Monday, December 31, 2018

Year End

Can't say I am upset that this year has come to its end.  Am ready for a new beginning even thought it is really just a continuation.  Thankful for all the plans I put in place as it provided the necessary interruption and break from everyday life.

Next year's broad stroke themes are in place.  Have a ways to go still but feeling like I'm slowly getting caught up, with myself and with life.  Thankful to be at a point in time where I am towards the end of my career and can afford to slow down.

The breakthrough being no longer feeling guilty about it.  Will be taking almost the entire month of February off, something I've been wanting to do for decades.

Will continue to be patient and gentle with myself.  With no real ambitious or difficult plans (still lots of travel) until the thought of them doesn't immediately exhaust.

Wishing Peace and Ease to everyone.

A City worker clearing raw sewage from a stream in central Jakarta

A city that has (mal?)adapted to its main clientele...Chiang Mai, Thailand

Reflection at Fushimi Inari-taisha, Kyoto Japan

Thursday, November 22, 2018


This time of year has me dialed up, wanting to have loose ends tied up neatly so I can calmly enjoy the darkening days.  Am very tuned into the loss of light this year and want very much to slow down and do even less.

I'm pretty close to completing all the items that have come to mind, especially all the anticipated bills or "to be purchased" items.  Am not talking about Christmas here.  Just things due early 2019 etc that I don't want to thinking about over the holidays.

Even tried to buy my licence plate sticker in advance while I was getting a new picture taken for my licence but got shut down as I'll need a drive clean test for the car.  Was hoping the program was ending at the end of this year instead of next spring.

No surprise with how stressed and crappy I felt over the summer that my cholesterol levels were found to have risen.  They have since fallen back down to their slightly high levels again.

Had my appointment with the lipids genetics Dr and it turned out we were doing research studies in the same place back in my university days.  A lot of blood was taken and results will be shared in the new year.

Based on what he knows about me, I'm not considered high enough risk to talk about medication.  That may change as I get older or if we find out something genetic that could indicate future risk.

Because I've been privy to so much news about people developing illness, dying, dealing with a lot of serious health struggles, my emotions are embarrassingly right up at the surface these days. 

As for any disaster relief work (have gotten notified of 5 opportunities so far), have conceded that I am not in any shape for that.  Too easily overwhelmed right now.

Only have a handful of work days left until the end of the year.  I've renewed everything licence related to work as I don't want the pressure to make a decision about retirement by a certain deadline like I placed on myself this summer.  That was a really bad way to go about it for someone like me.

Will end with some pictures from Kuala Lumpur.  Had a surprisingly relaxed and lovely time there.

Sunday, October 14, 2018


July was a dark month for me.  Hadn't had one that emotionally bad for decades.  Hope to not have to repeat it any time soon.  Wanted to step away from it all.  Magically the curtain lifted at the end of that month and it has taken since then for me to feel like me again.

Took time off, cut back on work, spoke to colleagues about filling in, got some push back from work, went ahead with it anyway.  No one knew how fragile the string that was holding me together was.  I can hide some things well.  Increased my workouts thinking it would help neutralize stress but it just made my heart hurt more.  Kept with it anyways.

It has felt like a waste of a summer.  But it wasn't.  Lots of personal growth.  My cardio got better.  Getting back in touch with my intuition was a necessary thing.  Hadn't realized I had gotten so detached and was living primary guided by my well meaning left brain.

Started writing on paper again.  How I've missed it.  Forgotten how important that organic process is versus typing.  Spoke less.  Felt more.  Made all the difference.  And I'm staying with the reduced work schedule.

Didn't cancel any trips.  Just didn't demand anything huge from myself while there.  As a treat, added an "easy" destination to remind myself what that's like.  It was spring time and the light was beautiful.

Thursday, August 16, 2018


Our first introduction to India was an astounding success.  Book ended by time in Delhi which we also took to immensely, despite the 45 - 50 C temperatures.  However our goal was to get to Leh.

It was like another planet there.  High and very dry.  At one point we got permits to travel to one of the well known passes "Khardung La" and hung out there for a while at over 5000 m. 

