Update – November 21/17

To anyone who recently decided to follow this blog. It is now full. You can certainly go back in the posts to see all 110 of them if you wish, but the blog is full and no new posts are planned. There are some really good posts here of our 2014 trip to NZ/Australia. Thanks for following.

Here is where you can find my other blogs.

February 2/18 UPDATE

https://photoblographysite.wordpress.com/

https://confusingmusingblog.wordpress.com/

July 6/16 UPDATE

Blog above is also full and I have initiated another at

https://stillconfusedbutamusedblog.wordpress.com/

December 24/16 UPDATE

You know the spiel. Here is the latest link.

https://confusedandamusedsite.wordpress.com/

Thanks for reading.

Allan

Addendum

For those of you who still visit, this blog is full, so I have initiated a new one. Here is where you can find it.

https://confusingmusingblog.wordpress.com/

July 6/16 UPDATE

Blog above is also full and I have initiated another at

https://stillconfusedbutamusedblog.wordpress.com/

December 24/16 UPDATE

You know the spiel. Here is the latest link.

https://confusedandamusedsite.wordpress.com/

Thanks for reading.

 

Allan

A Year of Living Dangerously – Retirement 1 Year In

Many people asked me how I knew it was time to retire, how I planned for retirement or what I was going to do with the time that I used to spend on the job. The decision to retire was easy. While the job was still challenging, it was no longer fun. In truth, the job had not been fun for over 2 years and it was getting tougher to stay motivated. The challenges now had more to do with how I handled my projects, rather than consistently getting the best results and price, time after time. In 2012, as my 4 week vacation drew to a close and I felt I was not yet ready to return home and head back to work, a lightbulb went on. It was then that I started planning for the promotion I had worked my whole career for….retirement.

As to a detailed plan of what I would do instead, the truth is that I did not have one. Not one clue, nor had I even created a basic framework of how I would fill all those days and days of “extra” time. That, in hindsight, likely showed I was as ready for retirement as I would ever be.

You see, I am a planner. My mind is always spinning trying to see how I can fit just one more thing into an already tight schedule. That was my job with TD for 38 years, 7 months and 9 days. How could I ever possibly hope to stop that runaway train? Many people predicted failure, said I would be lost without my career, sitting around all day watching television or some other time-wasting occupation. Or worse yet, back looking for another full-time job.

In reality, the sudden transition from the 50-75 hour weeks on the job to full-time at home was not easy. I had planned my “escape” vacation and my first “retired” home improvement project (flooring) when I was still working. Early on, I even boldly predicted I would finish that project on March 31/15. I did just that, at precisely 2:01 PM, when I put the last coat of touch-up paint on the baseboard on the stairs. I obviously still had a way to go to perfect my “retirement”.

Numerous other projects followed, as I worked through the long list that had accumulated while I gave of all my time and energy to TD. Somewhere in July, things started to slip a little. Oh, I still had projects and still took them on at full speed, but it was more about the execution and less about a firm timeline. They still went quickly and while it looked like I was not really slowing down, I was now taking the time to get it right, to explore what made things work, how the pieces fit together, what method worked best, how I could do it all and still have some fun?

All this, while not earning a wage for 12 long months. Oh, there was my final TIPS bonus from TD in January, my monthly CPP, some CRA refund money and I even did a couple of small projects around the neighbourhood, for cash. My beloved was still bringing home the bacon, but spending patterns had to be adjusted to ensure we could, in fact, live within the budget I had planned out 9 long months before my last day on the job.

Overall, how did I fare?

Hits (in no particular order)

  • fabulous trip Down Under to make the break between work and retirement
  • completion of 8 projects around the house and yard
  • repairs to washer and dryer appear to have worked
  • tidy yard and great tomato crop
  • survived helicopter flying experience
  • hiked 101.7 km in the Edmonton River Valley trail system
  • read 13 books
  • improved my cooking and baking skills
  • fit in more coffee breaks with friends than I was ever able to do during my career
  • 2 engaged sons in the span of 3 weeks (I can take no credit for this)
  • 2 visits with son Brian and Kathleen in Vancouver
  • numerous visits with son Liam and Amanda, including a day trip to take engagement photos in Jasper
  • trip to Montreal, New Brunswick and Nova Scotia for fall colours
  • visits with Linda and Lloyd, Bill and Marilyn and family and Colleen and Rene and family
  • cleaned out the garden shed
  • started cleaning out the garage and basement
  • Christmas lights up before end of September (OK, so this one is a bit overboard, but, to be fair, I was leaving on vacation for 3 weeks and we all know how bad Alberta fall weather can be)
  • lost 10 pounds
  • actually picked up my Mandolin and was still able to pick a few tunes
  • tackled the cost of phone/data/cable with the big 2 and managed to shave 25% off my monthly cost.
  • Wrote a diary of sorts with this blog

