Friday, February 28, 2014

Cold Weather Cancellations

My husband is away leading a retreat.  He won't be back until late this evening and of course, par for the course when he is out of town, a situation has arisen that I have to attempt to deal with in his absence.

Once again the curse of the prairie winter is upon us.  A most important meeting for our deanery was to happen tomorrow 3 hours away from here.  My husband had made all the arrangements for everyone in our part of the deanery to car pool together with people in other parishes.  It was to be the first meeting of the deanery with the bishop and executive archdeacon to explain the new plans for our area.  Wardens, treasurers, vestry members and others interested in growing our deanery had signed up to attend.  The host church's ACW ladies were preparing lunch and all was set to start off a new era in our Diocesan life.

That is, it was, until the weather forecasts came in last night and this morning.  The cold snap that hit us this past week is actually worsening over the weekend and into next week.  By 6am tomorrow, the departure time for the attendees from our parish, the windchill will be approximately -51C!  The entire province is under an extreme windchill warning.  It is so cold we are looking at the possibility of cancelling our church services this weekend....a real rarity on the prairies where we pride ourselves in our ability to tough out the winter no matter the conditions.  All ready this morning every school bus in the area was cancelled.  If it is too cold for the buses it is too cold for the rest of us to be out unnecessarily.  It is probable that there will be a tow ban in place due to that degree of cold.  In other words, if anyone is out driving and their car breaks down, no tow truck is coming to retrieve them.

Spring this year will be more welcome than ever.  Tomorrow is March 1 and we are experiencing the temperatures generally associated with mid January.  

Now the scramble begins to find a new date on which to have the deanery meeting that suits sufficient numbers of people.  It is tentatively rescheduled for a couple of weeks from now, but by then we will be in danger of early spring storms.  hahahaha  'Twas ever thus on the good old prairies.

In the meantime I have had to locate the passwords for my husband's work email addresses and attempt to discover who all I need to contact to let them know of this cancellation.  Of course, I had nothing better to do with my morning........yeah........NOT!  Well, life is never dull!

Fun With Newspaper Articles

I rarely fail to find some laughable spellings or misuse of various words in newspaper articles, particularly those posted online.  The last couple of days spawned two cutie patooties:

1.  I read an obituary where the deceased was described as a "tender sole".  Hmmmm......his feet had tender soles?  He was secretly a rather large fillet of sole? (and by the way, is that "fillet" or "filet"??)  I suppose such things would be known only to his soul!

2.  An article in a small city paper was entitled "An Idle Vehicle is a Criminal's Playground" or something to that effect. "idle" vehicle.....  I have studied my own vehicle in depth since reading that article. It didn't look particularly idle to me, even when sitting in the garage awaiting its next outing.  It doesn't look lazy.  It doesn't look bored.  It looks the way any vehicle looks when it isn't being driven:  standing at attention while awaiting its next trip out.  Is the article, rather than commenting on its mien, instead trying to tell me that anytime my vehicle is not being driven by its owner it is in danger of being stolen?  Personally I think it would be somewhat easier to steal if it was left "idling"!  (and particularly if it was also unlocked while "idling") If the vehicle is idling then it is no longer idle....hence my confusion after reading the article.

Isn't the English language fun?  Confusing, but a ton of fun!

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

I Think Wiarton Willie Must Be Frozen In Place!

I think the Canadian groundhogs must have frozen on the spot where they came up above ground on Groundhog's Day!  All across Canada the weather is poor to dreadful it seems and has been all this month.  School buses have been cancelled twice here this week due to wind chills well below -40 degrees.  Where I live there is no end in sight to the cold snap any time in the next week.  By the weekend our overnight lows are to be around -38C again.  Isn't the biting cold supposed to be over by now???

My Vancouver Island BFF sent me photos earlier this week of the deep snow experienced in her town.  No, it wasn't as bad as what we get on the prairies, but it is more snow than Vancouver Island is used to getting.  She and her husband were able to enjoy a snow day as their place of business had to be closed due to the inclement weather.  