Lugged home one of those gaudy bright thermoses that saved my life in Nepal and Mongolia.  It keeps water steaming hot for 24 hours.

Not a surprise that our locales made it impossible to reliably have power or hot water, much less send and receive email, during the initial sales listing of the cottage.

It's so peaceful there.  I miss it.

Monday, July 16, 2018


The amount of stress and emotional aggravation associated with what we consider to be an "easy and straightforward" sale has been surprising and irritating.  We were finally contacted by our lawyer's office to come in to sign the papers 2 business days(!) before closing.  Neither of us remember cutting things this close in either of our previous real estate transactions.  Good thing we were both around.

I've had to open another non registered investment account for the proceeds of the cottage sale.  After sheltering everything we can and planning for 2019, there is still a need of a place for the remaining.  I had one but closed it a few years back for one reason or another. 

Going with D's bank (TD) this time around, mandatory to be able to buy certain funds offered by his bank that he is a big fan of.  It took an hour to get it set up.  I had to go in in person!  Very repetitive with nothing that could have been done online ahead of time.  Was very old fashioned considering it is actually an account via their brokerage TD Waterhouse.

Am not supposed to get charged for having the account if you meet a minimal amount.  And there is supposed to be a 3 month window for new deposits so will keep an eye on that.  Having to chase after an incorrectly applied fee is something I really don't want to do.  I did specify I was opening this account in advance, in anticipation of proceeds from a real estate transaction.  But it likely won't matter to the computer program.

The sale closed successfully.

Friday, July 6, 2018


Members of my family have been dropping like flies over the past few years.  As there exists much familial fracture that I am unwilling to tackle, I end up finding out news about surgeries, cancer diagnosis, death much later.

Was particularly shocked I lost my aunt who would have been maybe 60 and cousin (her daughter) who was 35, in separate unrelated causes.  My mother's side of the family haven't fared very well in the longevity department.

Then there is the news that the husband of the couple who I rented their "nanny suite" from during my post grad years, who I've previously referred to as my surrogate parents, has progressed sufficiently in his neurological disease to not be who I would remember anymore.  I wept and continue to at the thought.  We knew the time would come, but symptoms the last 6 months have been much accelerated.

In light of the above events, loss of use of a really fun vehicle doesn't even cause a blip to our day.  It's only a thing.  The Outback is fine.  The only blip with it, is that D is bringing him back in for a "just in case" check already.  Something about feeling a vibration when it is at a certain speed range. 

Made me think of alignment, which the service adviser mentioned as a possibility along with wheel balance as well.  There's warranty and we'll get through it.  Update:  Was a wheel balance issue and is running well according to D.

A very pleasant surprise was the gift of a dozen yellow and deep red roses and giant gift basket full of gourmet treats.  Never received any gift with buying a vehicle before (house yes), especially considering it isn't new!  It brought a smile on an otherwise mostly sad day.

Friday, June 29, 2018


I say goodbye to my vehicle next week when she gets traded in for a 2012 Subaru Outback.  It cost an extra $3800 out of pocket to make it happen.  Other expenses will include floor mats, winter tires and rims.  Hoping to find the rims used.  Have my winter tires and rims to sell as well.

Will definitely miss driving my SUV.  It will be a difference of over 200 horsepower the level of finishes including quality of vehicle glass.  Incredible how well mine blocks out heat without being dark.  I very much appreciate great engineering and design.  So am reverting back to vehicle purpose to be getting one safely from A to B along with performance in the snow.   I did get to enjoy her for the last 7 years.

Car insurance will only drop a couple hundred or so a year as both vehicles are considered very safe despite the big difference in vehicle cost.  But we will be back to using regular gas and gas mileage will increase significantly.  Now that the cottage won't be part of our lives much longer, the longer drives won't be either.  We'll be turning in our 407 transponders (toll highway).

