Thursday, 13 July 2017

Gardening in Ottawa, Oldtimers Moments, Pool parties and Psychics

Spring in Ottawa is so nice and at Spoiled Rotten BnB, in the garden, even better but now it's in a moping stage...full of weeds that might evolve into pretty weeds, and all kinds of green that no one wants to look at yet we're "enjoying" the wettest summer in history..or what we Ottawaians (yes, I know it's not a word) claim as summer.
 All the millions I have spent up front to attract and feed butterflies has been for naught.  They do not come.  The milkweeds are spreading and taking over but still they do not eat or lay eggs.  At least my organic veggie garden in the back is flourishing, or it was!!!  Until HE came along.

I just discovered the world's biggest and most well fed groundhog coming daily to my smorgasbord of a garden.  When I so much as take a silent picture, it's like he feels like he's being dogged by paparazzi and he high tails it out of there like a bat outta hell.  His feet don't even touch the ground. Oh the stews I am planning.  I have an over abundance of basil but nope, he won't touch that.  Loves my tomatoes, ate my only purple cabbage, and as many of my yellow squash as he could stuff in his fat little self entitled belly.  It's like he has been told he has only two minutes to shop til he drops and he is good.  He has analyzed the garden and knows the money food and the best aisles to shop in.  Oh, I detest this little monster.  Yes, I'm off to buy the epsom salts but where oh where can I buy black market landmines and hand grenades?  Is there something that spontaneously bursts into flames?  Heeeeellllp me.  The Roadrunner Acme company is fictional, it turns out.  I'm at my wits end, becoming obsessed.

After son in law ripped out the interlocking full of weeds patio stones and replaced it with the worlds biggest deck in a postage stamp yard, I realized how fabulous it was.  My yard now looks elegant and huge.  Oh the parties I could have but alas the weeds still appear thru the slats- that is to be my eternal curse.

 I couldn't believe just how many stones made up a patio.  Billions piled everywhere for so long in my back yard.  I asked 5 contractors advice and to do it and nary a one would step up to the challenge. One said he would take all my stones away to the landfill and resell me $4000 more worth of better stones.  Screw testosterone!  I'd do it myself but gawd I'm awful at traditionally "blue" jobs, esp if I don't read and follow directions, which I never do.  I even googled the best way and then promptly forgot everything.

 After a few failed attempts and too much rain, then the crumbling walls, I finally created my raised beds and retaining walls, complete with a walk thru, (sure, if you have tiny bound little Asian feet, which I do), used almost every brick for show, and it looks just shy of gorgeous.   I do think my neighbours will all be following suit shortly and the contracts will be pouring in for me to plan their gardens.


I refused to fertilize until I did all the dirty work and last night, I felt like a farmer, spreading poop, (yes, store bought- what kind of weirdo do you think I am?), everywhere.  Next comes the calcium, bat guano and seaweed.  I love Jurrassic park.  Realized my magical fertilizer stock was low so imagine my shock when my fav specialty gardening store informed me I can't get my Bat poop anymore because of the pesky Ebola.  Whatever- stoopid bats!    I hope you weren't downwind last night or after bat poop day, although I'm sure you've smelled more interesting smells coming from here, from my crazy workshops on alternative medicine for healing, and smudging drumming howling at the moon ceremony to burning toast smells followed by much cursing from my breakfast kitchen.

Just had some more much deserved time off to go to some odd events like a clothing optional pool party and strange camper Poly festival. Sorry no pics of either! I truly believe you should do something everyday that terrifies you and these two events certainly qualified.  The 3 meter walk from the table where I left my towel and my dignity to the pool stairs was the longest mile, and don't forget the friends in attendance dressed in their parkas, watching and judging.  Oh I'm so glad it's over with.

My favourite time off found me lounging at the lake of a friend,  Claire, who insists I decompress, meditate and relax and she pampers me; well she did, for the first day.  After that, I have to drag home trees and cook and pamper her.  It took me two whole days to decompress enough to relax and read.   After 4 years, I finally finished reading my travel blog that my daughter turned into a one-off copy book.  I refused to read it unless I was in relaxation mode and yes, that is rare.  I only read it while on time off, at the lake, on a train, at the beach, in the back yard, and camping.  Truly, it's my favourite book and I wish everyone had their own life book.  I want to start reading it all over again.  

I'm still attending some Meetup events and having some workshops but there is a drawback in my world.  I still have no face recognition which was one of my many downfalls in Travel.  I herd hundreds thru here but remember so few, I'm ashamed to say.  One of the most embarrassing was the lady at my workshop who I smiled and asked if this was her first time here.  The long silence that followed and the head shaking look of disbelief told me I had created another social faux pas.  She told me she had been to my place on 3 other occasions.  Oops.  It wouldn't be so bad if that were an isolated incident but sadly, it's not.  Now it's almost the running joke.  One new friend was raving to a small table full of meetup.com people about how we met and how I helped her.  I just looked at her and shook my head, saying "I have no idea what you are talking about".  It took an entire conversation of you said this and I said that and remember doing this....Ohhhh, yes, I finally remember. I met her a mere week earlier.  The last was a lady who has painted at my place but was so not amused that I have not remembered the last 3-4 times she has come by for massages and a workshop.  This is my life.

