Tuesday, January 26, 2016


Not the same as an underdog... this guy in Lithuania, Andrius Burba, takes pics of cats from below. The results are rather cool. Worth a paws to take a look:
Under-Cats: I Photograph Cats From Underneath

Wednesday, January 06, 2016

A new year's post

Thank you to everyone who had to put up with me through one of my toughest years. As an eternal optimist, it has been surprising and disorienting to find myself as an often emotional blithering idiot. Understandable, perhaps, but deeply humbling.

Looking forward to a new year.

BTW, I am bringing my doodle blog back to live, to share some of the things I've been creating. Check it out:

Thursday, December 24, 2015

Reflections on this day

It would be easy to be sad today, but I am trying to lean on optimism, memories and hope to move me forward.

A year ago on Christmas Day, I visited my sweet mom in her care home. Oh, what joy she felt seeing me, and my niece! We sat having tea, eating treats, her opening a few gifts, but mostly singing and laughing at the antlers we took turns wearing. It was such a special moment that I hold close in my heart. The strength of her squeeze of my hands helped me feel our connection over the years, the bond strong and true. Gazing into her eyes, hugs, kisses, our foreheads touching, love, love love...

She caught us all by surprise when she passed away on New Year's Eve. Oh, mom! I miss you every day. It has been a very tough year, but your spirit and love are giving me the strength to move forward. I am looking forward to the days ahead, curled up in front of your hearth, remembering you, and celebrating your life in my own way. I am so appreciate of the recent years we spent together... what fun we had! You filled me up with love, and it's all still there. You aren't so far away when I pause like this.  Thank you for everything.

My thanks to all the nurses and health care workers who were so generous and kind to my mom, and are doing the same for others at this time.

Sunday, November 22, 2015

Just write...

Just write...

That's what I tell myself when I feel out of touch with writing, writing my blog, writing in general, journaling, any writing at all... I feel so out of touch with so many of the things that nurture me, and define me. What used to define me doesn't seem to define me anymore. Heh. I'm not the same me anymore. But I feel so undiscovered, even to myself.

I was reflecting the other day about when I stopped writing, in earnest I mean. And think it may have had something to do with being in a situation I could not change -- or chose not to change, wouldn't have dreamed of it -- but writing has always been how I worked things out.

Monday, November 09, 2015



My new word: flaneur
The term flaneur was popularized by the poet Baudelaire in the 19th century, meaning someone who is wandering the streets, not with the intent of getting somewhere, but as an observer and philosopher. The novelist Diane Johnson, in her book Le Divorce, offers an alternative definition of "mess[ing] around with no guilty sense of being unoccupied." (source: Flaneur-ing in one easy lesson)
This is the article where I found the term 'flaneuring' used, and caught my interest (which also happens to be very good!): Seven Reasons to Visit Mexico City

It's a term I wasn't familiar with, but instantly identified with.

This is what I do when I travel.

The breathtaking Matisse ceiling in the Opera Garnier
If I wasn't flaneuring, I wouldn't have found the cat sanctuary in Rome...

If I wasn't flaneuring, I wouldn't have found that bar on the canal in Venice...

If I wasn't flaneuring, I wouldn't have discovered the Opera Garnier in Paris...

If I wasn't flaneuring, I wouldn't have discovered a couple of amazing little bars in Greece (and met some very handsome Greeks)...

I have loosely used 'slow travel' to try to describe why I stay so long in one place, a month if I can, otherwise 2 weeks... a week anywhere really isn't enough for me! I am well beyond slow travel... I am flaneuring!

I can not wait until I flaneur again in a new destination...

Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Successful reboot

Soft blur
One of the pieces of art I created this weekend
Created in Moleskine Journal  - click to enlarge to see details
c beepdoodles

Do you reboot your brain? Your psyche?

I wish I could say exactly what it was (or maybe I enjoy the mystery), but I've had success in rebooting myself. My brain, I mean.

It's elusive, and I can't do it on will, but I have learnt how to do this. I know that's an oxymoron, but that's exactly how it works. I know it's possible. I know some of the things that work. And I have learned to trust it. Though that took me a long time. It took awhile to trust my psyche.