My son called me a couple of days ago to tell me he was sitting looking out the window of his residence in Vancouver watching monster huge snowflakes coming down and covering everything in sight with a thick cover of white.

Middle Canada and the Maritimes have been experiencing record snowfall and horrendous storms this winter.  Spring is certainly not anywhere near to being "just around the corner" this year.  O Spring?  Where art thou??  I am sick to death of winter.  A prairie buddy called me today with winter weather burnout and is looking to take a few days off work to regain her equilibrium.  The ongoing cold and the work it takes every day simply to start a vehicle, shovel out and drive somewhere is starting to get to even the toughest of us prairie folk.

In the midst of the dreariness it was nice to get good news today from my dad that after a few more tests he should be able to receive his spinal gel injections in about 5 weeks time.  Praying and hoping that will be the case.  He has permission from his heart specialist to go off his blood thinners for 5 days prior to the procedure and now requires a final updated MRI to confirm the present position of the fractured discs.  Here's hoping it all goes well for him.

Mom continues to get excellent reports about her own health. She is one of the most amazing 86 year old women I have seen in a long time, just going and going and going in all kinds of weather. She is originally a hard working prairie gal and it shows!

Our son is working like a maniac to get his thesis and final art works completed in time for university in June.  His tuition money is slowly trickling in from some painting sales and some special gifts.  He is healthy once again and it is wonderful to hear how happy he is these days.

Earlier this evening I participated in the second of a series of webinars put on by the Canadian Diabetic Association, all about diabetes burnout and how to regain control of your disease management.  I was astounded at the percentage of diabetics that develop mental health issues, including schizophrenia even though it is an independent disease.  It was very good to get this information. The next webinar is in March and it is about Eating Well.  I think it will be most helpful in the immediate circumstance.

Next week I will go to the doctor to get the results of my latest A1C test and take them along with me when I next see the dietician in March.  Near the end of March she and one of the RN's on my team are presenting a 4 session weekly clinic at the hospital, again more diabetes information.  We will test blood pressure as a group, measure our waistlines, learn all we can about diet and exercise etc., then early in the autumn we will have a "reunion" session where we check ourselves once again and see where we are at, if we have improved our results by using what we learn in the earlier sessions.  I am looking forward to the information and also to meeting some new people in our town who struggle with the same disease that I do.  

My husband is at our other church tonight participating in a preparatory meeting for World Day of Prayer that is coming up the first week of March.  The liturgy this year has been written by the women of Egypt.  I wasn't able to attend the meeting tonight due to the webinar, but I am looking forward to the actual day of prayer as it is interdenominational and most every church in both our towns participates.

It will be a busy week next week between that, the Shrove Tuesday pancake supper at our local church, then another supper and Imposition of Ashes at our other church on Wednesday.  

Before all these activities my husband is heading to the city for a couple of days this week to lead a pre-ordination retreat for 3 postulants and then to another town 3 hours away for archdeaconry meetings on the weekend.  All this before Lent even arrives and the countdown to Easter begins.  At least this time I get to have the car while he is gone.  YIPPEE!

My shopping plans during his absence consist of a couple of new lampshades for our aging living room lamps and maybe, just maybe a new pair of pants and a top that actually fit me right now.  I am down 34 pounds as of today and still counting.  It feels GOOD!!

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

The Only Poem I Ever Published

 Here is my one and only attempt at published poetry writing.  I wrote it so many years ago I forgot all about it and about getting it copyrighted, even forgot it was published. I was going through old files today and found a copy in a box of "stuff".  So, just for fun and to remind myself of the circumstance it represents to me, here it is below:

Leaving Home

The road.....
                             weeds blowing....
                                                tossing lazily from side to side in the heavy breeze.
The fields look scorched.......
                          parched..........dingy amber...dying slowly from the drought.

My, wet inside scratched hiking boots......
                     screaming for a rest:
                     Please someone, stop for us.  Let us rest until the next long wait...
                     ...the endless wait for a ride on a thirsty August afternoon.

