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Monday, July 27, 2015

25 Days to Departure!!!

OMGG!!!  I still don't believe this is happening!  I'm thinking I've made the final payment on my tours etc, at least I pray so!  I've my suitcase and most of my clothes so now can pack and check the weight etc.  Just to get all my tickets or vouchers for the flights, hotels, tours etc and find a safe way to store them.  Then to get my final itinerary and prepare my copies for family and friends.   Maybe then I can relax???

I pray this trip turns out AWESOME and that I totally enjoy it from start to finish and can't wait to meet my friends enroute.   See you soon!

Saturday, July 11, 2015

41 Days to My Dream Trip!!!

OMGG I just can't believe this is coming up so fast!!!  Not sure why, cause my retirement came and went with a blink of my eyelids it seems to be!  Yep it's 6 weeks and I still can't believe I did that either!!!  LOL!  But it no longer feels like I'm on vacation, it's sunk in I'm done for now at least!  LOL!!!

So hopefully soon I'll have my confirmed itinerary and then can get copies to those family and friends who want to keep tabs on me!  It'll sure be an adventure for me but I'm praying it will be a good and safe one and I'll come home from Down Under with tonnes of memories, friendships and pictures to keep me smiling for years to come!

For those who would like to follow me maybe more often than I get a chance to blog, if I can get internet connections that is, I'll post a picture and brief comment on my Twitter account @stitches_lots of each day.  At least I'll try!

Friday, July 10, 2015

My 60th Birthday!!!

OK not only did I finally pull the pin and "RETIRE" but I planned my retirement celebration on my 60th birthday too!!!  I decided a while ago that I just may never get married so this was going to be my big shebang - retirement and a birthday celebration all in one!!!  So I worked on a guest list for both - one for the formal retirement in the afternoon and a second casual sit down supper in the evening.  It was kinda hard to figure out who to invite as I was restricted to a number both budget and location wise - but it too worked out.  There were 41 invited and 39 actually made it - WOW!!!  For this evening event I just wanted a dinner that was like a party and requested no gifts - just fun!!!

So with Yvonne and John's arrival on Saturday, Eileen and Bruce had invited them and myself over Sunday for supper which was AWESOME and entertaining and I totally forgot to pull out the camera to record it!!!  DUH!!!  I was flying so high I just didn't think of it.  And then Eileen brought out the ice cream cake and they sang to me - naturally me in tears!!!  I love them dearly!!!

Then Monday morning I met Yvonne and John for breakfast at Cora's and boy that was a smart move.  It was a very good choice of place and decision as I didn't get to eat until later that evening - I was just running on extra adrenaline and didn't stop for lunch.  LOL!  We had a leisurely meal and a pleasant visit along with a couple of gifts too!

After the formal reception I had arranged for a Limousine Service to pick Barb and myself up in a Towne Car (not the stretch) and deliver us to the supper event and later pick us up and take us both home.  I think that was the easiest decision I made that night and very thankful for it.  The car was very clean and fresh smelling - actually leather scented - not like regular taxis - well worth the expense (will do so for my midnight arrival from my trip too).

First off Thank You to the Pony Corral @ 1700 Pembina Hwy for accommodating my requests and for the AWESOME service provided.  And to Yvonne for the lovely Irish Blessing to start us off.  The two waitresses were kept busy from start to finish and I've heard nothing but positive comments on the food, service and location - so I was very pleased.

It was also great to have Barb and others assist to help get the tables dressed with the special dinner menus they provided and the trivia quiz on "How Well Do You Know Rose Anne" laminated placemats prepared by coworker Karen and her summer student Raegan.  It sure kept everyone entertained and chatting amongst themselves trying to figure it out.  And naturally having Tom run the Tree of Life presentation he made for me during dinner - just lovely!
My guests from both ends of the long table.
Friends:  Darlene, Shirley, John and Yvonne, and Bruce and Angela
Meaghan and John - Jan, Michelle and Wally

Family:  Pat, Randy, Byran, Amanda and Justin;
Trevor and Janine

Tommy T and June

From what I could tell the meal choices I made were well received and enjoyed along with some cheers too!  It was awesome to grab time here and there with all present and also hear how friends and family chatted with virtual strangers next to them.  Lovely!