I have actually embraced it.  When I wake up and sit at my computer, I will suddenly remember I have to get the blue envelope upstairs for my budget.  Once upstairs, I realize in the office, I have a ton of clothes to hang up so I start and then I see that I have run out of my special multi-hangers so it's off to the master closet storage where it too is a disaster, thank God for locked doors, so I start picking up the abandoned jewelry there to bring it to the office where I find that book I wanted to put in the basement when I see that I'm missing mints on the pillows so its upstairs for me to the office where I notice some stray laundry which I bring downstairs and remember I'm doing laundry.  Whew, I'm tired so I sit down to relax at my computer and realize I'm in the middle of budgeting and need a blue envelope.  EVERY DAY OF MY LIFE IS LIKE THIS!!! Menopause? Old age? ADD? Probably all of the above but a very trusted source has told me I emphatically do not have Alzheimers and psychics  do NOT lie.
All I know is that something needs to desperately be done in every room of my house but preferably more than one minute at a time.  Well, it's time to beat the hell out of the groundhog...or try my best to catch him.  GTG.

Tuesday, 4 July 2017

How Spoiled Rotten B&B Celebrates Holidays in the Capital

Another holiday and if it was to be like all the others over the past 16 years in Ottawa, I would be staying home, like the Tulip festival, which came and went, I have yet to attend even one.  My front yard was overflowing with tulips so I consoled myself with them.  I had families walk by and the kids would stop to smell all the spring flowers then they would all huddle together for a selfie.  My guess is they too blew off the festival and felt guilty but now they could email off a somewhat lamer photo version and no one would know.  I was pleased I wasn't the only one who missed out on life.  Love all the festivals but never attended one yet.  Would this year be any different?

Fast forward to Canada Day weekend.  I'd just turned away my 31st request for a room.  She actually told me I should turn off my phone if I don't have any availability.  "But I still have friends to talk to."  Turning off my phone;  that doesn't sound like me.  I suggested she try Airbnb but she had difficulty with it so I taught yet another person how to access it a different way and now she could, and that's a huge could, find something in an outlying area.  Imagine me letting a phone just ring thru to the answering machine when this Abuela has so much to teach.  :)

Over the past weeks, I mused about whether this Canada Day
would mimic all the others when I host rooms and never leave the house as I look wistfully outside at the weekend of rain and thunder and people socializing.  Bed and Breakfast owners rarely get away when fun stuff is happening.  Petrie Island would be a hot spot and so close but alas perhaps another year of hermitdom and servitude.  Sigh.

Well folks, this year was different, I have to tell you and it doesn't get any weirder than this year.  I actually participated in life.  My full house booking arrived to leave shortly after to see family and there I was wandering the empty house... all dressed up with nowhere to go and no one to talk to.  My friends know better than to suggest I join their plans because the answer for the last three years has always been, "I can't,  Have to work."  This year I committed, come hell or high water, to seeing the fireworks at Petrie Island even if I had to go alone.  Thank gawd for Meetup.com and the group that was meeting up there.  I also, was invited to dinner  on Canada Day.  Ya, I know it was a pity invite but it was fun.  When I told them I had to rush out right after dessert had been eaten, my punishment was to watch the black thunderboomer clouds circle over my car and open up the torrential rains.  Nevertheless, I was going no matter whether I had to come in on an arc with Noah steering.


Caught one of the last buses there and navigated around in one of the swampiest mud parties I have ever seen and had a blast.  I was in mud splash up to my knees and my feet were submerged.  I get why so many people just went bare foot.  My friend even got a VIP tent for the few foolhardy adventurers who braved the yucky weather.  The fireworks actually went off even tho the thunder and lightening started 5 minutes before takeoff.  Bloody awful timing and by 11:30, I was heading home.

A month earlier, another neighbour asked me if I would allow his wife to come to my place as a pre-planning party before he would surprise her in the park with a Renewal of their vows.  Ladies, listen up and if you can cuff your partners upside the head for not being as considerate as this hubbie, all the better.  She had her hair done and she came to have her makeup done by makeup artists and then receive a massage, try on her new ensemble for the festivities and head off, blindfolded, to her destination.

  It was all a surprise and I got to meet those neighbours and now we're going to have a block party.  Woohoo, I'm back in the Neighbourhood Watch business.

A month earlier, another neighbour wrote to tell me, "You don't know me but my kids were pretty bummed when they found out the Easter Bunny did not exist.  They are old teenagers now."  Hmmm, where was this freak show going?  No, I am not dressing up as an Easter bunny!  She continued.  Every year, since then, she continues the scavenger hunt and would I be open to having a clue left outside at Spoiled Rotten B&B?  Absolutely!!!  She was barking up the right tree for sure since I used to do it for my girls too.  What I didn't know was how high tech it had become.  Apps to send your response in to the clue, have it approved and automatically the next clue would appear.  Points lost for poor sportsmanship, leaving litter at clue sites...  this was waaaaaay beyond my scavenger hunt which bordered on, "the next clue is by the TV".  I was also invited to the pre-teenager chaos and warm up games and after celebratory BBQ party with all the teams.  This lady is one cool chick and certainly put my efforts to shame.  If I ever wanted to do another scavenger hunt, she's the lady I'm calling and she's already started on next year.  I hope that she will be managing a scavenger hunt on a huge scale for the city one day.

Ironically, after the afternoon of zen and massages for the renewal lady, she put on her high heels, and hobbled out the front door blindfolded just as a band of crazy teenagers were stomping on my flowers.  Initially, I didn't even remember what was going on but they buzzed in and out like well mannered holy terrors and were off.  All this was happening while the lady was being escorted into a car by a man she did not recognize because he spoke not a word.  What a great adventure and super hero he turned out to be.