Soft blur before ~
the same image, as I first created it , before I started manipulating it
Created in Moleskine Journal  - click to enlarge to see details
c beepdoodles
For the past 2 days, I have read, drawn, slept, listened to chill music, and truly done nothing. Bit of social media, bit of work, bit of puttering (not much). Didn't leave the house. Didn't talk to a soul. Just relaxed. I didn't hide. I just relaxed. And rested.

That sounds easier than is, to accomplish the outcome. Because I don't know how long it will take, or if I'll do something to sidestep myself, or if I'll end up needing to rejoin the world ~ as in human contact, getting back to things I need to do, going to work, the end of alone time ~ but if I trust it, until I feel it, then it's like magic.

The magic is that feeling I have when I awake feeling restored. Restored, alive, refreshed, happy, glad to be alive, bopping, optimistic, energetic, creative, myself. I am myself. MYSELF. And it is so exhilarating!

Exhilarating, because when I feel like this, everything is possible. I am in a good mood, I am at home in me, I have energy, and I am on fire! And it's SO EXCITING because I can never quite put my finger on what's different when this feeling is gone, and I can't even assume it will be back. But inside, I know. I just know what it takes to restore.

That's where the trust comes in.

Because it never works the same way twice.

The girls
Created in Moleskine Journal  - click to enlarge to see details
c beepdoodles
To find this magic, I really do need to let go of all planning, any thoughts of what I should be doing, any thoughts of even what I want to do. All I can do is trust that from one moment to the next I know on some level.

I know this has a lot to do with being an introvert, and that time alone is huge in restoring myself. But it's not only that ~ if so, I could have this feeling anytime I have 2 days alone. But I've never felt this way without being alone.

I think it's like a big time out.

I take time out to reboot. And I trust that, if I let myself relax into it, it will eventually happen.

I no longer want to understand the magic, but it fascinates me. It's always such as surprise when I wake up feeling this way, but I never feel more alive when I do. And I want to dance, giggle, grin, bop, celebrate... at the joy I feel in being alive, in being me. Being myself. I am HOME. Home inside myself.

Interesting that I am writing about this, as I actually am reluctant to share this part of myself. It's me at my essence. I can't even put my finger on exactly what makes me tick, and am a big guarded about peeling back the layers too much on a formula to get to this state. Because it cannot be forced. I have learned it cannot be forced. It only works if I let go, and trust. I even let go of waiting for it to happen. I let go of wanting, or even remembering, what "it" is. All I do is trust, and take time. And the miracle that is my brain, my psyche, my self, can do it's work. It's a little like I need to give my psyche room to breathe. And it will find it's way home, or back to life, or whatever.

Enough analysis.

Now I am going to go about enjoying this feeling that I woke up with.

Sunday, March 22, 2015

Check out #MuseumWeek on Twitter

#MusuemWeek runs March 23-29, 2015
This week, world of museums, quite literally, will be all atwitter about, well, museums! @MuseumWeek is a week-long global initiative involving more than 1800 museums, curators and enthusiasts. The e-vent takes place on Twitter, with a daily theme.

I only stumbled on the initiative today, and it is already live in New Zealand. The cool thing about the online world is that you don't have to stick to your own timezone, so if you're keen, you can timetravel and start right now!

There is one global hashtag - #MuseumWeek - and 7 daily themes each its own hashtag:


Monday March 23:

The week kicks of Monday by museums far and wide giving you a behind-the-scenes look into their worlds. Who knows what secrets and surprises will be revealed? Regardless, expect a treasure trove of new-to-you museums to discover. Follow #secretsMW on Monday.


Tuesday March 24:

On Tuesday, you are invited to share our own memories of museum visits, and your souvenirs from museums (yes, take a picture of your MOMA mug!). Should make for an interesting and engaging day of museum encounter stories! Follow #souvenirsMW on Tuesday.


