It’s Valentine’s Day and it is the 9th one I have celebrated with my wife. Actually I married myself on July 20, 2012 and we /I have been deeply committed and in Love ever since. This Valentine’s Day I fell back in love with me. In the past 9 years, we have had heartbreaking losses, celebrated many wonderful occasions and we continue to discover and uncover and excavate who we are together. This year has been horrific – I lost my precious daughter Tovah to cancer during this pandemic. I was buried in my grief, confused, angry, heartbroken, lost, found, held, alone, not alone, supported, unsupported, scared so scared and at the same time hopeful.
At 58, I launched my website – 60 in the City (well almost) and now I am approaching my 65th birthday. My dream 7 years ago was to motivate womyn to believe that anything was possible, to believe that we are not our victim story, that we find Joy in the simplest things. I wrote about marrying myself, about a staycation in this fabulous city of Toronto. I wrote about traveling for free by working as you go. I wrote about my home – only 400 square feet. I wrote about my struggles with weight and with health issues, I wrote about things that confused me like people who don’t cook or older womyn who think they are invisible. I wrote as I traveled sharing my adventures. I wrote about my grief. This past year I have been writing letters to my granddaughter Harper Rose. I’m writing her because it fills my heart but also because I am afraid that I will forget as I age – that I will forget the fun and the stories that we are sharing together.
This weekend I found my personal beauty again – pandemic hair, a healing eye and all. I put on red lipstick. I put on makeup. I polished my nails. I got dressed just for zoom. It is a weekend Kohenet (Hebrew Priestess) retreat. It has been a long time since I saw myself in that light. Being able to look in the mirror and smile and see me as I see me – feeling beautiful, confident and content. I have been looking in the mirror everyday for about 10 days and saying a positive mantra and a series of things that I am blessing including my eye and my medical situation. For 2 ½ months I have been dealing with the retina of my left eye that has detached 3 times causing significant scarring. I had to position in bed for more than 3 weeks – first on my right side, next face down and this last time face down or facing right. “Bless my left eye, bless my medical situation and ending with I am ALREADY healed, happy, loving, wealthy, successful, confident, physically and emotionally well. This is my affirmation.” Every day I felt a sense of joy and well-being returning to me.
It is October 10, 2020 and tomorrow you will be 16 months old. Your Mommy got sick and had to leave us just months ago. I have been helping to take care of you and now Daddy is back at work and we have been together 5 days a week from 7am until 5pm. These are the most precious hours of every day for me. I love you so much.
We are having a lot of fun together – we laugh a lot, hug a lot and there are a lot of kisses!! Yummmm!! We often take a car ride to parks and sometimes take a social distance walk with friends.
This week you learned to smell – your favourite book is Pat the Bunny and you like to smell the flowers on one of the pages. You can read this book on your own because you know it so well. Pat the bunny, peek a boo, smell the flowers, look in the mirror and read the book. We found a candle that I gave your Mommy on a shelf behind a picture and you loved the smell so much, you licked it. It’s Spartaberry from Sparta Candles and I absolutely love the scent too. At the park you were picking and smelling flowers.You love Peek-a-boo. It’s sure to make you smile and laugh. You have a few other favourites and these past few days you really want to read a lot.
You learned to colour this week. I have started a craft basket for you. You like to hold a few crayons at time after you empty out the whole the box, colour a bit while watching me closely and then you start putting the crayons back in the box. I think you are learning some tidying up tricks from your Bubby because you like to take things out of their storage box and then put them back. You are learning early that Bubby doesn’t like clutter. Your favourite things are your musical instruments, your Lego Duplo blocks, your crayons and sketch pad, books, your toy kitty that meows and walks, and that Bunny that sings “Do Your Ears Hang Low”. You like to help me fold the laundry and put clothes in your dresser drawers. Yesterday you took the laundry basket and started up the stairs with it. You are my best Helper!!
