Thursday, 31 December 2020

Animals, Country Living and Movin' to the big small town of Kingston

I fancy myself a city girl but now that I have moved to the country I'm not sure that I am. Who doesn't have the fantasy of living outside the city with a sprawling house, white picket fence, (or in my case every picket is a different colour of pastel), maybe a perpetual infant baby goat, an herb garden with the smell of lavender and the sound of songbirds, geese and loons in the air?  

When my life was in limbo, Brother Tom in Belleville said I could stay in his house since he had just moved out. I would squat there until I bought a house in the Quinte area to start up again as Spoiled Rotten B&B. As well, my wonderful friend Deb invited me, without hesitation (first warning sign lol) to live with her while I was in transit between houses and rentals- that's  2 1/2 months living with another human being (for the first time in 10 years) and her 800 pets, with me not particularly liking animals.  This is the saga of what transpired at my "3 year" stay at my saviour's place in Bourget, a sleepy hamlet of now 12 people. 

Moments after I moved  to the country, my family and Deb rented an RV to  tour around western Ontario, the Manitoulin Island.  My body was not in great shape for this trip.  I had pushed it so hard on the last few days of the move, let's be
 honest, the the last month, I was crippled up like an old lady checking out the chiropractor every chance I got. I sure hope this isn't what I can expect for the future, having  just turned 60.
 I did put my body through way too much in way too short a time and the pain has lasted for half a year.

Hanging the mask out to dry- 2020!

Living in the country was an adjustment to this citified senior.  I love to ha
ng my clothes on the line but before you can get them dry, we have to put them in a machine that is fed by a well 

that may or may not have sulfur or heavy duty salt or just agent orange oozing  from it to possibly permanently stain everything. And then when you do hang it on the line the farmers conspired that day to fertilize their fields.  What is the protocol  for this?  Do I now go to the effort of taking it all down before everything smells like poop? I don't know. I'm from the big city.  Now what is that smell?!

The place I lived at had one very large dog and 2 cats, including one white very lovable cat who would wake me up daily very early if I didn't close my door. One day, I woke up and it was licking my 
 face and so cute.
  I started to smile until I realized it was the big  smelly dog French kissing me. Ewww!! What is that smell?!

This dog is another situation. I think his name is Cujo although they may have called him Raven. He's old, he looks sad but it doesn't stop him from wanting to pick up this broken volleyball in his wet mouth covered in slime, both the ball and dog, and then wants me to take it from him to throw it in a loco game of fetch. When I go to take it from him to throw it, he won't let go and he won't listen to my command "down" or "drop it" or "let go damnit, come on you big jerk" and that really pisses me off because he listens to the 12 year old . Most of the time though he just stares at me with big sad eyes begging me to pay attention. That will be etched in my memory for life. One time I took a picture of the white cat in repose and realized the dog was in the photo, outside staring in, all hurt because I was petting the cat.  Ok that will be etched in my mind forever too.

I grew up thinking animals were expendable.  We never got attached and they always died suddenly, often on the highway or down the back with the odd shotgun or BB gun freak accident, on a regular basis.  The deep back was more like the Bermuda Triangle for unloved pets but here on Deb's hobby farm, I actually learned to like them.  My biggest shocker came at the horse stables.  We watched the first day and rode the 2nd day.  I fell in love with the horse.  It was so gentle that I finally understood my mothers love of them. A million thank yous to Shannon.  

The last couple weeks were very trying on me because I didn't know how to just relax and do nothing. I started going for walks at night; something I haven't done in years.  On these walks I'd see fields and farmer's crops and the fields were so still. I half  expected a werewolf to come out of them at dark but it never does. Oh there's always that possibility; the same possibility that I went on numerous walks. Mind your own business. 

On a warm summer day, we walked two km to the apple orchard and pick a small bushel of my favourite apples -Honeycrisp. The gentleman was a delight and kept trying to get me to try different apples and convinced me that they were better than Honeycrisp. Finally he gave up, sighed and  said okay, row 17 which is where I found the saddest bunch of apples I've ever seen. They didn't even taste good, so bitter. No wonder he wanted to talk me out of it. And then I find out my roommate doesn't eat apples so the apples slowly rotted- what a shame. I would love to core them with my 2 machines and make apple crisp but of course the corers are all packed away in another black hole. 

Country living provides sketchy Wi-fi at best and many of my calls dropped. When I sat outside up front, in the only spot I consistently got good phone Wi-Fi and privacy from the dogs and cats listening in, I kept getting dive bombed by the Asian ladybirds. There were millions of them out there all over the front porch and in the back yard and they ate me alive.

The hot summer days were especially difficult for me, before I started painting everything.  Deb had done some very drastic renovations to her house this year but she never ceased to amaze me how she would drywall, paint, use the leaf blower, hammer drill, winterize, re-mount all the freshly cut trim, use the riding lawn mower, load the house with firewood and use the wood cutter.
 She was unstoppable.  It had been a strange year for both of us.

 I had lots of time to think about all the changes in my life.  Running the B&B, 
I'd had absolutely no time for a social life.  Now that I was retired and had time for a social life, I found myself in middle of nowhere and with only one drinking hole, in the middle of a pandemic and I continued to ask myself, what had I done?
The finale to 2020, a year of pandemonium, was CRA came up with a loophole to recover all the money they gave out to entrepreneurs and now I owe $10,000 in retirement.  The queen and I are not amused- ok, maybe she is a little because she will probably get a cut.  Many businesses will go belly up.  Most young people have not put aside the taxes so they will owe beyond their means and probably declare bankruptcy. I am nervous for 2021.

A few months ago we started looking for houses in Kingston and it was a dismal search. The 1st one was a new development with no trees no grass and the real estate agent did not show up. I swore I would never live in a place like that. The place we ended up with is a new development with no trees and no grass. The area was levelled of trees and greenery so that millions of 

townhouses could invade and yesterday, I noticed deer behind my fence near a shrub. Friends heard coyotes at night behind the houses opposite us.  They have no where to go.  Maybe my animal loving daughter will take them all to live with her in the basement.