Misses (in no particular order)

  • no real improvement with mandolin skills
  • still have not finished the 3 partially read books in my nightstand
  • still have not read the 4 magazines in my nightstand
  • not enough progress on regular quality cleaning of the bathrooms
  • failure in helicopter hovering at 6 feet above ground
  • did not yet finish cleaning out basement and garage
  • failure to look in the cupboard before buying groceries to cook supper
  • failure to plan meals using grocery items which were on sale
  • inability to substantially adjust my sleep habits
  • monthly spending did not meet my targets, largely due to my frequent trips to the lumber and hardware stores. (I did manage to wrestle this into submission in the last 3 months)
  • incurred the wrath of my Sciatic nerve after too much luggage lifting and prolonged airplane sitting.

So, while not a total failure, I still have some things to work on as we approach 2016. To complete the transition to retirement, I will not worry about a timeline for the misses, except for maybe the Sciatic one.

Thanks dear readers for coming on this year-long journey with me. I could not have done it without all of you.

This BLOG is now complete . If any of you wish to keep track of my further exploits, my new BLOG is located at

https://confusingmusingblog.wordpress.com/

Back to the Future – October 20 —–the Sequel and October 21 – +18 and sunny (Good Old Alberta Blue Skies)

Today, it finally hit us that the vacation was rapidly coming to a close and it was back to the sameness of everyday life. Always tough to take, but we have so many fine memories (and photos and videos, of course) from this trip to remind us of the fun we had, we are sure to keep smiling for a while longer. Up at 6:30 AM, October 20 started off grey and cloudy, with dulling fall colours in Bear Island.

DSC02222

Out the door and on the road by 8, as Linda and Lloyd drove us to the airport. Hugs, tears, waves through the window, etc. and we were soon checked in and eating a quick breakfast at Freddy’s Bistro (sounds pretty fine, does it not). Not so, as it was, as they say, the only game in town at this airport. Breakfast consisted of bad coffee and a not so bad bacon, egg and cheese English muffin breakfast sandwich.  Through security into the departure lounge (gate 3). There are only 6 numbered gates here and I think really only 3 doors out to the ramp. Boarding is from the ground onto turboprop planes. It kind of reminded me of Medicine Hat or Grande Prairie airports.

DSC02224 DSC02225

Our flight to Montreal left 10 minutes early and we quickly climbed up above the fading colours of Fredericton as we enjoyed the fine Air Canada complimentary in-flight food and beverage service.

DSC02227 DSC02231

We were soon in Montreal, thinking we would enjoy some quiet time in the Air Canada Maple Leaf Lounge one last time before my Aeroplan status expires. Alas, that was not to be. They were only open during the morning and afternoon business commutes. Perhaps they were simply trying to get me used to being a nobody. We wandered through the airport shops and found a place selling everything maple, including the illusive Maple flakes we had in our Magog B & B. Then, off to Archibald’s Microbrasserie (Brewpub) for lunch. Patty had a salad, while Allan went for the burger, fries and a brew. Best food we would eat all day, as it turned out.

DSC02239 DSC02246

Off to the boarding lounge, where our plane to Toronto was already parked, onto the plane and we even pushed back early. Then, came the announcement we had been dreading. Toronto inbound traffic was heavier than usual, so we would have to hold on the ramp for 15 minutes or circle endlessly around Toronto. This was a tight 1 hour connection and we were worried we may not make our final flight to Edmonton.

DSC02248 DSC02250

DSC02253

Landing in Toronto with 15 minutes to spare before boarding, we rushed off the plane and down the length of the terminal to our new gate. Ten minutes later, boarding was called and we were settled and finally able to relax.