Auntie Paula went to the Rosetta McLean park with you and I this week. When we got home there were 2 parcels at the door and Auntie Paula asked you if you could pick them up for Bubby. You bent down, picked them up and carried them into the house and then passed them to me. You are so clever my little bunny. You understand everything. When I ask if you are hungry, you head to your high chair. Is your diaper wet? You head to your change table. Ready to go out? Off you go the door? Want to play downstairs? You go to the basement door. Outdoor shoes? Indoor shoes? You sit down to get them on. Well you usually start putting them on yourself. Want to watch cartoons? You sit in your arm chair and get comfortable. I am so proud of you as you learn and learn and learn!!
We had our first music class this season with Josie from “Music Together”. Thanks Josie so much for gifting us this session. When you were a teeny baby Mommy took you to their Sticks program and this time we are in the Bongo one. Fun!!! You love to dance and now are learning to sing too, In the tub you line your little fish up and then get them to dance and you sing do, do, do (Baby Shark). Unfortunately Auntie Raya says Bubby does not have the correct melody or beat down but we don’t care and Auntie is promising to buy us the CD! Your Mommy loved to dance to all kinds of music. Auntie Raya remembers her always dancing and singing. Leanne remembers Mommy dancing as she got ready to go out and then when she arrived at the party. Jasmin told Bubby “YES she loved to dance!!! Whether it was being silly and singing in the kitchen, lip syncing in the car, or dancing while laying in bed with her legs in the air! Also had so much fun getting all dressed up and dancing at night clubs (back in the day! Ha!). So many memories dancing together.” One New Year’s Eve Mommy’s wish for everyone was Health,Happiness and Dancing. She’d be very happy to see you dancing and singing. We will do more and more. There are so many videos of Mommy dancing for us to watch together.
You are getting a new molar this week and you weren’t feeling 100 percent yesterday. When you woke from your nap you cried out but when I came into your room, you wanted a bit more lounging time so I sat in the big rocking lounger and we chatted. You had rosie cheeks. You have a mouthful of teeth and a couple of molars already but there are more to come. We had a lot of extra snuggles and cuddles and a more subdued chat with Auntie Raya. One of your favourite things is a video chat with Auntie Raya. It is guaranteed to bring on big smiles and lots of kisses to the screen.
Last week you peed on the potty. Bubby was so excited that I told everyone and even made a Facebook post. We sing “Openings” the new release by our friend Shoshanah Jedwab and “Pee Pee on the Potty” which may be a Bubby original but probably not. Shoshana even mentioned us at her launch party on zoom. You peed on the potty again this week as well as once on the playroom floor. That’s okay -we have plenty of cloths, water and soap for cleaning it up.
You love your food – your Mommy loved good food and so does your Bubby. Since Daddy went back to work, he has been making a big container of berries and grapes. If you see the container, you want some. It’s your favourite. You love FRESH fruit and vegetables the most. We went apple picking with Auntie Raya, Uncle Ben and Oscar and you LOVE apples a lot. If you have one – you eat it all up non stop!! Probably sweet potatoes are your most favourite vegetable and this month you have had cauliflower, broccoli, zucchini, celery, red peppers, mushrooms, and spaghetti squash. You like peanut butter toast a lot, oatmeal with blueberries, oatmeal pancakes, cottage cheese, plain yogurt, eggs ( egg salad, hard boiled, fried, scrambled with cheese). You love muffins – even the almond ones I overcooked and you love the cornbread muffins from Aunt Paula and the banana blueberry ones from Gramma. When we visited Auntie Raya for Rosh Hashana you had so many delicious foods that she made for you and you loved it all.
Daddy and I are determined to teach you what we mean when we say NO but you are pretty strong willed so we have our work cut out for us. We don’t want you climbing up the stairs on your own or going on to the road when we are walking even though that gravel is soooooooo tempting. You are strong willed like your Mommy. At the same time you have her sweet, loving and kind ways. You have her quick and beautiful smile and your eyes light up and sparkle like hers did. You are so clever and show us you have a mind of your own. We will all teach you that you can do anything you set your mind to.
