Monday, October 31, 2011

Living Life

We had a great long weekend up north. Both of us want to spend more time there during the fall. My travelling didn't make that possible this year but we are going to make it a priority next year.

Was tempted by a KLM seat sale but didn't act on it. For those who are interested, the sale ends today. As part of my research, I found a nice apartment in Budapest for when I'm ready to go. There are lots to chose from on Homeaway.

I for see 2012 as more of a reflective year. I'm already feeling that way. Lots to digest after the changes of this year.

It has been a challenge eating out with our dietary restrictions. We have been told that once off the offending foods for a few weeks, interaction with them will create symptoms. D has been at it for 6 weeks now and he gets stomach cramps immediately after eating dairy.

I haven't been off of things long enough to feel it much. But apparently, once our 6 months are up, we will be able to re-introduce the foods in a moderate way without total relapse. One thing I have noticed is my energy has gotten better. Too soon to tell if it is just coincidence.

Happy Halloween!

Friday, October 28, 2011

Shiny New Office

I know of a colleague who has just opened their new office -- At a cost of $80K. It's a really sleek office. Designer furniture, coffee maker etc.

In reality he does the same job I do but in a larger city center which can demand more payment, about $20 more than I charge.

I find myself thinking to myself, is that difference worth the large start up costs? When does the break even point happen? What about the stress of carrying such an amount fresh out of school with plenty of school debt?

I don't know all the numbers so cannot figure out the bottom line. It just makes me nervous. And I forgot there would be a fairly pricey commercial lease on top of that.

As unglamourous as my office is compared to his, I know I can pay my overhead with less than a day's work. However I get no bragging rights for playing small. People don't admire that.

They may just assume I cannot afford to do it any bigger and feel sorry for me since I've been at it for a much longer time. When in reality, I live a pretty full life. For me, that's what really matters.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Good News Bad News

Bad news about the new to me snow tires. They have less life than I was told/expected. They do pass safety and I've been told I could try and see how they perform and decide from there.

I've sent an email to the seller with the findings and hope he will do the right thing and send me some money back.

We are heading up north for a few days to A -- Do our close the cottage part. The plumbers may have already done their part. B -- Soak in some great fall air and atmosphere. And C -- Have dinner at one of our favorite restaurants.

The much tracked Bank of Canada rate stayed put. Now that I'm not involved in the heavy pre-payment scene anymore, I actually missed the 9 am press release. Normally I have that page up and waiting anxiously.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Inspired Living

D getting his new bike has inspired me to bike more myself. I feed off the excitement of others. It's fun. That's why I like reading blogs and meeting interesting people so much.

His first ride was very successful. He couldn't believe how fast he got and and much easier it was to go uphill while still having a few gears left to go either way. It felt like driving a sports car.

We are looking forward to increased home time in 2012 to cultivate our local interests more. I also want to get to the next level in health and fitness.

I was the unfortunate messenger of bad news recently. The ceiling of my office storage room sprung a leak. The building has a flat roof. I don't know what's involved in fixing it. Hopefully it won't be a hugely expensive ordeal. Nice to be a renter!

I've pretty much given up hope with finding reasonable air fares out west this Christmas. However, we have secured flights in Feb for a couple a weeks.

It will coincide with D's annual guys ski trip so that will save him an extra ticket purchase. Which doesn't hurt his feelings as he has drained his dream account on his new toy.

Monday, October 24, 2011

Great Guy!

Meeting the fellow who sold me his tires and rims was a highlight of our weekend. He was younger than I had expected, D thinks between our ages. And so enthusiastic! His energy was contagious.

It was really obvious he was wealthy, happy and non apologetic about his success. A great positive energy to be around. Most people we see who want to be wealthy appear to be trying too had to make others notice them. It didn't hurt that he was naturally really good looking, fit and stylish.

This guy is one of the few people we've met who is joyfully living and enjoying his life and has the means to realize some pretty cool dreams.

When his third child was born, he had to get rid of his vehicle for a larger one, thus the reason he had tires and wheels to sell. We talked about how hard he was hit with depreciation as he bought his vehicle new in 2008. Oh well, he now drives a large Mercedes SUV that seats 7.

He told us about bringing his previous car to the track and how much fun that was. He drove the model up from what I drive which has 100 hp more but recounted with disbelief how there was someone in the group who was driving my model and was constantly on his bumper and passing him.