Sweat runs in rivers from my forehead,
                     dripping into my eyes,
                     adding to my frustration in standing on the road waiting,
                     waiting, waiting....always that wait...

Sweat trickles from my armpits,
                     around and down my back to the remains of the waistband on my jeans.  It oozes between my breasts,
                        slowly....making my T-shirt sticky and uncomfortable.

My long hair is in strings, and I can feel the streaks of dirt turning my face into yet another road map....
                         just like the maps I have tucked into my pack:
                         the ones with torn corners and frayed edges.

And I spit more dusty grit out of my mouth,
wishing my lips were smooth instead of cracked wide open by the heat.

The sun is right overhead,
boring down on the crown of my head,
relentlessly burning the fields still more.
Its rays are no longer welcome here.
The fields and I squint helplessly upward,
praying for even a wisp of cloud to block the sun's intensity.
We feel defenseless:
                                             the fields and I....

The small comfort of the breeze has stopped.
© 1979

What Do Little Kids Hear Anyway??

When I hear small children repeating new words as they learn to speak, I would love to know and comprehend more about the process of what they hear and how they translate it in their brains before saying new words themselves.

I thought of it the other day when I heard a very young boy saying the word "library" and he pronounced it "libary".  So many children I have met begin by saying it that way.  My own son did as well.  Is it that our ears aren't sufficiently fined tuned yet to hear that first "r" or is it because it isn't a natural reflex to connect the "b" and the "r" together when we are learning to speak?

My own son struggled with two words in particular.  He struggled with them until he started school.  The words were "magazine", which he pronounced "mazagine", inverting the positions of the "g" and "z", and "piano", which he pronounced "prano".  When he turned 6 and was still mispronouncing them it took some intensive work by his dad and I to help him say them properly.  Was it force of habit that caused him to continually mispronounce those two words until we started working with him, or was it something in his hearing that wasn't computing what was being said?

For some reason I find such things to be very interesting. 

I'll get a life tomorrow.

Monday, February 24, 2014

I'm Kinda Likin' the New Pope!

I so enjoyed the article below from The Boston Globe about recent activities and personal encounters with Pope Francis.  He is quite an amazing fellow in my opinion.  Read on:

Communion Wafer, Deluxe Version

We went for a long drive yesterday afternoon to a town far south of us.  My husband is on the clergy rotation there so that our diocese can provide church services for this particular congregation that presently has no priest of their own.

It was so much fun, despite the wickedly cold temperatures, to be able to get out for a drive on a winter Sunday afternoon.  All we could see around us for hours of driving were pale blue sky melting into white waves of snow in the surrounding fields, a few farm buildings and a ribbon of icy patched road ahead of us.  We did drive through a few small communities.  It was obvious by the size of and brick fronting on some of the remaining buildings that they were once thriving rural communities, now relegated to nearly ghost town status with the depopulation of the rural farmlands around them.  As we drove on and on through this vast, white wilderness, it was sometimes difficult to tell for sure where we were.  We could have been anywhere on the prairies, anywhere in any of the 3 prairie provinces as the rolling whiteness continued kilometre after kilometre.  After even a couple of consecutive hours of this view it becomes rather daunting. Few cars came driving toward us and we saw no signs of human life at the few farm houses we drove past, although there were plenty of deer alongside the road foraging for bits of plant matter that had pushed its way up through the deep snow.

The service and people at the church were lively and fun.  You never know as a visitor what sort of welcome you will receive and prairie people can be quite shy and reserved with strangers, but this was a group of live wires.  We ended up staying quite a lot longer there than we had planned.

There was one moment during the Eucharist that was quite giggle inspiring for my husband and I.  One of the parishioners is gluten intolerant and so his wife brought a rice cracker for him to have rather than the usual wheat wafers.  The cracker she had provided, rather than being a plain rice round, had a generous sprinkling of dark green nori (Japanese seaweed) flakes on top of it.  It was on a separate paten in order to prevent it from touching the other wheat wafers and it looked like it was supposed to be the King of the Wafers with its little crown of nori.  So cute!!  I suppose that was the only  kind of wafer she had at home and it certainly provided a moment of levity for us during the very serious eucharist.