Harper Rose Vered – I love you soooooooooooooooo much.
For the past 5 days I have been pet sitting in a beautiful home in Puerto Penasco. This is the kind of home you just move into – fall in love with the dog, then the house and the lifestyle. I have enjoyed every minute here and it’s hard to believe that I got paid for the experience. Yup, pet sitting is awesome.
First you have to meet Kaiser – he is an adorable, loving and gentle German Shepherd. His hip hurts and he and I both take our time on the stairs. I usually put my hand on his hip as he struggles up the stairs. He patiently waits for me on the landing on the way down. I have fallen in love. No matter where I am, he is nearby and it is the most amazing feeling. When he’s bored, he comes over and gives me a nudge. He might just want a pat and a little scratch, sometimes we go outside and walk around the property, sometimes I refill his water bowl (he drinks about 2 litres a day) – he just needs a little reassurance that he is loved and cared for or – maybe he thinks that I do.
Kaiser was a rescue and he does get anxious sometimes. Neighbours have been shooting off fireworks and there was also a big display over the water this past weekend. I am not a fan of fireworks either. He gets as close as he can when this happens and his parents also give him a prescribed tincture of CBD oil.
I am starting to think that I would enjoy fostering a dog when I am back in Toronto. Every house I have been in since September has had a dog or dogs and I find that I absolutely love being around them. I drew an angel card the other day that told me to find my spirit animal – I am pretty sure it’s dogs. They are so loving and loyal. I am going to miss Kaiser the most and I am hoping his Mom and Dad will keep me abreast of what he is up to.
I am so grateful for this delicious experience in Puerto Penasco, Mexico. This is what semi-retirement looks like.
This adventure of mine starts in Puerto Penasco – also known as Rocky Point, Mexico. It is a border town and located about 4 hours from Phoenix, Arizona, U.S.A. It is referred to as Phoenix’s beach. The town is full of people from Arizona. It is a desert situated on the shores of the Sea of Cortez. I guess that makes it an oasis. I remember learning about deserts and oases (had to google the plural form) in grade 4. I can actually picture my drawing of an oasis in my notebook.
I am here on a work exchange – room and board in exchange for helping with the family’s AirBnb business. I am responsible for some online editing and some property management. My exchange is with the sister of a close friend of mine in Canada.
I arrived here in mid November – the same weekend as the famous Rocky Point Bike Rally. During the rally the population almost doubles with over 10,000 bikes and 60,000 tourists I am told. My host and I were selling tequila with a friend of hers to raise money for a children’s charity. I made a few new friends and also heard lots of rock music. This is the beginning of the winter or off season. The water is cooling down and only the bravest are swimming now.
The weather is not hot but it is also not humid and the sun is bright and warms up the air every afternoon. The temperature is usually in the mid twenties in the afternoon and night lows around 10 celcius. There are small trees with bright and beautiful flowers but a lot of this town dusty, dirty and impoverished. It is the reality of a Mexican border town.
There a few very posh developments here with huge homes that are mostly owned by Americans. There are condominium developments too. I attended a brunch that was a fundraising event in one of those areas – about 75 mostly American women paying $20 USD for brunch and bidding on silent auction items and raffles to raise money for a women’s shelter in Puerto Penasco. One item went for over $600.
I am living in the old part of the town on a dusty unpaved road that leads to the beach. The street is about 1.5 kilometres long. I make this walk a few times a day often bringing the family dog, Cilantro. There are many dogs in every house and they come out to greet me as I walk – barking loudly and running towards me. Many, many Chihuahuas. Actually one of my new friends adopted a little one before returning to the states. Meet Lara.
