Posted by: annielori | September 23, 2009

Becoming a Winter Texan

It is officially autumn in Alberta… and summer temperatures have finally hit. Maybe we’ll get fall weather in the winter. Hmmm. Which means I probably didn’t need a winter place in Texas if it won’t be cold. Hmmm…. But who am I kidding, of course there will be cold and snow this winter… This is ALBERTA!

I hate Winter! Always have, always will. I am a warm-weather person through and through. And as I get older, the snow, cold and horribly DRY Alberta winters have been playing havoc with my health. I’m hoping that my winter health becomes a whole lot better by leaving our dry winter weather… My sinus/ear specialist says it should work wonders for me, ‘cause yes, I’m one of those people that suffer terribly in this climate. I NEED humidity!

The Texas Gulf Coast and Rio Grande Valley has lots of humidity, and warm winters. YAH! We spent Christmas there with Shan and Josh in 2007.

South Padre Island, Christmas 2007

Our new winter place is in Victoria Palms Resort, 15 minutes away from the Mexican border and about a 45-minute drive to the beaches on South Padre Island… We have visited the area a couple of times in the past and love it. Texas is very friendly and reminds me a lot of southern Alberta… Well, except for the Palm trees and cactus.

We bought our place in a gated, secure, 55+ community. Our house is a double-wide manufactured home on a very residential street. We lease the lot and personally own everything on it, ie house, shed, deck, etc. About 65% of the people that own or bring in their big motorhomes/Fifthwheels each winter are from Canada. And the owner of the park is a Canadian from B.C. He owns 3 parks in the Valley and is well-known for supplying the best maintenance and facilities. Victoria Palms is beautiful, has a very residential feel and the common facilties are extensive. We should NEVER get bored when we’re “officially” retired. LOL

Our new home in Victoria Palms Resort, Donna, TX

Dwight and I are heading down Christmas Day (‘cause that’s when I could get the Airmiles flights). Dwight will come back home after 2 weeks, and I will be staying through Easter. Then Dwight is coming back for 2 weeks in February, then again for a week at Easter to help me close up.

We decided to move on the place now while we are both working, and can afford to buy it. Plus the CDN dollar is up and the crappy economy meant some good deals were available on this type of property. We spent a whirlwind September week in Texas looking at about 20 homes — and this was after narrowing down the list beforehand by dealing over the summer with Brian Macpherson, our home sales guy who actually lives year-round at Victoria Palms. We saw a lot of pictures online, then needed to see the potential places in person. You just don’t know what you’re getting until you actually walk through the door.

We stayed onsite for the week in a one-bedroom condo, right at the Resort, which has the hotel as one of the amenities. And not surprisingly, we’ve already made friends with the year-rounders we met at the Labor Day pot luck and Friday night Karoke. What fun!

Having the Texas place now, means we’ll give up the Christmas and Winter vacations we’ve been taking the past few years and roll the travel money into this place instead. When all is said and done, my 3 months and Dwight’s 5 weeks will cost about the same as those 2 vacations. And now we have a true 2nd home to spend 5-6 months in once Dwight officially retires from SAIT in 4 years.

Even though he only gets vacation time for the next few years, I swear Dwight is more excited that we bought this place than me. He was the real push behind the buy. I think those winter vacations were exchausting him instead of being relaxing. He can’t wait to sit on his own deck and NOT run his ass off for 2 weeks for non-stop vacation go-go-go!

I’m just glad that it’ll be a hell of a lot easier for me to have a dedicated place to work, ‘cause I never left that at home when we went on those winter vacations… My office always comes with me. I’m setting up the 3rd bedroom as my studio and will work while there. Plus, being in Texas is gonna make it a lot easier to make my business trips to see clients in Charlotte, NC and New York City.

We’ve thought about renting the place when we’re not there, but given I will be in-residence from mid-December through the end of March, that only really leaves October, November and April. The region gets it’s hottest weather from May-September… We never had below 35-39C the week we were there. It was HOTTTT! Of course, if I find I don’t like to be alone down there for that long a time without the hubby around, renting it out may become an option.🙂

So, this is the upcoming test winter and I’m getting very excited. Well, other than the work that is gonna be involved getting the place set up as a home. On Christmas Day we walk in the door to an empty house… And I mean EMPTY! We have bought a furniture package that we’ll arrange to have delivered on Boxing Day… But we need EVERYTHING else… Kitchen stuff, bedding, TV, etc. We have a lot of shopping to do the first few days after we arrive. Good thing the Christmas sales will be on!

