Tuesday, February 21, 2017

Travel while you can

I was moved to tears today when I received an email from a client, giving up their bucketlist travel dreams. They'd booked and cancelled, then almost rebooked twice, each time stymied by health issues. Only a week ago, my heart soared upon learning they were well enough to travel, and we put the wheels in motion. At 79, they could finally make their dreams come true. Then today the email saying they realized it was too much, apologizing for wasting my time on their impossible dream. How does one respond to that? With heart, of course, acknowleding what a disappoinment this realization must be. Sadder still was reading the words of the husband, as it's his health that is the issue, inpacting them both.

THE LESSON: Travel when you can. Have your health, then go. Retired and now able to travel? Book a bunch of trips and go. Beware the temptation to spread out those important trips, one at a time, over many years ~ treat yourself to going now, not later, because you never know. This is hard for people who have worked hard, saved money, and aren't used to spending on themselves. But this is what you saved for.

Today you can go, so go. Chase your dreams. Do the big trips now, the important ones to you when you can. My clients will get over not taking a particular cruise, but this very kind man is living with regrets that he never got to explore his homeland, to visit the villages where his grandparents were born. These are the dreams that matter. You know what dreams are in your heart, what you've always wanted to do.

PLAN IT, DO IT, CREATE MEMORIES. Don't put it off.

Friday, December 30, 2016

Sales girl

I am still a little surprised to discover how much I am enjoying working in sales. I wasn't really expecting that. I was pretty sure I'd do fine, but actually really enjoy it? That's a nice surprise!
Of course, the product (travel) is so interesting. I get to meet all sots of people, from first time cruisers to intrepid world travellers. And I have the privilege of helping them plan their explorations and vacations, pursuing their dreams.
I have great fun watching my sales, as I work to achieve my sales targets, weathering both the ups and downs. Ups = bookings. Downs = cancellations. I can also see my overall ranking in the company, so it's a little like leap frog along the way.
One of the things I was able to do early on, for the most part, is to separate the 'sale' from the person I am helping. Sure, they're connected, but I consciously don't allow myself to think about, or look at, the commission I will receive from each booking. Sure, there will be a commission, that's how I am paid... but my entire focus is on the client, and their trip, and helping them navigate which cruise / tour / flights / hotel / etc is best for them.
And I have learned not to take non-bookings and cancellations personally. It's gotta be water off a duck's back, or you're hooped.
I also figure out if I do the opposite of these things, it brings an sense of desperation into the equation. And who wants a salesperson who is desperate for the sale?!? I sure don't. I have worked with a couple of people who get caught up in this, and I find I have to separate myself from their negativity.
It's all about service to me.... which makes looking at my sales later, or using a different part of my brain, so much fun.
That's all just a preamble to where I am at today, just 1 or 2 bookings short of hitting my stretch sales target goal for 2016.
It will be a fun couple days, wish me luck!

Wednesday, December 28, 2016

Sugar cookies

Today it caught me off guard.

For the past couple of weeks, I have been enjoying many-a-treat from colleagues and clients. No problem. And I've weathered the Christmas season without grief. Maybe a bit of sadness, missing mom, but mostly relaxing with fond memories. Even that was a huge shift for me.

So I wasn't expecting anything.

Then, today, with a bite of a snowflake cookie (very tasty) from a colleague, I had this sudden flash of mom's sugar cookie and shortbread. It took my breath away. And brought tears to my eyes.

Had to go in the back for a little cry.

Mom had all these little metal (aluminum?) cookie cutters, rolling around in a drawer, and this time of year, the same shapes would appear in cookie form, dotted with little red and green sprinkles: the star, the gingerbread man, the snowman, the Santa... Most of my mom memories are recent ones, but this is one from long ago, the taste of a cookie evoking childhood slivers of memory.

The struggle is still there. The pull between missing mom, and moving n. The dance between terrible grief and an accepting sadness shored up by love. The hole in my heart versus my heart bursting with love and appreciation for mom. How can I be all these things at once? How can I be of two hearts?

Overall, I'm good. My energy is on the side of acceptance and joy at how lucky I have been, and how grateful I am for mom, especially those last few years together.

But still, grief lingers. Or wafts. In and out. Strong and at bay. Never really gone, but no longer dominating.

It is less than a week until the anniversary of mom's passing (New Year's Eve), so I suppose I shouldn't be surprised.

But I'd fooled myself by doing ok. I forgot about how grief pounces. How it just erupts, when are least expecting it.

Except I supposed I should have expected it. Because I do still miss her so...

Ah, life is a journey.

Back to my day as a travel agent. I have quotes to do! Mom would love that. 

Sunday, December 25, 2016

Christmas surprise

Me in Aix-en-Provence
(but not at Christmas)
Surprised to find myself listening to Christmas music, all day. Enjoying it. I don't even want to watch a movie, because I don't want to break the zone that I am in. This would not be odd for other people, but it is indeed unusual for me.