The day provided a happy ending to a wonderful weekend.  On Saturday we were able to have a spontaneous lunch visit with some seminary friends as they passed through town and that evening we had a long Skype with a friend in BC we haven't seen in a long time.  Church services all went well.  The power pack for our modem died sometime in the wee hours of Sunday morning, but by evening my husband had located another one in his big bin of electronic flotsam and jetsam and we were up and running again.  I concede that OCCASIONALLY it is a good thing he doesn't listen to me and get rid of everything I would like him to get rid of that is cluttering up our space.

So, a happy weekend and we are facing a most busy week this week.  Hopefully my husband will be able to take his full day off today....well other than a phone call he has to make before noon....and a few work emails that have to be answered by this afternoon....and.....sigh....well, at least he is having a great sleep in. So far the danged phone has not been ringing.  YAY!  A good start to the week.

Saturday, February 22, 2014

That Stomach Twisting Feeling

Have you ever experienced a sudden rush of nausea and dizziness when unexpectedly coming across something that reminds you of something terrible you once experienced but haven't thought of for months or even years?

One of our church leaders used to be on the police force and was called out to assist in the clean up of a large plane that crashed and left hundreds of people either seriously injured or dead.  He thought he had dealt with the disaster rather well until the first time he had to put himself on a similar make of airplane as a passenger.  As he entered the plane memories of the disaster he had assisted with came rushing back and momentarily knocked him off his emotional balance.

I have never seen something so awful as the aftermath of a major airplane crash, but I did have a similar "after the fact" reaction this morning.

As I was looking at some photos of a most happy event a friend of ours was participating in, suddenly I found myself looking into the face of someone I have not seen for many years now, someone who once made my life a living hell for a short period of time.  I was completely startled, had forgotten there was even a connection between this person and our friend.  Instantly my stomach began to churn, I thought the nausea was going to overtake me, my head began to pound and I thought I was going to pass out on the floor.  

The reaction lasted for only a few seconds before I regained control of myself, but what a surprise to me to have such a reaction.  I have not thought of this person in so long and had forgiven the person ages and ages ago for the problems that happened between us. Until today, remembering the incident has caused me no apparent further upset.

I suppose when we are emotionally traumatized at any level, regardless of whether or not the situation has been satisfactorily dealt with, such scars can give the odd pain that reminds us of their existence.  Then we also remember the wound that caused the scarring and in a split second some of that pain and anguish resurfaces.  

In a way it is good it happened to me today.  It gave me pause to check on my own emotions and to question the depth of my forgiveness toward that person.  Now I am satisfied that any lingering unforgiveness or hurt has been dealt with as much as possible, I think I will be able to handle any more such unexpected encounters that may arise...with God's help.

Friday, February 21, 2014

Shopping Encouragement

Today I went to our little shopping mall and while my husband was engaged in tech talk at the computer store I went into a couple of the clothing stores.  Usually I don't bother as they don't carry larger sizes, but today it hit me that in the spring I will be able to shop for regular sized women's long last.  

I went into one shop in particular that was quite reasonably priced and has nicer things than the other run of the mill women's wear retailers here.  For the first time in years I actually felt happy contemplating the possibilities for buying's a miracle!!!

Maybe I was particularly encouraged today because I tried on my spring motorcycle jacket and wow, it fits SO well now that I have lost weight.  It fit before but barely.  It has a rather nice belt mid section and instead of just getting the first notch in the belt done up, I am now in notch number 4!  YAY!!!  Oh, I still have 25 pounds to go to reach my goal weight, but if I continue with the proper diet and exercise, I may actually get there in another couple of months.  I told my husband if that motorcycle jacket gets to be too large for me, after spending so much money on it just at the end of last summer, he has to save it and bury me in it so the money won't be wasted!!!

Wow, excited about clothes has been SO long.

Some Better Photos (a ton actually so I could get used to how to imbed them into my blog...thanks for your patience)

Rob: this next one is for you:

But Then There is Also the Snow to Shovel.......