New news with respect to cottage sale.  Got a request from the buyers to move up the closing date by 1 1/2 weeks.  We don't have a problem with that and in fact prefer it.  D will only need to go back up once more to complete everything.  Our lawyer confirmed it is possible timing wise so we are awaiting paperwork to amend the agreement.

Currently considering making a change with D's car as well, to something more practical (higher clearance) to eventually leave out west.  Found another possible choice and will head out of town for a viewing, assuming it is still available.  Same brand of vehicle I was supposed to test drive last month when it sold.

Sold a couple more handbags.  Have a few fall items to bring in when the time comes.  They had been "pre-approved" with the summer lot so are good to go.  Constitutes the last of my luxury items.  Currently have a couple still listed that are at the higher end I'm hoping will sell before their time runs out (all items have a 3 month expiry).  Will consider marking them down.

D had been organizing household items for a garage sale.  It will be his solo endeavor because I'm not into it.  Because of all the stuff that has been going on, it hasn't happened yet.  He's still committed to it for July/Aug.  Any proceeds will go towards his next volunteer trip.  I'd really like him to experience a Habitat Global build. 

Saturday, June 23, 2018


I recently got over a monster of a cold that had me cycling from one fever to the next and sleeping 10 - 12 hrs daily for a solid 5 days.

It was something and luckily, due to the timing, I only had to miss a day of work.  Could have been a lot worse.  Pretty sure it was the 3rd work day I've ever missed due to illness.

The timing of it could be seen as a coincidence, however just as likely to be one of those things that have been known to happen after large worries and stressors fall away, exposing the effects of deep chronic strains on the immune system. 

  • D confirmed that the lack of water described by our Realtor was due to the breaker being turned off to the pump.  Once on, all was well.
  • The results of the water test we wanted done came back perfect. 
  • We didn't have to go through with the water testing as it was not a condition of the sale but wanted to for ethical reasons.  We braced for any potential bad news that would mean a new water filtration system, pump or worst case, a new well. 
  • It still bothers me that perspective real estate buyers in a competitive market have to compromise so much in order to "win".  The offer we didn't want to engage with, that had a lot of conditions was the type of offer I would go in with, and have gone in with.  
  • People are feeling like they have to carry all the risk to get what they want.  Leaves them potentially vulnerable to nasty surprises.  It's a risk I wouldn't want and because of that, wouldn't engage.  And the ones who are being careful, like I would be, are losing out.  I feel bad about that.  
  • Having a high enough volume of people go through the cottage meant floors were dirty and bedroom carpets (off white) left pretty soiled.  D will steam clean before closing. 
  • Our lawyer's office has received the agreement and have officially started working on our end.
  • I completed my course required by a volunteer agency.  Am not truly done as the material requires repetition.  Will give myself some time off before starting again.  
  • Have put my Spanish studies on the back burner so would like to catch up again this summer.  Fortunately our teachers and others we know in Guatemala made it through the eruption alright.
  • A few more consignment items sold -- Two purses, a pair of heels and a skirt.
  • I have the next 2 months off of travel.  Am excited to hang out at home this summer.
  • Not having a lot of success digging up older receipts related to cottage capital expenses -- Towards the calculation of the adjusted cost base.  
  • My fault for not separating them and the real early receipts have been shredded.  And calls to the plumber etc.  have not been fruitful as they only have the last 7 years of receipts.
  • So the number I have for capital gains tax is likely the one we live with.

Friday, June 15, 2018


The cottage was listed the day after we left Canada.  We went with the pricing recommended by our realtor as neither of us had any idea what this year's market was like.  With no real current comparables at the starter end of the spectrum, told her that our goal was to be fair, not greedy.  Plus we believed too, that the market will correct errant pricing either way.

By the time we got settled a couple of days later, we found out about the 10 booked showings.  By the end of the week, there were 20, with 5 registered offers plus 2 others that withdrew for various reasons.   As we were in an a region with rolling blackouts and unreliable internet, we had to make the decision to postpone review of offers until our return 12 days later.

I particularly felt horrified that it would appear as if we were trying to take advantage of the interest to delay, in order to encourage a bidding war, so had to hope that our realtor would be able to relay our situation clearly to the parties involved and trust they would believe us.