More than that, I've been actually enjoying Christmas music for weeks, even having it turned on in the office when I am the only one there (!). But the music today on CBC is so lovely, what a lovely mix.

My relationship with Christmas has been through such ups and downs, such highs, and such miserable downs, to barely tolerating, to doing ok with it. But comfortable and relaxed, and listening to seasonal music is a new one.

It occurs to me that I am not grieving, as much, this year, as I was last year. What a difficult time the last couple years were, and having mom's passing coincide with the holidays made my grief just so pronounced.

In fact, I don't feel like I am grieving this year. Sure, when I think of mom, I tear up and I miss her terribly, but I mostly just feel the blessings of her love, and the gifts we both experienced spending the last stage of her life together. It was a good full circle. I miss her, but I don't mourn. Love you mom!

As a kid, family Christmases were good, and I have many fond memories. Lately, I've even let myself think about them.

In my 20's I was over-the-top into Christmas, I would make myself sick if I was like that today! People who knew me then would never believe that I stopped celebrating Christmas. Oh, and my poor family... I was a royal pain-in-the-ass, "making" everyone send me their Christmas lists weeks in advance, which I would reproduce and mail out (bleh), sorry about that.

Anyways, Christmas was something I loved, and was pretty central to my life, so when I started to deal with difficult family issues, causing me to step away from the family for a period, the "loss" of Christmas was like an open wound. I was a tortured soul, lost without an anchor, no idea of how to be in the world through the season. I bounced from trying to get in the spirit, to deep days of despair, totally lost. I just wanted to get to January. I've never been one to feel lonely, but I felt so alone, and lonely, that first year.

I remember walking the Stanley Park seawall on Christmas Day, forlorn and confused. Earlier that day, as my therapist was on vacation, I'd gone to see a new therapist, just the one time, for support, to help me get through the day. That turned out to be a be a bad decision. This new therapist knew nothing about me, and in the process of bringing her up to speed, she latched onto something and took me down a rabbit hole. I was already dealing with a lot, but that day she layered on a worry that I was an alcoholic (I wasn't). So, I walked that seawall with a great big cloud over me. Instead of helping me with a difficult day, I'd gotten myself more confused. It took a call to my regular therapist a few days later to get back on track.

From there, it didn't get better, but at least it couldn't get worse. Well, maybe it did. When I eventually dealt with my family issues head on, bringing skeletons out of the closet, speaking out about all that happened to me (for another day, or just ask me), the world shifted for me, and for my whole family. I don't regret how I had to deal with it - I wouldn't be myself today if I hadn't - I had to do what I had to do - I still regret the pain it caused others. So Christmases were hell for a few years, and not just for me. The act of saving myself left waves of sadness and loss all around me.

So, yeah, Christmas was pretty miserable for me. It became a season to just get through. I'd waffle between finding new ways to celebrate, to avoiding it all together.

Giving up gifting and giving to charities instead wasn't too hard. Figuring out what to do with myself was a different story. I often thought I would volunteer, but always checked into it too late, so I just had to get through it.

The pain was so much that from about October until January1st, I was miserable. And I got more and more miserable the closer it got.

So, yeah, no Christmas music, no gifts, no tree, no nothing... until I figured out a new way to be.

Eventually, I made peace with it, I guess, and I created my own private rituals: walks, reading, movies, treats, a day just for me. It was never really pleasurable, but I tolerated it.

Me serving Christmas dinner in Athens
The first time I sort-of celebrated Christmas again was when I was in Greece with my sister. We didn't make a big deal of it, but I got into the spirit, really for her sake, but was blessed to find myself warming, and enjoying the seasonal interlude.

Bringing Christmas cheer to mom in Glengarry
Fast forward to the very next year, and I was living with mom. She wasn't big on Christmas any more, but enjoyed having family around, fun treats, I made her a stocking, watched Christmas specials, and enjoyed turkey dinner from Chef on the Run. It was ok. I essentially put my Grinch in the closet, to make things special for her. A few family would come, which was interesting, being around Christmas and gifts again, but I seemed to get through it ok. Shed my demons and got into it with mom, and started to have fun. I remembering telling my sister that I enjoyed the Christmas lights that year, and she was pretty shocked. This leopard changed her spots.

Mom and I had a nice little rhythm with Christmas, both those years I lived with her, then later when she was living in residential care, where I'd bring things in, and join her for Christmas dinner. I never minded, because it gave her joy, and I was relieved to find I still had a heart in there. Ha. That's an  understatement. The last 7 years have made me into a softie (in a good way) ~ singing with mom, and playing with a cat who adopted me ~ I opened my heart. It was time.

So, last year, was ok, sad because it was coming up to the anniversary of mom's passing (she had died the previous New Year's Eve), but relaxing with my sister. Only a bit of a Grinch. Nothing outward to celebrate, but was ok with the goings on with my sister and niece, presents and pajamas, and all that. I got through it ok, but can't say it was a good year. Such a difficult time, did ok, but that's all I can say.