He remembers exclaiming out loud, "Where is that 100 extra horsepower?!" He figured the other guy had a heavier foot. I suggested maybe he was driving with the sport button pressed.

Told me to take care of the rims as they will still be worth a lot of money when I'm done with my car. That he hoped I'd be driving my car to pick up the tires because he missed his a lot and all the modifications he did on it.

He couldn't believe I had driven a Honda for 14 yrs and made the leap from that or I that had bought my current car used. No more than I could imagine buying his last car new. We were gaping at each other different reasons.

He also apologized many times for being 15 min late. He had emailed me but didn't have my number and worried I left. I like that in a person because it tells me they put a high value on their time and hates when they are wasting someone else's time.

I want to exude his energy and enthusiasm.

Sunday, October 23, 2011

What a Saturday

What a marathon day yesterday. We ended up staying at a hotel the night before meeting my guy with the tires to save the long morning drive. The driving time was saved but the experience at the hotel I think shortened D's life.

There was a family who took up 3 rooms across the way and they were going back and forth amongst the rooms while letting the doors slam. After 11 pm, their neighbour told them to quiet down while D went down to the front desk to see if we could switch rooms.

Unfortunately the hotel was full. They did quiet down but were at it again at around 3 am, then checked out aft 5 am. We did our best to understand that with multi-family outings, it can be loud.

However, travelling with the family requires some learning that when co-habiting with others, new habits need to be cultivated in public spaces. This applies to supermarkets too.

The purchase of my snow tires and rims went through. The front tires were more worn than the rears which is understandable but were more worn than I had expected. I was worned about that due to the weight of the vehicle. What I am planning to do is use them in the back this season.

D got his bike fitting and pick up done earlier than scheduled. We had planned to go for lunch before his appointment but they were ready for him so we pushed through instead. There was an impressive level of biomechanical checks in the fitting. I found it fascinating. We definitely felt we got more than our money's worth.

My travel cancellation refund arrived Friday! It has been safely deposited. One less thing to wonder about. I was worrying about what I would do if it got lost and how long I would have to wait before they would re-issue another cheque.

It has been an early and busy morning. D got confirmation of our refund and bonus from our apartment rental owner and has booked our new spot. He was very grateful we were able help out.

We toyed with the idea of cancelling the trip in light of both of our recent expenses and food allergy findings. I am usually the queen of that, first for D. He feels it is my influence. I wasn't against it as I have done my share of travelling this year. But D really is looking forward to it so full steam ahead.

Friday, October 21, 2011


It's perhaps a sign of the times. We got an email last night from the owner of the apartment rental in France asking us if we would consider finding a different spot because she has an opportunity to take on a long term rental contract.

As she may be losing her job and is expecting a baby, the extra security of the long term rental is needed at this time. She also offered us monetary compensation if we would be able to accommodate.

So D and I got out our laptops and started searching. We've had a good relationship with her over the years and if we could find another place in short notice, we would help out.

We haven't been able to find another waterfront spot at anywhere close to the price we are paying but there are 3 we like which will cost what we paid plus the compensation we would be getting as it is coming in close to double.

I've made inquiries into one of them while the others can be booked instantly online so I'll give it til the end of this weekend to decide as we are heading out of town anyways.

I hope this isn't going to mean the sale of the apartment sometime in the future. I am projecting my own feelings onto this scenario when I say it would be sad if it came to that. But I don't know if it was bought originally as just an investment or not.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Food & Life

Am still waiting for my travel refund cheque. They tell me it is "in the mail"... I'm doing my best not to think of it. On the other hand, the roof over charge payment came back so that's great.

I'm anxious to get the travel cheque because I managed to have spent it all and some (knowing it was coming) in Turkey buying a tiny silk on silk carpet (2 ft x 2 ft) and a sheet of original Arabic writing (blessing from the Koran). I'll see if I can get some good pictures of them and post them up. I've paid for them already but it would be nice to replenish my dream account.

The appointment has been confirmed also for the purchase of my rims. As it is a private sale, I will be paying in cash. Total price $2150. D has made an appointment for me to get them on my car in Nov. He has also confirmed with the plumbers to close our cottage as well. Nice to have things falling into place.

