Friday, February 26, 2010

See and Be Scene: Cheryl Lescom - She's Still Got It!

Cheryl baby, you still got it going on.

The last time Cheryl sang at the Firehall, here in London, was over twenty years ago and she was pregnant. I always loved to go hear Cheryl wail out blues songs back in the day so I
was so happy that she came to sing at the Firehall reunion last Saturday night.

With her signature tousled blonde hair and her throaty Joplinesque voice she
didn't disappoint. The familiar constant stomping of her boots to the
beat of every song took me back to earlier days when
she was a regular fixture on London's bar circuit.

Happily Cheryl is playing this weekend at the Wortley Roadhouse so
I have another chance to listen to her amazing voice
and to be captured by her friendly inclusive stage presence.

See you in about four hours Cheryl!

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Norwich District Highschool Reunion

This is me about a hundred years ago. Well, not quite that long but exaggerating makes me feel a little bit better about how much time has passed since my highschool graduation picture was taken.

A lot has changed in the world since 1975:

  • Computers no longer fill an entire room and I don't have to drive to the University of Waterloo to use one

  • Tobacco is no longer picked by hand and processed by a table gang, a stick shaker and a kiln hanger

  • Communication - we had to go through an operator to make a local call, then we had a dial-up phone but were on a party line, then we had our own line! Now my daughter and I text each other from anywhere in the world, talk on MSN or Facebook - instant communication (though I still often forget I have a cell phone which annoys her immensely!)

  • I no longer weigh 108 lbs. or anywhere near that amount which annoys ME immensely! I used to be able to eat endless Snack Bars and Passion Flakeys from the tuck shop after a Doughtery lunch of macaroni and cheese (soooooooo goooooood!)

  • But I still play volleyball - that's one thing that hasn't changed:)

  • I used to sass my teachers, now I AM the teacher (and I 'm still sassy!)

  • My hair has changed rather dramatically - from long and wavy and auburn in Gr. 12 to a shorter cut in Gr. 13 to a salt and pepper brushcut now (looks sassy!)

  • Weirdly enough clothing is going through the previous decade's styles all over again (but I just can't put myself back into leggings a second time and PLEASE OH PLEASE I never want to see stirrup pants again!)

  • Prices: remember the 5 and 10 cent bags of chips? The 2 cent licorice sold singly, and the penny licorice shoelaces? Comics were 10 and 25 cents, bread was a quarter and delivered to your door by Scholtens Bakery, a chocolate bar was 10 cents, a pack of ciggerettes was around 50 cents and a gallon of gas was 53 cents the day I bought my first car. You could put $2.00 worth of gas in and drive from Norwich to Woodstock and back again...several times! (Of course we didn't earn a lot - my first job as a bank teller paid me $6,250.00 a year - I cleared $98.00 a week. But it was still enough to puchase my first brand-new car, a metallic gold 1978 Datsun410 hatchback- man I loved that car! Cost me $4,100.00.

  • Coffee: I remember the first Tim Horton's in Woodstock though the only coffee I bought was from a machine in the old Royal Bank in Tillsonburg. Don't remember how much it cost - 10 or 25 cents? Now I fork out $4.75 for a decaf soymilk grande latte - how did I ever get to this amount of decadence in my life?

  • In 1975 I could stay awake past 11:00pm; I could work in tobacco all day, go out rollerskating at night then go for pizza and still be up at 5am and ride my bike 5 miles to the tobacco farm. Right now it's 5pm and I'm in my "comfy" clothes, typing this post and watching the olympics. As long as I sit upright I'll stay awake.

I'm sure there are many more differences between 1975 and now and I will add them as they occur to me. Suffice it to say that some changes are good (wireless internet), some I'm not so sure about (bottled water), while others I could do without (double chin)!

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Beauty Can be Found in All Seasons

Went out for a walk on Sunday - the sky was a brilliant blue and the sunshine felt warm - a wonderfully precious (albeit short) reprieve from winter weather. As always we took our cameras with us and I got a few photos of the tough sturdy stuff that survived yet another Canadian winter:

lichen adds a spot of colour and texture to the endless white and captures the light,

two little burrs nestled together in a tiny depression made by the snow as if the snow was afraid to get too close to the prickliness,

the beauty of complementary colours - cool pale blue and richly warm burnt sienna - the oak leaves hanging with such confidence having emerged from the wind and blowing snow fully intact,

the impossibly curving lines of limbs and trunks that didn't survive fully intact..

the beginnings of an immense naturally forming teepee,

another curving tree trunk - how did this happen? Its roots were still imbedded in the ground.