Wait I lied to all of you.  I had 32 requests for my place.  The last was from a desperate couple biking to Quebec and the Airbnb they booked was hair infested...pet hair on EVERYTHING.  Did I have anything available?  Man, that broke my heart.  I had two couples check out that day but because the whole house was rented, and one couple was still there, I didn't feel right double dipping, especially since they had been so gracious to allow me to have the wedding lady get ready all afternoon on their time.

So folks, unlike every other working holiday, I went to supper with Yagu, to the fireworks solo to meet my new friend Tina, participated in an Easter Bunny scavenger hunt with my new friend Kim, actively participated in a wedding preparation with my new friends Doretta and Dina, Mendjaly and makeup artisit, Medjine of www.makeupmh.com and and I shared my place with a wonderful family.
What a weird and wonderful Canada Day.  Hope July is just as eventful and exciting.

Don't forget to check out: https://www.ottawatourism.ca and book your rooms or gather your friends and book the whole house soon for a fraction of the cost of a hotel room...and great breakfasts too.

1.  Kontinuum from July 15-Sep.  You can book your free tickets online now for the sound and light show underground at the metro station.  https://www.ottawatourism.ca/events/kontinuum/

2.  La Machine- the giant mechanical monsters walking downtown July 27-30th.  You'll see the fire breathing dragon and the massive spider. https://www.ottawatourism.ca/events/la-machine/

3.  Northern Lites starts on Parliament hill to see the newest show starting July 11th at 10pm.  It's amazing to see. https://www.ottawatourism.ca/events/northern-lights-sound-and-light-show/

4.  MosaiCanada 150 is now open in Jacques Cartier Park from June to Oct 15th.  Think a giant Chia pet park.  It's awesome.    https://www.ottawatourism.ca/events/mosaicanada-150-gatineau-2017/    






Saturday, 27 May 2017

OTTAWA'S FIRST & ONLY HOLISTIC BED & BREAKFAST, and new babies and no breakfasts and other random topics

What a crazy week I'm having.  Just had two French ladies stay for 4 days and didn't really eat breakfast so they had toast.  Now what am I supposed to do with the trough of food I have bought for their breakfast?  Another gentleman stayed for 5 days the same week and has never eaten breakfast. My trough is overflowing.  Finally I just checked in a family of runners for Race Weekend a mere few days later.  Now they will appreciate a home cooked meal.  Nope!  They brought all their own specialty food and nothing I serve will work.  The dairy will make them puke. The fruit and vegetables will make them go to the bathroom and I am beside myself with inactivity for pampering.

I suppose it's best.  I just started a new chapter in my life...becoming a grandma for the first time. Whew, it's quite the ride so far but my grand-maternal instincts have gone into overdrive.  The first time I held the preemie identical twin girls, my Grinch like heart melted.  It was so much better than petting a kitten because altho kittens purr and let your defenses relax, eventually, they always scratch, draw blood and fiercely bite to show their undying thanks.  Not these little angels; they just might have re-started my biological clock again, yes, at the age of almost 60.  It could happen.

Just discovering my new passion is photographing babies in amusing photos. I'm thinking of marketing this in my neck of the woods to new moms who will appreciate this style of photography.  


Because they were sharing a membrane, their healthy arrival was sketchy at best so it's hard to believe they were born two months early and out of the hospital in 2 weeks. They have almost tripled their body weight in 8 weeks of constant feeding round the clock.  If that is possible, what other miracles could be waiting to transpire?

I'm finding miracles are happening everywhere, including my business.  As some of you know, I have branded myself as the Workshop Lady in the past.  I host other people's workshops when they can't entertain at their own places, and I have my own events and evening soirees, like Paint and Wine nights for people to enjoy but most of what I am all about is the spiritual aspect.  The first thing everyone seems to say is it's so peaceful here.  Women tell me they like the energy.

One of my favourite Intuitive mediums from Montreal, Nicole, told me I should re-brand my B&B and it's almost like she was reading my mind.  Is she psychic?  People need to hear about the mission of this place and I'm certain there are many travelers out there, especially middle aged women, usually finding themselves recently single, and finding their way who would love the pampering offered here.  I am now marketing my place as Ottawa's only Holistic Bed and Breakfast.  Can you imagine being the first one to start with that? ' Course the longer this writing stays in my draft box, the less chance I will have for that claim to fame.  My challenge is to provide enough draw to call my place holistic.

For the Body, I offer my Bed of Nails that are instrumental in my good sleep, circulation and being 100% healthy for 3 years.  I offer a specialty hands-on Energy Relaxation Massage and give away shoulder rubs and the occasional foot massage.
 I have homeopathic and home remedies to sooth the worst compromised system.  My Inversion Table and mini home gym keep me healthier than most youths I know and I do share these tools of the trade.  My food is good and in the summer, I use the organic fruits and vegetable that grow plentiful in my gardens.  

For the Mind, I  offer listening and some gentle suggestions that are usually well received.  I have books on most topics and some to shock you.  Someone once told me my mission on earth was to minor in spirituality and major in sexuality.  Now, before you get all excited and try to book a massage that is sure to disappoint you in the happy endings department, let me explain.  People hear of my events and come privately to discuss their new awareness of their place in the universe.  It's all new and exciting and I walk them thru the many venues and some of my favourite connections, all things I wish I knew about when I "came out" to the New Age movement.  Before long, we are talking about sexuality and topics that they have never ever discussed before because again, who do you turn to to listen to your curious questions who won't judge you?  That's me!  I have introduced a half a century virgin male to discovering what it all means in the birds and the bees department, another told me about his group adventures and a woman thought she might switch sides and how to best find a mate.
How is this possible when I have neither a mate nor, and I say this sadly, any action?  Life experience, a wealth of classes, lots of  great books and I'm finally a good listener.  Why, I've been on so many first dates where all I do is listen and nod for 3 hours while they ramble on and on about themselves til I can have them take a breath and then I run for the hills.  What's not to love about being with a good listener?