D wasn't as concerned as I.  He felt that in this day and age, a simple google of both our names would easily land on my office website with a vacation notice and his LinkedIn and Facebook page.  Just like we would be doing the same with their names later to try and see who we were dealing with.

The world of real estate has changed a lot since our last engagement years ago.  We were impressed with the new software allowing date stamped binding signatures to be made on agreements with simple clicks and a choice of writing styles.  That part was actually fun!  And how the agreement gets emailed to subsequent owners to sign once one person has completed their signing.  Very sleek.

Neither D or I have ever been in a multiple offer situation.  You read about it and see it on the numerous real estate shows but I have to admit, it isn't as glamorous as it appears.  It's pretty nerve wreaking.  There were a couple that gave 1 hour non revocables.   Four out of five changed their conditions and or pricing on the last day.  One sent a personal note.  And we felt very rushed.  It wasn't all that exciting.

D decided to call the bluff on the highest offer (34K over asking) and it worked.  They were not serious, wanted an extension that we were not willing to grant and created a lot of noise and drama for about 40 min.   I didn't have a good feeling about the offer and could have done without that whole interaction.

The second highest offer (10K over asking) didn't get a chance due to lack of time and having the most conditions.  Their realtor called inquiring about status as they were anxious about the outcome.  I felt bad that we didn't engage with them but offering more money did not balance out the sheer amount of steps they needed for a really short closing request (2 1/2 weeks).

We really liked the idea of a quick closing, but to make it work would have involved signing back and trying to change too many things and I didn't want this process to continue all night or into the next days.

We passed on the lowest offer.  There wasn't enough interest to negotiate.  Which left two offers priced the same, one that came a note explaining why the financing clause was present.  We deferred to our realtor's experience with such clauses.

It is getting harder to qualify for 2nd mortgages for recreational properties and it usually involves a bank assessment and she had not been contacted by anyone about that.  In her experience, the whole process has taken up to 10 business days.  She cautioned on any offer that contained it.

When I made my purchase, I used the equity of my then house to self finance it, so avoided that whole application process.  Recreational properties are considered to be higher risk to the bank as they are the first to be defaulted on when things go bad financially.

In the end, the "cleanest", strongest offer (firm, 10K deposit, 6 week closing) was chosen, as is, with no sign back from us requesting more money.  It was for a touch over asking, with no conditions other than to leave it in clean condition with personal effects removed.

They (and everyone else who offered) wanted all the furniture, appliances, everything in the shed and garage, which is what we had hoped, as it meant less work.  Most every major item are in newer condition, within 5 years, so it is move in ready.  D will continue to head up biweekly to enjoy the remaining time as well as maintain the lawn etc.  until closing.

The whole process took about 3 hours the evening after our return.  And I couldn't sleep after, probably from all the adrenaline.  We are super glad that our realtor is experienced and her years of wisdom made all the difference in our interpretation and response to the various parties.  

Monday, May 28, 2018

Almost June

  • Got my hair cut for donation.  Ten inches this time around, leaving me with chin length hair.
  • The car I was considering sold 2 hours before I had a chance to test drive it.  Will put this project on the back burner for a month or two as there is just too much going on right now.
  • My blood test came back and cholesterol levels took a decent dive, so hopefully in my new MD's eyes, will prove that it is not all genetic.  Expecting another re-test in 3 - 4 months.  
  • My plan is to increase cardio training this summer.  And to start cooking more again as we have gone overboard on buying take out food and I'm already seeing an affect on my body.  A sign that life has gotten ahead of us.
  • We went up to the cottage for the long weekend and within a few hours, that same gut feeling of wanting to sell it came around, despite the capital gains thing and what looks best on paper.  
  • So it is finally going to happen.  We met with the same realtor from last year, gave her a set of keys, got the paperwork signed and it will be listed this week.  
  • D spent this past weekend up there getting it all ready.  However, he left his wallet there. We are a 3.5 hr drive away and supposed to be heading to the airport tomorrow.  
  • The new plan is for D to not work the morning so we can go pick it up before heading back down to the airport.  Will be making the best out of it by having lunch out at a favorite Vietnamese restaurant that's on the way instead of the airport.  
  • Had a casual Skype chat/interview with a volunteer agency in Palestine.  I'm feeling drawn back there to help despite feeling un-grounded right now.  I tend to take steps in many directions as feelers to discover the next path.  So no solid commitment yet.  Just possibilities.
  • That new course I've been slogging through is opening my eyes as to my emotional suitability for longer term disaster relief work.   I'm concerned that I won't be able to handle it in a healthy way and would potentially be strongly at risk for post traumatic stress disorders.  I'd still like to give it go once if I'm accepted. 
  • Needless to say, we both feel like we need a vacation.  I can't say where we are planning to be shortly will be all calm and relaxing but we are committed to not push things and do too much.