 There are so many adjustments to a new move in a new development.  Until we find where we packed them, there are no curtains on any of the windows including the bathroom ones so we are living in a fishbowl.  Because I got up before the sun I ran my soaker tub which I have missed dearly and found out what "hot water on demand" means. It takes a long while to get hot water. And if you're in the tub and you want to top up the hot water you are going to get cold water for a very long while. That is a new adjustment for me. I ran the soaker tub in the dark and started a guided meditation, my 1st in many months and it was heavenly.  
There are no locks on the bedroom doors so I will have to find them in storage. There is no grass in the backyard until next year; mud as far as the eye can see.  
There are no gutters until spring so every time it rains, as you go outside you get wet.  

It was nice to re-acquaint myself with all my old favorite everything that had been in storage for many many months even if half of it went back in storage in the garage waiting for their permanent home next year. With over 300 boxes, all placed in the wrong locations of the new place, and I think 260 of them each contain at least 2 pillows, 3 towels, a quilt, 200 wash cloths and every towel you have ever seen in your life. OMG I have no idea where to put everything. I just opened a box that had 7 bathrobes. I don't even know what to do with that, it's so hilarious. The house is a total disaster and yet so full of promise. 

When you do something with the right intention the universe opens up many new paths for you. My meditation was about surrendering control. I think I've done that because all I have planned is a move and unpacking. That's as far as I've gotten. Will I get a job, no idea. Not even sure I can immerse myself in the culture here.

We take so much for granted. Now when I wash my hair the well salt did not turn my hair into straw- suweeeet!. Oh what a joy it is to get a glass of
water from the tap and drink it. I guess I'm a city girl at heart. I am just not one of those country people who look out over the fields and sigh happily but I am eternally grateful for one of them.  

Final rant - got to get them all out before 2021.  It's loud outside  but the rumbling is not just the trucks building homes or the airport that we moved beside but rather it is the ever running, (at least 6 times a day starting at 4am), Via Rail train that rumbles the land. This is going to be one hell of a great year LMAO. I'm signing out of 2020.  Had enough.  Buh bye and here's to the future- 2021!


Wednesday, 9 December 2020

Sold the B&B in a Pandemic; Made a bundle but wondering if I am a hoarder?

 2020 was a rough year:  

  • Bylaw killed my workshops, 
  • Threats of Covid and a cold followed me from Australia as they closed the borders 
  • The city restricted what kinds of guests I was allowed- only potentially sick ones who were serving their country were allowed 
  • I closed the doors to the B&B for good
  • CRA demanded their $10,000 CERB grant  money back

Talked to all my local bed and breakfast owners about the hardships they were encountering and the things they were having to cut out. Heard that all the hotels were virtually empty and I absolutely couldn't imagine cleaning the way most of the other B&B owners had dedicated their lives to making their places safe so on the spur of

the moment, I made the difficult and very exhilarating and terrifying decision to close my doors, sell my house and become a vagabond. 

Many have asked why.  Well, a week and a half previously I had tried to climb up and down my stairs and my knees were in excruciating pain and I got scared that knee replacements were going to be needed. Was I going to need a bungalow now that I had turned 60?  Was it really all downhill from here?   I called a realtor friend just to get a feel for the lay of the land if ever I did one day maybe decide to sell.  

She discussed what a seller's market it was due to the pandemic and all the bidding wars.   My head was spinning so I invited myself over to my neighbor's place for glass of wine and to pick their brains. Collectively they told me to sell. Then I called my sister and she told me to sell and close the business. Close the business? But that is how I have identified myself for 6 years. Who would I be without it? It had become my identity altho if I could,  at age 60, get rid of my mortgage, as sister suggested, I would be truly blessed. 

On Thursday, within a couple of hours of  the realtor telling me now is a good time to sell and me, with my head spinning, telling her I was NOT selling my house, I was filling boxes with all the clutter and travel related stuff. I looked down  and realized maybe I am selling. 
By morning, 6 years worth of setting up my house had been reduced (or elevated, depending upon your outlook) 
to looking like a regular home. And then the serious decluttering commenced.  What an adventure.

It was an eye-opening weekend in relation to planning a move. The moving lady said I needed at least 60 boxes and to pack 10 boxes a day to take care of this move by myself, and save money. Most days I packed one or two boxes so I knew I was in a heap of trouble.

Crammed to the gills with 20 years of light hoarding and 6 years of bed and breakfast clutter, on Monday the Stager and Realtor showed up to talk about what might be involved for moving and they was stunned by how much had been accomplished.  You know you are in trouble when the stager says she really wished she could have done a before and after video or show; I'm sure she meant it as a compliment. Maybe I am a hoarder, or maybe I'm not and she's just a monster!  

Next I had to decide what to do with all my stuff. My head hurt because I couldn't decide do I get a pod and then pay storage and pod fees or buy a C-can or just do storage and pay moving fees. Back and forth it went. I went to sleep and when I woke up the answer was there. Hire friend Louise to help me clean my garage so I could store everything there until I sold the house and put it all in storage. She hurried over, performed her miracles and the boxes being stored began. 

I had hired someone to build a large deck up front and we amended the size since I wasn't going to be living there anymore. Three deck guys came everyday while I was packing inside. It was like Grand Central Station because I also hired a couple of painters to do my main floor in the most boring of colours I've ever seen- Gray, like every other house on the market! I also had a neighbour take down my real indoor living room tree while I lovingly took down the branches and all the tree life. 

The house was to be put on the market on Friday and on the following Thursday, I kept on finding new pockets of evil to clean  and then I waited for them to show up only to find out they were coming in the afternoon and everything was being delayed. OMG I was ready and  I wanted to get it done. Lets just get this property listed already!

