Thursday, January 29, 2015

SMILE! You’re on Candid Camera!

Remember that television show from the 60’s and 70’s? Allen Funt was the host, and although he always sounded so ‘dry’ and non-expressive in his voice on the phone calls, he hosted one of the funniest tv series of those times.

Allen Funt

The show was so good, they have brought it back with Allen's son, Peter Funt and Mayim Bialik. Perhaps you've seen it?

How often have you called out to your subjects when you are behind the lens “Smile!” and in your private thought repeat (“you’re on Candid Camera”)? I know I have.

I like to think in my adult age that most of my wrinkles come from smiling. (Don't correct me! Humour me!) I like to look for a smile from people. I'm not disappointed if I don't receive it, but it delights me when I do. I give them freely, as a means of greeting someone I don’t know, as a sign of recognition to everyone I do know or simply as a gesture to get someone else who doesn’t smile easily to respond in kind.

 smile - definition of smile by The Free Dictionary‎ 

 facial expression characterized by an upward curving of the corners of the mouth and indicating pleasure, amusement 

Some people need that encouragement. Some people, when no one is watching,  look like they are carrying the weight of the world on their shoulders. I respect that, most of the time, but day after day after day?  I have to bite my tongue and restrain myself from approaching them and saying “It can’t be that bad, can it?” but I would never do that because maybe in their world, it is that bad at that moment. I will not judge them as I don't know what they are dealing with in their life.  Instead I just smile at them and hope it gives them some joy.

 If you smile when no one else is around, you really mean it. —Andy Rooney

Funny thing about smiling though………..for me. I love to smile, it comes naturally, easily BUT when a camera is facing me and I am really trying to make the best of the resulting photo, I very seldom like how I look with that grin on my face!

It's a constant debate.                     Open mouth? Teeth showing? Playful?

My grandson, posing AND smiling.

He's so darned cute!
 Tongue out? 

Smirking? Closed mouth?


Gotta love this little gapher.
Love love loves the camera!

Thanks Nate for helping Grandma out with those impressions!

With all the smiling I do, what’s with the wrinkles? Some are visible only to me in a close up mirror, but I can’t help but wonder why they don’t remain in an ‘upward curving’ instead…….when I am not smiling, always in that downward sagging crease! Good reason as far as I'm concerned to remain happy.
Happy, open mouth, teeth showing., laughing
All of the above!
 I didn't have time to think about this one
but I'll post it anyway

Why am I writing about smiling today? Two reasons......I like to write and I'm feeling good.

The new year has started out great. Things are going along very nicely these days. In my relationship with my husband, my family, my friends, work is smooth-going.
Happy Two
Yes, things are falling into place financially, goals in our retirement planning feel attainable, our new fifth wheel is gorgeous and everything we could ever need....yah, it’s all good.

Okay it isn't all perfect.....the weather isn’t making me smile, let’s be honest,
but it could be worse and there are only 52 days left until spring! ;)

My beautiful spring LILACS!

Bill and I smiling at Allen Funt? No joke here!

I hope you get a smile out of this when you read it. If only for a moment.

Have you smiled at someone today? It's contagious! And don't even get me on the subject of laughter!!!

 Thanks for stopping in!

Friday, January 9, 2015

Next Year

 Mary Engelbreit

Live for today, that has been a silent motto for me for many years. I love to get excited about upcoming events, plans, parties and so forth, but at the base of it all I do believe that we need to stop worrying about what disappointments we’ve encountered and what may be fretful in the future.

Today is what it’s all about. No one knows what tomorrow has for us, or even if there will be one. 

Love this........counting on it!
Not until the fall of 2013 did I start to wish for the future to hurry up. I know that isn’t a good thing, there is TODAY to live for, going back to my mantra and I really don’t want to waste a minute of what is happening right now. BUT, yes, there is a ‘but’. 

Sometimes the best paths in life are the messiest...
The sounds wonderful!
In October 2013 Bill, my not as positive hubby, and I put our heads together over this “go south for the winter” thing
Heads together.....
 and decided that the only way we could afford to do it for any length of time (preferably 6 mths) was to sell our mortgaged home. It wasn’t an easy decision at first. We played with the options in a step by step fashion.
  • a) re-new our mortgage at the lowest possible rate over the longest possible amortization period to get the cheapest payments available (discovery: after starting over in life 3x with a new partner, it was not going to be paid off in our lifetime) 
  • b) make serious commitments to pay down our debts over the 2014/15 years 
  • c) retire in June/July of 2016 
  • d) sell our Corolla in 2016 
  • e) close up our home, according to Glenn (Bill’s dad has done this for years) 
  • f) put our mail on hold or have it re-directed to a family member from Oct. to April 
  • g) have the 5th wheel and F250 checked over and serviced where necessary 
  • h) pack up the fiver, the dog and leave after Thanksgiving, October 2016 with the plan to return sometime in April 2017. 
 After a summer of camping pretty much every weekend in 2013, tripping around Ontario and Michigan and coming home on a Monday (we took long weekends where we could) for 9 hour work days Tuesday to Thursday, I realized something. I realized just how much I DID NOT want to look after our yard work let alone odd jobs inside the home during the week. I was too tired at the end of the day. 
Yard work, leaves leaves and more leaves and don't get us started on the pond!

Draining, cleaning, refilling. These frog statues relay exactly
what I am thinking with this mess!
Staying home on a beautiful camping weekend, was not an option! Summer in southern Ontario only lasts so long and we didn’t want to miss a minute of it doing anything other than what we love. Bill is the financial guru in our home and sets a very strict budget at crunch time. No matter what curves I'd throw out there, I knew if he thought we could do this, we could do this. 