Friday, May 18, 2018


  • D is off to a good start with his new company.  He is cautious this time around, after so many instances of jumping the gun in his assessments.  The culture is much more laid back, with many people at the managerial levels and up who are super fit.  
  • Very different from his previous experiences.  Maybe the concept of balance is real there?  He's already joined the lunch time running group, the company gym and is getting talked into riding his bike to and from work as there is a safe underground area for storing them.  
  • I vetoed the bike riding idea citing issues with route, timing and just plain old over doing it. After the first couple of runs and workouts, he agreed with me.  Men!
  • I made my first couple of consignment sales!  Someone purchased my Gucci sunglasses and one of my Arcteryx tops.  I hope she is enjoying them very much!  
  • The meditation retreat exceeded my expectations.  It wasn't about relaxation and feeling good.  In fact, I was exhausted and could barely get up and straighten after the first day.  It was about learning the path that can, with enough work and discipline, help you attain the type of amazing control over the mind and body that you read about with yogis.  Something I've been fascinated with for a while.  
  • With some new found clarity, I did end up cancelling my stay and schooling in Guatemala.  Felt relieved afterward so know it was a good decision for right now.  I would have just returned otherwise.
  • For the first time ever, I volunteered my seat on a flight home.  Ended up meeting and hanging out with a couple of people who also did the same as we got vouchers for the same hotel in Tokyo.  Funny how things happen.  Talking with the one fellow, who is also an avid traveler, triggered a major layer from my past that needed clearing.  He was a real mirror for me.  Very thankful for that.
  • D and I are working through some of our tougher emotional scars from the past number of years.  Some quite painful but absolutely necessary in order to move forward.  Nothing will be a quick fix but the intent and honesty components are there.
  • Still working on selling or trading in our vehicles.   Now that D is working, we are much tighter on coordination time.  Found a potential vehicle which I still have to test drive first and currently waiting for a quote.
  • I have started an online course that is a prerequisite for a volunteer organization I'm hoping to be involved with.  It has turned into a bit of a slog.  Understandably so as the materials are serious and requires some deeper thinking about humanitarian responsibility, ethics etc.  The program has really impressed me so far and I'm only 30% through with many dozens of hours ahead.  
  • Not looking like I'll be done work by Dec '18.  Already know that.  Was told if I change my fee structures to monthly instead of yearly, the exit will be much easier.  So I will do just that when all the renewals come around.  It will also give me additional flexibility to be done at any time of the year. 

Sunday, May 6, 2018


The names of certain places have always drawn me in.  Ulaanbaatar, Jakarta, Siberia, Kazakhstan, Ushuaia, Tel Aviv, Svalbard...

I've been reminded often that that phenomenon may not be so common for others by the numerous inquiries as to why it would even cross my mind to go to Mongolia.  Whereas I can't understand why anyone wouldn't want to go there.

I wanted to see what life was like for nomadic herders, especially at the end of a long winter when conditions were the toughest on both humans and animals.  So I found a home stay opportunity, packed my warmest gear and hoped that I could hack it.