When they finally came in the Stager almost fell down, the place looked so spectacular. Fresh paint and the deck and the decluttering raise the price an additional $60,000, hard to believe. They placed pictures removed more ornaments and dragged a box around the house and filled it with unnecessary loved items as they scraped new draglines on my newly waxed floors. In the end I think I waxed them five times and the house is now a little bit smaller due to all the floor wax.
I'm not agreeing that I'm a pack rat but going through a box full of manuals I found a package of receipts dating back to 1988, 32 years past and it was for a Tupperware party bowl purchase.  Maybe I am taking this hoarding just a little bit too far.

So the deck was finished as much as it could be. The painting was finished as much as it could be. The for sale sign was up and the surprisingly small trickle of bidding war viewers started their parade. When there was a long stretch between viewings I would just stay home. When there were shorter stretches I would sit in my car up the street, waiting for them to leave. Selling your house is a very anxious time. Any questions from the realtor had me rooting around in my 35C furnace of a garage to try and find it among the burial ground where paper goes to die in poorly packed boxes.

Selling my house alone had in some ways gone beyond my wildest expectations of what hell would be. The lack of sleep, the twitching, the lack of food in the house to eat and never being able to find anything is so very annoying and now that I think about it, very much like having a newborn. The only thing different is a baby screams rather than me. The house echoed when I walked. All the dishes I thoughtfully put aside for my upcoming RV trip were pillaged for everyday living and then accidentally packed.  How can I live like this until next summer. I'm getting the yearnings now to buy another place or start looking for one in the Belleville area at top dollar. If I really thought about all the changes coming up, quitting my job, selling my house and moving, I would probably curl up into a fetal position but I can't concentrate on that.

I'd never bought or sold a home by myself in my life but it's like everything I've done over the last 15 years has prepared me for it. Working at the catering coordinator job taught me about extreme attention to detail. Working as a bed-and-breakfast owner helped me always be ready for guests and be able to pull it together in minutes for a showing, if need be. I know the best ways to show off floors with high gloss and I can see a crumb of sand that needs to be picked up across the floor or a piece of lint or wrinkle on a bedspread that needs to be smoothed out. 

I saw a monarch butterfly yesterday in my perennial garden and I froze. I'd spent countless 1000's of dollars over the last 20 years on flowers to attract butterflies and they'd never come. On the day the For Sale sign went on my front lawn, the butterfly came -WTH! Was he saying goodbye, and thanks for the flower goodies or she saying "screw you, your ex house is now on the Parade of Homes  for butterfly migration.  Bazinga!
After that it was a whirlwind of using Facebook with the Buy
Nothing group that I had long pillaged and never given back. Now it was my turn to start giving away so much stuff. I filled the driveway with a free yard sale. With every person agreeing to take different stuff they had to bring boxes and newspapers. I even posted an indoor free yardsale and while they told me it would never work, I got rid of lots.   I received many angry looks and some heated words from most of the husbands warning me to cease and desist giving my trash to their wives.  Not my problem if you ignore them and their only passion is garage sales and hoarding.  

I did have a few, lets say frustrating moments.  I had hoped the new owners would let me leave a couch that had been cut in half and carefully put together to bring down the narrow stairs.  Nope. I used my sawzall to cut it to firewood and I'm sure I'm the only one to ever cut the back of my leg in the process.  Who does that?
I had put 4 lawn chairs by the road and only three cushions.  A 'shopper' came by when my daughter was watching over things and demanded the last cushion which I had planned on keeping.  Daughter reluctantly gave it without knowing but can you imagine the utter gall of someone getting free stuff and demanding more? Then she pointed to the patio set and said she would take that for free too.  Nope, never you ungrateful b*tch!
Kijiji gave me a run for my money too.  One young lady  bought my fabulous dining table for next to nothing.  Her father examined it and said it was very good.  They took it apart, paid and went home. I got a call asking if I would take it back because it wasn't a good fit.  Uh, no.  I suggested she just repost it and she told me that there is a chunk missing from the table and "maybe it happened during the move but she couldn't sell it anymore."  Not my problem.  

Another asked if I would take less for something and I told her no.  Her mom jumped in with "everything stinks".  Nope.  I can't smell it but I totally understand if you don't want to buy it, I told her.  She argued and argued and finally the daughter told her "Mom stop!"  She wanted it.  There was no smell.
One man bought a heavy bed and while they were cursing and bringing it downstairs, they bashed up the walls pretty bad.  No apologies.  Finally there was the woman who wanted to buy a patio table.  52 messages both before and after the purchase.  OMG!  And it was only $60.  

 The time came to start filling the storage unit that was woefully too
small. I loaded up my car twice and put in 39 boxes in this tiny little Prius. I was totally amazed. By the end, I was up to maybe 300 boxes. 

I  finally went to see a storage unit and was shocked as I went inside the 10'x20' unit when I realized how tiny it was. I have 60 years accumulation of junk to put into this tiny unit. It couldn't be done. I was going to have to sell so much more stuff and then give away so much more stuff from my house for this to work. I took the recommendation to pay for a whole year, almost $4,000 for the best rate and will get back all the money for the full cost months if I found a place sooner. As I opened up the unit for the second time I realized with sadness that my entire life would fit inside the unit very shortly. Then I cheered myself thinking yes but as I downsize and simplified my life I was going to become more mobile and travel.... yes, in a pandemic. By the time I finished, I could barely close the door. 

Initially, the larger unit had been put together masterfully. The right side was to be long term, the left side -short term. There was to be a hallway in between so I could quickly access everything. I had two clipboards; one for long term, and1 for short term. Every box that went in there was itemized numbered and put on the correct board. By the end the aisle was gone up to the rafters touching the ceiling was full and there's not 1 ounce of space left. I would never find anything in there now. 