Often Cilantro (the house dog where I am staying, will block the barking neighbour dogs from getting to me or distract them. He is such a sweet, quiet fellow – I love him. The only time I hear him bark is when a stranger is around the property at night and he also howls at the whistle of the train as it crosses through the town around 2a.m. every night. A- woooooooooo!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
There isn’t much to do here especially in the off-season. There are a few bars, many restaurants, an American legion and not much else. I don’t enjoy spending time in bars and I am not one to eat out that often. That is for both financial and health reasons. I heard there is a bingo game in a bar somewhere. (not interested in that either). I was thinking of volunteering to tutor English in the women’s shelter but now I am leaving early so I won’t be able to.
I’ve eaten out only a few times. This week I had the enormous Wednesday special at the German KaufeeHaus. It was very good – salad, ham steak on a bed of creamy sauerkraut, a German sausage and meatball with a big helping of mashed potatoes along with two thick slices of homemade rye bread twith sage in it. Too much food but the change I needed from Mexican cuisine and my own home cooking. The price was a very reasonable 165 pesos which is less than $10 in both US and Canadian currency. They have a huge breakfast menu as well with so many kinds of omelettes. It would take you an hour to choose one, I think.
Bryan’s Sports Bar is another popular place that has specials on different days and on Thursday there is a pasta special and a drink for $5 USD. I ate there on my first night in town. We arrived at 9pm and went directly to Bryan’s for a quick meal. I had linguine and shrimp in an Alfredo sauce. Yummmm. This is a shrimp town and shrimp is easy to find and will run you about 100 pesos for a half kilo. It’s fresh and big and absolutely delicious. I cooked some the first week I was here and promise to do that a few more times before I leave.
There are several big, luxurious hotels in town but I honestly have not been to any so I am not able to give an opinion. There are many AirBnb listings and I have been helping with 10 of them. I really can recommend the properties owned and operated by my hosts Rita and Tommy. They are clean and well kept and offer good value for your $$$. Check out the many options on AirBnb or on the website Welcome to Go2 Rocky Point or click here.
I’ve been in Puerta Penasco for over 2 weeks . It’s time for me to discover this town – figure out on my own how to get around and how to direct our guests in the AirBnb properties.
I’ve gone on several walks in a variety of directions (don’t ask how far I get) but I now have a much better sense of where I am and where many of the main streets are. I started driving this past weekend. In Mexico you can purchase a car insurance on your driver’s licence for $90 USD that gives you liability insurance on any vehicle that you drive.
Walking to town
This isn’t my first rodeo. I’ve worked and lived in Greece and Israel/Palestine. I’ve had to learn my way around Haifa, Jerusalem, Tel Aviv and the West Bank. Also in Greece in Athens, Pireaus, Aghios Nickolas and other places on the island of Crete. I often travel on my own with poor language skills. It’s an adventure that I truly love.
So now here I am in Mexico – in this small town of Puerta Penasco with a population of just over 60,000. Puerto Peñasco, also known as Rocky Point, is a Mexican fishing and resort city on the Sea of Cortez. It’s known for the dune-backed Sandy Beach and Bahía la Choya’s tidal pools. Neither of which I have seen yet. I am looking forward to whale and dolphin watching.
For the past week, I’ve walked to the beach about a kilometre from the house and from there a little to the left and the right along the sand. The rest of the time I have been in a vehicle with someone else driving and it’s really hard for me to get a sense of where we’re going. I have to go on my own and get lost a few times. I don’t have data on my mobile phone so I need to get directions for where I am going before I leave the house. I now have a little tourist map in my bag.
I have been planning this trip for quite sometime now and it has just come to fruition. The dream was a winter out of the snow and somewhere near salt water, sand and sunshine. I am only semi-retired and not independently wealthy so there was a financial challenge to overcome. Hmmmmmmmmmmmmmm…..how to have it all????
I questioned my friends and acquaintances, scoured websites, and sent my prayers out to the Universe. I’ve been very intrigued with the concept of Workaway. Take a look at their website – so many opportunities around the world. In the end, I found an opportunity through a good friend of my mine with her sister in Mexico. For the next 4 months, I will be volunteering in Rocky Point, Mexico helping with their AirBnb business. Check it out here.