And now I’d better get to work. Need to pay for the place… and that other stuff!

Posted by: annielori | February 5, 2009

25 Random Things About Me…

I was tagged by a facebook friend to complete this random list, which I posted as a note on my facebook page. Figured I’d also put it here for posterity…

————-

Rules: Once you’ve been tagged, you are supposed to write a note with 25 random
things, facts, habits, or goals about you. At the end, choose 25 people to be tagged.
You have to tag the person who tagged you. If I tagged you, it’s because I want to
know more about you.

Some of these things were covered in a blog entry awhile back, but I’ll reiterate them here anyway…

1. First and foremost… I an an anal perfectionist. But you already knew that.🙂

2. I hate crooked pictures, to the extent that I velcro the bottom of picture frames onto the wall so they will not move.

3. I am a middle child, with all the personality issues that come with being a middle child. If you are a middle child, you know what I am talking about.

4. I think we have a ghost in our current house. He likes to ring doorbells and screw around with the microwave, furnace and fridge.

5. My graphic design studio is situated in my home. I love working from home and will sometimes not get dressed until noon, just because I don’t have to. I wear sheepskin slippers as my work shoes.

6. My husband and I have been married for over 30 years. We met in high school and were engaged before I graduated grade 12.

7. I am a workaholic. I only take one official vacation each year (at Christmas). The rest of the time I haul the portable office with me, and work from wherever I happen to end up.

8. I have one child, my daughter Shannon. She is perfect. I tell people that the reason we don’t have more children is because we didn’t want a dud the second time around. It’s true.

9. I smoked for years and went through addiction-level nicotine withdrawal over a 2-year period in order to quit. I am now a smoker’s worst nightmare.

10. I am completely deaf in my right ear… the result of sticking a tiny pearl bead in my ear when I was 3 years old. Because of the size of the hole in my eardrum, I cannot put my head underwater as the water goes straight down my throat. I could drown through my ear. Really.

11. I have no middle joint in my right hand baby finger. Which meant I learned to type with 9 fingers instead of 10. I also look very dainty holding a teacup.

12. I had Lasik eye surgery on both my eyes and was thrilled to death when I was able to give up wearing pop-bottle glasses after 40 years.

13. I am an avid reader of my daily horoscope and have found that they come true 90% of the time. It’s rather spooky.

14. I love playing Scrabble, even though I lose more than I win.

15. As a child, and through my teenage years, I was a complete klutz. I broke both thumbs and all but 2 fingers. I also broke my collarbone twice, in the same place. I also suffered from juvenile arthritis in my knees as a teenager. My knees are still bad.

16. I love buying, reading and collecting hardcover books. I also like reading “series” books because I hate having a good story end.

17. I read Stephen King books when I travel. Even when I travel alone. I buy these books as paperbacks, due to the travel factor.

18. I am a typographer from way back, and was in the typesetting business for 20 years, prior to evolving into a graphic designer.

19. I am a Macintosh person, even though I am fluent in PC land as well. I am a geek.

20. I love buying furniture and decorating my house.

21. I hate cold Canadian winters and dry Calgary winter air. I will move to the humid coast as soon as Dwight retires.

22. All my best friends seem to live far away. Thank god for facebook.

23. I write everything important that happens over the course of a day in my Daytimer. This has been going on for over 25 years now. The family calls the books “My Life”.

24. I am very organized. I love working with databases. I am good at accounting.

25. I need at least 8 hours of sleep every night… 10 hours if I can get it. And I must sleep all in one stretch. I’m not a napping person.

And now I’m done… that was easy!

Posted by: annielori | January 5, 2009

Adventures in Travel continued… Christmas 2008

When I make an Adventures in Travel blog entry it’s usually to describe the ridiculous events we go through — this time I actually have some positive to report. And it all happened on December 30th as we were heading home from our Christmas Cruise & Vacation in the southern Caribbean.

I don’t think we were overly surprised when arriving at the San Juan, Puerto Rico airport on Tuesday morning, to find that our flight was being delayed. I thought it was rather stupid, however, that our flight was the ONLY flight delayed… all others on the departure board were on schedule. Given our track record, the delay was obviously OUR fault.😛

Turns out, the pilot scheduled to bring our plane from Tampa got sick and another pilot needed to be found to get the plane to San Juan… hence the 2.5 hour delay. Given we only had a 3 hour layover in Dallas to make our connection to the Calgary flight, we had pretty much given up hope of making it home that day, even before we got to the counter to drop our luggage.