My life used to be cleaning and cooking and then after I prepared and sold the house it became packing and lifting and a massive game of Tetris in the10x20 unit and 5x10 two storage units. Yes you heard that right- I was the proud owner of two Staycation storage properties. 

The original plan was always to have a particularly hard-working family member join me, DIANE ! but #$%&*t that did not occur and it scared me to realize I have to count on myself for the logistics, the packing, the unit organizing and all the cleanup. How do people do this. In the past it was always taken care of by the military but not this time. I knew I could do it but it was terrifying as the days counted down. 
On the last day, I had stuffed every last crumb from my house, like the the grinch from Whoville and filled not just my Prius but my daughters Nissan and some stuff with friend Benny, my neighbor Marie and my realtor. God help me if I remember where everything is. I sold almost all of my furniture and gave away so much of my stuff to anybody who walked into my house and said oh that's nice -here it's yours. 

My actual retirement life started Aug 28, a mere 8 weeks later although I actually retired July 1st and closed the doors to Spoiled Rotten Bed and Breakfast. Unfortunately, I hadn't stopped working day-and-night until the 28th when the house was emptied for good and I hobbled away in much pain and with a bad back, and go to a trailer at the lake with my friend and saviour Benny. Free at last after 6 years!

 And do you know the most exciting part? The huge basket of ironing is now just going to be put in the closet never to be ironed again.    I won't miss the cleaning so much.  
This pandemic has changed so many lives in so many ways and taught us what is important by taking away what was really important. 

I think I just might join all the other closed B&B owners and pour a really larger pitcher of drinks for us all to celebrate and lick our wounds, and celebrate Christmas in 2020. 


Sunday, 20 September 2020

Pandemic Travel on an RV with this Retired Homeless Senior

 My sister is the dreamer and I'm logistics so planning a preCovid 50th out of town birthday party with all the relatives was fraught with probs.   First and foremost  Covid prevented the BC dreamer and the chauffeur from flying back. We had decided to rent an RV and travel around Ontario, see some of our own country especially Manitoulin island, Killarney and Tobermory's clear blue waters.                                                                     Bro, his wife and I realized we could do this on our own with me planning the logistics, omg, not again!  lol.   We would get an RV from Kingston, pick up the rest of the Bellevilley Hillbillies, drive to the Hamilton Escarpment,  see baby bro in Windsor and start the glamping portion for the other three Holiday Inn campers. Luck was with the three broads- Tom was going to drive almost the entire trip and we would follow all the rules of the road by wearing our seat belts religiously, never standing to get food, never napping in the bed and drinking only coolaid cause alcohol is baaaaaaaad. 

We had high hopes for the escarpment which did not disappoint and seeing hundreds of waterfalls but alas, the RV was too big and the tourist too great on Labour Day weekend so we had to skip the falls. Boo, hiss. Stop smiling Dreamer!  

Before departure, I had talked with my older brother who was to warn younger sister we were leaving a day earlier but Tom being Tom, forgot until a couple of hours before departure knowing she works and it could be a problem. He encouraged her to get hopping by saying we would eat by the lites of the escarpment with the waterfalls nearby. It worked but me being me, the RV center was not in Hamilton but rather out in a treeless, mostly water-less lot, far from any waterfalls. My ass was grass especially when all the dishes I put aside earlier, as I was moving, I periodically pillaged from so we were missing; some crucial items... cups, glasses, chopping board... oh the list was long and the frowns of disapproval, many. Damage control took me back to my college days when I would borrow sugar from the cute testosterone next door. Same scam, different environment. I met all the campground neighbors and mooched aplenty- it was win/win socializing for everyone.

One of everyone's favourite places to stop was the amazing town of Erieau.  We were shocked

at how beautiful and peaceful it was and how phenomenal the beach was.  I could live there except it's a peninsula so you see water on both sides and I'm guessing it floods. I asked one gentleman how expensive houses were and he said "Really Expensive".  $300-$400,000 and I bet they don't have bidding wars.  My kind of place.

Baby brother Paul, near Windsor but in the country, has landscaping in his blood so his house is an oasis and a budding future retreat all in one for when they retire. Imagine living in the country witnessing both the sunrise and sunsets and starting both vacation days, surrounded by family around a bonfire from 7am to 11pm. Fantastic. One of my best memories is being offered their RV double bed since big brother always steals the best accommodations when we travel because, don't you know, he's married. Us single lepers sleep on tables, humps, and hang from the ceiling- but I'm not bitter, oh no...just plotting. That sleep in the other camper was the best ever. I should have just gotten the keys and taken two RV's. We finished off two days of laughter with our arms full of lifesaving forgotten RV items, food harvested from Paul and Marina's organic garden and seeds from their many spectacular flower beds. 

Off to the infamous Pinery, on a long weekend without a reservation and only a day pass- what could go wrong. I was teaching our fellow passengers how to manifest what we wanted...and more. We visualized the LAST electric site, on the water, with our neighbours being firemen moonlighting as  Chippendales. We spent time on the beach and we got chewed alive by sand flies while we swam and collected stones, oh so many stones. 

After a bike ride to find the reservation office, we happened upon the Chippendaley campground Super who not only called ahead but arranged for them to open up a site for us.... we were sooo lucky!!!! We called baby bro to brag and pull his leg about how we screwed up the RV dumping station. We had him thinking we were buffoons who had just opened the black poop storage to let it drop into the hole. Best laugh we've ever had in years but he will never trust us again and we will probably pay dearly for that prank.

The late-night jaunt  along the beach for much picture taking,  cheesecake shots filled up the night as we finished off with card games. I proposed a contest- who could get the most unique photo. 

A short while later, friend Deb grabbed my arm and whispered in the dark...look, its the biggest owl I've ever seen.  Maaaaybe??

She took her photo and I took a different vantage point. This was mine and hers is the dark shape.