Now, this year, low and behold, I am enjoying Christmas music. Who knew?

My sister is in Vancouver, cat sitting for her daughter, so we both have apartments to ourselves for the season (bliss). Its been months since I had any time alone, so that's helping me get grounded again. And, surprise, here I find myself with my first Christmas alone in 8 years.

Didn't think about enjoying it or not, it just "was". Made sure I had lots of food, and a few treats, but that's about it.

Imagine my surprise to be actually enjoying my day. It's been decades, really, since I didn't have a cloud of darkness around me.

So, I like Christmas music.

I like Christmas lights.

I have been saying Merry Christmas.

I am not waiting for it to be over.

I am enjoying the interlude.

Saturday, December 24, 2016

Quiet day

It's a quiet day here, but a good one. I decided to work at the office, as you never know when a world cruise will walk through the door. Ha! This is traditionally a very quiet day, but you really do never know when someone wants to buy the gift of travel. More likely, someone needs travel insurance (one today), phone calls for other agents (several messages passed on), or someone dropping by (one of my clients, how delightful, with a card and little thank you gift!). In between, I am getting a lot of work done. Half of that is cruise work, the other half is my more creative endeavors and social media. And between the work, I confess to a nice long read of the newspaper, and sneaking left over treats from around the office. I am about to turn the neon shingle off, but reflecting that it was a good day, and it was nice to be out on such a nice day. Next, home to a quiet evening of doodling, or reading, or Christmas movies, accompanied by vodka and Fresca (maybe without the Fresca). But not too much, as I am keeping my virtual shingle on!
Cheers to all.

Friday, December 23, 2016

Sunday, December 11, 2016

I rest my case against "clickbait"

Inspired by a Lonely Planet article today, Stinge Henge: eight alternative ancient stone monuments, I  have been learning about the Ring of Brodgar.

I admit that it was my dislike of the article's "Stinge Henge" title that made me click the link. I suppose I was ready to wag my virtual finger at LP, mocking their use of the title.

The truth is I actually got lost, after I went to Wikipedia to find a Creative Commons image I could find to accompany my tweet. I found myself deep into learning about this particular henge.

Proving, of course, that clickbait works. Would I have even read the article if it didn't have the annoying title? Very possibly not.

I rest my own case against clickbait. I guess I've crossed over to the other side now.

PS. I am now writing a blog post about the Ring of Brodgar for my cruisetravelbug blog... I'll return here to post a link when its published.

Related resources
Stinge Henge: eight alternative ancient stone monuments - LonelyPlanet
WTF is Clickbait - TechCrunch
You’ll Be Outraged at How Easy It Was to Get You to Click on This Headline - Wired

Thursday, December 08, 2016

Something I am passionate about...

... is kindness.

It seems, perhaps, an unusual passion, considering the vitriol of the recent American election. Or perhaps it makes perfect sense. But for me, kindness is at the heart of living peacefully in this world.

A little bit of kindness goes a long way. A very looong way.

I haven't always understood this. It was a lesson learned the hard way.

I've made my share of mistakes, I've had moments of acting out in a way that could not seem to be anything but unkind, even if that wasn't the intent. Until I took a close look at myself, and did some personal work, I often wasn't even aware of the impact of myself on others.

I am grateful that I learned those lessons.

But I slowly came to see that kindness is something I value, perhaps more than anything else.

You can't be respectful, if you aren't kind.

If you are kind, it's not hard to be respectful.

You can't be generous, if you aren't kind. Generosity without kindness is not sincere.

You can't be sincere, if you aren't kind. If you are kind, sincerity flows naturally.

Today I realize that kindness is something I value, perhaps more than anything else.

If you're kind,

And it's kindness of thought that matters, just not actions.

If you aren't compassionate, there isn't a l

Long ago, before I got to the root of it, I had streaks where I my impatience, frustration or anger would overwhelm me, and my interactions with the world were not always kind.

In retrospect, it makes complete sense that once I took care of some personal issues (therapy is a good thing!), I didn't have unresolved issues overflowing into the world around me.

I have learned from the kindness of others, those who have extended kindness to me, even when I didn't seem to be responding in kind.

Lessons also came to me in just observing others.

those who accept an apology gracefully

We are all on different paths in this world, and you never know what the person you are interacting with is going through. You have no idea what a difference a kind word can make. You may never know. But it is an easier world to get through, if you just give a little kindness.

I have come to understand the value of kindness

I live by this rule on a daily basis, and it's not often anymore that I give it much thought. It seems to come naturally to me.

Not that long ago though, when overwhelmed with the task of closing down my late mother's home, and moving, I lost my patience in a McDonald's drive through. The lack of the ability of the person to understand my simple request, brought out the worst of me. I not only felt bad, but I felt compelled to make it right. Lucky for me, I was able to return to the drive through the next morning, and was able to get the same employee, so I had an opportunity to apologize. This person, who'd I'd never seen smile much in the past, broke into the biggest grin, was so grateful, and showered me with kindness.

