Friday, November 16, 2012

Where have I been?

Life moves slowly in the country. Things don't change much so blogging about nothing is kinda boring.

I'm in a transitioning stage since gainful employment is scarce and, when found, you're required to speak both French and English. I could easily go on a rant about balance, fairness to all, how the majority in this province are not bilingual. I'll spare you because, to me, the subject has gotten old and we did choose to live in a French community, after all. But still.... everyone knows English. So, whatever. I need to move on and find ways to survive without this monkey on my back. 

Oh.. I'm sorry. Do I sound bitter? Nah... I just have moments. I honestly didn't know it would be like this when we came here regarding the language issue. There are four Maritime provinces where jobs are not plentiful or desirable or good paying and I kinda knew that. I thought I'd be able to find something in my trade with enough pay to make a long commute worthwhile. I was naive.

I'm learning a bit about myself, though. Seems I have a mountain to move. I need to break through an invisible barrier that's holding me back in order to launch my vintage online store. Like, I really need to get on this! I've laboured over my photos, gotten positive feedback from great friends who visit my other blog where I post images, researched my wares and added to my growing list of great finds. So, what's stopping me now? Well, that's a good question. I'm dealing with it and chipping away at the 'thing' so I can get this show on the road. I have made small steps and there's just one more big one to make. I'm literally on the threshold of crossing over the last barrier. I've never seen myself as a 'fearful' person so this has been an ordeal. I'm not giving up! I think that deep down I don't believe in myself.

In early October, I took Colby, blind guy to the vet about his left eye. It didn't look good and I feared the worst. My gut feeling was right that he might lose the eye. He had glaucoma as well as an ulcer on the eye so three days after calling the vet, he was in surgery. It wasn't cheap and I'm thankful we had the means to deal with the costs but those funds were designated for other things. Let's just say the timing was really bad.

This (above) was the day after his surgery. The cone was hell for him. Bad enough he's blind. That cone had him so disoriented. He didn't know his way around, would walk head-on into a wall or cupboard door and just stand there. I couldn't see him going through 2 weeks of this. He had pain meds for five days which made him sleepy and as much as I didn't like giving him meds, it was a small comfort to know he wasn't suffering more than he could have been.

That cone, though! Arrrggh. I did some online research about other options and learned about this Optivisor, then managing to track one down in the nearest 'city' after a few phone calls. What a relief! It was too long and he had a hard time eating his food so I cut it back. After a week or so, I was able to take him out with his favorite squeak ball and throw it a few times. He lives for that. Being a working dog by nature, it's important for him to have a 'job' so three or four times a day, he's busy doing what a dog's gotta do. Rainy days are a real drag for him so sometimes I'll suck it up and not worry about how wet and muddy he'll get (or how bad of a hair day I'll have). He's healed now and back to his barky, goofy self. More importantly, he's not in terrible pain anymore. 

Sunday, October 21, 2012

Peak colour of our maples

What a difference a few days makes to our maples! The sun was filtering through them and I just had to try and capture the beauty. We are blessed.

Saturday, October 20, 2012

October Greetings..

Wow... so long since I last blogged. Why? Cause I don't really have much to share except for the fact that I still fully believe and embrace the fact that I live in a quiet and peaceful land that is close to paradise. I've not forgotten my first year here exclaiming to my Hubs (like everyday), "Look where we landed! It's so beautiful here." 

OK.. maybe that's not quite true that I don't have much to share but I don't wish to only whine and bellyache publicly about things that are temporary. Things like unemployment and the prospects of finding gainful employment perceived as bleak. Not a local? Don't speak French? Don't bother to apply! Do I wish to commute an 80 km plus round trip for minimum wage? Nope! Gas prices, my aging car and winter driving diminish the value of a decent income, never mind the hours of unpaid commute time and stress levels through the roof. Nope... not for minimum wage. I may as well be working for $5/hr. Seriously. These things can take a toll, leave one feeling 'dull' and sometimes afraid. It tends to cause me to behave like an ostrich with its head in the sand. Did you know that's just a comical portrayal of denial? I'm not facing things that I need to deal with and the good news is that I'm aware of that fact. An opportunity to do something about it!