At 2 in the morning along came the massive torrential thunderstorm that would last for 3 hours - basically all night. No amount of earplugs could block it. Sure the first 18 hours were lovely but at some point you just want to yell out "enough already". It was a late start in the morning, another walk along the beach, lots of mishaps almost as we pulled away without unplugging, turning off things, bringing in the slide out wall, but we're getting it.

With each passing day there are only four of us and we each seem to have a different chore. Sometimes it's washing dishes . In Tom's case it's driving so as soon as we arrive he picks up a book and disappears. I seem to be the one to find the campsites and set the GPS and Marina and I  do a lot of cooking while she tends the 🔥. It's working out very well but I sure would love to have Don driving and Diane cleaning.

Sauble Beach was interesting. The RV sites were not great but had private docks

and the rapids were beautiful. Another 1000 pics to delete in a year's time.

Sept 9
There are some drawbacks to tight living and out of a suitcase. The days are getting shorter and rainier and colder. I'm starting to dread the night time. I sleep on a table which converts to the breakfast nook so every night I have to take apart the table, which is quite heavy, and set up my entire bed. In the morning I wake up at 5:30 and it's difficult to read, blog or watch TV without waking up the whole place. With each passing day, I'm  starting to make more noise, the decibel of which a mouse would make which is too loud for me.  Across the room my roommate sleeps on the upper berth and has a curtain that drags across except for when we open the slide out and it gets locked into place so there's no privacy. That can never happen again cuz I treasure privacy these days after lacking it for so long in my previous "home". Gawd I sound whiny.

Tobermory is our greatest excitement... before Murphy's law!  We wasted lots of time with parking issues, booking a campground and switching. Lots of natural sites are reduced by the size of our vehicle. Can't see the grotto by land until after Sept 27- booked solid. Couldn't see the Grotto, Flowerpot island OR the damn glass bottom boats by sea cause of the wind and cancellations that day. Had to remind myself the universe was telling us to slooow down and smell the roses. We did love the rocks, water and lighthouse. We did love walking thru the cute Alaska-ish  town and walked a boardwalk outside of town that cost a small fortune for the entry fee and wasn't that entertaining.

Booking the ferry to Manitoulin was a beast. Of course we left it til the last min AND its supposed to be online but that's down. Office is Covid closed so that leaves the min half hour online wait. At 25 min I was the Ferry greeter telling everyone where to go. Another family came up so I told him at the end of my call, I would pass the phone. My party got the LAST car out and they sadly walked away. Drove 3 hrs for nothing. I asked the guy on the phone if there was anything he could do for them and next thing I know, they are on. Woo hoo! Won the lottery. A bit later while waiting for shoppers, I saw a woman struggling with 2 heavy bags of groceries. Well my mama taught me better than that so I offered to carry one to her destination. BIG mistake! The bag weighed 1000 pounds but I would be damned if I'd quit. If she could carry two, I could certainly carry one. I have become very wimpy and out of shape since Covid.

Raining all nite, cold, I fear we will not make another day but onto the ferry we will go. This last RV site was the best... laundry, baby goats, bogs, ponds,... I saw none of it the nite before- just blogged in the laundry room wifi and watched a DVD. We are lazy, tired plugs so now you know.

Spent the morning going over whether we were going to our  next destination or to stay in the same place. I am getting testy as I spend my mornings planning our next destination  and LaLa Tom breezes in and asserts his wishes, changes everything,  annoys the poop out of the on hold reservation clerk and gaily dances out leaving wreckage in his wake. 

The campground put pressure on us so we finally gave up our spot and decided to move on. Oh what a disaster but now we at least have one night booked nowhere on the route we intended.  We had wanted to drive down Georgian Bay but it's  Friday, another weekend at parks Canada, and every single park is booked solid for the RV's, and our RV is too long and there are no electrical sites available anywhere. What I did learn is at the nicer prov parks, its only electrical so every time you use water,  the generator kicks in. At the more expensive RV parks, we have it all and then some. My favourite, Tobermory Village RV and Campgrounds had a blog, trails, massive paddle boats, baby goats, go carts, outdoor workout machines AND an island of hammocks. Outstanding!!

So, my fellow travelers told me to stop lying about my role on this trip. Sure, a few extra hundred bags of luggage, and mess and yes, I do eat every hour on the hour and plan every mealtime so I don't die of starvation or lose any of my Covid 20 pounds and I use every dish in the house for all the cooking but really, I have been a delight to travel with. 

Finally got go on a bike ride and see nature then get in the driver's seat to start driving. Not even off the campground Gps Agnes had me in the middle of nowhere and I couldn't back up so bossy older brother Tom had to navigate and take over. Rather than take a chance again he drove to the Cup and Saucer Escarpment hike.

I have wrecked every part of my body with the move but this was so worth it for 2 1/2 hours. What a glorious afternoon of cliffs, rocks, vistas and every single person on the trail touching the same life saving railing and rocks. Hope Covid was not present but not the worst way to go, if I had to pick my departure day.

 We got back and I decided to drive again and it was so beautiful until I pulled into a grocery store. Got the perfect site. And then I decided to think like a man and find something closer forgetting that it's Friday and the whole parking lot is full. I pull up and Tom says you're not going to be able to get out of the spot and he says and if you go forward the back end is going to hit that truck behind us. Now I panicked with every inch I went i noticed he was right. And then of course I noticed all the cars that were facing me waiting to get out and I couldn't do it. I had to just simply put the car in Park and simply get out and walk away in shame and horror. When I pulled into the smaller spot I thought I was in my smaller prius. Boy that could have cost me a bundle. Tom did his magic and got us out of my 2nd blunder of the day. Eventually I got back on the horse around Sudbury and it was lovely so I drove until dark. The other two women

hate driving so much that they are willing to be driven to their maker by me and I'm guessing its been close a few times. At least Tom finally got to relax in the back and play his guitar. Not many pictures of him but he was there.

