a lot of the pollen sitting on top of the water.

Picasso spent more time in the water than any of us – but that was good because he cleared away a lot of the pollen sitting on top of the water.

Lake view - there was no chance of me getting a shot WITHOUT Picasso in it.

Lake view – there was no chance of me getting a shot WITHOUT Picasso in it.

More lake view - from the dock.

More lake view – from the dock.

The nearby house is for sale. They're only asking $700K.

The nearby house is for sale. They’re only asking $700K.

We did swim - just not as much as the dog.

We did swim – just not as much as the dog.

The freckled girls comparing their "tans"

The freckled girls comparing their “tans”

Group shot of MY tribe.

Group shot of MY tribe.

We got a table for 21 set up just in time for the arrival of the big gang.

We got a table for 21 set up just in time for the arrival of the big gang.

Rick, Craig, and Nadia - group hugs and photo bombing.

Rick, Craig, and Nadia – group hugs and photo bombing.

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Kate!

One of the party games was supposed to involve getting a Fudgee-O from your forehead to your mouth without using your hands. We never got to play that one, but that didn't mean we couldn't eat the Fudgee-O's!

One of the party games was supposed to involve getting a Fudgee-O from your forehead to your mouth without using your hands. We never got to play that one, but that didn’t mean we couldn’t eat the Fudgee-O’s!

A platter of steaks, ready for the grill!

A platter of steaks, ready for the grill!

Jonathan was our chef - and while he had help, kudos to him for some seriously well-prepared steaks.

Jonathan was our chef – and while he had help, kudos to him for some seriously well-prepared steaks.

Oscar, Bill, and Craig - the peanut gallery, watching the chef at work.

Oscar, Bill, and Craig – the peanut gallery, watching the chef at work.

Salmon and Chicken for those uninterested in steak (weirdos)

Salmon and Chicken for those uninterested in steak (weirdos)

Veggies - cooked in bacon fat. Why didn't I think of that before?!

Veggies – cooked in bacon fat. Why didn’t I think of that before?!

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There's a widow's walk on the roof of the barn. Great place to see the entire farm.

There’s a widow’s walk on the roof of the barn. Great place to see the entire farm.

Kate, Ellie, Heather, and Michelle on top of the barn. Sunlight was just right for this one.

Kate, Ellie, Heather, and Michelle on top of the barn. Sunlight was just right for this one.

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Jenn!

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Craig and Nadia

Craig and Nadia

Just a door on the barn - doors are another favourite subject for my photos.

Just a door on the barn – doors are another favourite subject for my photos.

What did I just say?

What did I just say?

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Bill and Craig

Bill and Craig

Michelle

Michelle!

There was quite a kerfuffle with trying to mark steaks as rare, medium, etc. In the end, we had a system of skewers and stickers. It was overly complicated, but we were all half toasted.

There was quite a kerfuffle with trying to mark steaks as rare, medium, etc. In the end, we had a system of skewers and stickers. It was overly complicated, but we were all half toasted.

Sue, prepping some stickered skewers..

Sue, prepping some stickered skewers..

Rick and Bill, checking out Jonathan's handiwork on the grill.

Rick and Bill, checking out Jonathan’s handiwork on the grill.

Jonathan and Nadia try to keep track of who ordered what steak, and how.

Jonathan and Nadia try to keep track of who ordered what steak, and how.

You can see the list of names and cooking preferences in back.

You can see the list of names and cooking preferences in back.

View of the farmlands from the widow's walk. Another set of leading lines.

View of the farmlands from the widow’s walk. Another set of leading lines.

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Jonathan at the grill, from the Widow's walk.

Jonathan at the grill, from the Widow’s walk.