Sunday, December 04, 2016

"GO" and the social media lexicon

I just witnessed a couple of people jump all over someone for using "GO" as a discussion starter in a Facebook community. I saw the question, and was curious about what responses it solicited, but was surprised to see the thread highjacked over the way the question was asked. The judgers blasted her for adding the word "GO" after her question, calling it rude and unprofessional. Their very reaction made it obvious that they had little or no social media exposure beyond The Facebook Bubble, as this is a relatively common way to kick off brainstorming. The woman who innocently asked the question is probably quite taken aback by the reaction, and may never ask a question again! I see that the moderator has tried to reign things in, but the damage has been done.

If you only live in the bubble, that's ok (though I'm glad it's not me), but be gentle on others, and don't be so quick to judge. If you see a term or approach like this used multiple times (I gather this isn't the first time they've got their knickers in a knot about this), p-a-u-s-e, and get curious.

Get curious. Ask yourself what is going on that you aren't aware of? If people are starting to use jargon, or communicate in a certain way, it's a CLUE. Notice the pattern. Get curious.

Instead of getting your back up and hijacking the discussion, why not reflect on what you observe, as in, "Interesting, another person has asked a question, then typed GO, what's up with that? I thought at first it was rude, or even unprofessional, but now that I've heard it again, I wonder if I am missing something.... Is that how people are initiating discussions these days? It must be coming from somewhere, but it's new to me. I don't really like it, but I can't control it, so I may as well ignore it, and focus instead on what the person asked..." Or something like that.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

What do you think?

By the way, it's not lost on me that I am judging the judgers here. I love irony.

I've started hunting down something written on the use of "GO" in this context... In the meantime, I'm finding some other resources on social media terms, which I've posted below,

Social Media Glossary - Agility PR
The Definitive List of Social Media Acronyms and Abbreviations, Defined - Buffer Social
The Social Media Glossary: 226 Essential Definitions - Hootsuite
Social Media Glossary: Top 100 Words and Phrases - Socialbrite

Saturday, December 03, 2016

Where I grew up

I was applying for a writing gig recently, and was asked to write a couple of paragraphs about where I grew up. I had to do it off the top of my head, with no time to think about it, just using a few prompts, so I thought I would save it.

I grew up in Valleyview, a subdivision of Kamloops, in the interior of British Columbia. As kids, we were free to amuse ourselves outdoors, and there was a great gang of kids. Our house was situated at the foot of steep clay "cliffs" (they were hills really), covered with sagebrush. We spent countless hours had climbing the hills behind the houses across the street, hiding behind the sagebrush and spying down at the people below.

One of my favourite things to do was ride my bike to the drive-in theatre and to meet my friends and hang out. At night, we would try to watch the movies through the fence, always hopeful that we'd hear the soundtrack from a car with the speakers turned up loud, but mostly just heard random bits of conversation or music when someone opened a car door. During the day we could go right in, where we'd look for coins in the grass and play with the speakers, though we heard only static.

We practically lived outside, right down to the picnic table in the backyard where we ate most of our meals. We'd often have sweet, juicy watermelon for dessert and, being outdoors, it was the perfect place to spit watermelon seeds at each other. Sadly, my big brother had a much better aim. But still, I tried. No wonder our mom wanted us to eat outdoors!

Monday, November 21, 2016


-ology, a suffix derived from the Greek logos,
meaning the 'study of', 'specialty in' or 'art of' a given scientific or medical field.

Found a great list of "onologies" this morning. These caught my eye:

Aphnology = Wealth
Apiology = Bees
Argyrothecology = Moneyboxes
Batology = Brambles (not bees?!)
Cereology = Crop circles
Deltiology = Postcards
Dendrochronolgy = Tree growth rings
Enterology = The intestines
Eremology = Deserts
Escapology = Escape from confinement
Gizmology = Technological gadgetry
Hippology = Horses (not hippos?)
Ichnology = Fossil footprints
Latrinology = Writings on toilet walls
Lipsology = Lip prints
Mellittology = Bees
Nidology = Bird's nests
Numismatology = Coins & medals
Odology = The mystical force of od
Odonatology = Dragonflies
Omnibology = Motorbuses (always wondered about the roots of "omnibus")
Pachydermatology = Elephant skin
Palaeometeorology = Past patterns of global atmospheric transport
Palaeotempestology = Ancient storms
Pelology = Mud as a therapy
Pharology = Lighthouses
Phrenology = Skull form as indication of character
Plangonology = Dolls
Plutology = Wealth (if you can't be a planet...)
Pogonology = Beards
Psephology = Elections & voting (timely)
Pterylology = The arrangement of bird's feathers
Ptochology = Pauperism & unemployment
Punnology = Puns
Rabdology = Arithmetic using Napier's Bones
Rumpology = Fortune telling by reading the rump
Tartarology = Hell
Teleseismology = Tremors due to distant earthquakes
Timbrology = Postage stamps
Tsiganology = Gypsies
Typtology = Spirit rappings
Vexillology = Flags

List of onologies

Friday, November 18, 2016

Still the thrill of being a travel agent

It's been almost 4 years, and still I sometimes get such a thrill out of the realization that I am a travel agent.