We arrived in Restoule provincial Park with  a bad GPS  input so ended up in the dark, no signs, no office, if we could ever find it was closed... oh you can only imagine the bickering...ugly days. Found our spot, set up in minutes like well oiled machinery  and then face planted to sleep. Cinderella Cathy  joined them 20 minutes later after her table bed was set up... still not bitter but more cursing the greedy married couple and off to counting sheep. 

We decided one day was not enough after the nite before so we relocated to an available site and the rain came. Cards, drinking, some legal medicinal herbs and let the games begin. Deb had only one hope and dream, to hike the fireman's tower trail. She ended her trip with broken dreams. We sat like slugs for the day.

One highlight was when I warned the smug little marrieds that they were sleeping on the table for the last night and I got the queen bed of marshmallows. In glee, I stripped their bed and room and tossed everything out of my new home. Yes it was work, and true, they got more storage on the front seats  that I never had access to but priceless. He daydreamed rerouting the carbon monoxide or raw sewage into my room. Ya, I know, mean! I warned that as I now owned the thermostat, it would fluctuate between 2 degrees  Celsius and 300 degrees. 

We played with our sole three, stolen, illegally from home, wet useless logs so the fire was lame... sorry Marina. Wait, where did she go? Tom went on the prowl to find her but she was Gone Girl. Out came the jammie  clad sleepy co-travelers with their flashlights to find this wandering, confused gypsy. A car stopped and out she steps. She got lost, told strangers, and when she didn't know her site, he brought her to the registration desk and then to us. Night over and off to my Holiday Inn queen bed suite.

We all slept in, rain again so no last minute hike for poor Sad Deb.  Can't really complain about the weather as it was sunny when we needed it to be and even surprised us a few times.  Us Boretski's experienced disappointments but we had a treat in store... 3 waterfalls as we went home thru Algonquin Park. I set up the GPS, bro approved, I went for a nap and woke up to Parry sound.  The GPS missed the turnoff!  Waterfalls were not to be on our must see this trip. Off thru sleepy towns, late gross lunch that we should have skipped when we saw the Gordon Ramsey vehement  head shake 20 page menu. I might have to review this place it was so bad, but the service was great.  At least we would be able to see Peterborough and the country roads but that was not to be either.  My GPS missed yet another leisurely drive thru Peterborough... i should throw it out the window, or update the maps maybe? 

Thank goodness for all the pictures and memories...we all looked so happy. 

Now let's really analyze RV travel. Its 4 adults gritting their teeth and smiling sweetly, counting down the days till we never have to see each other again.

Marina said its like the rats nest of her hair which is full of no less than 3 pairs of glasses, enough hair clips to set off airport security, pencils, wasps, an unnamed insect that she actually placed in her mop, and a floppy hat. Oh she would make the homeless community proud.

Everything must be tied down so when brakes are applied, often suddenly because we missed yet another turn, everything won't go flying. Even the most innocent thing becomes a projectile missile at the tap of the brakes. I was most worried about the daily naps Marina would take, fearing she would become a human missile / hood ornament as I'm not sure she ever seat belted up.  Shhhhh.

The floor is made of this weird sweater material, dirt and sand - impossible to clean. 
Unless you are freakishly tall, most of the cupboards are not for us Hobbits  of three. We lost more food than we could eat and on the last day, we found all the things we were sure we brought.

If you want to sleep in the top bunk, the curtain must be closed for privacy for the table leper but its an over heated furnace.  Deb opened the vent only to be showered by rainfall. Her bed was the daily luggage cemetery storage and once we put the final puzzle piece in place for the top bunk, we never took it out so we were constantly bashing our heads on the metal.
Space is limited for thee cooks at one time in the kitchen that required two dishwashers  one sweeper, a TV technician  and Prince Tom the reader. The two co-conspirator were constantly trying to throw out gently expired food, or worse, Deb, using a full saran wrap box to wrap one tiny plate of food. Was she raised by environmentally unfriendly wolves? I weep for the future of my grandchildren.

In this tin box, if you sleep on the table, you are inundated with lights on the water heater, the TV, the microwave clock, the testing panel of lights...for freaking gods sake, how many airline landing lights do you need in one room.

Tom and I decided that renting two campers would be the best or one camper with two couples so that no one had to sleep on Cathy's Table.  Would I do it again, I think so.  Would I enjoy it more if we were less spontaneous and unorganized, most definitely.  If the dreamer and driver come back to Ontario in the fairy tale land of unicorns and no masks,  I definitely would do a re-do.  I'm waiting Diane.

Friday, 22 May 2020

The Dangers of Buying From Social Media Ads- Hard lessons Learned by Spoiled Rotten B&B

Well this Orleans Bed and Breakfast shmuck has been scammed, yet again, multiple times if we are being honest and I'm writing this to save you from making the same mistakes I've made. I'm not a stupid person. I have a University degree and a College Trade and I have too many years of wisdom but with  online social media, oh, I've been had. Fortunately, like so many of my other gullible moments, I was able to repair them easily so no, all is not lost.

You know what it's like. You are caught in the black hole of Facebook, Instagram or any of
the others and the ads pop up. You know that these sites remember every time you click on something so they know where you're creeping and have gotten inside your head. And it doesn't help that the stores are pandemically closed and we're bored out of our minds.  
Of course, everything I bought was essential, pretty, shiny and I couldn't possibly live without it.  A few items were impulsive, ok maybe 90% of them, but one was very well-researched  and over the course of many days I would finally take the leap and then forget about the order arriving.   
First I ordered some Accupressure pens that would be a great addition to my wellness theme at the B&B. and I waited and waited and mostly forgot. One day I followed up and they said, "we apologize but are out of stock. How can we reimburse you."  You can't, I want the pens and I will wait as long as it takes.  Nope, this darned legitimate company with morals would have none of it.  They were giving the money back, curses.  Little did I know how rare that is. 