All I can say is my family and friends don't listen to me very well!!!  LOL!  See I was not only surrounded with their hugs and well wishes but many more gifts too!  Some were noted for my trip, so will have to ensure that is put into the Holiday account.  The other point I know is that I was flying high all day and even with the helium balloon bursting later at night didn't even burst my bubble.  I was still going strong Tuesday at work but then crashed later that evening.  But not for long!  Yes this was one heck of a birthday celebration!!!  Then naturally Barb and I toasted my retirement on my last day!
Various personal gifts received from family and friends!

My last day of work plus my only duplicate card from all received.

Yes we were commiserating together!!!

My Retirement Reception

Well it finally arrived and what a start to the wonderful day!!!  See Yvonne and John from Mississauga arrived on Saturday to visit with other friends here before attending my reception at the Legislative Building on Monday afternoon, May 25th.  There were a couple of glitches in the arrangements requested for the party but overall it worked out.  I just would not recommend another function at this place if asked for suggestions!

Needless to say I was still running around at 11:30 picking up various items for the event but I was ready with some of my quilting projects on display and with the committee help the room was also ready for the reception.  There were many co-workers, retirees, friends and family members who made this day so extra special for me.  Even one of my Managers from the late 70s and a Director from the 80s attended - WOW!!!  Thank you to all!!!

Gerry T from the 70s - Janet and Bob more recent Managers

Heather earlier on Director - Greg from the 90s and Scott my last Director
The Three Mouseketeers, Joan P, myself and Evelyn M,
as Greg called his secretarial staff.
Family:  Len & Sylvia with Pat - Erlene and Florence 

Doreen with April - Friends:  Yvonne, Barb, Angela and Eileen

It started off with an hour of mingling and partaking of the cheese, crackers and veggie platters along with the lovely chocolate cake Barb brought for the event.  Tom prepared a lovely Tree of Life slide presentation that ran during the event with the pictures I sent to him and he tried to get pictures of all who arrived but in the end we both missed out on four major pictures I really wanted.  Guess I should have had a checklist on that and double checked on what was taken before the event ended.  Oh well I do have some lovely memories that I hope I won't forget!!!  There was also a trivia quiz "How Well Do You Know Rose Anne" prepared by coworker Karen and her summer student Raegan - kept a few entertained along with the clothing and hair styles over the years!

Halfway through the two hour event the speeches started with Sandy Derrett, my Ag. Policy Manager, welcoming all and providing some of the basics before Dori Gingera-Beauchemin our Deputy Minister presented my Meritorious Award for 41 years, 9 months, 15 days employment with Manitoba Agriculture (it seems I messed up on the number of years and a few picked up on that).  Then Mike Lesiuk, who started in the early days of my tenure as a summer student and worked his way up to Manager, then Director and now our Assistant Deputy Minister, presented me with the Departmental gifts (my custom picture of sunflowers, keyboard cover for my tablet and a gift certificate for Mountain Equipment Coop for a daypack for my trip).  I expected to maybe get a bit "roasted" by Mike but I must say it was lovely with a bit of mischief slipping in.  Following this my Director, Scott Stothers, spoke a bit on our short but sweet phase together and both Sandy and Scott touched on my work, hobbies/talents, and habits etc before letting me come up to finish off the formal part.
My recent Manager Sandy was the MC and Dori, the DM presented the Meritorious Award

Mike, the ADM presented Dept gifts and Scott my recent Director wrapped up

I was especially thankful to have an ASL interpreter at the function as I was so nervous I could not put to use my basic signing ability for John's benefit and I truly wanted him to feel an integral part of this party as I did work closely with him for a number of years.  My speech was short and to the point I think and thanked everyone for contributing towards my gift, a new sewing machine which I'll purchase after my return from the Australia/New Zealand trip and to enjoy the rest of the reception.  So this formal retirement reception came to a close but the celebrating didn't!!!

Myself ending with a Thank You to all!!!
Dept Gifts:  Sunflowers by Tobi of Expressive Frames; tablet keyboard cover and
gift certificate for Mountain Equipment Coop which I used to purchase my daypack for my trip.

Gift Contributions will be used to purchase this Juki quilting machine once I return from my trip.
Again thank you to all who made this day so special for me, especially Sandy, Barb, Jacqueline and Darlene, the special ladies who made this all happen for me!
I can tell you it's now 6 weeks into retirement and I'm just loving it, don't know where the time is going though!!!