Wednesday March 25:

Wednesday is dedicated to the architecture of museums: the buildings, the gardens and surrounding areas. You'll have an opportunity to explore the history and heritage of museums world-wide. Get ready to say wow a lot. Follow #architectureMW on Wednesday.


Thursday March 26:

Thursday is another day for sharing. Not sure I totally understand how this one will work, but the official message is, "Now it’s your turn to create and share for posterity! Art, science, history and ethnography are all around us. To your smartphones!" Follow #inspirationMW on Thursday.


Friday March 27:

Friday is dedicated to families. This theme turns to pre-weekend planning for family trips to your local museum. Those responsible for school trips will also get lots of ideas from the museum community. Follow #familyMW on Friday.


Saturday March 28:

The weekend kicks off Saturday with an invitation to share with your favourites. The organizers are suggesting favourites works, conferences, locations, and so on - in 140-character messages, videos, photos or Vines. Sounds like a nice wide-open book! Follow #favMW on Saturday.


Sunday March 29:

The weekend wraps up Sunday with an invitation to get creative and share poses, memes or selfies. Given all the recent controversy about museums banning selfie-sticks (which I happen to agree with), it should be a diverse mix of images and discussion. Maybe I'll post a picture of me outside a museum... Follow #poseMW on Sunday.

I hope this inspires you to check out Museum Week, and to have fun with it.

I'm not sure how I'll participate, but I am loosely planning to follow the hashtags, and possibly post a few things, especially on the days that appear to given over to sharing: Tuesday, Thursday, Saturday and Sunday. 

Useful links:
Follow @MuseumWeek
Read #MuseumWeek tweets
What is #MuseumWeek?
List of museums participating worldwide (1800+)
7 days, 7 themes, 7 hashtags!
#MuseumWeek in other languages
日本語 Español Français Português עברית   العربية русский हिंदी Deutsch Italiano 

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Found on Flickr: city squares

creativecommons by station_nord on Flickr
I stumbled across the photo above while on Flickr looking for something else, and it just took my breath away. There is just something about it. The photographer hasn't identified the location which just adds to the mystery.

Tip: for the full effect, right click the image to open it in a new window, so you can see it enlarged.

This inspired me to search for other interesting city images. Here is some of what I found (and I will come back and add more to this post):

On The Phone
creativecommons image by pennuja on Flickr

Romantic Coffee
creativecommons image by saxbaldphotography on Flickr

Wednesday, March 11, 2015

New island off Tonga

Pleiades © CNES 2015
You might have to update your bucketlist.

There is a new island that has been emerging in the Pacific Ocean off Tonga. It's the work of an underground volcano.

It's apparently about a month old, and is now about a mile long. Seabirds have already moved in, laying eggs. Locals who have visited the brand new island it say it is still warm.

Read the full story in the Telegraph - and see the great photos taken by a local photo buff.

Monday, March 09, 2015


A morning in the fog 2
I wish I was in Paris in fog
is thick fog out this morning here. I love fog. Not sure why, but I've always felt that way.

Fog is grey, but isn't depressing.
Fog is thick, but isn't oppressing.
Fog is moist, but isn't like other wet weather.
Fog is muffling, but sounds are just slower, deeper, thicker.

Love how the fog horns sound.

Interestingly, I have been in a bit of a fog lately, but fog actually helps lift that feeling.

Eiffel Tower in a foggy night II
More Paris fog found on Flickr (click each pic for source)
Paris - Trocadéro - 24-12-2007 - 21h33

Paris - Trocadéro - 24-12-2007 - 21h59

Sunday, March 08, 2015

Blog reinvention, again

From my windowsill in Berlin
I feel I have reinvented my blog so many times. Yet it is time, once again.

For the past 5 years, my blog has been off and on, while I changed the focus of my life: family and caregiving took centre stage. So many other things faded into the background, not just in what I blogged about, but in practically everything I did, thought and felt.

Now, as I am coping with two significant losses, I am starting to shift my focus again. Grief has its own timetable, of course, and who knows what lessons it still has in store for me, but action has always helped me deal with depression.

My most recent change in my work situation is a refreshing and well-suited to me, and I am so grateful for the opportunity.