I didn't notice the leaf until I reviewed the photo later - another happy accident of nature!

I took a whole series of these erect stems dissected by flowing organic blue stripes - just LOVE the effect of the abstract background.

the sun sinking in the west - the end of a truly inspiring walk through the beauty of winter.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Financial Report

I know it's only a number but 1595 days until retirement just looks and sounds so much closer than 1600! And if I convert that into years it works out to a ridiculously small number -"4.37"!! BUT, counting in years vs. days just moves waaaayyyyyy toooooo slowly. I'm the type of person who needs to see results frequently, like, everyday:) hence the daily counter. And it is motivating to see the number of days drop everytime I post on my blog.

Of course, my mythical retirement all hinges upon meeting my personal financial goals. Therein lies the rub, so to speak. If I don't meet my savings goals and my debt repayment goal the daily counter doesn't mean a thing. So I have to say setting goals in order to retire early is a huge motivator - the "payoff" is so rewarding that I examine my bank accounts on a daily basis. I eagerly watch my line of credit go down and my savings go up as weekly payments to both occur. It would take a great catastrophe to make me miss a payment or adjust my goals in any way, shape or form. And hopefully, through setting up an emergency account with a weekly deposit, I will be ready for most catastrophes (within reason).....

That being said, I am considering making an adjustment to the amounts I am saving and repaying by increasing the payments to my line of credit and decreasing the amount I am saving. In the long run it wouldn't make any difference to my savings as an earlier debt repayment date would allow me to more than double what I am saving now each month plus it would have the added bonus of reducing the amount of interest I pay on my LOC. So I would be ahead of the game eventually. The other reason for doing this is that interest rates look to be rising in the next year or so and I really don't want to pay more in loan interest. So a win-win scenario to my way of thinking.

Just by adding on another $20 per week to my LOC payment I would be debt-free in 4 years rather than 4.5 years...imagine.

I think I've just talked myself into it!

Monday, February 15, 2010

See and Be Scene

Checked out the music scene again a couple of weekends ago. London, Ontario has a great indie band scene and Michael has been a willing partner in exploring new bands and different genres of music. Using the Scene Magazine I chose the Trole Brothers who were playing at the Black Shire pub. They were described as playing rockabilly punk which I figured was a fusion of two types of music I have always loved.

We arrived at the Black Shire around 11pm and paid a $5.00 cover charge to get into the upstairs space where the band (duo) was playing. We missed the first set but enjoyed two more rowdy, very entertaining sets that wiped away any hesitations I had when first seeing only two wee band members squeezed into a small corner of an already small room - looked like a pretty shabby and amateur operation at first glimpse.

When they started to play we were blown away by the obviously stellar musicianship of the two Trole brothers and the uptempo rockabilly arrangements of some classic rock, blues and country songs. They also played some of their own original tunes which you can listen to on their MySpace page . It looks like the band broke up back in 2008 as they used to have an upright bass player and a drummer - now its just the two brothers - J. Trole Taylor(lead singer and rhythm guitarist) and J.H. Taylor (aka The Fiddly Bit Kid) on lead guitar and vocals.

These two guys had so much raw energy and talent and an obvious core of very devoted fans judging by the small group around us that they had no trouble at all creating an electric atmosphere and winning over two more fans - US! After watching some of their youtube videos however, I really wish I had experienced their full band - it looks like they put on quite a show.
I also wished I had purchased their CD so I hope they play around London again some time soon!

Check out their song "Drug Money" ....

Drug Money from the 800th Show - Trole Brothers

Check out the bass player lol! Great entertainment!

Sunday, February 14, 2010


What a perfect day for a walk and the nature trail of Coldstream (just a few miles northwest of London) was perfection itself. The sun was shining brilliantly which provided a canvas for some beautiful reflection shots, like the little sculptured bit of snow hanging a couple of centimetres over the stream above, and the temperature, about -5C, was just right for hiking.