Mike's Retirement Gift

Well I totally forgot to blog about Mike's gift!  He retired back in the spring of 2014 with only two weeks notice so there was no way I could manage that with the Quilt Show and other projects already on my plate.  LOL!

Anyways he did tell me he'd like a cycling scene as that is what he does - cycles around Manitoba but mostly across the city etc.  So naturally I panicked as I'm not a peoples scene quilter but then his wife told me there's a picture in his office of him and the group he cycles with.  WELL be darned, it was perfect!  So I kept enlarging it until it was the size I wanted and using lightweight fusible and made a black silhouette of Mike on his bike!  Then I searched my stash and came up with various fabrics for hopefully a Manitoba scene.  Here's the result.

When I finally gave it to him in November of 2014 the first thing he said is "Hey that's me!!!"  Best compliment I could ever get on something like this!  Thanks Mike!

Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Down Under Trip

OMGG I'm starting to freak right out.  See my plans for my trip to Australia, Tasmania and New Zealand have been finalized, flights and insurance paid for, and now the agent, Aruna from Around the World in 80 Ways, is working on my hotels/B&Bs/hostels, ground transportation and various prebooked tours!  Once all is finalized I'll finish off my family and friends itinerary including the various arrival/departure times, what I'm seeing, where I'm staying (with friends or commercial), and links to the various accommodations.  I just received one confirmation of a B&B in Hobart Tasmania and I'm very pleased with it!  Now to be patient and wait for all my other bookings to be made/confirmed by June 2nd.  LOL!
Anyways here is the quick agenda:
Aug 21st - leave Winnipeg Canada 2:20 pm
Aug 23rd - arrive Perth Australia 5:45 pm
Aug 23rd-26th - staying with Vivienne - visit with Julia
Aug 26th - leave Perth for Adelaide
Aug 27th - Adelaide - free time
Aug 28th - ferry to Kangaroo Island - touring - overnight
Aug 29th - touring - ferry back to Adelaide - free time
Aug 30th - leave Adelaide for Melbourne - free time
Aug 31st - Full day Great Ocean tour
Sept 1st - Full day Phillip Island Penquin Parade tour
Sept 2nd - free time - leave Melbourne by ferry to Devonport Tasmania
Sept 3rd - arrive Devonport - depart on Tassielink coach tour for Hobart - free time with Maria
Sept 4th - Tasmanian Devils tour
Sept 5th - free day - Salamanca Market with Maria
Sept 6th - depart Hobart for Melbourne for Ayers Rock - free afternoon - evening Uluru sunset tour, BBQ dinner & stargazing
Sept 7th - Uluru sunrise and base tour - depart Ayers Rock for Cairns - free evening
Sept 8th - Catamaran Great Barrier Reef cruise (all day)
Sept 9th - Full day Kurunda/Senic Rail/Sky Rail & Tjapukai tour
Sept 10th - free time
Sept 11th - depart Cairns on Spirit of Queensland train 9:00 am
Sept 12th - arrive Cooroy about 7:00 am - go with Margaret to Noosa Resort
Sept 13th - Noosa Resort
Sept 14th - leave Noosa Resort for Brisbane
Sept 15th - free day
Sept 16th - leave Brisbane for New Castle - visit with Merle - Wangi Wangi - Lake Macquarie
Sept 17th - Wangi Wangi - Lake Macquarie area
Sept 18th - leave New Castle early for Sydney by train with Merle - maybe meet with Leanne and lunch at Manly Beach - Merle/Leanne return home
Sept 19th - Blue Mountains tour
Sept 20th - free day - maybe day trip by train/coach to Canberra to visit Sharron - maybe tour Sydney Opera House & Tearoom
Sept 21st - free day touring Sydney with Leanne
Sept 22nd - depart Sydney 11:50 am and arrive Auckland NZ 4:55 pm - visit with Jo
Sept 23rd - touring Auckland - visit with Jo
Sept 24th - touring Auckland - visit with Jo
Sept 25th - leave Auckland by coach for Rotorua via Waitomo Caves
Sept 26th - morning tour around Rotorua - afternoon/evening visit Tamaki Maori Village and Hangi Dinner performance  (told a must see)
Sept 27th - depart Rotorua by train 8:44 am and arrive Wellington 5:16 pm - evening free
Sept 28th - visit Te papa Museum - evening free
Sept 29th - Wellington Botanic Garden - evening free
Sept 30th - free time
Oct 1st - ferry departs Wellington (North Island) for Picton (South Island), then train tour to Kaikoura
Oct 2nd - morning whale watching tour - train departs Kaikoura for Christchurch - staying with Sandra
Oct 3rd - touring Christchurch - staying with Sandra
Oct 4th - touring Christchurch - staying with Sandra
Oct 5th - touring Christchurch - staying with Sandra
Oct 6th - coach departs Christchurch 8:00 am arrives Dunedin 1:50 pm - evening free
Oct 7th - mourning tour around Dunedin and Larnach Castle, afternoon at Otago Penninsula - penquins & albatrosses along Taiaroa Head
Oct 8th - coach departs Dunedin for Invercargill - evening free
Oct 9th - coach departs Invercargill for Bluff and ferry to Steward Island - hiking & exploring birds
Oct 10th - morning tour of Ulva Island Guided Walk - ferry departs for Bluff and coach to Invercargill
Oct 11th - coach departs Invercargill for Queenstown - evening free
Oct 12th - full day trip Milford Sound Cruise - back to Queenstown
Oct 13th - coach departs Queenstown for Franz Josef - maybe helicopter tour over glacier
Oct 14th - coach departs Franz Josef for Westport and touring or free time
Oct 15th - coach departs Westport for Nelson - free time
Oct 16th - Artisans half day tour plus World of Wearable Art museum
Oct 17th - free time - Artisans Market
Oct 18th - flight departs Nelson 1:45 pm arrives Auckland 3:10 pm // then flight departs Auckland NZ 8:00 pm arrives Vancouver BC 1:15 pm // flight departs 7:00 pm arrives Winnipeg 11:41 pm  -  that's all in ONE DAY!!!
Oct 19th-21st - stay home and catch up sleep and pack for quilting retreat
Oct 22nd-25th - OMA's Quilting Retreat - South Beach Casino