It's funny, I might have thought upon my return from Europe that I might like a career in travel, and here I find myself working as a travel agent.

I never dreamed when I left Vancouver that I would not return, I am living in a small town that I am surprised to find actually suits me.

I also couldn't have imagined that my blog would go silent for long stretches, but that's life.

And here I am at a crossroads again. There are new paths to choose, A new me to discover.

Wednesday, February 04, 2015


What a week... and it's only Wednesday.

On Monday, while I was coping with putting Maui to rest, I was also accepting the offer of a new job.

Yesterday, I was at my old office, cleaning up my client files, picking up my stuff, and turning in my key. There was time to chat with a few of my colleagues who were working, but as I was leaving, agents were arriving for a training session with a guest speaker. I didn't get to speak to many, and as their meeting started, and I had to quietly slip out, so no real goodbyes. Then last night, with the warmest of sincere wishes, my email was shut down. In sales, and particularly in the travel biz, there are understandably very clean breaks, so it all makes sense, but it still is an odd feeling.

Of course, yesterday I was more inclined to stay in bed with the covers over my head, mourning Maui. And of course mourning mom too.... afterall, it was mom who befriended Maui - feeding him cream on the back porch, her arm adorned with the bracelets she never took off, one of which I now wear. Maui was "just" a visitor when I arrived here 5 years ago, but it wasn't long until he just moved in (which our blessed neighbours graciously accepted). Mom love Maui, and Maui loved mom, and I loved them both more than I could possibly describe, let alone grasp.

To somehow be walking away from my support system at work at the same time caught me off guard, only realizing the magnitude of that last night. There's a lot of people there who care for me, and feel for all I have been through these past 2 months, and it is just WEIRD to abruptly be without them this morning. (mourning?).

It's lots of change at once, but fortunately I respond well to BIG shifts, versus small ones. Being at a point of new beginnings will help me make sense of things, process what I feel, and get grounded.

But what a week!

Btw, my new job will mean I can walk to work. Love that.

10 lives

So sad to say goodbye to my sweet kitty Maui yesterday.

He'd already used up 9 lives when he got so sick in December, and somehow rallied to support us through mom's passing. Maui has taught me so many things. He was very clever: he curled up on my lap and melted my heart. Heart open, it hurts so much to lose him. 
RIP Maui :(

Saturday, January 03, 2015

Mom, up, up and away...

Jeannie Russell Kemp (nee Fuller)
February 6, 1922 - December 31, 2014

It is so hard to believe mom is not with us anymore. On earth, that is. She IS here with me as I write, I definitely feel her presence.

How is it that as I write, Joe Cocker's "You are so beautiful to me" comes on? I listen, and it's all about mom, words she would say to me, words that say what I feel when I look at her face in the picture above. This is my favourite picture of mom, and she is so beautiful, so playful, so happy...

Monday, December 22, 2014

Indiegogo campaign for Maui's vet bills

I've started an Indigogo campaign to help me pay for Maui's vet bills. Please help, if you can.

Sunday, December 21, 2014

Reflections on a cat

This little boy, Maui, also known as Meowy, has become very central to my life. I had been somewhat unaware of just how completely he had been moving into my heart until recently. Knew I loved him, but didn't know I really, really loved him. Love him. He's still here. But I am counting my blessings.

The sweet dear has pancreatitis, and has been to the vet twice in the last couple of weeks, when he was not eating at all, amongst other symptoms. Including today. I am not sure how much he liked having an IV (though I imagine NOT!), but it was needed. I feel so lucky to have such an awesome vet. He is home now, and exploring again. Eating comes next.

I am holding off on being a basket case, but my heart is getting a run for it's money lately.
I remarked the other day to a friend and colleague, that I don't know when I became such bleeding heart... but it seems I left my crusty old self in Europe (not a bad thing).

Once again, I want to blog more, but have no inclination to summarize my life since I last blogged.

Maybe I just start.

Happy to have my cat home safe and sound. x x0 x 0

Monday, June 23, 2014

There IS something you can do.