The big news is my food allergy test results are back and they are even less pretty than D's. I too am reactive to dairy and eggs as well as peanuts, almonds, pineapple, kidney beans and clams. Like D, I have no symptoms when I eat those foods but my body is fighting them on the inside.

Considering my favourite dish in Italy is "Spaghetti alle vongole veraci" (spaghetti and clams) and I just ate some in Taormina as well as pineapple daily and eggs at breakfast...I'm not a milk drinker or cereal eater but will take cream in coffee/tea and eat it in the form of whipped cream and such in desserts.

And the kicker is we are leaving for France soon and it is the land of dairy! D has already decided he doesn't care and will eat anything he wants as he figured if he never got tested, he would have gone his whole life not knowing.

I'm still in aftershock but right now I think I'm going to try and work around it. Breakfast will be the most difficult because I love my croissants and pain au chocolat...

Monday, October 17, 2011

Wheels and Deals

I've been sourcing out rims and winter tires for my car. D worked on it while I was away. The best price for aftermarket rims and good tires are in the $3200 range new.

I found a couple of online ads yesterday for used OEM rims with really good condition tires for $2200 - $2700. We are hoping to make an appointment to see them this weekend. And hoping they don't sell before we get there. They are 3 hrs away but we will be heading that way on Sat.

D just made a fairly large purchase -- A road bike. That's what we will be picking up this weekend. He has friends who are heavily into long distance racing and D is hoping to join in for next season. Next thing you know he'll be doing triathlons. Guess my pack muling days aren't over just yet.

We tried our hand at making Turkish coffee last night using the Cezve and coffee I brought home. It was too watery compared to what I had so we'll need to keep at it. D is loving the Turkish delight (pomegranate and pistachio) as well as the roasted pistachio nuts.

I was a bit worried as to whether they would allow me to bring the snacks back to the country because on our customs declaration form, it did mention nuts but in the end I believe it meant raw nuts vs processed. I was all ready to eat them up right there if it wasn't allowed. The nuts cost 90 TL a kilo and I had 1/2 kilo in my possession!

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Back to Regular Programming

Am back from another great trip. I was happy to get home. Flights were delayed due to weather and luckily not to an Air Canada strike. Me and 2 others ended up at seats where the entertainment units malfunctioned.

10 hrs is a long time to entertain oneself when I had been looking forward to seeing 4 movies. We did get a 5% off voucher for our suffering. Thank goodness for my tablet.

Due to jet lag, I've been up the past 5 hrs doing bookkeeping, returning emails and taking stock of phone messages. Less to do on Monday.

This trip had a lot of travel built into it so I didn't walk as much as I usually do. D still thought I loss weight so that was good to hear.

I'm concerned about Athen's future. It was absolute gridlock when I was there as the metro and buses were on strike. I had arranged for private transportation because I didn't want to trust my luck. Those who didn't depended on taxis and paid through their noses to get anywhere.

It took over 2 hrs to get from the port of Pireaus to the Acropolis. 45 min is the norm. On the way back, a truck deliberately blocked the entrance to the port (which was flooded from the torrential rain) so it took nearly 3 hrs before I was able to get off.

People seemed so sad. The weather didn't help. It was 11 degrees Celsius with lightning and thunder and pouring rain. The wind was crazy. Many umbrellas broke and I managed to bruise myself from having the handle of mine so tight against me.

There were a few injuries as well. The marble steps and walkways at the Acropolis got really slippery when wet. My shoes did their job and gripped.

Despite the weather and traffic challenges, I learned a lot and the view from the top was pretty awesome. No time to do a lot of shopping or eating in the Plaka this time around. Because it was so cool, I had been dreaming of Moussaka but I needed to back to get to Rhodes on time.

I am not keen on returning to Athens until they get things sorted out. The logistics and state of the city (garbage and city works dept on strike...) isn't going to help their tourism sector. I saw a lot of unhappy people who were trying to make their way to the port to check in to their luxury cruise liner (Seabourn) having flown into Athens.

Saturday, October 1, 2011

Off I Go

Good news came today in the form of a notification that my travel cancellation claim for my Buenos Aires trip has been processed and I will be receiving a cheque for the entire amount!

It took 3 weeks which I feel is very reasonable. I thought it was going to take 4 - 6 weeks. D will keep the cheque safe for me until I return. I leave tonight.

Have a great couple of weeks everyone!