Mongolia is a harsh country.  Ulaanbaatar is a faster paced city than I expected.  People are assertive and in lot of cases, aggressive.  More than a few times, did I have professionally dressed men and women shove into and past me, trying to get through a doorway.

Minimal personal space observed.  Obvious Russian influence but a lot less resentful or spiteful in tone.  No easy smiles, at least at the beginning.  Dry cold, so didn't hit me as hard as I was expecting.  Was still in the -30s C though.

Young kids and middle age adults wrestle with each other in public.  People are built genetically very sturdy and are quite physical there.  Got hit in the shoulder by a man play fighting with another.  He was very apologetic and I could only look at him in disbelief.  Some much there was foreign to me.

A lot of the apartment buildings in the city felt crumbly, sad and run down.  No real beauty in their design.  And inside, lighting is minimal and to be honest, scary feeling and the often sole light bulb would be on a timer and would turn off before the elevator arrived.

On weekends, happy kids play in the public playgrounds like kids do, with much laughter and joy.

It would have been very helpful had I learned some Cyrillic in advance.  Just didn't get around to it.  The language barrier was immense and awkward.  When my driver dropped me off, the weight of what I had signed up for really hit me.

Fortunately for me, once my hosts realized that I had a language sheet with basic phrases and was interested in trying to communicate, they gave me a phrase book which I used, providing much comic relief, to ask questions and tell them a little about myself.

It made meal times more comfortable as sitting completely silent with them for 3 meals a day would have been quite awkward, had it continued for the duration.  I had the choice to eat in my ger but that felt too much like being served and didn't want that.  Incidentally, I loved Mongolian cuisine, way more than Nepali.

Life as a nomadic herder is repetitive with consistent long days.  I kept their hours which was from 5:40 am - 7 pm.  And despite them both being in their 60s, neither of them have taken more than 2 days off in a row ever.  They care for their animals too much to leave any longer.  Work is ongoing, with little physical comfort.

We sat on small stools without backs.  Meals were made from scratch.  Water had to be gathered.  No running water.  My ger was dimly lit by one light bulb, powered by a car battery.

My tiny battery powered lantern was the source of great curiosity as the amount of light that came from it surprised everyone.  There would have been no way I could read or write otherwise.

They practiced a seemingly never ending rotation system as the ground barely had any growth or animals to eat.  Cows and horses were led hundreds of meters up hills where the sun exposed some low growing vegetation.

I came expecting to see weakened and thin animals and thought it would be a sad sight.  But the opposite was true.  I have never seen such strong and muscular animals.   Had to walk through about 30 of them to get to the outhouse as they were all intermixed.  Very intimidating at the start.

If this was the toughest time of year for them, I can't imagine how they would be in the height of the summer.  The horses and cows were all so beautiful and calm.  Even the sheep and goats were muscular and sturdy.

Work outside is tough.  First the temperatures.  They will hit -50s C in the height of the winter.  And heating is with wood during the day from the kitchen.  You cook with the same stove.  Slept on a minimally padded wooden bed -- Back felt like it was going to break in half part way through the first night.  At night, one pail of coal will keep burning for 12 hours.

It didn't even take one night in a ger to understand the importance of that.  I still had to sleep with a -18 C rated sleeping bag, hat, gloves, ski pants, down jacket and sleeping pad.  Without the added heat and my gear, it would have been miserable.

I'm still amazed (smell aside) how well the coal worked and the important a role it plays, and will continue to play, despite my original environmental ideals.  Now I understand why it is used to fuel steam engines, giant power plants.


Friday, April 27, 2018

Inching Forward

D has been offered a 6 month contract position, to start shortly.  He's relieved to finally be given the opportunity to be able to try this out, with enough time to get a feel for things before my planned decision time.  Update:  Just got asked if he would be available to extend to 9 months...he said yes.  So that pushes things out until early Feb '19.

In the meantime, we've been working hard at getting quotes for the sale of antiques as well as other more luxury items on consignment.  All towards the goal of selling our house, should the time come.  After much discussion, we have agreed that the main house will be sold before the cottage once neither of us are working.  We both feel that we'll eventually be drawn to the mountains out west.