Working for the school board, we are both expecting a decent pension at the end of our work life but until you sit down and look at actual numbers, it’s quite scary. We sat down and looked at our future income, our remaining debt load and had to make some adjustments to our options. 
  •  a) same as above 
  •  b) same as above 
  •  c) same as above 
  •  d) same as above 
  •  e) same as above 
  •  f) put our mail on hold or have it re-directed to a family member from Dec. to March 
  •  g) same as above 
  • h) pack up the fiver, the dog and leave after Christmas 2016 with the plan to return in March 2017 
The money just wasn’t going to be there for us to spend the whole winter south. Being Canadians, we wouldn’t have the option of working while we travelled in the U.S. so we had to be sure we could make it on what we already had or would be getting. We kept saying, "as long as we can afford to get away for 3 mths, we’ll be happy" then "as long as we can get away for the 2 worst winter mths, we’ll be happy" , then with sadness "maybe we’ll just fly south for a month". Hmmmm, not quite the winter away. 

Who were we kidding? Certainly not ourselves! What was the point of having a beautiful 5th wheel sitting in the driveway if we were not able to put our dream into practice? 
Present home and all vehicles
Let’s go over those options again. (changes are underlined) 

  •  a) re-new our mortgage at the lowest possible rate over the longest possible amortization period to get the cheapest payments available (discovery: after starting over in life 3x with a new partner, it was not going to be paid off in our lifetime) 
  • b) make serious commitments to pay down our debts over the 2014/15 years 
  • c) retire in March and July of 2016 
  • d) sell our Corolla in 2016 
  • Beginning purge of books
  • e) start serious purging, have yard sales throughout 2015 
  • We put a lot of work into this little home but it is still just
    sticks and mortar that we won't 'need' later on
  • f) put the house up for sale in February/March of 2016 
  • g) pay off debts with any revenue we earn from this sale 
  • h) when the house sells, hire an auctioneer to sell our large furniture before closing
  • i) after house closing, move into our fiver with our remaining personal belongings and move it to our home park, Rock Glen 
    Our home park in Arkona
  • j) after Thanksgiving, October 2016 say goodbye and head south until our return in April 2017  
We repeated the latest points over and over, discussed how we felt about it and quite frankly, there was nothing, nothing, nothing holding us to our home. Just by changing point f) we made it all possible. 
This southern retirement dream! A new mantra below? Why not?
 Always At Home Wherever We Roam Camping CAMPER RV Travel Trailer SIGN

After making this glorious decision, and feeling wonderful about it, we started researching. By now, we are whispering to ourselves, "Arizona, here we come!"
We are excited that our future will be a lifestyle of camping
if you can call it that in a luxury fifth wheel! :)
Picture of Wind Cave campground compliments of

Boondocking 101
Picture compliments of
This is when we found many many bloggers who are doing this exact same thing and have been doing it for years!Years
Cholla tree in Arizona
picture compliments of
We felt giddy just knowing we weren’t crazy, just knowing it was possible, just knowing this was going to be our life. 

Now comes the hard part. Waiting, silently waiting. And then making it happen.

I will have been at my present job for 32 years in February 2015. Over these years I have undergone 4 supervisor changes, one huge amalgamation in 1999 with 3 other school boards, watched and stood my ground as they sifted through approximately 35-40 employees in this very department, cut back from 19 staff plus a supervisor to 5 staff including our supervisor. I'm still here. I have dug my heels in hard and did my best to roll with the punches.
After 32 years, still smiling
I watched my husband, Bill, whom I met here in 1990, be downsized and watched him stoically post out to a custodial position in 2005 only to return in January 2014 as our shipper/receiver. This was the absolute BEST transformation I witnessed……..the returning part, not his leaving. That was tough and very hard on both of us. 

So happy to have Bill back beside me in the Distribution
Centre. We make a great team there too!
My position has changed from being a stores clerk to a stores man to a ………..well, actually they don’t know what to call me now. My job is unique in that not one other person in our whole board can match. I do the jobs of receptionist, clerical, purchaser, receiver, distributor, mailman, general warehousing and clerk yet still have no real title. My pay has increased from $5.35 on my hire date in 1983 to an impressive 
$ number $ (after a couple of requests for evaluation) of which I am content and pleased. 

I can’t wait to feel and say what most of my siblings have experienced and quoted…….."I’m so busy, I don’t know how I had to time to do everything when I was working!" 
Working among these racks for a number of years
hasn't dampened my spirit at all, BUT it is soon time
to say goodbye
On March 31st, 2016 I will be setting foot in this building/department for the last time as a permanent full-time employee and boy will it feel good! 
I might do a little dance on my last day......
and I might do it in flip flops.........the forbidden footwear!
Safety shoes be gone!
I don’t plan on being ‘so’ busy, though, just enough. The only carved commitment I hope to have is to Bill, Clemson, our cockapoo, and to me. Everything else should fall into place under the category of ‘when and if’. 

I plan to take part in the sale of our home and belongings until Bill finishes his working career in July. Naturally we hope that the housing market is exceptional when we need it and it doesn’t take long to sell.  If it does, and we’re still here in October with a house to sell, we’ll deal with it. I’m not worried in the least, there will be no alarm clocks set no matter where we are! As a matter of fact, I can add that to our list of sale items! 

This is a longer post than I intended but I’ve had fun writing it. In writing it, I'm living the dream again. I hope you stop in and also enjoy reading it. 

Now that we have reached January 2015, I am happy to say 

...............drum roll please!


Thanks for stopping in!