Sunday, April 16, 2017

ROBBLOG #619


Oh My Gawd!
There is a life after CAFFEINE!
Sad but true.

I love my caffeine.
Morning Coffee- a whole pot is good.
Evening Tea- another pot.
Then, driving by any of the 1,000 Tim Hortons in Orillia during the day- another cup.

Alas, my dear readers the time has come. I've rolled the stone away and walked out of my caffeine tomb to go cold turkey. (Wow! an amalgamation of Thanksgiving and Easter in one complete sentence!)
Why on earth?
Well number one reason is I have been peeing up a storm since late January.
Increased urination is the medical term.
I have been on three drugs. None of them helped.
One gave me dry mouth and made me nauseous.
Another caused me to pee even more and made me feel like I was in a cloud.

So, a few weeks back I chatted to my Cousin Jim who told me his Doctor had suggested he remove coffee from his daily routine too.
Carol, his wife, added: "Rob, he pees 24 times a day!!"
Ummm, thanks Carol.
 In fact that morning at breakfast he enjoyed his first "real" coffee in a month. I told him what I had gone through.



Then, a week later I dropped caffeine.
I bought caffeine free Tim's in a bag and a box of K cups.
I purchased a decaffeinated Tetley tea- which isn't too bad.
I'm still working on the coffee. In fact every restaurant I have been in the past week or so I have made it a point to ask for the brand name of the decaf they serve. I like Mother Parkers but their online site says they only sell to restaurants and hotels.
Shite.

So, in the meantime I enjoy 3 cups of non-coffee in the morning. I have cut down on the amount of non-coffee liquid I imbibe.

Flying without a parachute, I thought I'd get a huge headache from withdrawal but that didn't happen.
I tell myself I am drinking the real thing and my brain might be buying a bit of that horseshit story but honestly? The "umph" is missing in the morning.

All in all this is just another feature of growing older and being in one's 66th year!
Yes, it sucks.
I may look "fabulous" on the outside (double chins aside) but inside I am breaking down.
It's inevitable.
I mean if I was Jane Fonda I'd have my neck done for sure but I would still be on decaf.
It's my life now from here on in.

Don 't cry for me Argentina.
Things they are a-changing.

Friday, March 24, 2017

ROBBLOG #618

So...How're yuh now?

March so far has been busy and very stressful.
Selling, buying, getting our ducks in a row.
No one ever said it was going to be easy moving three time zones away onto an Island!

As I have written before in this blog space, my husband Tom and I are pulling up roots and planting them down again in the Cowitchan Valley on Vancouver Island. This will all happen in mid-summer. Maybe a tad earlier. It all depends when our new house is ready.

We are both excited at the prospect of living in a "Maritime, Mediterranean Climate" with warmer winters. Cowitchan means "warm land". It also means Palm Trees, Yuccas and Monkey Trees.
Most importantly- no snow!
Well, very little at the least. If there is a dusting it disappears in a few hours or sooner. One could just stay inside, pull the blinds and ignore it, although, this year was a strange year for "Islanders". We were told it was the most snow on Vancouver Island in 60-70 years. It didn't stay long but it wasn't easy to get around. Some places have only one snowplow -and it's shared with another community! Other spots like Salt Spring Island- so I am told, have no plow. It's an Island thing! Neither are they prepared for it and at the least, able to drive in it. The only folks on the roads are transplanted Ontarians who are used to carrying on as normal through the white stuff.

I am looking ahead to gardening- West Coast Style. I plan on having three Trachycarpus fortunei. That's Palm Trees for us easterners. Actually, there are four varieties growing there. All hardy and they seem to handle occasional cold weather quite well. We might refer to them as date palms in Ontario and usually they stay indoors except for a summer on the patio. I have been checking out nurseries and a 6 foot palm could cost me up to $450. I love palms- always have.


I hope to also add some Yuccas. There are three Yucca Filamentosa's at our front steps and they have been there for 25 years. So, if they perform well here in Ontario, they'll be just fine on the Island. Rhododendrons grow like trees and I plan on putting in a few. Tom is digging up some of his Daylilies come summer and will transplant them to The Cowitchan. Our Tropical Brugmansia which grows dozens of yellow, flute-shaped flowers during the summer, will also find a new home in the Valley. Not sure if they can stay in the ground over "winter" but if not, we have plenty of storage in our full basement. Both of us are looking forward to a new kind of year-round gardening.
By the way, lawns grown all year long so it will be strange cutting the grass in January/February.