DSC02255

Up, up and away on time,we had no time to pick up food from the airport vendors, so perused the Onboard Cafe menu to see what delights awaited us. Yummmm, cold wraps, cashews and sparkling lemonade. Looks like our dining has come down a notch.

We landed at Edmonton on time and caught a taxi ride back home. To bed early and boy, that familiar bed felt so good.

October 21

Awake at 8:15 AM New Brunswick time (5:15 AM Alberta), we decided we might as well start our day. Unpack, put away, throw out 3/4 of the mail (donation receipts and flyers), simple breakfast with Allan’s lattes. Life was good. The sun came up and showed bare tree branches, but, the leaves are still here. All I have to do is rake them.

No rest for the wicked, we had booked a lunch date with my former co-worker Howard, so determined to banish the taste of airline food, it was off to Vi’s for Pies, as it is all about the pies, don’t you know. Tonight, Allan is going to an Oilers’ game with former work acquaintances. So much yard work left to do, but, tomorrow will be another day. Next year will be a busy one, full of weddings, so as the caption says, it is good to be Back to the Future….(without the Delorean, of course).
DSC0225620151021_120913

November 7 will be the 1 year anniversary of my retirement from TD and that will likely be my final post on this blog site, as it is almost at capacity. I may or may not start another blog in the ensuing months and will be sure to post the new URL on this site when I do, for those who wish to follow. Thank you for reading. Cheers to you all.

Leaving (there will be tears) – October 20 – +6 and grey in Fredericton – +9 and Sunset in Edmonton

Like every trip, visit or vacation, the time has come to head home, time for warm hugs, time for gentle tears of happiness, time to say our goodbyes to those we do not see nearly enough. This trip was about the fall clours, but also about the people, meeting, greeting, saying hello, enjoying laughter and time together, hugging, shedding tears and then moving on. This being the last stop makes the process that much harder.

Flower heads droop

DSC02041

chairs sit empty

DSC01066

red leaves fall

DSC02156A

pond waves roll

DSC02034

kind words murmer

warm hugs linger

soft tears drop

love you all…………………………..

Crescendo – October 19 – -4 at 8 AM (feels like -7) +6 at 2 PM (feels like -7)

Gotta love the sun, at least from inside a warm house. GoPro this AM, but not many other shots, as we have seen this show before. High waves on the headpond whipped the foam into a froth of white bubbles resembling sea gulls.

DSC02028DSC02035

We had a Friday on a Monday, long leisurely coffee and conversation followed by a cinnamon bun (note size as compared to regular fork). Then off to do some chores (dishes, vacuum, primping).

DSC02027

Allan provided tech support for Lloyd’s recording studio and between the 2 of us, we think we got it figured out.

Then it was off to the Mactaquac walking trails. The wind was a bit lighter in the shelter of the trees, but the crescendo of colour had been passed on the trees and was now on the ground. The trail, although damp provided many photo opportunities and Allan snapped them all up.

DSC02091 DSC02104 DSC02115 DSC02119 DSC02136 DSC02067DSC02192  DSC02066

By the time we reached the car, it was well past coffee time, so we headed for the Keswick Kitchen. The sign read Bakery and Tea House, but the 2nd part had apparently been omitted from the interior. What had not been omitted was the quality baking and the reasonable prices. The cashier had to make fresh coffee while we decided on our sweet. We could not believe the prices or the size of the cookies. Refreshed, we headed for home.

DSC02203 DSC02201

We still had so much yet to do, before we headed home. The pace reached a crescendo, as we posed for photos in the Adirondacs, recorded a Lloyd original song, Go Pro’d one last sunset and even sat outside with some bubbly to watch the show.

DSC02206DSC02208DSC02217DSC02219

Between us, we had all tried to come up with the right words for the peak period of fall colour, Pinnacle, Peak of Perfection, Penultimate, but in honour of the total experience and Lloyd’s musical talents, I decided on Crescendo. We really squeezed a lot in and yet found the time to enjoy laughter, fellowship and Nature’s beauty. It was the ultimate Autumn and indeed a Crescendo that simply could not be surpassed.