Frosty Other World

I just opened the blinds and curtains in our house this morning and discovered an amazing new world outside.  Every tree limb and bush branch is covered in the thickest layer of pure white frost I have ever seen.  It is absolutely gorgeous out there!  

We have a perfectly shaped scotch pine tree outside our living room window that is nearly two storeys high. To see it completely outlined in thick frost is soul healing, it is that beautiful.  Longer thin branches from the front hedge are weighted down with the frost, making the hedge look like an explosion of fireworks.  

My husband just took some photos on his digital camera and if I can figure out how to attach one to this post I will do so!  We are not photographers but you can get the general idea:

Wondering About Purpose

Lately I have been looking at what goes on in my daily life and wondering what my purpose has been over the past 4 years since we arrived in our present location.  At different times of life people can be more or less aware of whether or not they are achieving any sort of significant purpose for being.

I am at a stage where I am somewhat unsure if I am doing anything useful for anyone around me in the area of spirit.  There are a number of people who live in other places who continue to share their personal spiritual gifts with me and who receive mine as well, but locally I have been feeling somewhat shelved in terms of what I am used to offering to and receiving from other people.  So, I have been exploring other ways of feeling useful and not coming up with a lot.  

I believe there are times when God puts us in circumstances that are meant more for rest and reflection and personal change than for active ministry and I believe I have been in that place for the past few years.  It has been a time to sort out some personal things, get my health back in order and come to terms with some of the stresses of my husband's ministry.  In many ways it has been very good.  Lately though I have been getting the nudge to move back into more ministry with actual living beings more than just via email and telephone calls.

So that has been part of the frustration of late: attempting to make that happen and seeing no results.  After nearly 4 years of prayer and making attempts to minister with my own particular gifts here where I live and seeing nothing develop, I am going to attempt a step of faith in the spring and possibly again in the early fall.  My husband thinks I need to obey a nagging call to return temporarily to our last place of residence and complete some mission types of assignments I was given there.  

So, since he came up with that idea for me I have found a "free" place to live there for a few weeks and have all ready been invited to participate in some mission and church activities in the area.  The response from those who I most trust to pray for and to counsel me has been only positive.  I have chosen 2 times of the year when my husband is the least busy (relatively speaking), am all ready doing meal planning so that I can leave him with a freezer full of cooked meals, will prepare a month's worth of clean laundry for him and leave a very clean house.  It isn't so many hours away that I can't return home at any time.  

Of course none of this may be able to happen for one reason or another, but feeling the freedom to plan again, to work on some ministry and spiritual gifting opportunities for myself that are wanted and well received elsewhere, planning this for the near future, is very freeing. A couple of extended breaks will also help me get through next winter out here on the bald headed prairies better than I have this past two winters when I was stuck in the house with various health issues.

Whether or not things turn out as predicted it is wonderful to have the ability to plan ahead restored after a very confusing and bleak period of time.  I have accepted the way things have been for the past few years but it is time to move ahead with some other ideas now.  It is time to spend a few weeks once again with people who are interested in participating with me in the things of the spirit.  Perhaps a couple of extended breaks will help me also discover more purpose in my being here after I get home again.

I am excited to see what happens in the future.  My husband recently received a bit of a "promotion in rank" that will bring opportunities for further ministry and personal fulfillment of his calling.  He wants that same joy for me and we are hoping that this idea will accomplish it.  

Time will tell........however this idea does or doesn't work out, it is so grand to feel excitement again about the future.

Thursday, February 20, 2014

Yummy Snack

I am addicted to my latest snack food:  a stalk of celery dipped lightly in lime flavoured yogurt.  It reminds me of some of the salads my mom made for dinner parties when I was a kid; the kind of salads I always hated.  

I have become my mother.

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

The Return of Winter

After nearly a week of teasing us with warmer temperatures and dryness, winter returned with a vengeance overnight.  O my goodness, what a lot of snow and drifting.  No travel is recommended to the east of us and to the south of us, where my husband was supposed to be driving to our other town for Bible study tonight, there is a lot of ice and drifting as the snow hurtles to the ground in huge fuzzy flakes.  I have learned that when the snow is blowing horizontally past the living room window it is better to stay inside until it stops.

Earlier this morning I went out to shovel the long knee high drifts that blew in overnight, but I had barely started before our zealous neighbour with the snow blower mounted on a teeny tractor unit was out warning me off so he could do it himself.  I was so grateful because I discovered there was a paper thin layer of ice under the fresh snow and my yak traks were starting to slip on it as I pushed the shovel along.

As soon as I was done with my bit of shovelling I drove downtown to mail a letter.  That was an adventure. My husband shovelled the drift out from behind the garage door and I jockeyed the car through the drifts in the alley to the street.  As soon as I drove around the corner onto the street I realized that the 4 block drive was going to be rather interesting.  The wind was howling from the south and there were small sections of white out conditions at each intersection. Downtown was as deserted as I have ever seen it on a week day.  Parking along the streets was difficult as the snow had swirled into deep drifts along the curb.  Turning corners even at snail's pace still pushed the car into the oncoming traffic lane as it slid on the icy buildup.  The sidewalks downtown that looked as if they had blown clear and dry were actually covered with the same thin icy layer that I had encountered at my own residence and I nearly fell down twice as I inched my way along to the post office.  

Guess we are having one of our rare blizzards of this winter.  I am very grateful it started before my husband finished getting ready for his drive out of town.  Right now he is contacting every one he was supposed to be meeting with today in the other town where he works and postponing.

Perhaps we will be storm stayed by tomorrow, but I am guessing it will blow itself out by this evening and we will all be able to dig ourselves out again by the morning.  My husband just may get to the other town to work tomorrow after all.

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

If This Was a Horror Movie, You Would Say it Was Too Unrealistic!

We received an email this morning from a mission we once worked for in Japan.  The email was to request prayer for some of the missionaries we knew at the time who are still there, working at the mission rest and recreation facility up in the mountains near Tokyo.

Apparently the somewhat rural facility received over 115 cm of snow on Feb. 14th. Since that time the several missions families there have been cut off completely from the nearby town.  Until yesterday no ploughs had come to dig them out.  Even now they are only able to get to the main building of the facility on what has been ploughed and are still waiting for the plough to dig them through to the main road sometime in the next few days.

The bizarre part of the story is that a couple of days ago while they were digging pathways between the buildings, they were attacked by an aggressive wild boar who fell off the high snowbanks beside them and became trapped in the pathway.  Two of the women were seriously injured with bites and gashes. The men finally drove the boar off by whacking it on the head with their shovels after they were knocked down several times.  One of the women had to be loaded onto a toboggan and hauled across the tall drifts to the town where a doctor was located to attend to her and the other woman's wounds

Fortunately throughout this time of being stranded and then attacked by the boar they have had sufficient food, electrical power and water but supplies are getting low.  

Being so close to such a large, urban centre as Tokyo it is easy to forget that the nearby mountains are habitat to wild animals the same way mountains are in any other country.  The mountain town and recreational facilities are very  modern and well equipped for city tourists at this point, so to have such a large group of people attacked by a maddened wild boar hit me as very shocking.   When I was visiting there myself I never once considered that we could be in any danger from the inhabitants of the animal kingdom.

Hopefully our former colleagues will be all right and will soon be able to access new food supplies and proper hospital care for the injured.

Monday, February 17, 2014

The Curse of the Curls!

All my life when I have attended appointments to hairdressers, stylists and what have you, I have heard the same refrain:  "Oooooh, you are SO lucky to have curly hair. There is SO much you can do with it."

While I have generally sat in the styling chair, a goopy smile plastered on my face as my response, in my mind I have been thinking, "No dear one, YOU are the one who can do so much with it.  Me, not so much."

I have absolutely no natural talent, no developed skill, no personal experience in doing one thing with my own hair, (long hair, short hair, medium length hair, natural even length cut, sculpted cut, layered cut, chunked cut), other than letting it dry, blowing it dry, smooth rollering it, pick rollering it, curling ironing it, flat ironing it, pin curling it, perming it, dyeing it and whatever else a person can do to their hair within the confines of their own home, all with the same results:  a frizzy, dried out, Medusa reminding disaster flying wildly from the top of my head and flying outward in all directions.

Over the years there have been products available from my hair dressers, everything from ph balanced to organic and about the time they actually begin to tame my unruly  tresses, my skin sets up some kind of allergic reaction to them and the frizz once again takes over.    At the moment pure argan oil seems to be the only thing that helps at all, but by the time I have worked a sufficient amount into my hair the whole works is lank and greasy looking. Olive oil is worse and baby oil flat out reeks of some kind of dreadful baby powder odor.

I have always envied my friends with absolutely straight, healthy hair.  There is no guess work involved at the stylist's.  No matter how it is cut or what products are used, it hangs there, straight and smooth.  That is all I ever wanted from my own be able to simply wash it, let it dry, run a comb through it and head out the door; nothing fancy, nothing mind blowing, nothing life altering, just straight healthy hair that requires very little attention from me.

In the past week I have noticed, after a short period of relative ease with my hair, that the ghastly dry frizz is returning.  The wonderful organic product I have been using is no longer having much effect and the familiar signs of allergy have begun.  Drat!  This time I was so hopeful. 

Straight haired people rejoice:  you will always, always look nice and if you have the skill to successfully curl your own hair as well, you are blessed.

Talented stylists of curly hair rejoice: you are not fumble fingered like me and have a chance to display your talents with a wide range of hair styles for all occasions.

As for me, here I go again. 

*Note to readers:  please don't bother sending me lists of products you have tried and found success with.  I am sincerely happy for you, but I can guarantee I have all ready tried them or facsimiles thereof.

Sunday, February 16, 2014

A Precious Little Gift

My husband arrived home safely last night, bearing gifts for our son and for myself.  He  really missed us when he was away and is stoked about going to see our son in April.

The gift he brought me had me in tears because it is so lovely.  He brought me a tiny book called "Best Friends" by Jenny Kempe, one of a series of small greeting card style books.  It is a book of sayings about what it is that makes two friends "besties" and is illustrated with line drawings of little birds that appear to be a cross between penguins and ducks.  It is a very cute book.

What makes it so special and personal to me is that my husband wrote his own comments on each page; comments as to how he sees the saying by the author applying to me and to our relationship.  His insights are right on and the time he spent thinking about what he would write for each page is very meaningful to me.

It is wonderful to have been missed so much after only a week's absence.  It is extra special to be his best friend.

Saturday, February 15, 2014

Walk of Ages....AKA Aged!

The temperature came up to -12C an hour before lunch today, so since I had completed all the housework tasks I set for myself this week, I decided to take another walk downtown in case any more mail had come for the parish treasurers.

Staggering and slipping as my cane and I hobbled along over the icy snow mounds now covered with fresh flakes from morning flurries, I managed to get down there safely enough.  My plan was to get the mail, go to the pharmacy for some new cosmetics, pick up a photo frame at the dollar and more store and then treat myself to lunch out as a reward for a good week's work done, as well as a rest before slithering back home again on the wretchedly icy sidewalks.

Mail collected, cosmetics and photo frame purchased, I arrived at the restaurant to find it was closed.  Rats!  I go downtown so rarely on a Saturday that I had forgotten the only restaurant in the downtown has been unable to find sufficient serving staff to remain open on the weekends since the new year.  O well, a small disappointment.  A bacon, egg and tomato sandwich at home would be just as delicious and as much of a treat.

Disaster struck on the way home!  As I came to the first block out of downtown I felt, almost heard, the elastic in the waist band of my "undies" give a hideous snap.  3 steps further along the street and I could feel them starting to slide off my ample behind and head for the nether regions.  There was nowhere to go to haul them back up or strip them right off, so I decided it would be okay since the crotch in my jeans would keep them from landing down around my ankles.  I could handle a little discomfort for the rest of the walk.