The agent at the counter didn’t think we had much hope either and prepared us to expect an overnight in Dallas, as the next flight to Calgary would not leave until 10:10 the following morning. Dwight and I have learned to pretty much take what life throws at us, so we just laughed it off, made the best of a bad situation and were grateful that at least it wasn’t going to be a 6 am flight… we’d get a good night’s sleep anyway. Plus I’d packed the toiletry bag in the carry-on for just this eventuality, so at least we’d be able to brush our teeth in the morning!

I think the agent was rather amazed at our attitude. So much so, we got both breakfast and lunch food vouchers to tide us over at the San Juan airport while we waiting. She also got us the bulkhead exit seats, right behind first class… which means LOTS of extra leg room and first out position in the economy cabin. Very impressive, I thought!

We touched down in Dallas at 6:25 pm, just 15 minutes before our 6:40 pm Calgary flight was supposed to leave.

Turns out there were 14 of us needing to make the Calgary connection, all grouped together near the front of the plane. We would need to RUN from Terminal C to Terminal D, up and down escalators and using the tramway to get there. I didn’t think we had any hope in hell of pulling it off. We were told our pilot had tried to get us a Terminal D entry to Dallas to help us out, but couldn’t pull it off. We appreciated his trying.

As we were pulling up to the gate, the flight attendant came on the loudspeaker and asked all the other passengers to please stay in their seats so that the 14 Calgary passengers could deplane first. We were told to look for the AA rep in the green vest as we exited the plane –I assumed in the terminal itself.

Turns out the lady was right outside the plane’s door! We were ushered down the utility stairs at the side of the plane and a bus was waiting for us on the tarmack. Also there was the baggage crew supervisor, who started organizing his guys to start digging our bags out of the hold FIRST. He yelled over to us that he would guarantee our bags made it to Calgary with us! We laughed and wished him luck with that!

Once all 14 Calgary passengers were on the bus, our driver whisked us around the tarmack from one terminal to the other, driving up to the freight elevator right beside our departing plane’s gate. Another AA rep was waiting for us in the elevator and all 14 of us (along with our carry-on luggage) were loaded in and whipped up to the gangway area right behind the terminal gate desk.

Waiting there, was a customs/security agent to check our boarding passes and passports, as we were now boarding an international flight. We were hustled into our seats on the plane exactly 15 minutes after we had deplaned the San Juan flight!

The plane was held for another 20 minutes while our baggage was loaded onto the new plane, and when all was said and done, the Dallas flight left only 30 minutes behind schedule! The final bonus was arriving in Calgary and having ALL our luggage come FIRST onto the baggage claim.

It was truly amazing to me that AA jumped through all those hoops to get us home. We’ve travelled a lot over the last couple of years and have had some “hell” experiences, I’ve gotta tell ya. Not this time though.

I will absolutely make a point of flying American Airlines again in the future!

Posted by: annielori | December 2, 2008

The Banana Republic of Canada

I’m a Conservative. Always have been. Always will be.

I voted Conservative in the last election. They won. It may be a minority government, but they won none-the-less.

It completely disgusts me that the Liberals, NDP and Block are banding together to try and force a coalition government. It is nothing short of a political coup. What are we, some third-world banana republic?

For the first time in my life I have been disgusted enough by a Canadian political event to actually send an “email letter” to the Canadian political party leaders. It might not do any good, but at least my opinion will become part of the federal record.

Harper, Dion, Layton and Duceppe all got the same email.

————-

As Canadian citizens and voters, we performed our democratic rights in October and helped vote in a Conservative Government. We did not vote for NDP, Liberal, Block or any other political party.

It is a sad state of affairs when the great country of Canada could allow a coup to overthrow its elected government. And who in their right mind honestly thinks the coalition parties can “work together”. It’s nothing short of ridiculous. The Block are separatists, yet they would hold the balance of power. What a disgusting situation this would create.

We DO NOT support a coalition government and its destruction of Canada’s system of government.

DWIGHT & LORI McKAGUE
————————————————-
Calgary, AB, Canada T3K 5G2
Email: lori.mckague@typewise.ca
————————————————-

Posted by: annielori | November 4, 2008

Mo JOSH Mo!

Go JOSH… you’re a rather hairy fellow… you should end up with a pretty impressive mo!

Movember - Sponsor Me

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