Today it hit me when I started work on a request for one of my favourite clients, a business student, who needs flights for a job she starts in January. She's in Tokyo right now, returns for Christmas, and needs to be in Heidenheim de Brenz, Germany, in early January. There is a bit of flexibility on dates, but not much.

So, where is Heidenheim de Brenz, you say? Me too.

Once I found out where the town was, I had to figure out what airport is closest, with good transportation to the smaller town. That would be Stuttgart Airport (STR), but roundtrip flights from Victoria are a little pricey, so I am sitting down now to explore more options.

Next stop: Rome to Rio (great tool!)

I absolutely LOVE this stuff.

Sure, it's not the stuff I make the most on, but that doesn't matter.

Saturday, November 12, 2016

RIP Leonard Cohen

Click to enlarge if you want to see any of the lyrics, photos of Leonard or my doodle
Like many, I am saddened by the news of Leonard Cohen's passing. Not unexpected, really, but stunning that he was still producing new music right up to the end. If you haven't heard it, listen to the interview from a few weeks back on Q (CBC) with his son Adam, on how they completed his last album together. 

I haven't purchased the new album, yet, but I have the prior album and have been listening to it almost non-stop for the past couple of months. I'm not sure why, but I have found it compelling, matched to my mood, and just "right".

Only now do I realize how timely it has been.

Long live his music and artistic works.

And I look forward to how we shall all be awash in documentaries, interviews and music for some time to come, as his life is celebrated.

Wednesday, November 09, 2016

This is democracy

It's not my country, but... This is democracy. And sometimes democracy produces a result you don't like.

Still so shocked. Even I cried last night.

Saturday, November 05, 2016

I love Amber Alerts

Around 6pm last night, I heard the alarm for an Amber Alert on my radio, while driving my car. Heard it a few more times in the evening. And a text. 2 kids abducted by a parent in Port Coquitlam.

Probably around 10 or 11pm last night I heard the news that the Amber Alert had been cancelled. They nabbed her in Sicamous at a gas station (story).
AMBER is officially a backronym for America's Missing: Broadcast Emergency Response, but was named for Amber Hagerman, a 9 year-old abducted and murdered in Arlington, Texas, in 1996.

The shimmer of hope, and good, rising out of the tragedy, was the initiative by Amber's mom, Donna, to create the movement that resulted in the lifesaving alert system.

Sunday, October 30, 2016

Sophie's Baby Forget-Me-Not

Sophie's Baby Forget-Me-Not invention
This smart kid, Sophie, has invented a do-it-yourself device parents can put together, with $12 worth of parts, to eliminate any possibility of forgetting their baby in the car. She calls it Baby Forget-Me-Not.

Love it.

4th Grader Invents Device So Parents Won’t Forget Their Baby In the Car

Saturday, October 29, 2016


This is a d120. It's new, and very fetching. It's also a "technically correct" die, coming out of the world of mathematic-geeks. I learned about it via the New Yorker:

"The d120 is a polyhedron, more specifically a disdyakis triacontahedron, a geometric creature first described by the French-Belgian mathematician Eugène Catalan in 1865..." (read more)

Along the way, I found websites that sell dice: d120's, classic d6's, and everything inbetween. BIG ONES, small ones. Round ones, misshapen ones. Every colour you can think of. Dice with symbols, written numerals, letters, including other alphabets.

And my favourite: blank dice. I can't wait to get some for doodling fun... Best of all? The aren't expensive!

The dice you never knew you wanted - The NewYorker
This d120 is the largest mathematically fair die possible - The Nerdist
The Dice Shop - MathArtFun
Sex dice (yes, there is/are such a thing!)

Monday, August 01, 2016

I could be anywhere

Little girl chasing sparrows. 2 boys occupying a Starbucks table (no drinks) and playing on their smartphones. Someone's dog, tied up, calling for them to return. 2 older ladies talking (are they older? or are they my age?); actually just 1 is talking. 3rd pregnant lady I've seen. A couple older guys (yes, older), watching the short shorts go by. All manner of people going into the bank.

The odd mix of comers and goers, and lingerers, at a mall entrance. I could be anywhere. But I am here, sitting at an outdoor table at a Starbucks, outside a mall entrance, while my sister shops. I have no patience for shopping, but this is ok. No newspapers though, so on my iPad. Not proud of it. But it is what it is. Need to start carrying a journal with me, and something to read. ...

Another interloper at the table next to me. This time a lady with her Tim Horton's coffee and box of TimBits, right under the Starbucks umbrella...