I was daydreaming about receiving my latest find and that's when the sh*t hit the fan, It was 
a fabulous four tiered wood shelf that turned into a table (for only $44 USD/ a billion Canadian), when I realized I hadn't had any communication with the company in awhile.  When I looked up their company name, there was only one confirmation email saying, and I will paraphrase, "thanks alot sucka for your hard earned moula; we'll let ya know when we ship it out, aka, get as far out of Dodge or close to Mexico as we can".  Grrr.  That seems like a bad sign so I called my credit card Chargeback department for the first time.  The man was wonderful and immediately agreed to credit my account.  Can you imagine?  Even without proof!  The reviews were all saying the same thing.  No one received it.  While researching, I found a scrappy list of other purchases I had made and tentatively asked the Chargeback guy about the next purchase in line.  

All of my purchases came from social media for old people.  Now imagine this... every time I click on an ad, they get the next puzzle piece to my twisted psyche and learn what "turns my crank".  When you think about it, that's frightening.  When I want to screw with them, I click the link, and get all the way to pay then exit.  They will pester me and often add a discount.  Brilliant right?  I know! But by then, they know me and who is going to get closer to the front of the line to  screw me over in a game I was never going to win. 

The next beast had sent me a gorgeous picture of a plant that was rainbow coloured.  In my
garden it would have been magnificent.  I had to have it to be better than the Jones, which was pretty easy seeing as I am the only one with flowers on my street.  After I paid, they sent me a one time only 5 minute impulse buy to get the second plant for half price.  OMG I must have that too.   Damn this pandemic, I only have the strength to press yes and then I began the impatient wait.  Sadly, the confirmation 'it's on it's speedy way' told me the seeds would be arriving soon.  SEEDS????  WTH!  Can you imagine gullible me waiting for two dead plants to come in the mail during a pandemic? Sigh, I know.  I ordered Feb 3rd and had had a number of contacts saying on Mar 24th they were in Canada, (probably stuck at the border since they were from Covid country China) even though I was assured by them that they were disease free.  My hottie on the phone said, "No, we are charging back.  You should not have to wait that long, my princess".  Well, that is what I heard.  Now what could be next on the list for him to fulfill my dreams. 

The next one was very tricky.  It was this unbelievable find, and heavily researched, 64 gb photo stick which claimed to find and store 60,000 photos; even Best Buy couldn't do that.  I finally bought two, back in November of last year- one for me and one for my daughter with twins; didn't want her to lose her photo memories again.  This gift could outmatch all the crappy ones I'd ever bought for her and she would bow down at my feet begging forgiveness for being so ungrateful over all the other near misses and colossal failures.  I am the world's worst gift giver buyer I'm told but I do try.   It wasn't until I pressed send that I realized, the one the company advertised was for laptops but  all she uses are cell phones, and I had purchased two very expensive laptop ones which I instantly regretted.  Nope, they suddenly didn't speak English unlike the ad. Couldn't do anything and I received many unintelligible emails explaining I was screwed and the parcel was almost at my mailbox from China, after I had just pressed send.  When I received both, because it requires some reading of manuals and technical skills, I put it aside and forgot about them, knowing tho that someday, this USB would be saving the world from lost  memories.  I brought one to Australia in March of this year but could only use it to save some of her pics manually.  So BMO dude told me that since it was technology, I was basically screwed as I only had 48 hours left to prove it was faulty .  I pondered and thought, if I can try to figure this out, I still have 48 hours so he sent me a form and if I could get one semi-credible clerk with a business card to say it didn't work, they would accept it and reimburse my $133.   Stop gasping, like you have never been smoked before. 

Here's where it gets harried.  I'm going to go to Best Buy but my favourite IT dude/saviour said he would look at it remotely.  Unplanned sleeps were had , we lost 24 hours and we were down to the wire.  We got started and had I taken it to BB, they would have found nothing and charged me too much.  He worked on it for hours and after revealing that I had started uploading all my pics onto one, and it was full around 7000, dude Jim told me maybe it was a counterfeit USB claiming a huge capacity but bogus. If it was a fake, they claim a greater capacity and if you try to reach capacity, it starts to override your initial pictures and corrupts them.  Now that's rude!!! He ran the tests and indeed, as always, he was brilliantly correct.  I filled out the forms, needed my neighbours to fax it off, got invited in for my first drink with them in 20 years, and got it all taken care of.  I was thrilled.  Nothing I hate more than someone pulling a fast one on me.  

I have two more items to deal with.  One is a knock off FitBit watch ... so technology that needs to be dealt with.  It's a new arrival and I'm pretty sure I saw very bad reviews for all the other knock off watches with different companies when I was researching my other purchases.  Most of the stuff on social media seems to be coming from China and is very questionable.     I think I can only go thru Amazon going forward or better still, find it on Amazon, google the company name and go there directly so they get 100% of the money.  Oh the things I have learned and must remember.  

My biggest embarrassment is knowing I read 165 reviews and realizing that the reviews on the ad are not the same as reviews on Google even though they seemed soooo convincing.  When you've been had and start to research the company, this is where you are faced with your lack of true due diligence.  They are not the same reviews and it seriously never dawned on me that they would be different.  Luckily for the company, I'm not the only gullible noob on the planet. Also, they have a 30 day return policy but it comes from China and thru a pandemic.  I didn't have a chance in hell and they knew that. Hiney's were covered. 

My last purchase is still en route and if it arrives, it will no doubt be exactly as it was advertised and be beautiful.  Rainbow window film that fills your house with so many colours.  I will let you know.  

So the big take away is this:
1.  Buy, if you must, on social media BUT first google the company and read the reviews on Google for your product and other products they sell. Do not rely on the Ad fake reviews.
2.  You have exactly 100 days to complete a chargeback if something is delayed, (even with Covid), or not working.
3.  If you have something with technology that doesn't work, if you get an outside source with a business card, at minimum, you just might get your money back if you can prove the item is faulty.  