Trying to sell things drums up so many emotions.  I find myself re-living the joy of the purchases, the whys, the cost, as well as the small tugs to keep instead of let go, especially when told of how much it will sell for now versus the original purchase price.

Quite a bit of embarrassment as well, when I realize just how many pairs of high heels I still own despite a previous purge, some only worn once or twice and how many more formal / cocktail dresses, purses, coats etc. are in the same boat...

I don't have any experience selling clothing on consignment, only from selling period jewelry.  It's quite sophisticated now, with online accounts and semi professional assessors who validate items.  Where they send it to, I don't know.  But it can take up to a week.  This particular spot keeps 60% -- ouch!  Although the amount of work they do to market things is impressive.  So I concentrated on the higher end stuff with them -- Gucci, Hermes, Lancel etc.

Because I've been so busy and away so much, D went on my behalf.  To my surprise, he actually volunteered.  I was actually embarrassed for him, as it is such a girl thing.  But he stepped up and brought 24 items (purses, travel bags, shoes, dresses, sunglasses, coat etc) housed in garment bags, shoe bags and duffel bags on my behalf.  Whatever doesn't sell in 90 days, I get back.  So we'll see.

Have been working on pricing / trading in / selling our cars as well.  Stemming from a loosely thought out idea of leaving simpler, less expensive ones out west and up north, as they would not be driven much should we be splitting our time between the two.  Frustrating to say the least.  All good lessons on the non glamorous consequences of consumerism.  Sure has made me think longer and harder on what I allow to come into the house now.

Plus the act of pulling out stuff, dealing with it mentally and emotionally has been tiring.  And to think that I've often thought that I do not own a lot of stuff... A (wo)man made problem.  We have also been eyeing what pieces of furniture to transfer up to the cottage, to increase comfort there.  Having piles out all over the place is not conducive to zen.  Good thing my meditation retreat is upon me.

I've modified a few of my travel plans this year as well.  Partly due to work as well as being needed at home.  Unfortunately due to timing, my trip to Norway was one of the ones that had to be sacrificed for now.  There was only one small portion of it that has been prepaid and non refundable.  Have been especially impressed with how well things work online with SAS airlines.

Having had opportunities to fly on both A350 and A380 this year, I have to say that I was not impressed with the A350.  Whereas the A380 was so great.  And I'm referencing economy class.  Been lucky this year with respect to surprise upgrades.  Got to fly in a premium cabin as well as in first when my flights to and from Seoul were oversold during the Olympics and Paralympics.  A very nice surprise and gift.

I've been tempted to forgoing my next round of Spanish lessons in Guatemala in lieu of more free flow time and self study.  It goes against my left brain to "quit" like that but my right brain is currently leading the charge.  A rather large pile of "verbos que cambio" flash cards is staring at me as I type this.  D feels I ought to give myself a break from controllable pressures.

Sunday, March 25, 2018


Taipei was a treat to visit.  I was drawn there as I often am, due to it simply being new to me.  But in my mind, I had anticipated the result to be towards the "one and done" end of the spectrum because of previous experiences around large groups of mandarin speaking people.

Am referring to the often loud and seemingly uncaring demeanor displayed by large tour groups (bus) from mainland China taking over wherever they seem to be -- South of France, Paris, Rome, Bangkok, ski resorts, Hong Kong etc.  I seem to run into this growing industry everywhere I go now.

But Taipei was different.  The city, while not glitzy, was quiet.  People spoke Mandarin softly, often with gentle personalities.  What a surprise that was to me!  You can actually relax there.  Certainly didn't expect that in a large Asian capital city.  And the city is low key (in my opinion) in the best sort of way.

This country may very well be as close as I'll ever get to visiting China (as an adult, been there as a child but don't remember a whole lot) just because of how I've come to dislike that type of behaviour and disruption.  Despite knowing I'll be missing out on world treasures, beautiful landscapes and great food.

Before arriving here, I had thought places like Bangkok cornered the market with food availability and density but Taipei blew it right out of the park.  Barely had time to eat at all the places within a 2 block radius in the 5 days I was there.