But I digress. Autumn here has been slow to come yet summer has slammed the door in our faces at times with abrupt temperature drops and then teasing us once again with warm, balmy days. I recently took my camera out with me one gloomy day and was not impressed with the fall beauty I had seen at dusk just the night before. All I got was this, from a park that is drop dead gorgeous in spring (if you know just the right time to go). Pretty building but fall colours were not grabbing my attention as I drove through the entire park. *yawn*

Only days later, I was throwing the ball to my blind guy.. he's just recovered from surgery, by the way. Poor guy had to have his left eye removed due to glaucoma. We struggled in every way about it but it was the best thing for him and he's happy and pain free now. That's all that matters. So, I was spending time with the boy and I turned behind me to admire the way our maples were changing colour and the way the sun was filtering through the trees.

When I look around me, right in my own back yard, I remember how much I have to be thankful for and how much beauty surrounds us. I don't have to go anywhere else to find it. All the other stuff... it will work itself out. I know this to be true. I have an inner peace about it and I have a realistic plan. My plan has obstacles but it's OK. I'll conquer them. Meanwhile, I have this and so much more....

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Quahog Diggin'

It's been a wonderful summer! When spring comes early with warm temps and sunny days, it makes the summer feel more like two seasons instead of one short, fleeting flash in the pan. I love it! 

I was invited by a friend to go digging for quahogs yesterday. It was an interesting experience. I was told to bring aqua shoes and a rubber glove as you feel with your foot for the quahogs and dig them out by hand. One of the ladies who met us there wore socks; a seasoned pro I'm sure as she had the biggest haul.

I will do this again, soon! The smaller ones are best eaten slightly raw, steamed  just until the shells open. If cooked more than that, they tend to be tough and chewy. I think I'll cook up the larger ones to freeze for a savoury seafood chowder to enjoy when the weather cools.... with some homemade biscuits. Nom, nom!

Friday, June 22, 2012

Walking with a View

I've been walking quite regularly now since early April, something I've wanted to do for such a long time but didn't want to do alone. Now, I have a walking partner, a lady who lives not far from me and is committed to doing her body good, like I am. We do a 7 km walk along the river and these are some of the views we enjoy. It's never boring, never taken for granted that I live in such a pretty part of the Maritimes.

I should explain... this heritage house was built in 1863 and
used to be the post office. Their back yard is a paradise.
At Christmas time, the porch is beautifully decorated. 
I don't think the photo does it justice at all.

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Ahhhh... Spring

We've had an early spring with a proper mix of rain, sunshine and warm temps. Normally, we're seeing the first buds of May a bit closer to June but this year we've been blessed with a good three weeks more of the gorgeous beauty we are privy to in the province many just pass through. Fools!

Herons all lined up in a neat little row

The river's bounty has blessed the locals with some nice sized trout. In past years, I have watched from my window many a fisherman, battling the black flies and mosquitos and wondered how they had the patience to sit with rod in hand, hour after boring hour. I never actually saw anyone catch a fish but I never sat watching for too long. It was... well, boring.

Osprey over the river looking for a meal 

However, this year seems to have brought an abundance of life in and to the river. There's so much going on which makes for great entertainment! Today I tried to capture an osprey hovering over the water before dive bombing for a fish. Too bad a tree at the edge of our property got in the way. I did get a shot but not so impressive. He's about 100 feet away and my camera ain't all that for these kinds of close-ups. 

My next attempt was to get a shot of all the herons lining up on a tiny sandy bar; this being about 200 feet away. A bit of a stretch but I'm sharing it with you anyway. I would like to go and sit at the river's edge and try for some action shots or video that are a daily occurrence right now. How I'd love to video an osprey splashing down and flying off with a big fish! 

Eagles, common mergansers, Canada geese (the babies are the cutest) and mallard ducks, to name a few, are frequent visitors. I spotted a kingfisher yesterday, perched along the power lines and was recently thrilled to watch a peregrine falcon swoop by so low I'm sure it would have clipped me in the head had I been in its path. And I caught a glimpse of a turkey vulture flying low along the river's path before disappearing behind the neighbour's house. Normally, they're quite high up and I don't get to see the details of their heads. It was rather ugly. 

Yes, it's a very busy time at the river and the reality that comes with it is there's good eatin' for birds of prey. But I try not to think about that part.

Sunday, May 6, 2012

Loving the Lean Part... it's a wrap!

Well, I kinda dropped the ball on this overly long subject. Mmmmm... yea, so I'll get it wrapped up for once and for all. 

Back in the early 80s, I had a crossroads experience which involved walking away from my life. Make that life style. What followed was a huge step back financially. I have always been so very practical but this was a big change for me. I learned how to shop for deals... how not to pay full price for items but still get quality. I also learned that I love the challenge. Gotta bloom where you're planted, right? Eventually, though (and thankfully), I would end up with a trade (huge learning curve) where the pay was pretty decent. I didn't have to struggle with stretching that dollar quite so far.