I don't want to make assumptions, but a taxi has arrived, unloading a family, the women wearing burkas (or hijabs?), matching big, surprisingly bright .pink purses. A couple men. Cute kid. Makes it easy to smile at them. Iranian refugees? Again, I don't want to assume, but in feeling good about what my country has done, I wonder. Glad to see more diversity. And its only by seeing more head coverings do we normalize. I don't want to take extra notice. I don't want them to feel observed and noticed, anymore than anyone else. There was a time when face coverings made me uncomfortable, not entirely sure why, but it has eased. Being educated has helped, and there has been lots of coverage, interviews and so on. I'd hope everyone is learning.

Someone has (finally) come about the dog. A by-law officer? Thankfully, they never left him in a car, but he was left too long. I do see someone protesting, so perhaps the dog's human has arrived. Some other people who were keeping the dog company, and feeding him water, have left. The officer is writing out a ticket. Good. The woman/human is actually arguing with him. She has the leash, so the dog is getting to go home with the human he loves, but I hope she is listening and learning. Interesting, it was a woman with 2 kids. The officer spent at least 20 minutes with them, I presume making sure the woman understood. I hope the kids got it, and will protest if mom tries something like that again. And the dog seemed fine.

The table next to me now occupied by a young couple with a (quiet) baby in a stroller. Starbucks drinks. A few scooters and wheelchairs, a woman pushing an oxygen tank on wheels. I could be any of those, if I don't start taking care of myself. Couple gone, now a guy in a ball cap and sunglasses. And smartphone.

Are we dumb to live with the smartphone? Probably, says I, after just checking mine for email.

A guy in a fluorescent orange tank top ties up his bike. Smart garb. Smart guy.

Write, just write. Its true.

Oh, how I crave to be alone. I would write if I were alone.

Can one write when one isn't alone? I don't know.

Tuesday, July 12, 2016

If airlines sold paint

  • Customer: Hi, how much is your paint?
  • Clerk: Well, sir, that all depends.
  • Customer: Depends on what?
  • Clerk: Actually, a lot of things.
  • Customer: How about giving me an average price?
  • Clerk: Wow, that's too hard a question. The lowest price is $9 a gallon, and we have 150 different prices up to $200 a gallon.
  • Customer: What's the difference in the paint?
  • Clerk: Oh, there isn't any difference, it's all the same paint.
  • Customer: Well, then, I'd like some of that $9 paint.
  • Clerk: First I need to ask you a few questions. When do you intend to use it?
  • Customer: I want to paint tomorrow, on my day off.
  • Clerk: Sir, the paint for tomorrow is $200 paint.
  • Customer: What? when would I have to paint in order to get $9 paint?
  • Clerk: That would be in three weeks, but you will also have to agree to start painting before Friday of that week and continue painting until at least Sunday
  • Customer: You've got to be kidding!
  • Clerk: Sir, we don't kid around here. Of course, I'll have to check to see if we have any of that paint available before I can sell it to you.
  • Customer: What do you mean check to see if you can sell it to me? You have shelves full of that stuff; I can see it right there.
  • Clerk: Just because you can see it doesn't mean that we have it. It may be the same paint, but we sell only a certain number of gallons on any given weekend. Oh, and by the way, the price just went up to $12.
  • Customer: You mean the price went up while we were talking?
  • Clerk: Yes sir. You see, we change prices and rules thousands of times a day, and since you haven't actually walked out of the store with your paint yet, we just decided to change. Unless you want the same thing to happen again, I would suggest you get on with your purchase. How many gallons do you want?
  • Customer: I don't know exactly. Maybe five gallons. Maybe I should buy six gallons just to make sure I have enough.
  • Clerk: Oh, no sir, you can't do that. If you buy the paint and then don't use it, you will be liable for penalties and possible confiscation of the paint you already have.
  • Customer: What?
  • Clerk: That's right. We can sell you enough paint to do your kitchen, bathroom, hall and north bedroom, but if you stop painting before you do the other bedroom, you will be in violation of our tariffs.
  • Customer: But what does it matter to you whether I use all of the paint? I already paid you for it!
  • Clerk: Sir, there's no point in getting upset; that's just the way it is. We make plans based upon the idea that you will use all of the paint, and when you don't, it just causes us all sorts of problems.
  • Customer: This is crazy! I suppose something terrible will happen if I don't keep painting until Sunday night?
  • Clerk: Yes sir, it will.
  • Customer: Well, that does it! I am going somewhere else to buy paint!
  • Clerk: That won't do you any good, sir. We all have the same rules. You might as well just buy it here, while the price is now $13.50.Thanks for flying -- I mean painting -- with our airline.
Found it here.