The first hurdle was to get there without spending a lot of money. Travelling across the USA for free. There had to be a way. I found it with Toronto Drive-Away Service. I applied online in September and heard back from them promptly. Early in October they gave me my assignment. I drove a brand new Honda CRV to Fort Myers, Florida for a couple of elderly snow birds.
It was a great adventure – driving across country on my own with the radio cranked high singing to the Beatles and a variety of 60’s music and other pop era’s. Yowza!!! This is not for the faint of heart. I hit every type of weather – lots of rain on and off, snow in West Virginia for a few kilometers, bright and blinding sunshine and then absolutely torrential rain on I-75 just a half hour from my hotel. It was terrifying as traffic slowed to nothing and no one could see. I quickly exited the highway and waited it out in a parking lot.
I drove 12 hours on day one and spent the night at the Holiday Inn Suites in Beckley, West Virginia that I easily booked on Hotwire and left a 5 star review on Yelp. I slept well and was up and on my way to Athens, Georgia very early the next morning. I arrived there 6 hours later. I spent a lovely day with my friend and mentor, left my luggage and drove another 12 hours to Fort Myers the next morning. Spent the night at the Hyatt Suites, met the couple (whose car I was) delivering at an airport shuttle office, took the shuttle over to Southwest’s Terminal and flew to Athens an hour and half later. Read my reviews of the Hyatt Suites and Southwest Airlines on Yelp.
Choosing what to pack and how to limit my luggage took lots of my brain power. I need warm clothes for the drive down and for my stay in March in Connecticut, boots and water shoes, clothes for being around the stables and clothes for fun, clothes for meeting clients………….I love my clothes. I had to limit myself to luggage I could manage solo and also the limitations of the airlines.
I know this is the time for me – time to get healthier, face my fears head on, ramp up the adventure meter and experience something new everyday. There’s no stopping me now.
I am so intrigued by all the opportunities to work online and to work away. I have been exploring these possibilities for quite a while now. I am so inspired by friends who have chosen to work abroad teaching and others who are house sitting, pet sitting, renting out their own places, doing home exchanges and more. I was fortunate to live in the Middle East for 2 years teaching English and writing grants for a few non-governmental organizations. I also had a chance to work on a project in Greece for 6 months. These opportunities were private ones that I found but if are considering house or pet sitting you might want to check out TrustedHousesitters.
Did you ever watch the film “The Holiday” with Cameron Diaz and Kate WInslett ? The lead characters advertise online for a house swap. Watch the trailer here. Maybe it will inspire the adventurer inside you? Check out HomeExchange.
My plan for retirement is to put these many ideas into practice. The list of possibilities is endless. I am hoping that we will continue to add to the list and share our successes and failures.
I have been teaching English as a second language online for a few years now. I really enjoy it and find it is quite simple and very satisfying. Many companies like the one I work for provide the entire lesson plan so that there is minimal preparation. I have been working as a supply teacher up to now and just this week began with ongoing classes. Previously (before retirement) my income from teaching was just a supplement to a regular salary but now I am more dependent on it. Here is a link to many online teaching jobs.
Need to rent out your home? There are countless ideas from AirBnB to countless Facebook groups and also SabbaticalHomes . You will probably find more on Craigslist and Kijiji as well. However, it is important to do your homework, that means research and asking questions. This is as complicated or even more complicated than online dating. Be careful, be smart, be diligent. I suggest asking friends for recommendations and using sites that offer ratings on both the traveller and the advertiser.
It is a good idea to join groups of travellers which you will find on Facebook and other social media platforms.
The ideas are only limited to your imagination. Dare to dream. Where would go? What have you done?
editor’s note: We are not endorsing any of the mentioned websites. These are simply ideas to get you started.