Everywhere I looked there were photo-worthy tableaus: exposed tree roots providing homes for hobbits, symmetrical water reflections, stands of tall, straight trees, shadow-dappled snow...

elephantine tree roots...

lacy sprigs of cedar...

deeply grooved tree bark...

and luscious naturally occuring abstracts...

worthy of hanging in the Museum of Modern Art:)

delicate, exquisite and tiny natural formations...

heartbreakingly sweet and tender...

crystal clear...

and many-layered...

tall, straight and strong...

sparkly and inviting...

every photo a work of art...

every step bringing a new vista that allows me to appreciate winter's beauty like never before.

I usually say that the only thing I like about winter is that it gives me a greater appreciation of spring, but now I can say that I appreciate winter for its own sake, its own beauty enhanced by the snow, ice and dazzling sunlight.

Michael Franti, FrantiV: Hey World (Haiti Version)

Saw Michael Franti last night - WOW! He went into the crowd several times to sing and ended up just a few feet away from us - pretty easy on the eyes:) He is donating proceeds from this sond "Hey World" (My fave Michael Franti song) to the relief effort in Haiti. The video is very graphic, very moving...

Monday, February 8, 2010

A Night at the Spa

Do you ever feel the need to relax, unwind and destress at the end of a long day? I know I do. So what do you do to wash away the day's load of dirt and grime? Drink a glass or two of wine? Run a few miles on the treadmill? Call a friend and debrief about the day's problems? Do yoga, meditate, take a nap?

Not me. No, not I. My idea of destressing is to sit at my computer and do my taxes. Yes, indeedy, nothing is better than sitting down with a huge folder full of T5's, T4's, RSP receipts, charitable receipts, union fees, tuition forms etc all jammed together in a big muddle capturing my financial picture of the last seven years. I get goosebumps just thinking about it!

So you can imagine my dismay when Michael took me by my hand, led me to the couch and ordered me to put my feet up while handing me a glass of wine.

What the hell?

He said "you are home, take some time to enjoy what you have created, you deserve it. Think, sip your wine, lay down if you want to."

Again, what the hell??? I don't lay down when it's still daylight (but thanks for the wine honey.)

I sat, stiff as a board on the couch. Well, I thought....this sure is a waste of time. My tax file is sitting by the computer, I'm logged into Quick Tax, and NOTHING IS GETTING DONE!! I can't just sit here...sip...sip....precious time is slipping by and I'm doing nothing....sip.....sip....

I took a few deep breaths trying to calm my racing thoughts whilst sipping a really succulent red wine....hmmm....nice.....full-bodied....look at the colour....oh look...the sun is setting....sip....sip...

I love this couch. Took me forever to pick it out and after 15 years I still love it. Its soooo comfortable. Maybe I'll just stretch out for a few minutes....mmmmmmmmm....yeah, that's nice.

Why do I hear running water? Is he taking a shower? Sip, sip. This afghan is really warm and cozzzzzzzzzzzzzy...

Wha...?? Michael has run a bath for haven't had a bath in ages....just quick showers, in/out in 5 minutes. Oh my, tealights, candles, bubbles, a refilled wine glass. I could get used to nice and warm....I'm sooooooo liking this...

Taxes schmaxes! This moment is just for me....I do deserve it:) Thanks my wild mountain honey - you do know a thing or two about a thing or two....and you always seem to know what I need. You're the best!

Monday, February 1, 2010

Good Goals Good Grief!

This is what I imagine I'll look like in 1611 days when I retire. I need to come here more often, here meaning my blog. When I started this blog not quite a year ago I had well over 1900 days until retirement but my counter now reads 1611 days until my goal is met. Good grief!

And I just checked my bank accounts/RSPs etc and I am right on track & my debt is reducing every week without fail. YAY!

My Kiva loans are also being repaid to my Paypal account and this month my new Kiva loan will only cost around $15 instead of $25. Double YAY!

It's nice to check in once in awhile and actually see REAL progress being made.

Now if I could only get rid of my whiplash injury incurred while dancing up a storm a week ago - I guess you can never really have it ALL!

Though I can't complain - you should have seen the spa treatment I received the other night from Michael - that's will take another post to do it justice :) I'm a lucky woman!