Sunday, June 26, 2016


A favourite memory from my month in Paris, when I
stumbled on this Chagall ceiling during my
unplanned visit to the Opera Garnier
I am impatient.
I want to travel.
I need to travel.
So hard to wait for things to be settled.
So tired of being grounded.
So tired of scraping by.
Outwardly, all well.
Inwardly, mostly well too.
But I have moments of feeling trapped.
So tired of feeling like a foreigner in my own life.
So tired of not being able to take off on a whim.
For some time I made peace with it.
But now, I'm just tired of it. Fed up. Impatient.
At moments like this. I am holding on by a thread.

Saturday, June 25, 2016

Solo Travel News - June 25, 2016

With so many solo travellers looking for affordable ways to travel, without the dreaded single supplement, I am always watching for specials. Periodically, when I have time, I summarize a few into an email to send to those who may be interested. Here is a sample:

One of amusing cruise ship related BrExit memes
Image by "Brighty", found on Bruce on Politics
Welcome to summer!

This continues to be a GREAT time to travel as a solo.

Thinking of Europe? With yesterday's news of the United Kingdom leaving the European Union, we can expect prices to drop on hotels in London, as well as throughout continental Europe. Combined with the already soft cruise market in Europe, the time to travel to Europe is now!! Fabulous deals abound. Contact me if you want me to take a look for anything.


For those of you looking for a bargain, here are a few cruise deals that I see right now (CAD)... [read the rest on my cruisetravelbug blog].

Sunday, June 05, 2016

Discovering San Miguel de Allende

I am reading a book about some expats who moved to the village of San Miguel de Allende: On Mexican Time: A New Life In San Miguel.

Interesting: Toller Cranston's home in
San Miguel when he was still alive
I confess I started in the middle, when they impulsively bought a house on the last day of their stay in the remote village. I was hooked.

Now I have returned to the beginning to read their full story. At the same time, I am learning more about this charming village. I've heard of it a few times now, so I am becoming more curious... [read what I learned on my Travels with Roberta blog]

Tuesday, May 24, 2016

I will write your blog posts

I am now offering my blog writing services on Fiverr.

View my services: I will write your blog posts

I currently write for and manage 2 blogs (other than my own), so it's nice to expand this work. Hoping to get travel related topics!

Wednesday, May 18, 2016

Discovering Huacachina

Located near Ica, Huacachina is a tiny oasis town surrounding a small natural lake and itself surrounded by towering sand dunes. Once a playground for the Peruvian elite, these days Huacachina mostly attracts international tourists. The big draw here is the opportunity to sand board and taking dune buggy rides on the sand dunes.

Something I came across while foing research for a client. Fascinated. Would be interesting to visit...

23 Top Tourist Attractions in Peru
Haucachina, the desert oasis - Haucachina.com
Huacachina - Wikipedia

Monday, May 16, 2016

Monday morning

Here it is, my 2nd week of not working Mondays, and I am .... working. Sleepy-eyed.

It's not a big deal, as I volunteered because the office was short, but boy am I appreciating that this is no longer my schedule!

The doodle above is made up of the image below, in miniature. It's something I do on my iPad. I suppose it is a mashup, of sorts.

MashUp 1+2

My mashup of MashUp pics
It is so hard to believe that it has been more than 3 years since I have been off the rock.

Sitting on the ferry, it feels so natural, yet it also feels like a bit of a time warp. A definite prelude to what I will feel in downtown Vancouver today. As I am going to be within 2 blocks of where I last lived (7 years ago!), it will be so familiar, yet also slightly off kilter, as so many little things will have changed, let alone big ones.

I am headed over to Vancouver to see the last day of the bottom 2 floors of the big MashUp exhibit at the Vancouver Art Gallery. Late last night I happened to notice that today is the last day of the exhibit on these 2 floors, so off I go.

. . .

On the ferry home. Tired but not exhausted. Filled up with art, and the breath of Vancouver on my skin.

Vancouver wasn't as different this time, as it was when I came home from 7 months in Europe, as the city was gearing up for the Olympics. Aside from the new Compass Card for transit, it was still my Vancouver.

Lots of reflecting on missing the city. Vancouver energizes me, makes me feel alive. I could downtown again, in a heartbeat, if I could afford it. Little matter, I'm fresh into a 1-year lease on my apartment, and sick of moving. And busy building my travel business. But it makes me think.

Got myself a Vancouver Art Gallery membership again, and will be back and forth. There are still 2 floors of that exhibit to see, and I might enjoy a visit each. There are Picassos on the 4th floor I haven't seen! Then a juicy Picasso exhibit starting not long after.

Sunday, May 15, 2016

Picasso Exhibits 2016

An enlargement of Picasso's 1934 sculpture,
The Bust of Sylvette
(read how I tracked it down in NYC)
Late last night I happened to be scouting about for Picasso exhibits this year, thinking I may travel to one, if a destination appeals (yeah to being able to travel again soon!). Imagine my surprise and delight to learn about the PICASSO: The Artist and His Muses exhibit coming to the VAG June 11 to October 2, 2016. FANTASTIC!!!