Hmmmmm not sure if I'll survive this "once in a lifetime adventure" and then still be sane enough to enjoy my quilting retreat BUT DANG IT I'm going to try!!!

Monday, April 27, 2015

Retirement Update

OK the first part is finished – invitations have been sent out for both the work party and the "by invitation only" supper for family and some friends.  I can't believe it's actually happening and Monday it will be down to 32 days left (including weekends)!!!
Now the Australian/NZ flights including six inland flights have been narrowed down and booked and paid for (last quote was $3,500) – my first major commitment YIKES!!!  Now there may be a slight difference from the quote to the actual booking and then there is my travel insurance to pay this week too.  Then April 29th my travel agent has a tour put on by NZ to visit the changes for tours etc and when she comes back there might be some package changes and then the final bookings for hotels, ground transportation and various tours that are being paid up front.  So once this has been finalized then I'll have a final itinerary and will provide necessary travel info for those meeting me Down Under and also package info for family and friends back home to follow my travels - day to day if they wish!
I’ve finalized my travel itinerary except for a visit to Canberra still a maybe until I arrive in Sydney and decide what I'm doing or feel up to - LOL!  I've a loaded two month agenda with some down time but knowing me I'll be out there scouting around on my own - don't want to miss anything if I'm OK!  NOW to get out and back into my walking program and get myself as attuned to daily exercise as I can!  (chuckling)
Also I did my taxes on the weekend finally and I’m getting a nice return again, which will go towards my retirement party and the rest into savings till August for the holiday if needed or stay there indefinitely.  Slowly things are falling into place.
So already from the staff invitations emailed last week, Sandy mentioned that some staff have already replied and monies have been received!!!  WOW!!!  The email and invitations to those outside of MAFRD and those who've retired before will go out this coming week.  So then that will be it!  The next step is to sort through the mega pictures I pulled out and scan them to send to Tom for the slide and music presentation he's making for my supper party.  Also some pictures for poster boards on display with a few of my quilted projects around the room.  I'm just hoping those making the speeches will be short and sweet and not a roast!  LOL!
Now to try and calm down!!!  I've been feeling disjointed and not sure what direction to go next etc  -  very unsettling!  I'm one who needs to know the time and place and I'm usually early getting there - well getting ready for retirement is not falling into step so well - LOL!