Finally, for the Spirit, my workshops bring people in to be introduced, sometimes for the first time, to New Age stuff.  Some tell me for the first time ever that they once saw a ghost or hear voices and I reassure them that many people, including yours truly, have and they are in good company.  Some wonder if they are psychic and I tell them that everyone can be if they pay attention to the cues and work at it.  I find woman over 40 are really coming into this topic and it reassures them.  I have all my favourite "haunts" to send them and I say that with tongue in cheek.  I direct them to other people who have devoted their lives to spirituality.  I tell them to start a journal and they will be surprised at how often they have miracles happen in their lives.
We've done meditations here,  musical healing, journaling,  psychic exercises, full moon drumming circles, Energy Shares, Paint nights.
 It's such an honour to see someone start their path in your own home and then go on to greatness.  Sure if I worked at it,  I could excel, anyone can, but I'm too lazy.  It's easy sending someone else on their path and seeing the wonder and amazement in their eyes.

I recently read an article about all the quirky Airbnbs out there that the hosts have advertised their places in very unique ways.  The author was quite unforgiving but I know this concept of a Holistic B&B is gold and if she wants to write about me too, all the better.  Even bad press is good press.  I've tried to make my B&B the most unique and quirky in Ontario from the decor to the atmosphere.  I have upside down rooms, falling shelves, bed of nails, virtual reality experiences, workshops, painting anytime, pendulums that mesmerize, backward clocks, the Dreams room, and so many other crazy things. Everyone loves the decor.  I may have some people scared to stay here but I have regular folk all the time who have no idea about my beliefs.  Often I only find out as they are walking out the door and the woman will say something like, "ya, My mother came to me in my bedroom after she died and you must think I'm crazy".  OMG, why did she hold out on me until that moment?!!!

I now have many more who are drawn to this place of energy like moths to a light and since Like Attracts Like, this Holistic B&B is going to be big.  You mark my words!   Now if you want an autograph before I go on Oprah and become famous, you better get in line soon.  They are queuing up... or they will be soon, once we get the word out.  Until then, send me your visiting families and traveling salesmen.      

Friday, 28 April 2017

MILLENIALS, FOOD & FITNESS and how this near senior keeps in shape while running Spoiled Rotten B&B

Running a business and trying to stay in shape is a constant challenge.  My best motivation to keep fit is right after I’ve showered and weighed myself; you know the time, when you are most disgusted with the worst friend in the world who you keep in your bathroom on the floor?  That’s the time I should get on my bike to go work out.  It’s also at that time that I realize, I need to be downstairs creating a food masterpiece for breakfast for my guests and I can’t go anywhere, so I don’t.  By the time the guests have checked out, so has my motivation. 


I was recently at the gym working out near my daughter, who just achieved top provincial salesperson as assistant fitness manager in her national gym, and observed her enthusiasm and humour as she dealt with her latest customer.  I’m so proud of her work and accomplishments she has achieved.  They love her at the gym; she cute, she’s funny, bubbly, tiny, beautiful, like a miniature Thai princess.  No one should look that good in spandex or work golf shirts.  My only consolation is that I used to look that tiny once and one day she will turn into me and she thinks it will never happen if she doesn't want it to.  Mwahahahaha, that makes me smile, wickedly.
 
After the short exercise set, she told the woman ‘good job’ and raised her hand to high five.  I discreetly shook my head and said, you don’t high five older (50+) women;   men maybe, because they are just so happy to have a nubile young girl touching them and it’s part of the sport culture they grew up with…young people sure, but never older women. We think it’s dumb.  We would much prefer a verbal “great job” confirmation than the silly high five.  She hotly disagreed and said some jump to do it even if she’s not initiating.  

I thought about that and I think it’s because we are of a different era.  We don’t want to have this tiny person in authority over our fitness and weight to think we’re not cool.  We are so relieved to understand that when the young adult raises their hand, they are not getting ready to hit us.  The hand raise is not to fist bump, chest bump, clap or do a clever hand welcome maneuver or whatever else inappropriate our options are.  We know that not only is the high five the only alternative to not looking stupid but also that the instructor seems pleased with us but make no mistake, we hate doing it.  Pay attention kids.  We hate doing it, whether it’s at meeting, or fitness clubs or most places you can come up with.  You play a football game or baseball outside  with us and the play goes well, then yes, that is the exception to high five an older lady.  May you find out your adult child has just told you they are moving out- definitely a loophole to the rule! High five away.  I have an older female friend who hotly disagrees, but she is wrong. Case closed! 

Daughter shook her head in disgust and said “what would I know about fitness” and that got me thinking.  The audacity of her to think she invented exercise and how to do things properly.  I have been exercising for 32 years, since when I joined the military, and then always belonged to private national gyms long before we dragged the ankle biters in diapers to daycares at the gym.  We parents modelled fitness, healthy living and sports long, long before the children ever jumped on the band wagon.  Truth be told, they were young adults before they finally embraced the gym.  We had been eating healthy for years before they suddenly told us that we should have chicken and veggies, “which are good for us”, don’t cha know.  Lordy, they are the epitome of righteous and know-it-allness.  I think some think they should set up shop on the mountain top so peons like you and I will go to them for their precious advice. 