At the same time as my earning potential was increasing, hubs and I were working towards a goal... homeownership without a mortgage. This was easy done because we earned more than we needed and just didn't move up the material ladder, if you know what I mean. We didn't feel we were make huge sacrifices. We simply lived where rent was cheaper, we kept and maintained our older cars and didn't go nuts buying all kinds of toys.

It paid off but now I find myself challenged once again with how far I can stretch that dollar. It feels different from way back then. In the demographics where we live, there are incredible bargains to be found. Finding them thrills me.

In the process of finding bargains, I have managed to create a tidy stash of lovely vintage goods. This has been my 'hobby' for over ten years. I can't recall when I got bit by the bug but I've always been drawn to things from gentler times. I love the patinas that items carry, the quality of when things were actually built to last and often wonder about the people who originally owned these common household belongings that end up in thrift shops and yard sales.

So, with regards to my current situation: jobless state plus my hoard inventory of fab finds (pssst... that yellow text is a link *wink) equals self-employment opportunity. This makes sense and would be a dream come true. I've never really taken it seriously before but now I must. It's almost like I'm a little bird being pushed out of the nest... again; story of my life.

Ideally, I will obtain gainful employment. Realistically, the opportunities are proving to be rare. This new venture is about my only option for now and I'm in the process of preparing for it as push becomes shove, or when the rubber meets the road. I'll post when that happens. Don't see any "if" in there.

Monday, April 23, 2012

Living Lean... not the lovin' part yet

I'm hoping this leads to a wrap. It's so hard for me to condense all the events that have led me to this point. And I tend to get distracted... really easily. 

So, the winds of change are ripping through me as I stand at this particular crossroad and evaluate my options (or lack thereof). I've considered going freelance but I have to be honest and say that my preferences and, more importantly, my strengths are on the technical side of what happens between design and the placing of ink on paper. 

I can do design well enough but there are giants in the land that carry degrees (this is often a requirement) plus many of them know html, CMS, CSS and whatever else needed for web design; these skills are often thrown in as an asset. Personally, I see web design as a separate trade from prepress which is a separate trade from design. Apparently, one has to wear many hats in the digital world of print these days. I have no formal training in design and I've never had the opportunity to learn web design. As well, I've been basically flying solo for the past seven years. Make that 7.5 years, but who's counting? That's like 100 years in today's digital world of change.

I do have key technical skills many designers are lacking when it comes to preparing for putting ink on paper. I know spreads and chokes, rich blacks, creep, pagination, knockouts, overprints, metallic inks, dies, imposing perfect bound vs. saddle stitch magazines, dealing with cross-overs and yada, yada, yada. I critiqued designer's work so it would come through the other side as intended. It was critical for jobs to be 100% correct when it hit the presses. Press down time meant hundreds of dollars per hour lost in production. In 20 plus years, I went from analog prepress (a five year apprenticeship) to digital prepress - producing colour proofs, bluelines, film and plate making, and finally the transition of computer to plate (CTP). All manner of troubleshooting was required along the way and everything had a tight deadline. I had to know a lot of stuff. As you can see, I have learned valuable skills and, yes, I really can pull off reasonable design work. If only I could get my foot in the door. 

Now, here is the major hurdle... a major beef that I could rant endlessly about. I don't read French, write French or speak French. It matters not that I may not be dealing with the public directly, that I would be working alongside colleagues that are bilingual. It matters not that the majority of New Brunswickers are Anglophones. The powers that be have decided to make this fine province officially bilingual. And that coveted diploma I obtained? Useless. It's just a piece of paper, but that's another rant that I'd rather not get into.  *sigh*

Without French, I'm basically deemed unemployable unless I want to work at Subway, Tim Hortons, Home Depot, etc. earning minimum wage, commuting 1.5 hrs each day and losing a week's pay on gas. Factor in a new car payment as my aging car would surely get 'tired' and I would have two weeks of minimum wages to live on but I'd be putting in a 50 hr. week including the travel time. 

I've also learned the ways of the locals (from their mouths to my ears). The jobs that are hard to come by are generally reserved for their 'own', whatever that means. I'm told that 'good' jobs are given to relatives or friends but they have to post the job to the general public by law. I don't know how true that is but I think I might have experienced the bad end of it. I applied for a job that I was fully qualified for and I didn't even get the courtesy of an interview despite my follow up correspondences with them. You see, they had the job posted for TWO months. Seems they forgot it? I did find it odd that the only place it was posted was on Kijiji. 