Our new home that we intend to call "Palm Villa" is a custom design with 2500 square feet of living space and a garage and a 1/4. We'll only have one vehicle in Duncan, so we can get by without having a 2 car garage. A storage/mechanical room in the basement affords lots of extra storage. We are on a corner property like our Pine Tree House here in Orillia, only in Duncan, the street runs down the south side of the house and not the north like we have now.

Here in Orillia, Ontario it's just a waiting game now. Waiting for the basement to be dug in Duncan and eventually the walls and roof. One has to really keep on top of things when you are building a house more than half a country away and we are learning something every day.

Thursday, March 2, 2017

ROBBLOG #617


Who the Hell picks those best movie nominations at the Oscars??

Although I am not that thrilled with Oscar's picks for movies, this year I made a point to watch every film- at least those I could finish. So, here's a quick rundown of those I watched before and after the Academy Awards and a couple that should have been nominated....and yes, I know the Oscars were last Sunday! It's taken me a few extra nights to see all the films- thanks to Stremio and Popcorn time.

La La Land
A couple of nice dancing scenes and some terrific jazz but I don't see what all the hype was about.
A good film but others were better. At the very east I hope this movie encourages other musicals to be made like in the "good old days".

Hacksaw Ridge
Tough to watch. Gritty. Blood. Body Parts. I thought it being an AMERICAN war movie it would take best film. If you can stomach all of the above, it's worth watching for Andrew Garfield. An American born actor who was brought up in the UK.

Allied
Another WWII film about Canadian Intelligence Officer Max Vatan (Brad Pitt) who meets a French Resistance fighter Marianne Beausejour (Marion Cotillard ) in 1942 Africa. This film should have had some nominations. Far superior to the slow moving, unmemorable Manchester by The Sea.

Manchester By the Sea.
It took me two tries to get through this piece of drivel. That was Casey Affleck's acting ability?
Yikes! I only finished the film the night after the Oscars because I wanted to see why he won the Best Aator category. I still don't know why he won with Denzel Washington in the pack of nominees, which leads me to-

Fences
A great film version of the stage play. You can always tell a movie version of a Broadway play because it looks like and sounds like a stage play. It is worth watching and no wonder Viola Davis won an Oscar. It should have been Best Actress- not supporting. Oh and to all those naysayers who have told me over the years that one cannot direct a show and be a part of the cast, I still say "poppycock"!! Denzel directed and starred in this movie. He is not very likeable but there are strong performances from Mr. Washington as well as the entire cast- Russell Hornsby and Jovan Adepo too.

Hidden Figures
This probably should have won best picture and all three leading ladies their own Oscar but there are only so many to go around. Good on NASA for this true story. You saw one of the "real" characters on stage during the Oscars. It would have been tough to choose between this movie and Moonlight- but they did.



Moonlight
A coming of age, "Hey- I think I'm Gay Movie" with the lead character played by three actors over the course of 20 years or so. Fine performances. A gritty story and deserving of the Best Movie win. I still can't believe this film achieved those kind of accolades from that kind of academy.

Come Hell or High Water
Is still haven't finished this good old boy, Texas sheriff piece of ~ahem~ crap. It just wears on you and is one good reason never to visit Texas again. I was in Texas for 3 1/2 weeks a few years ago and let me just say that Texas has some wonderful vistas but get away from the cities and it's a different word. Being Gay there is not such a good idea either. Oh, you know that everyone carries a gun in Texas- right?

Lion
What a great motion picture...if you can make it through the first 45 minutes. It took two tries for me what with the subtitles in the first part of the film but Dev Patel had me in tears by the end. Nicole Kidman is in this film too- as if that matters. Doesn't she always plays Nicole Kidman whereas Meryl Streep never plays Meryl Streep?

Moana (not Nominated for best movie)
A Disney animated film. It has great colour and clarity in high def and Dwayne Johnson's song "You're Welcome" is cute but after a while I lost interest and did the dinner dishes.

Arrival
The Canadian Movie that anyone who lives in Quebec would never refer to as a "Canadian Movie" but as a Quebecois Film. It stars mostly Americans of course and has some nice bits about Aliens. Worth seeing and dreaming about, however, I would prefer my Aliens to look more like Dwayne Johnson in a speedo. ~grin~

And finally....

Passengers (not nominated for best movie)
500 passengers and crew in hibernation for 120 years heading for a new planet. Three wake up 90 years before landing. Uh-Oh...
Some neat stuff- especially the bionic bartender. There should have been a category for "Best Ass" cheeks. Christ Pratt would have won "ass" down.








