Vacation: Deck, wrestling, deck, cottage, deck


http://yfrog.com/kj51eaj

I don't know the last time I took three weeks off for summer vacation. It's possible I never have.

We spent most of the first week stripping the deck. Or, more accurately, trying to strip the deck. That'll get a full post in the future.

I went to wrestling for the first time in a while, with local radio superstar and former pro wrestler Griff "Griff" 'Barry Hatchet' Henderson, and Glen from another station. Some of the action was just godawful terrible. Some of it was a whole lot of fun. Check some of the other pictures I took via the Yfrog link above. Thanks to Griff for inviting me out again. I always come home with my voice wrecked.

If you're trying to reach me over the next week, you can try my cell or blackberry (my work email address, for those who have it), as I'll be at the cottage! We've rented a cottage in Nova Scotia to get the hell away from the deck stripping. It should be a nice getaway.

After that, more deck stripping! And driveway paving! And tree pruning! All of which will, we expect, empty our finances but leave us with less to curse about in the winter. Well, the driveway anyway. At this pace, we'll still be working on the deck until November.

Summer vacation vs Summer spending

Oh, the perils of being a responsible adult.

Y'all know I'm big on budgeting and saving and paying off debt and all that personal finance jazz. I was on and on about it a couple of years ago, and I'm still on it.

My vision: Have an emergency fund, pay off strategic debts, return to accumulating cash, invest a decent portion, live frugally and on a budget, and come out ahead. There's more detail than that, but you get the point.

We're oh-so-close to paying off the loan for the older of the two cars, the '06 Kia Rio, which I now drive to work. The interest rate on that loan resets (goes up) in the fall, so the plan has been to get it paid off before then. Once our tax returns get filed (don't start with me on that), we'll be able to pay it off, kerblam. That'll free up another few hundred dollars each month into our monthly cash flow. More cash flow means more opportunities to build up cash to accomplish goals and eventually build wealth.

We've also been dripping away at building up our savings with an eye to paving the driveway. The house is, what, 17 years old now, and the gravel driveway is more of a pain in the butt than ever. It's obnoxious and dangerous in the winter, as shoveling down through the snow and ice is virtually impossible. Then in the spring we're stuck with pulling gravel out of the lawn. Now in the summer it's become a third lawn. Weeds, actually. We have weeds and some gravel.

Estimates for paving have come in around the $3000 mark. That would pretty much empty us out right now, including the emergency fund. It's more than a little disheartening, because we'd gone into the summer somehow assuming it'd be more like $2000.

But there's more desired spending straight ahead. The vinyl siding is grimy and filthy, especially on the shady north side of the house. Someone's coming this week to power wash it. It was decided that a professional could do a better and faster job than we could with borrowed or bought equipment.

While we're blessed with big, beautiful trees in the backyard, at least one of them overhangs the house and has jammed up the gutters. Plus we have at least two dead trees still standing at the back of the property. I just signed up for a discounted tree-trimming through Dealfind. (Have you tried these group-buy services? If you buy through my ambassador link on Dealfind, I get money. Check it out.) This dose of conscientiously-applied arborism should only enhance Amanda's green-thumb accomplishments in the garden.

And I can't forget the deck. We've bought supplies and tools to strip the deck so we can stain it. It's rather ugly right now. It also appears to be sinking in at least one place, so I'll have to figure out how to jack that up and adjust it.

So where does that leave us for the summer vacation? I have three weeks off coming up, and the financially sensible, responsible, grown-up part of me knows that we can't afford to go anywhere and do anything. We're on a path to building wealth once we get these things taken care of, and I'm not one to borrow money to do things we should instead be saving for.

It looks like a summer stay-cation. Gosh, I hate that term. But the beaches here are terrific, the barbeque is a joy, the hammock awaits, and goodness knows it'll probably take me all three weeks to finish the deck anyway.

But when it's over -- hey, trimmed trees, paved driveway, stained and level deck, clean siding -- the house will be a sight to behold. I then intend to stay indoors, edit audio and video and maybe play some retro video games. Sweeeeet.

Royal Tour in PEI: Duke and Duchess in Canada


Guess what I was up to for the past few days?

I was assigned to report on the Royal Tour as it stopped in PEI. I Tweeted the heck out of it, snapped photos, shot video and did frequent reports for Halifax, Saint John, Moncton, Toronto, Kitchener, Ottawa, Calgary and Vancouver stations, plus a few live interviews.

In short, it was very busy. I was also asked to shoot video and send it to City in Toronto, but I'm not sure if they used it. I figured I might as well edit something together to show what I got.

I hope you like it!

(Hint: If your machine will show it, watch in 720p ... it's in HD!)

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