To add to my wisdom from age, over the last 32 years, I had been to more doctors, chiropractors, massage therapists from hell, Osteopaths and physiotherapists for fitness injuries than she could ever dream.  I have learned massage and healing from the best of the best because I always shopped around when I had insurance.  I have entire binders of exercises they have me doing if I throw out my back, my tennis elbow, my rotator cuff, my bum knee, bad wrist, cricked neck, and sciatica... I know what to do for most ailments, pulls, strains, and muscle booboos.  You tell me some symptoms and I bet I can hazard a guess at what you have or should do and then I see her teaching one of the stretches I learned years ago for shoulders.  Maybe I should be teaching cause we all know those who don't, teach.  

When she told me her elbow and forearm really hurt, and she was setting up an appointment for surgery, I suggested that it might be tennis elbow or carpal tunnel and to give me her arm so I could massage it near the elbow and adjust her hand for a good stretch.  She was in heaven and every time I went to the gym, like Pavlov’s dogs salivating, her arm would rise as I neared her, no not to hug me but rather to receive her free treatment.  I’m not just an old, wrinkly pretty face.  I know stuff too.
 
I have followed more fitness crazes and regimes from Stop the Insanity, Sweating with the Oldies, The Thigh Master, Atkins Diet, Cabbage Soup, and of course everyone knows the Lemon, cayenne, honey drink (that they think they created)…well the list is long, longer than she could ever imagine but now I’m obsolete, I know.  One time, (ok, 100 times) I get caught saying, “if you asked me if I went to the gym today, the answer would be yes.  I did.  I spent some of it in the massage chairs, the sauna, visiting with said daughter and once, so tired, falling asleep on all the machines.”  As if she knows everything. 

You’ll never find me on the treadmill without a good book or my preferred Kindle.  There’s always a workbook or novel nearby if I get bored, and works well in the sauna since I can’t bring my electronics.  I discovered that I need a special bag when I work out to carry all my stuff.  Yes, I’m the queen of Bag ladies.  

Recently I took an inventory of what was in it.   My kindle goes everywhere with me but if it’s running low on juice, I need my remote juice charger.  I have my cell attached to me at all times since I run the business and have to be on high alert in case the phone rings and a drop-in is moments away from arriving.  I also have my old I-phone with all the music on it since no one, and I mean no one can figure out how to transfer my playlist to the new Android.  Most annoying! And finally I have my huge Blue Tooth headphones which I won at a work networking event.  I only use these for about 15 minutes when I warm up on the rowers.  When I start a machine, I line up the Kindle, the I-phone and the Samsung cell.  I almost need a backpack cuz I have my hand towel, a handful of old ladies Kleenexes, a soft cover Readers Digest, just in case all technology fails, a workbook and pen if I’m on a stationary bike and having an inspiration, mini headphones if I’m on the big stepper, lipsol, and reading glasses.   I need to lift weights just to be able to lift my bag to go lift weights.  And she thinks I don’t know what I’m doing.
   

 Now I know my workouts are very basic.  I don’t want to be there but I’m nearing 60; cut me some slack.  I’ve done my time as a gym rat; now it’s maintenance.  If I didn’t ever go, I’d blow up from late night eating, leftover from the B&B dessert binge eating.   I tell myself I’m doing myself a favour by just eating all the junk food in the house so that I can get get rid of it.  There are flaws to my system, I know but I did go to the gym today and if you go midday, it can be so quiet, you’ll catch some of the best zzz’s  of your day getting some shiatzu while in “the happy chair”. The nerve of her thinking I don’t know what I’m doing in the gym.  The audacity of youth!!!


Sunday, 19 March 2017

Spring IS Coming, despite all the snow but the PC Cooking School Makes it all Better


Spring is coming

And this I am certain, or at least I was until I saw this view of my Spoiled Rotten Bed and Breakfast.  This is how mother nature greats my guests. How rude! I'm also a little horrified to realize that my shoveling skills might need some work for this "blue job".  


I know, it’s horrible to look at.  Not so long ago, there was a 5’+ snow tunnel for my driveway. This particular photo below is of my five foot tree that is completely obliterated.

I was almost ready to lose my sign if the snow didn't stop soon. When I saw this mess, a part of me cringed and said it looked so much nicer with all the snow.  I think it was at that point that the snow decided to return, because of meMy recycle box  is no more, hidden beneath the sign.          












  
Do you see the five foot evergreen hidden under here?                                                                            

I feel really bad about being responsible for bring back the fury of mother nature.  I should have been happy with the messy melt.                                                                                                                      
And then I took a PC Cooking class at the Innes Road Superstore in Orleans.
I met Chef Keith and realized it was not my fault at all, in any way.  He’s a wonderful instructor that all the dames love to heckle but he’s to blame.
He won my eternal adoration when he slipped only three of us newbies an extra slice of onion cheese tart that I would commit murder for.  Now, here is where the finger of guilt might point.  He admitted to us that the snowstorm is most likely his fault. [Total admission of guilt].  He put away his snowblower for the season.  I am not sure who is more culpable (him) but we both have to share some of the blame. 
It saddens me because he is such an amazing entertainer and cook, even with his beard that he asked our opinion about and promised us to shave then completely ignored his promise.  Are you seeing a trend here?  