Outraged by the sentencing of 3 Al Jezeera journalists? There IS something you can do.
Act now. Do your part to protest the sentencing of 3 Al Jezeera journalists in Egypt today. Takes just a few seconds to send this message:  
Free Al Jezeera staff detained in Egypt.

Roberta to Earth: checking in

Nasa earth

Hi. yes, I am still here.
No, I have not disappeared off the face of the planet.
Yes, I am fine.

Why did I stop blogging? I don't know... but I've been here before, it's somewhat cyclical for me. But also, I think I was a little lost when I got back from Europe. I had so much to say and share. Then, I was just 'me' again. And, whoa, did my life get busy and go topsy turvy in so many ways.... more about all that another time.... In the meantime:

I'm continuing to live here in Sidney. My mom is in care in Victoria, so I am often in that way. Also, my cruise gig involves being in the office several days a week in Victoria. So, it's back and forth a bit.

These are all the other me's online....


In a nutshell, here are my gigs:
Expedia CruiseShipCenters - I'm a self-employed cruise and vacation consultant

I'm going all out working on the cruise thing - and doing fab - but I'm looking to supplement my income with some contracts. The ramp up to income that I can actually live on is a long one, as cruising is something people book far in advance for, and I get paid when they sail. And that's when the magic happens: repeat bookings, referrals and so on. So I'm hanging in there, and paddling as fast as I can. I'm also just starting see a particular bit of magic: people in my network who are booking their vacations with me. It takes awhile for people to learn what I am doing, realize I can help them remotely, and to think of me for non-cruise travel.

I'm generally pretty subtle on marketing to friends - I don't want anyone to be put off, or feel obligated, or feel bad if they don't book with me - so I'm letting the universe make the connections most of the time for people I know. However.... I'll ask this favour of anyone who has read this far: if you want to help me be a success, in a win-win situation, here are a few things you can do that would make a difference:
  • Call me if you are thinking of booking any type of travel.
  • If you have a travel agent you love, be happy for what I am doing, and enjoy your travels.
  • If you have a travel agent that you're not so keen on, give me a chance to blow you away with my service.
  • If you're thinking of a cruise, even if it is a long way in the future, let me know, and I can watch for the best offers.
  • Confused by all the cruise pricing you see out there? Let me explain how it works. No obligation, ever.
  • If you don't know what type of cabin to book on a ship, perhaps you are worried about motion, or noise, ask me. This what I do!
  • If you've never cruised, and think it's not for you, but wonder about it - talk to me. There are many different types of cruises and cruise experiences. Most people who 'hate' cruising weren't matched with the right cruise for them (if you stay in the Hyatt, are you going to be happy in a Motel 6 with a party crowd?)
  • If you have quote for travel, ask me if I can match it.
  • If you're planning to get away to an all-inclusive vacation to a spot in the sun, let me know - this is part of what I do!
  • If you are considering taking a land tour - if you already know what you want to book, or if you don't have a clue - let me know, I can help.
  • If you are planning to travel, no matter who you book with, please travel insured!!!
  • Consider buying your travel insurance through me. You can contact me directly for a quote, or you can book directly on my website.
  • If you normally book everything yourself, ask me about the ways that booking through me benefit you.
  • If you book everything yourself, and you really don't see yourself changing, consider using my links (I'll add them below). If you use my Expedia.ca link, for example, you get the same awesome Expedia selection and pricing, and I benefit. Sometimes it's small, but every bit helps.
  • Join my 7SEAS club, and sign up for my newsletters.
  • If you are a solo traveller, especially a solo cruiser, please let me know, and I can sign you up for my little solo e-travel club - I have separate news I send out to people every couple of weeks.
  • Refer your friends to me, if you feel comfortable.
  • Buy me a lottery ticket.
  • Drop a line to say hi.
  • Tell me I'll be awesome.
  • Tell me I won't always be broke.
  • Call to chat about travel.
  • Buy me a coffee - or let me buy you one, if you are ever in Victoria or Sidney.
  • Buy 2 lottery tickets - one for me, and one for you.
A career change is so fascinating - especially after 5 years of no income (!!!). It was 5 years ago next week that I took off to Europe for the better part of the year. I had no idea what I would be doing when I got back, and boy was that the truth. It's all good though, and I'm not sure I would have found my way here without all the steps along the way.