I’ve Looked at Clouds from Both Sides Now (with apologies to Joni Mitchell) – October 18 – +3 and Freaking Cold

I have always been amazed by clouds, the way they shift and change with light and dark and rain and winds and snow. They are amazing creations, even when they are not really created by nature. They reflect the light in interesting patterns, they create shapes we once knew or now imagine, they provide life-giving rain, they give shade and sometimes, they can help us see more clearly, even when they might obscure the view.

This morning, there was a long streamer cloud coming from the Nackiwic end of the headpond. It was the perfect foil for the sunrise and the inspiration for many of my photos, but as some of you know, I seldom need more inspiration.

DSC01836stitchDSC01907stitch

Then I stepped outside. Hmmm, back into the house for a heavier coat, some gloves and a touque. Good thing I only brought one pair of summer shorts on this trip and also that they only got worn once (not today). I set up the GoPro for a morning time-lapse and then tried to stay out of its way as I moved back and forth, finding more and better angles for photos. Then, inspiration (and foolhardiness) hit. I would hike down to the water’s edge to see what I could find there. At -2, the rocks were quite slippery as I did my best to work my way down the rip-rap and around the shrubs without getting wet. I was rewarded with some startling shots and an equally slippery climb back up the slope.

DSC01869 DSC01882 DSC01886 DSC01892

Safely back indoors, Patty and I ate our breakfast while Linda and Lloyd headed off to their meeting. I worked on photos and Pat read her newspapers until we thought we had better head outdoors for a bit of a walk. Guess what, it was still freaking cold and windy and there were still clouds, but we persevered. We only managed a short walk up the road, before Lloyd and Linda were back.

DSC01955 DSC01978 DSC01981

Off to the North Fredericton Market, where we dined on butter chicken wraps and samosas, with samples of sticky buns, fudge and other delectable fare. Us guys wandered into a decidedly manly shopping area. The ladies followed, but soon got bored and left for other parts. They came back 20 minutes later, surprised we were still there and still entertained. Then a lightbulb went on and they saw the man’s side of the women’s window shopping scenario.

Finished with the market, we headed to Lloyd and Linda’s friends’ place for coffee and cake. A shot of homemade Schnapps warmed up our day a bit. Great food and great conversation with great people had us recalling past visits.

DSC01994 DSC01999

Clouds moved over the house and some snow flurries fluttered past the window. Good thing we brought the warm clothes today. Back on the road. More clouds scudded by, but the strong afternoon sun broke through in places and again provided more photographic inspiration. Lloyd again obliged and we bounced down a narrow road and stopped at the pond created by a beaver dam to see what was happening there.

DSC02002 DSC02009DSC02018

Back home, preparations were made for a simple supper, but my eyes could not stop watching the clouds. GoPro time once more. It was still freaking cold!DSC02026

As we dined, we giggled and laughed and roared. Nope, no wine was involved. What was the source of our amusement? Why, home videos from our past get-togethers, of course. We were alternately amazed by how cute we were way back then, how bad our fashion sense was or the hijinks we used to carry on with when we got together (OK, so not much has changed there). Then we looked at photos of loved ones, some still with us, others departed. After that, it was our kids turn. They amazed us at every turn, with their talent, their laughter, their love and their wonder? How could we have forgotten all this magic? How did we do it all back then, marriage, jobs, kids, travel? Like the sky, our memory had become cloudy, but like the wind outside, the home movies on the screen swept the clouds aside and made us see far more clearly. The smiles continued on into the night.

C’mon, Baby Light my Fire – October 17 – +6 Sun, Cloud, Rain, Dark

After our exploits yesterday, we were looking for something a little more low-key. A sleepless, night from 3:42 until about 6:15, when I finally fell asleep and dreamt of driving down roads which were crumbling before me. Hmmmm, nothing subliminal there.

Awaking at 7:15 to the smell of coffee and the dawn of a new day, all was good. The sun crept up over the hills across the headpond, as we sat marvelling and sipping coffee. Life was good.

DSC01792 DSC01794

We had planned to go to the market today, but with the weather calling for rain and possible flurries, Linda changed the plan to a stay at home day. Everyone was happy. Linda whipped up a special breakfast while we planned the day’s events and we all enjoyed a leisurely feast.