Another thing, and I’m just guessing here but maybe he feels his class is getting slack in presentation.  Last week, he told us a video crew was coming in to film us for a PC commercial and interview some to be talking on the commercial.  Well, we got all dolled up and the beard stayed and the crew never showed up.  Do you think he just wants us to care about our appearances more and to get rid of all the track suits or is he really telling us the truth but I digress.

So what is worse, the clean lines of a driveway totaled by snow or the previous mess?  
 
On the plus side, the snow is going fast and now I can see most of my poor tree.  Repeat after me… SPRING IS COMING! 
 So make your booking to Spoiled Rotten B&B to watch the snow melt and take the cooking class.  

Classes are every Tuesday and they are a steal but filling up fast.  You pay $10 then get to eat what he cooks, and each person gets a $10 store voucher.  Win/win, you would think but really, that $10 voucher is an automatic $80 minimum grocery bill to me every single week.  Do you think they know this might happen?  Someone should tell them.  

Enjoy your balmy springlike 4+ degree weather Monday and Happy Spring. 


Friday, 17 March 2017

Spoiled Rotten made the Top 10 Bed & Breakfast list in Ottawa… Despite thinking, I COULD NEVER DO THAT!

My most recent guests just told me they found my name from the Trip Advisor Top 10 Bed and Breakfasts in Ottawa list!  This is fantastic news that I have worked so hard to achieve and what a long process it has been.  After I worked out most of the kinks of the job, I realized it’s mostly about attitude. 

I am at a time in my life where I am over 50, nearing 60 and can pretty much do what I darned well feel like, say whatever I want kindly and wear whatever the hell inspires me.  It pains my younger daughter and the other smiles and cheers me on.  I like to think I am living my life as an inspiration to others.  I know that sounds self-serving but after 25 years of marriage and now on my own for 6, I have learned stuff, tried stuff and been there, done than, much more than the average middle aged housewife has ever dreamed of. 

There was the year of trying everything once and I am ever so glad that year is over with.  I’ve been a voyeur to some pretty outrageous stuff out there on Meetup.  There was the 6 month solo trip where I learned to be alone and lonely. I’ve rappelled down waterfalls, 7 to be exact, racked up 25,000 km in one trip, hiked Thailand, driven a tiny camper van on the wrong side of the road, thru Australia, lived in the jungle in a rainforest in the rainy season with spiders the size of small dinner plates and lived to tell about it.

I run my business the same way.  I jumped in with both feet and did the business plan and started to renovate.  I’ve added workshops and paint classes, meditations, retreats and energy healing events, music and sexuality workshops; I know, I’m really out there but I love life.   

I joined a quiet coffee group for mostly divorced people and they were quietly staring at each other like “waiting for paint to dry”.  Before I knew it, we were talking about one of my favourite topics, sex after divorce.  I realized then how shut down, reserved, and scared most people are to move on.  They live in fear about what most people will think of what they do, like sign up for the adult sex classes.  Who cares?  This is your life.  You think people are talking about you?  Maybe they are, but most likely, they aren’t.  Most people are just so involved in their own lives, they might raise an eyebrow about what daring thing you have said or tried to do, but then they think, I could never do that and they move on.  I even catch myself telling people I could never do what they have just done when it is really outrageous, and then I have to remind myself that I have done that and much more.   

Most of my adventures come with a colourful story and end with “it was the worst experience of my life and never again” …and then I forget and do it again. But I know the stories inspire others, even if they are humorous and wicked.  I especially love to shock people.  I love to see their eyebrows raise and the judgment in their eyes…and sometimes, the wistful yearning for a life more exciting. 

When I said most of the time, people aren’t even giving your actions another thought, there is the opposite.  People are talking about you and that is great.  You have become memorable.  People will come to your funeral and talk about you.  I have house loads of people coming by for workshops and they are high energy and focused.  Unless you are dynamic, I probably won’t be able to remember who you are when we meet on the street and I apologize for that.  I think it’s important to stand out and do things that people will remember and talk about. 

Once, I went to a friend’s meditation music event and as we went around the room to introduce ourselves, I said, “Hi I’m Cathy and I have a bed and breakfast called Spoiled Rotten.”  Suddenly, one of the younger ladies there whispered in awe, “Are you that lady, the workshop lady?”  I was indeed, but I had no idea my reputation preceded me.  How funny to see yourself through others eyes.  I’d never seen her at my place (which means nothing with my memory) but I had made an impact on her and that made my week.

A fellow student on my government Entrepreneurial course met with me recently and while reminiscing, told me, “I think except for one other person on the course who was well on his way to a business in progress, you are running the most successful business in the group.  Wow, that’s awesome to hear.  I must remember to tell someone something like that to uplift them too.

I hosted a racy book club at my place and met a number of new people and continued to be the story teller of the group to draw out the members from their shyness and become actively involved and tell their stories.  When the topic is risqué, you have to learn to step out of your comfort zone or it’ll be one very long quiet afternoon watching grass grow.  Weeks later, I decided to step out of my comfort zone and join a midnight snowshoe event in Gatineau with Couchsurfers.  The emails were flying back and forth and one young lady told me when she saw my name, she asked her mother, ‘isn’t that the lady with the B&B you were telling me about with all the stories and has done all those interesting things?’  Her mom signed up.  

The snowshoeing was tough and while the three of us lagged behind all the other 20 somethings running their late night marathon and leaving us in their snow dust, I could feel the frustrations of her being alone in the wood, struggling to keep up and hearing sounds that seemed like wolves.  She was nervous so I told stories to the daughter, shocking stories to liven up the night, stories an old grandmother with Alzheimer’s would casually reminisce to her grown children in her waning years and have them raise their eyebrows in shock.  She even laughed and said, “Mom, you should do that” but her mom said, “no way”.  Oh, I wish I could take her scared mom on one of my adventures. 

I loved trying to inspire the daughter to do some of the same stuff I’ve done.  I firmly believe it is the birthright and obligation of every single youth to travel the world and learn about themselves before they settle down to grow up and get a real job.  When my older daughter told me in tears, “mom, I just quit my job, got rid of my apartment, put all my stuff in storage to move with my boyfriend and we were supposed to go tomorrow but he just dumped me, what am I going to do,” I told her this.  “You have just won the lottery.  You have absolutely nothing tying you down.  Pack your suitcase and get your butt to the airport and just travel, see the world,” and she did.  She travelled the Far East and Australia for 2 years until she met someone and she’s delivering twins in mere days.  I’d say that’s a pretty awesome story to tell your kids, but I digress.

Most of these adventures that I truly don’t enjoy except for the storytelling aspect are there to challenge me, push me out of my comfort zone, to show to the 20 somethings that an old lady can do it too, (because in my mind, I am still 30ish) and I do it especially for bragging rights.  
I can tell people I stayed in a rathole of a youth hostel in the filthy belly of Bangkok in the dead heat of summer with feral cats running thru my room.  I slept in a satin, sweat inducing tube to avoid bed bugs from an ugly stained mattress with no sheets, to shock, both myself and others, and say but I did it and survived and to remind me to keep doing crazy stuff like that.  It keeps us interesting. 
I survived the Cranbrook flooding and almost being killed driving on a road that was closed and a river of mud washed out right behind me.  I survived two months in the jungle in the rainy season.  I survived the awkwardness of painting nude on the beach in a clothing optional retreat.  I survived swimming back after the tide left so I had to do the very long walk of shame to the shore without a stitch of clothing or water to hide me.  I held my head high and walked back like I owned this.  Inside, I was dying from terror that people would stare and talk but really, no one cared and if they stared, it was probably to say, I could never do that.  I want to be an inspiration but it doesn’t come without overcoming fears, barriers of the mind and self-recriminations and of course, the negative self-talk we all do.  

Sometimes, these adventures feed your soul, sometimes they inspire others and sometimes they are just great for business. Recently, after sharing travel stories, a happy couple staying for a romance package told me they found Spoiled Rotten when they searched the Top 10 Bed & Breakfasts in Ottawa and I showed up on the list.  I never actually made it to the top 10 of the list but they kept reading and there I was, #12.  I’ll happily take that endorsement.  I don’t believe I could be doing as well as I am without all my past experiences.  Shortly after I opened my doors to strangers, I remember two young men listening to all my stories and studying my wall map of all the places I’d been and they wrote in my Guest Book.  “Cathy, you are the coolest woman we have ever met.   Erin Brockovich and the ‘Eat, Pray Love’ ladies got nothing on you.”

For each of these crazy adventures, I pick my favourite, most outrageous events and frame it for my map wall of fame; of places I have been in the world.  This is one of my most favourite parts of my travelling.  Everyone in my family has the same 3’x4’ map and it’s a fabulous reminder of where I have been and where I want to go next and let’s be honest; it’s a great conversation opener for my B&B guests who have never taken a chance and say, I could never do that! At close to 60, I am living proof, you can! 

My map of the world and where I have traveled.

Rapelling the 7 waterfalls in Costa Rica


Sunday, 12 March 2017

Why Tapping Maple Trees Should Belong only to the Professionals

It's maple season time at Spoiled Rotten B&B  and I thought I'd jump on the band wagon.  Never was a thought more in error. The longer I am an innkeeper, and the more things I attempt, the more I realize how bad I am at certain things but I'm a disaster at mapling.  Yes, that is a new word.  I have exactly one tree and attempted to tap it last year.  I got a meager amount of sap and called it a day.  My friend Jon reminded me how wonderful it would be for me to have fresh maple syrup for my guests and I must admit, I got caught up in the whimsy of it all.  Forget that I'm drowning in paperwork and budgets and year ends....how long could it take to tap a simple tree and collect two jugs of sap a day, then boil them down and whatever else it all entailed?  Why, I even researched the best way to tap my tree and bought all the props, bells and whistles even though they are sold in lots of 20 and I only have one tree.  As most of my flights of fancy have turned out, I should not have bought anything or tried it again.  One flop was enough.  

Let's start with I love trees.  To take a drill and drill into the trunk for inches, well, quite honestly, it broke my heart and pained me to the core. I could hear her cry.  Unfortunately, I inserted the tap on a warm day and then it turned really cold and nothing happened.  On the first warm day, I was so excited to bottle up enough to sell and get wealthy from this get rich scheme but not a drop.  The next day, same thing, except for one tiny change.  The small tap I had used the previous year was dripping on the north side of my tree.  The massive wound I had inflicted on the sunny side of the tree was hemorrhaging tears of sadness.  The tree was soaked but nowhere near my drilled hole.  I researched how to fix it and Dr Google Death said to "put a cork in it", literally, and the next article said never do that.  You are putting a foreign substance in the wound and it will get infected.  Leave the attempted murder alone and it will heal itself.  The original person who encouraged me to just keep tapping; well I have his number.  He just wants all my trees to die and he alone will own the forest.  


A small part of me wants to try this one more time.  A small part wants to take the wine cork and stuff the hole.  All the voices in my head are telling me to stop.  You don't have time for this.   I have no idea what to do so I will do nothing and just keep getting my syrup the old fashioned way... from the grocery store.   

Thursday, 9 March 2017

March in the Capital – Ottawa 150 - 2017

Well, Ottawa has become a hotbed of excitment to party in 2017.  With all the hype of the Canada Table shared dining top chef event, I sadly did not get a ticket.  You had to buy in groups of two. Sigh!  Oh well, as my daughter always reminds me, some other more needy person probably deserved my seat….like a big corporation perhaps????   ;)

Well, last night made up for this crushing blow.  I excitedly anticipated the arrival of Red Bull Crashed Ice and while I like neither skating, nor the cold, the price was certainly in my visuals…Free!  I saw the canal being reconstructed into the raceway a mere few weeks earlier and it was fantastic to imagine.  Unfortunately, I imagined it going down the other direction of the Rideau and pretty much taking up half the city.  I guess its better that I’m not on the city planning committee because their setup made juuuuuust a little more sense than mine. 
I was coordinating with three other unrelated friends and that’s fraught with problems and millions of texts, and emails and Facebook.  I’m too old for all this social media tracking.  When I want to find a message I received, the steps I have to go thru to find it in every single program is daunting.  Quite often, it never does appear in any searches so I have to write the customers back requesting it again.  Ya, that’s professional.  Maybe I need an 8 year old on staff to do this stuff but I’m not sure I could handle the eyeball rolling. 

Back to Ottawa!    The grounds opened around 4pm and the race was advertised to start at 6pm so get there early.  Well, I layered up- a turtle neck, a long sleeved shirt and a hoodie, long johns, winter wooly sox, compression sox, a parka, hat, scarf, mitts and perhaps an airline shot…I said perhaps.  It was freakin’ omg cold but I was prepared.  Then, to add a little excitement, I caught a cold earlier in the week.  A wise man would have stayed home but this was a two day only in Ottawa event I could not miss.  Surprisingly, the crush of people was warming
The roadway to walk down the hill was wet and covered in ice, and treacherous.  I’m surprised they didn’t put gallons of road salt on that because I saw some epic near falls.  My friend was not allowed to climb the hill on the west side for taking pictures but on the other side of the canal, another death trap, they were all perched inside the fence.  Crazy but I bet the view was good.  Standing on the icy roadway was soooo cold on the feet.  I may have complained a bit in the beginning and was told to basically stifle myself; I was being a buzz kill.  How rude!  You know who you are. (see candy cane toque below)



 After waiting with nothing happening but videos playing and chatter, waiting from 5:30 until 7:30, our miss uppity manners was no longer on her game and wanting to go home too.  I just reminded her to "remember her warm place to visit". That was fun  and then I got to warm up in the Bytown Museum store while they gave out free popcorn.  I loooooove freeeeee!
It really was exciting being part of history in Ottawa.  I did see a woman texting on a phone that surprisingly still had juice in the cold and I watched a weird gush of fluids coming from her coat.  I told her she might be spilling her drink as she texted and she looked down to see that her coat was toast, totally drenched.  The bottom of her cup had separated and her drink was now empty.   She was beyond sad.  Her only night out on the town as a mom of three, all her medicinal drink gone and she had paid over $100 for the evening with childcare.  My heart went out to her; I could remember it all so well with my youngin’s.  I slipped her my hypothetical airline refreshment and she got all huggy and crying and laughing.  I think we both made each other’s night.  Now why do you keep getting me off topic while I’m simply trying to tell you a story?!
Watching the race was challenging.  All the best photo ops had volunteer security telling
 people to move on.
    
Every time we would find a “great” spot, tall people would stand in front of us. Before the event, a recon was done of Major’s hill park but pronounced blocked by all the construction vans.  The exciting end of the raceway was blocked so really, it was just a one second viewing of a hill that we could see.  Quite honestly, I was happier to see the Chateau Laurier lit up like the Neuschwanstein castle in Germany and the crush of people and just being there.  
I didn’t really care if I saw the race; I know that’s wrong to admit but it took too long, I have a short attention span, my feet were frozen and I had two boots full of toes that had broken off in the cold.  I was even content to only see the first two pre skaters zip down and then pack it in, but I didn’t.
                                                         
When my friend, you remember the big complainer, said she was going home, we walked her up to the top, and realized that thousands of early arrivers were going home as well.  My thoughts are, if you have told us to arrive by 6 and refuse to tell us when the start time is, people are going to get fed up and cut out early.  Just be honest with us; tell us we won’t see any action until 7:30 but enjoy the videos.   If we know we have an hour, we might go inside to warm up, spend some money and not fear missing the action.
With that said, we walked to a sports bar on Elgin, and realized that some of the screens had the same races going on INSIDE, where it was warm, oh so warm.  I glued back on all my toes and we also realized that the race actually has an entire raceway, not just two barely visible humps to go over.  It was actually exciting to watch indoors and groan along with the crowds at the stumbles and triumphs.  I think I’m glad I did both but the cold entered my being and stayed with me till late, late into the night.  So that was my Red Bull experience.  Did not try a Red Bull that night, or ever but I overheard someone wanted to and it was frozen in the  -25 degree weather.  Now  that’s cold!!!

 Now don’t forget the next two upcoming events:        
                              Mar 15-18- The Stanley Cup Tribute and
                              March 27-2 Apr- The Juno Awards

And remember to book your rooms early or rent the whole house.  www.spoiledrottenbnb.ca