Sunday, February 26, 2017

ROBBLOG #616


March.
Time marches on.
The months march by us.
People are marching.
We're on the move.

All of those things and more.
We have bought a new-build house in Duncan BC.
That's on Vancouver Island. 45 minutes from Victoria. About 30 minutes from Nanaimo and across from Salt Spring Island on Vancouver Island.
That's all in the past two weeks and the big news- our home (I talked about that in the previous RobBlog) has sold.
First viewers.
4 hours later after the first showing we were presented with an offer.
Real Estate is nuts here in Orillia Ontario. The house sold so fast our heads are spinning. We just have a buyer inspection of the house and property and then it's a done deal. So, baring the inspector finding termites, asbestos, dry rot or some other fun stuff, the official sold stamp goes on the property.

I don't think it has sunk in yet.
We're moving.
West.
To Vancouver Island.
The closest one can get to paradise in Canada.
Mediterranean climate. Palms. Yuccas. Huge Rhodos. Arbutus Trees. Monkey Trees and no snow.
Well, hardly any. This year has not been the norm. Islanders have not seen the amount of snow they had two weeks ago- the day before we landed from Toronto, in 60-70 years! Usually, if there are a few flakes on the ground it disappears in a few hours.

The Island is wonderful. Besides the green grass and the copious plant life, the views of mountains and ocean are nothing short of spectacular. The Malahat that goes through the mountains just south of Duncan is amazing. You can feel your ears pop as you drive up!


Duncan BC is about the size of Orillia. A nice city with lots of downtown shops and culture.
Our house has a view of Mount Prevost and we are 10 minutes from the Ocean and Salt Spring Island. If we want something busier, Nanaimo is about a half hour away and the beautiful ocean-side city- and provincial capital, of Victoria is less than an hour. We strolled through the Empress Hotel and the grounds of the Provincial Parliament Buildings next door. There are palm trees in the harbour and a cherry tree was just coming out of bud- in Mid-February!

This move will be the biggest either my Husband or I have made- not counting Tom's trip from Germany to Canada in the first place.
It will be the biggest move we have ever made together.



Yes, it feels daunting and scary but we have no regrets.
Goodbyes will be difficult as we'll be closing the door to Pine Tree House for the last time.
We'll suck it up and look to the future.
It's all good.

Now we'll be 5 hours from one of our favourite places on earth- Honolulu. Australia looms closer but London and Paris will be a longer flight.
That was all considered as part of our decision to go but ultimately if we don't do it now- at this age, we'd probably just stay put.

So- Go West young men...and we are!




Saturday, February 4, 2017

ROBBLOG #615


2017.
It will be a year of change and renewal for my Husband Tom and I.

We have decided to do the pioneer thing and head west from our cozy century home here in Orillia, Ontario CANADA.!
Yessir...all the way to Vancouver Island, British Columbia, CANADA. As far west as one can get in this great land of ours.
Why move? Well, we are both retired and starting our "Seniorhood" and we would like to get away from the winters.

Living in a Mediterranean climate- such as one finds in the Cowichan Valley, will be a dream come true- and yes, there are Palm Trees and Mountains and an Ocean and tidal flats and spring bulbs and trees budding in late January.
A friend last week exclaimed: Palm trees in CANADA???
Yes, I assured her and showed photos.

I have been watching and learning about Vancouver Island for a couple of years. E-mailing, talking to folks and "Google Earthing". In fact I could drive from Victoria International Airport to our new home in the Cowichan Valley- without a map.

Before you say to me- but Rob, all that rain and cloud, check for yourself. The area where we hope to live has some rain. As an example- Victoria- BC's Capitol, has less rain than Toronto and Miami and the Cowichan Valley has 1/3 less rain than Victoria. I have been watching webcams for over two years now and I see a lot of sun.

There has been some snowfall this year and cold, leaving many residents of the Island gobsmacked- but that is unusual to be sure.

We have a huge list of what to do next but first and foremost is selling Pine Tree House. This has been a terrific home for Tom and I for almost 25 years.



Pine Tree House was built c.1882
We have papers and pictures from all those years ago and a history of the house from then until present day.
We have a triple car paved drive.
A double car garage with insulated workshop and storage loft.
A seven level deck from garage to back door to side yard. A pond.
A 10x10 garden shed that emulates Pine Tree House.
There are gardens on three sides of the house with a lot of approximately 100 x 95.
A verandah wraps itself around two sides of our historic home.