Thanks for all the good vibes you send my way.

To research a cruise, I invite you to do our research on my Expedia CruiseShipCenters site.

To book travel on my Expedia.ca site, use this page to navigate to my Expedia widget (scroll down). Once you are "in", you can navigate to anything you'd normally access on Expedia.ca.

To book travel insurance online on my website, or to request a quote, visit my Travel Insurance page.

Wednesday, January 01, 2014

New Year's Post 2014

The fine team at Expedia CruiseShipCenters Victoria...
check me out in the back row:)
It occurs to me that I had a fair amount going on in 2013. Let's see...
  • Became a travel agent
  • Got my BC Travel Insurance license
  • Had cataract surgery
  • Had dental surgery
  • Got my first Lazy-Boy chair (aka Lazy-Girl)
  • ok, that's it.
Ha ha, there's more, I'm sure, but those are the biggies that jump to mind (I'm still doing my IHateTaxis gig too).

Hanging out with the sweetest kittie cat of all, the handsome Maui (aka Meowy). And learned what it means to fall in love with a cat. Really. Little guy got me through some really hard stuff the last couple of years... And he does seem to have taken to me as his Mama. Ah, the irony.

With that, I reposition myself in my Lazy-Girl to give him my lap, while still balancing my laptop... it must be love.

Long time readers of my blog will be wondering how my mom is. My sweet mom is doing just fine. We are so fortunate that to have her in a wonderful care facility. They have a very good music program... and music just brings her to life (all the musicians love her). Her mobility had declined to the point where she is in wheelchair all the time (though they do walk with her a couple of times a week, a 2 person job). The great thing is that, like all residents, she can reach the floor with her feet and can move around at will, propelling her wheelchair by foot.
Summertime on the deck... mom loves the sun!
It's like she has a new independence to move about as she wishes -- and in summer that included the deck, a lot. Mom's dementia has worsened, but she is in a happy place. She knows who we are, mostly, and is happy.
G'ma with her granddaughter Branwen last week
Ok, what else shall I include in my snapshot of my life this past year, for myself...
  • I dog sat sweet Lucy the dog again, just for a week or two. This time it was an "emergency": her human had to fire the existing dog-sitter from Hawaii, and I swooped in to save the day. Ha. But it was almost that dramatic. But I was happy to help... oh, how I love that dog... she is so sweet, and so soft... and so high maintenance :)
  • Saw Joe Walsh!!! Oh, yes, and Bob Seger too.
  • Spent 6 of the past 9 months taking the bus into Victoria several times a week (I wimped out, and am driving now)
  • Saw the ancient map exhibit at the Royal BC Museum - it was fab
  • Also joined the museum, but haven't been back (boo)
  • Saw an exhibit at the Vancouver Art Gallery... the Grand Hotel?
  • Also resurrected my VAG membership, but haven't been back (yet.)
  • I discovered that there is an alcoholic version of Sugar-Free Rockstar, quite by accident (then I drove, unknowingly - see story)
  • Finally weaned myself off energy drinks
  • Had loads of dental work to repair the results of those *#)&% energy drinks
  • Learned again how much it sucks to not have a dental plan
  • Attended a super cool block party on our little street here in Sidney
  • Bought an elliptical trainer from a neighbor who was moving... and have made many interesting sculptures throwing clothes on it
  • Had the excitement of the racoons that live in our tree relocate their 3 wee kits to live under our house for a few months (lots of kittie indoors!)
  • Discovered that otters really do make their way up under houses here... oh, what a racket when they were trying to eat their way through the floor! Lots of stomping and keeping CBC radio on all night at full blast (they apparently don't like people). They are protected, so they are safe, but not so fond of these particular antics.

Enough babbles for now. I am sure a philosophical blog post will be coming, at some point... but, for now, must put the bubbly on ice and celebrate here with my sissy.