It was pretty unbelievable that so many small restaurants / food stalls can be supported.  Found it unnecessary to have to seek out certain places I read about, as the standard was high almost everywhere I went.  Also noticed a strong Japanese presence and influence.  Another aspect I hadn't expected.

Taipei is known for their night markets and I only went to a small neighbouring one.  Pretty exotic food options.  Found some of the smells a bit too much for me but that's my issue.  Everyone there were enjoying themselves.  Loved all the carnival like games that attracted the young and older.

This is the type of short taster trip I tend to take nowadays.  If the place catches me, I'll go back and delve deeper.  And I'll definitely go back.  The rest of the country is quite rural with some high mountains, known by climbers and bike packers.  So that has peaked D's interest too.  

He will likely never want to travel as much I do in a year, but there are certain places (the likes of Istanbul -- done, Hong Kong -- this year, Bangkok -- done, Palestine, rural Jordan, Rio, rural Norway, Greenland, Mongolia etc.) I really would like for us to experience together, and this is yet another great city to add to the list.

Don't have any new photos to add -- They are located 2 posts back.

Wednesday, March 14, 2018


Had a great time being part of the admissions committee of my Alma mater.  Got to assess a group of applicants both verbal and written.  After the first two, I was unsure as I didn't find them particularly strong and worried I was being too hard on them.

But once you get that first exceptional candidate, I knew I was fine to trust in my ratings.  It's a very hopeful feeling, being in that energy.   Actually made me tell D that if I were to retire, I won't get to do this next year!

Life has been pretty hectic as I had to start my assessments (late) right after returning from my first truly challenging locale of 2018.  Still feeling a bit shattered.  Have a backlog of things to say but will eventually get to it...

Leaving the city, feeling very nervous

My home for the week...

When the roads end and you start following tracks

View of Ulaanbaatar from the 7th floor
of the State Department Store

Tuesday, February 20, 2018

At Present

D still went through a Sunday night dread of the Monday morning work day, even though he knew he wasn't going back. I think it will take a few more weeks before his negative emotional imprint loosens up.
Unplanned, I had what was likely my last major work related assessment (likely no longer working by the time the next cycle comes around) on the same day as D's last day of full time work.  So there was much to celebrate.  However, we were kind of snowed in, so we had a peaceful and laid back weekend instead.

I've quite enjoyed the winter we've been having.  A real traditional Canadian winter.  The snow quality has been excellent, mostly dry powder, unlike the usual damp-ish "heart attack" snow.  We've walked a lot and that has helped both our frames of mind.  

Surprisingly, neither of us are hugely concerned about the money situation, with just one of us working.  Guess it has to do with our long standing set up of being each other's back up.  On paper it made sense but feeling it in action is different.  Plus I really like having him at home.  Not having a mortgage nor any large monthly payments obviously makes a huge difference.  

Will assess how things feel with respect to my work in June (or each June), for a Dec end.  Have had a number of visual and mental scenes pop up over the last months.  Still not wanting to dwell on them as I'll instinctively jump into plan and direct mode, rather just allow myself to listen and feel.  

My gut and intuition played a huge role in was what lead to me being where I am today.  Having spent so many years using my left brain calculating and planning, I feel it is time to again allow intuition be at the forefront again to guide me through this next transition.

Not intended to help with this, I've signed up for a meditation weekend.  A first.  Not sure what to expect.  

Had my meeting with my new Dr re:  My elevated blood lipid results and she wanted have me start meds right away.  After some directed questioning and discussion, I will be getting sent for a couple of additional tests.

Plus some additional time to allow potential working of a few natural approaches before I would be willing to accept that I may be dealing with a genetic component to this issue.  Disappointed if that turns out to be the case but I know my dad has been on a statin for decades.

She is justifiably worried about damage and I'm concerned about not having the chance to try everything I can. 

Scenes from Taipei, Taiwan 
A real surprise for me
Laid back city, quiet, full of gentle people

Taken a week before the earthquakes