DSC01795 DSC01797

Dishes put aside, Lloyd and I headed outside to do a fall cleanup and have a FIRE!!!!

Jeans and coats put on, gloves provided, rakes, loppers and dead GASOLINE. OK, now you have my interest, fire will be involved. Given the large lot and the huge brush growth, cleanup is required, pine needles, bushes, leaves, cardboard boxes and everything burnable was placed on the pile. Lloyd poured the dead gas on the pile and we stepped back as the pyre sprang to life. We then proceeded to become a 2 man hedge trimmer, cutting and carrying more fodder for the fire. Just as we were close to completion, the showers started and we headed indoors, each with our own pursuit.

DSC01798 DSC01801 DSC01808 DSC01812 DSC01817 DSC01818

There was the coffee break apple crisp by Linda, piano stylings by Lloyd, cleanup and Skype prep by Pat and photos and video arranging by Allan for tonight’s viewing. The ladies headed upstairs to Skype with sister #3, who they wished was here, while Allan and Lloyd sipped, nibbled and created. life was good.

DSC01824

Jpeg

Jpeg

Jpeg

Jpeg

We all came back together for another game of Tock. The gents team enjoyed victory for the 2nd time and Pat suggested we go for best 2 out of 3,,,,,HUH???

Fabulous ham supper and more songs by Lloyd, then a summary of our travels and off to be early to try to catch some zzzzs.

Farewell to Nova Scotia (Every Silver Lining has a Cloud) – October 16 – +10 and sunny in Port Hawkesbury at 10 AM to +6 and dark in Fredericton at 7:20 PM

I have often said “You Can’t write Life”, but obviously you can, because here I am. Let me set the scene……..

7 AM – out of bed

8:30 – over to Marc and Etta’s for breakfast and 1st goodbyes….tears

DSC01691DSC01696 DSC01702

10:00 – back to Marc and Etta’s for 2nd goodbyes….more tears…this is it….

DSC01688 DSC01705

10:10 – Arrive at lighthouse on Cape side of causeway

DSC01710 DSC01706

10:20 – Drive over causeway to Celtic Sisters for shopping

10:35 – Back across causeway to shop at that gift shop

DSC01715

10:50 – in traffic tie up at swing bridge

11:00 – finally on the road

1:15 PM – Meet brother Bill and Marilyn at Masstown Market for coffee

DSC01716 DSC01719

2:00 – Say farewell to Bill and Marilyn….more tears. At their suggestion, decide to take the scenic Wentworth Valley road instead of the Cobequid Pass….we set off.

2:18 – photo stopDSC01720

2:25 – photo stop20151016_142601

2:29 – photo stopDSC01732

2:57 – abrupt stop….disaster strikes….flap, flap, flap, flat tire…..arghhhhh….more tears, peerhaps a few swear words….

DSC01735 DSC01737

3:57 – after futzing around trying to get direction on how to remove security lug nuts, find out they, like the emission reports for Diesel VWs are fake. Help Desk did not. Nice NS seniors did stop. Avis Fredericton did rock. Allan did not balk. Recalculating….

3:58 – rain storm startsDSC01739

5:00 – arrive at Moncton AirportDSC01752

5:05 – talk to Avis and then drive back to nearest gas station to fill car….more tears

5:10 – back to Avis

5:15 – drive away in new rental vehicle….we are outta there….Recalculating

6:00 – the actual reason for our forced delay suddenly became clear. Had we not had the delay, we would have missed these fantastic photos taken by my beloved between Moncton and Fredericton as the sun blinded us through the clouds and rain….more tears

DSC01754 DSC01761DSC01765 DSC01772

7:15 – arrive at Orimocto Esso and fuel up

7:25 – arrive at Fredericton Airport….Linda and Lloyd are waiting for us with a Greek Salad and pitas for the ride home….more tears….of joy….and possible from the cold wind blowing through my open coat, which apparently I put on inside out and backwards, thanks to the hurricane like winds blowing

8:15 – arrive at Bear island retreat for an antipasti feast, wine and Ice cider.

10:15 – to our room to type this blog….more tears

DSC01774

10:45 – my eyes close….no more tears

DSC01775

Obviously, every silver lining has a cloud………………zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz