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 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 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 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 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: 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.

2.  La Machine- the giant mechanical monsters walking downtown July 27-30th.  You'll see the fire breathing dragon and the massive spider.

3.  Northern Lites starts on Parliament hill to see the newest show starting July 11th at 10pm.  It's amazing to see.

4.  MosaiCanada 150 is now open in Jacques Cartier Park from June to Oct 15th.  Think a giant Chia pet park.  It's awesome.