So... there's that path which looks grim. I'm eyeing a new path that would be like a dream come true but it looks like I'll have to continue this in yet another entry. I tried to condense it but the rant part is feeling good. 

Saturday, April 21, 2012

Living Lean Part Two...

When we arrived here in rural New Brunswick, settling into our 'forever' home, my feet didn't touch the ground for a year. The beauty outside my window that greets me each morning is never taken for granted. The cultural changes, however, took time to adjust to and I had concerns about small town living. I carry a horrendous experience from my teen years, when my Mom moved me and my two younger sisters to small town PEI. I would leave home at the tender age of 17 and vowed to never live on the East Coast again. Famous last words.

Now, as a (ahem) mature adult, I'm here on the East Coast and it's been OK. One of the hurdles has been finding work but naive me thought "No problem! I have a skilled trade with 20 years experience!" I said I was naive, right? 

I was told one had to have a diploma in order to get a job.... any job. Nonsense! I have a trade. But wait! There are not many printers in the area and the demand for prepress technicians is almost non-existent. Uh oh. Red flag waving. And wait! This is a bilingual province. I'm not bilingual.

I found out I could attend full time school for a year and a half, receiving benefits for the duration. And by gosh, by golly, I got that coveted diploma. With honors, I might add. I had to work during the summer in order to continue with my schooling and was fortunate to work from home for a small print shop in a neighbouring Maritime province. Things were working out for me.

After finishing school I continued working for this sad little company. Trust me on the sad part. Unfortunately, the boss was a head case, highly abusive... name calling, swearing, yelling at me; a head gamer who toyed with my wages and emotions, accusing me of all manner of things that are totally not my character. I would tolerate this nonsense for five years. FIVE. LONG. YEARS! 

Last August, I couldn't do it anymore. I was either going to have a nervous breakdown, a stroke, an aneurysm, a heart attack or a combo of any two or three. I quit. Just like that. It was a desparate decision. I was miserable.

I'm standing at the crossroads and the winds of change are blowing. More like howling. What's not to love about it? Well.....  to be continued

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Living Lean and Loving It...

A fellow blogger and friend posted a link on Facebook about a family living on $20,000 a year. And they pay rent! The home is beautifully decorated and they're close to an incredible beach. They have my respect.

Sometimes life moves in directions you hadn't planned. Sometimes? Let's be real here and make that oftentimes. 

Seven years ago I had left a good job with good pay. So did Hubs. We realized when we met (nineteen years ago) that we might not always be in that position so we created a goal to work towards. That goal became owning a home which then became the plan to make the dream of homeownership a reality. Yea... something like that.

We had no debt so this was a good start. We lived way below our means which was pretty simply done. All it meant was that we didn't move up the ladder of higher rent and bigger, more expensive things. We still enjoyed day trips to our favorite places, eating in trendy restaurants and didn't have the financial pressure of those unexpected expenses that happen to all of us. 

In eleven years, we were able to reach our goal and I was chomping at the bit to get on with the plan. So, we bought our house here in the East Coast country, clear across Canada. A big move to say the least. 

That was seven years ago. Much has changed. Things we didn't plan for, hurdles we didn't think existed. 

I am at a crossroads of sorts. It's not bad. I get excited about it really. I'm about to venture down a new path but I can't finish this just now. I'm getting ready to go walking with a friend. This is becoming my daily requirement. Finally.

Oh, in case you're wondering about the subject header? I'll get to that later. Hopefully, tomorrow and I plan on keeping my blog exercises in better shape.

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Pretty things....

Monet rolo chain necklace 
This beauty is 30 inches long and has the feel of quality.
So gorgeous! These are 12 kt gold filled and in excellent condition.

Are these not to-die-for? Seriously!

Milk glass clip-ons. The pedals are 'strung' on and 'wiggly'
Chanel gift box. Need I say more?

... only to say another Chanel gift box. Hello!

Sunday, January 8, 2012

Hearty Soup for the Soul

This past year has been challenging, to say the least. In an economy and demographic where work is hard to find (and I'm not bilingual which is a BIG issue here), I felt that I had to terminate my job working offsite for a small printer in PEI. It was more than I could endure on a personal level and it was starting to affect my stress levels. The other party refused to acknowledge their treatment of others. And then we had to say goodbye to our sweetest dog, Mikey who we tried to save but could not. A tough decision, indeed.

I've been cleaning up my computer and came across a graphic file I put together from a 'story' I found online. It's beautiful and touches my heart. I hope it touches yours. You will have to click on it to be able to read it unless you have special super powers.