Inside two and one half baths including a master ensuite.
Three bedrooms and a laundry room/utility bath right at the back door. The washer and dryer are LG and front load. There's a utility sink with a French flavour.
We have 2 gas fireplaces. One in the parlour and one in the family room.
A Dining Room off the kitchen with built in oven. Stovetop and dishwasher. Double sink.
An upright refrigerator/freezer that has an ice cube maker- the best invention ever- and a reverse osmosis water dispenser
Hardwood floors downstairs. Carpeted stairs and landing.
One bedroom is laminate. One carpeted. The master has original pine flooring.
Upgraded Windows are shuttered or covered with two year old blinds- one with a remote.
The cellar- although not very tall- this is 1882 don't forget, is home to the high efficiency gas furnace, breaker panel, sump pump- again this is a c.1882 vintage home and central vac container.

The home lends itself to antiques and a quieter lifestyle. I love spending summers on the verandah overlooking Matchedash Street, North to the east and our gardens to the south.
This is what I will miss most about the "old girl". The back of the house sees western sun.

Have I left anything out?
Probably.
Swisssh Radio and Starlite Radio will make the journey as will this blog and of course our family of pets- two mini-schnauzers and two orange cats- both brothers.

Our Price tag?
Quite Reasonable....for a desirable Orillia, north ward location and heritage home.

Any takers?

Saturday, January 21, 2017

ROBBLOG #614


Note: I told myself I wasn't going to write anything more about the demise of my summer theatre company but something just got my "big boy" panties in a knot.
I know what you're saying-
Let it go Rob.
I will...
Soon.

The past two years I found myself busy getting shows ready for a new summer/fall season for Orillia Theatre/Double R Productions.

This new year there will be no new summer/fall season from our company and probably never will be again but I have a couple of questions and comments to make.

Where were Orillians who saw this week's "Orillia" shows at St Paul's Centre when 5 shows from Orillia Theatre/Double R Productions provided work for non-union actors and crews for the past 2 seasons? We didn't see most of you.

One show we produced even ran out of town during the time it was at the OCC in Orillia. A bold step to take for a small theatre company. We were also the first professional production to use the new St Paul's Centre stage. Maybe we just didn't get the word out there. Maybe people didn't understand what we were attempting to do- that being to give Orillia and tourists, a second Summer theatre company to choose from with more show choices.

The Importance of Being Earnest above and The Affections of May- below

Where were Orillia City councillors when Orillia Theatre/Double R Productions- a not for profit company needed support? A presence at the very least. We also raised funds for local not for profits including Couchiching Conservancy, Green Haven Shelter for Woman, Big Brothers Big Sisters and the Sharing Place Food Bank. We have now folded after 2 years of providing work for actors and crew due to small audiences and expenses.

We are happy to say we did get two $500 grants from the city- one each season, which we were very, very grateful for receiving. Still, it would have been nice to see "bums" in the seats. We thank our sponsors and advertisers. It couldn't have been done without you!
We thank the local media who granted us many freebies. We also spent our funds with that same Media which brought us little in return at our Box Office. We don't know why. Our shows were professionally produced and well-received by all audiences both local and out of town who attended. You should have seen and heard the accolades from audiences after each show.
They were delighted to say the least.

Instead of other theatre companies working with us and supporting us, we as a company- or at the very least me as Creative Director, was shunned. We sent theatre goers- even a bus or two, to other local productions when we didn't have a show on a particular day or were otherwise sold out. We were willing to work together.

This year in 2017 Orillia again only has one summer theatre company run by the city in a city-run facility. Orillia Theatre/Double R Productions has closed due to lack of audience support and funds- yet we provided a professional theatrical experience for not only our actors and crew but our terrific audiences. Out of town theatre-goers shopped in our stores, dined in Orillia restaurants and visited our tourist destinations.


All for Nun...The 2nd Coming- Top Sadie Flynn Comes to Big Oak- below
It was always an uphill battle to be a small, successful, not for profit theatre company and for that I am sad for Orillia Theatre and Double R Productions. Our success was due to everyone from cast and crew to our box office and promotion people. They all worked extremely hard.

It's hard not to take such a disappointment and failure personally- and I do.
It was time-consuming, tiring and stressful to produce our shows,
yet it was fun too and right now- I am missing that fun.
We tried our damndest... to be sure.

Original 2016 brochure printed before we moved Sadie Flynn to October 2016