After typing all this, guess what happened.  All of my lousy purchases were charged back successfully and this underdog won.  I did just see this rug on Facebook and it's so cool.  Everyone on the ad loves where did I put my credit card?  

Sunday, 3 May 2020


I have hosted a lot of workshops to pay the bills in the off season.  Some of these workshops have one attendee, and some have had 25. On one of those more hectic of days, one of my  neighbors called Bylaw 
about the cars then bragged to my next door neighbour. He was perfectly within his right to do so because the street was full of cars for a few hours. I sure wish he would have talked to me directly because this one call impacted my business greatly. If you've ever read the book The Five People You Meet in Heaven, he is one of my five people; changed my life more than he could have imagined and he has no idea what a can of worms he opened, nor does he care. No longer could I live under the radar, trying to keep everyone happy.

This  notice from by law really threw me for a loop and filled me with fear. They weren't warning me that I would get a ticket on my car because there was no car past three hours on the road. Another fear I hadn't considered is that I would receive a large fine for doing something I didn't know I couldn't do.  I figured better to ask forgiveness because if I spoke to the wrong clerk answering the phone and they gave me inaccurate advice, which made me shut it down for no reason, that would be a colossal waste. Whenever I called city hall, I always got different answers.  

The boogey man powers-that-be were getting ready to impact my life potentially as The Workshop Lady.  Planning for the workshops can be exhausting but I do love doing them. My fear was I wouldn't be able to do them any further. On the reverse side if I didn't have the workshops I could finally focus on filling the bed and breakfast. I have boxes of ideas of things I've never done that I should have followed up on but why would I do that when I have the workshops to fall back on and I know they are helping so many people. I also know many people would be thrilled to know there's a bed and breakfast that's more economical than what they've been used to in the area. Back and forth my jumble of a mind went with His Nibs, my neighbour, not giving a rats ass and pretty proud of himself.  .
I'M NOT BITTERJust a few more hairs from his brush and I will have enough for a pin cushion doll, voodoo that is!  Mwahaha

I know if I have to shut down the workshops, it will strongly impact a number of other people including the church lady who holds her meetings here.  I love those meetings but if I can no longer host them they will have to be moved out of my home. If I could no longer host her, I could be going  to the church and fully participate but more than likely, she will semi-retire from this gig and that makes me sad.  For the Paint Nites, I could become a mobile paint Workshop lady instead of doing it in the comfort of my own home but that is a massive amount of work.  Oh my head is a jumble trying to figure out all the computations, pros and cons. What is the universe telling me?

I wouldn't have to deal with Meetup cancellations and no-shows  anymore and that would be a relief. People suck when they sign up and no show, some even on the same day.  I finally started holding people accountable and making them prepay and that made my life a whole lot easier. The irony that, now that it's gotten easier but I can no longer hold the large workshops does not escape me? In the blink of an eye, it's become next to impossible. 

Because I didn't know who it was who had complained; the whole neighbourhood became suspect- like mob mentality potentially. Everywhere I looked, I saw Big Brother, staring and frowning at me. I got paranoid. I cancelled my biggest workshop that I'm most proud of. I will be reduced to having tiny groups only. I was furious with this person but then I reminded myself that our biggest teachers are the ones we often resent the most. If I'm going to walk the walk, I better walk the talk.  A kindly neighbour let me know who the offender was and all of a sudden the vice grip on my nervous heart released.

A few years ago I went to every house on my street to give them my postcard to let them know there was a B&B which had opened and might benefit them. One particular gentleman took one look at me and said, "not interested".  Being Canadian, I apologized and said I wasn't selling, just wanted him to know about....I'M NOT INTERESTED he yelled at me.  There's no fixing that.

By then I had come to terms with the lemons I have been thrown and I realized that it might be a blessing in disguise.

As an entrepreneur I picture hosting a big Workshop makes me feel successful but I don't get to join in on the fun. Smaller ones are a lot more slap happy and we can chew the fat and get more intimate conversation going. I have now stopped advertising as much and people are still coming and hearing about it. It also frees me up time to cook less and even attend my own workshops. Today I got to go to Trish's mosaic broken glass art because I wasn't stressing about workshops.  That was a blast.

As a goodwill gesture, before I knew whom I'd angered, I decided to host a free Street Paint and Sip for up to 16 families. I sent out the invites, cooked a lot, chilled wine, made hot cider and waited for RSVPs to come in. Unfortunately, even without the cherished positive RSVP, you still have to be prepared, just in case. Alas, no one showed. I knew in my heart before hand
that it would be a flop so I had invited a buddy to paint with and we had fun. Never have I more seriously considered moving on that very sad day.

Should have done this weeks earlier but finally made it to the Bylaw office and spoke to the most wonderful lady ever.  I never worried that anything I told her would be used against me as she was retiring soon and had seen it all. We talked about parking and building a front deck, hosting parties, Puff and Paint Weed Classes, and flowers. She knew every thing and every body.  She told me to build another parking spot but NEVER to the I noticed on her map that every other neighbour, including the tattle tale had done. Verrrrrry interesting. Golly, I hope no one calls bylaw on him for that little indiscretion!  

So the bottom line is no man is an island but rather I must co-exist with many neighbours and I have to be cognizant of their many issues and eccentricities.  I myself, have none.  While I have had reason to call Bylaw myself, I chose rather to talk to the neighbour, no matter how awkward it was and how much I hate conflict.  
Finishing on a positive note, the pandemic strikes me as having similarities to my predicament which is based on fear. We have to turn around our perceptions of our negative events to extract the lesson, the positive.  We all want everyone to like us and when that doesn't happen, it can be quite disturbing.  As long as I can re-frame these events, everything will work out as it should.  I just have to trust the process.