I have followed Picasso on my travels, visiting special Picasso exhibits in Aix-en-Provence, Barcelona, and New York.... I have visited Picasso museums in Barcelona, Berlin and Paris.... I have also tracked down Picassos in the permanent collections of museums in Madrid and several in New York (and I'm sure I am forgetting some!).... I do love Picasso!

PICASSO: The Artist and His Muses
June 11 to October 2, 2016
Vancouver Art Gallery
PICASSO: The Artist and His Muses Exhibit info
Muses explored in Picasso exhibit coming to Vancouver Art Gallery


The Barnes Foundation Premieres Major New Picasso Exhibition In Philadelphia

Picasso: Genie Without a Pedestal
Musée des Civilisations de l'Europe et de la Méditerranée, Marseille
April 27 to August 29, 2016

Picasso – Shape Transformations, 1895-1972
Hungarian National Gallery, Budapest
April 21 to July 31, 2016

Picasso Portraits
National Portrait Gallery, London
October 6, 2016 to February 5, 2017
A brush with Picasso: rare portraits to be displayed in London


So sad I missed these:
Picasso Sculpture, September 14, 2015–February 7, 2016 at the MoMa
Picasso Exhibit at MoMa

Some of my Picasso experiences

Monday, May 09, 2016

Hello Monday!

Today I return to one of my favourite Mondays.

I am "off" work, meaning I am not scheduled to be in the office. I may still very well work part of the day, but I can do it at my pace, when/where I want. And this is how I'll be living my life going forward. Yeah!

I developed an affection for Mondays back when I first began working for myself. It became a day when I'd ease into my week, with no meetings, lots of free time for planning, errands, prep work, creative endeavours, and so on. I loved "my kind of Mondays" because they'd work for me, no matter what was going on for me.

If I was having a hard time getting motivated after the weekend, I'd pick up my business mail, hit Starbucks to read the paper, journal, plan my week, and so on. I would frequent several different coffee places wherever I lived, but I'd usually pick Starbucks for my Monday mornings. There was enough of a work-week buzz with people picking up their morning fix for me to catch on, and get in the flow.

If I'd been working full-tilt, and having more trouble slowing down than getting motivated, my Monday routine would create room for me to pause, catch my breath, reflect and re-prioritize. Mondays worked because they gave me the confidence that I could ramp up my week, and manage my commitments.

As someone who resists routine, I find it interesting that I created rituals that gave me structure. At the time, I would have told you that the days was open, with no plans - and I needed it to feel that way - but in reality I'd have these things I'd like to do, places I liked to go, rituals that nourished me.

I think it was one of my secrets to being successful working for myself. And whenever I took on full-time work for a few months or years, it was the first thing I'd re-create for myself as soon as I had the opportunity to scale back my days.

So looking forward to my new form of Mondays here, at the same time I am setting up my home office again, in yet another new place (in more ways than one).

Hello Monday morning!

Friday, May 06, 2016

Discovering Pietrasanta

I first heard of Pietrasanta when I was reading about tours to Carrara, where there are marble quarries. I never really thought about visiting a quarry before, but when I think of all the amazing marble sculptures and architecture in Italy, I became intrigued. More about that later, but when I stumbled across references to Pietrasanta as "the city of sculpture" I was hooked. I wanted to learn more... [read what I learned on my Travels with Roberta blog]

Wednesday, May 04, 2016


Not even crash landed, but close. The chaos continued to the end. "Just cleaning" and loose ends turned into an all-day affair, with me barely functioning. As I thought I wasn't needed - aside of picking up my sister and a few last things (we had cleaners for the big chores) - my body went into exhausted relaxation and pain Sunday night, finally letting go. We both (my body and I) got quite the shock when I learned I was needed at the house early Monday afterall... and instead of being done noon-ish, it went on until late afternoon. I think I would have been ok if I hadn't prematurely let myself feel the relief of letting go, but as it was, I was in agony. It was also a hot day, up to 24c I gather. At one point I thought I was going to pass out. With no furniture left, I retreated to the rather unpleasant garage to sit on a stair. Later in the day, I had a couple naps in the car (parked in the shade). It was an odd day, as I was needed, but also needed to keep out of the way, as my sister was directing the cleaners, and wanted to go through and pack the remaining things herself. Maybe it was harder to ok at half-pace than full tilt... Anyways, the day was a pseudo form of torture... I just wanted to throw the last things in the car, trash the rest, and just go! It's exceedingly hard to force oneself to be patient and forgiving when impatience is surging in one's veins.
While I stayed there for 6 years, my mom's home had been my sister's second home for much longer than that, and at one point there was a thought of her staying there, so it was a much bigger deal or her to leave than me. She'd also found a cool cleaner who finished with a smudging ceremony, which can't be rushed.
Anyways, barely survived, and drove away with an overfilled car, even leaving a couple things with neighbors. Gack.
But it is done.
A nice sense of closure was still there, despite my exhaustion.
Oh, and the dumpster bin was overloaded!
And today began a new phase in my life. Hmmm.