I also had on an ankle length coat so no lumps nor bumps would be seen by passersby as the undies rolled themselves over on the slide down my thighs.  About the time I was breathing a sigh of relief, I came to another realization:  my jeans are made of corduroy and the lining of my winter coat is a detachable wool panel which had been clinging to the corduroy since I left home.  The corduroy and wool rubbing against each other had ever so slowly created a twist of fabric turning itself into rather uncomfortable feeling fabric blobs on the side of each leg near the bottom hem of my coat.  

The balled up lumps of fabric were now working together with the sliding undies. The longer I walked along the more the woolly lumps pulled on the pant legs.  By the time I walked another 2 blocks my jeans, now too big in the waist anyway with my recent weight loss, were beginning to follow the same path as the underwear.  O dear Lord......nearly 3 blocks yet to walk and everything under my coat from the waist down was threatening to fall down to my feet! I was torn between cussing out my coat for having a detachable panel lining that is too loose to prevent it from rubbing and adhering to my jeans, yet being  grateful that its length would prevent a clear view to onlookers of my predicament.

I tried hauling on the waistband of my jeans through my thick coat but all that did was to push them farther down.  Someone in a passing car slowed down and gave me a very odd look and I decided not to stop and try again to pull my jeans up in the middle of the street.

So, I jammed my thighs together as tightly as they would go, all the way to the knees and walked pigeon toed the rest of the way home.  The closer to home I got the icier the sidewalks became. It was a bit of a mental challenge to concentrate on using my cane and still keep my legs pressed together sufficiently to prevent any further falling of both pair of pants!

I was nearly crying with relief when I finally reached my own front door.  My underwear was in a tight roll around my knees by the time I got into the house and, I was humiliated to discover, so were my jeans.  The hem of my jeans was dragging along on the ground behind me, tearing the fabric and accumulating winter muck in the corduroy. Had that coat been any shorter....well.......I don't even want to think about that!!

I have learned a few valuable lessons today:
1. to check the waistband on all my undies
2. to not be so tight fisted...go and buy new underwear!
3. to stop taking long walks in jeans that are too big in the waist
4. to never again wear corduroy with a coat that has a removable, free hanging wool liner
5. to remember how cold my nearly bare butt was today so I don't forget to apply the first 4 lessons!!

My dear husband has been gone for 6 days.  Other than a few people I don't know at the post office and in the stores today, I have not seen or visited with so much as one person since he left.  Emails and the phone have sustained me, but as far as visits with anyone locally it just didn't happen. 

Before my husband begins strewing his belongings all over the house as he unpacks I am going to make him stop and look around at our wonderfully clean house, the vat of soup and the huge beef dinner I prepared for him, the paid bills, music lists and bulletins for church, so he knows I haven't been wasting my time here.

I don't know if I will tell him about my adventures of today or not.  Perhaps my wardrobe malfunction could be our little secret........


AND Please Don't Phone or Email Me to Ask Me Why.....

....'cause I ain't agonna tell ya'!

Friday, February 14, 2014

Blecch! Pooey!!!




'Nuff said...........

Kinda Eerie, Kinda Cool!

This morning I was looking at the obituaries column in the newspaper from a city where we used to live.  I was happy to discover no one I knew has passed away recently, but a detail in one of the photos of a deceased fellow caught my eye.

The photo of the man, who passed away at a rather young age, was particularly good.  But the detail I noticed was a lapel pin, a broach actually, that he was wearing on his jacket.

I stared and stared at that pin.  It looked so familiar.  Sure enough, it used to belong to me!  When we moved from that city several years ago I donated the pin, along with several other pieces of costume jewellery, to a local thrift shop.  The young man was an artsy sort of fellow and it didn't appear at all strange to see what I know to be a woman's broach on his lapel.  (Why is it that people in the arts can get away with wearing all manner of items with ease that the rest of the population couldn't get away with at all?)  It is a lacquered tree leaf, rather earthy and elegant.

It is good to know that someone purchased my lovely pin from the shop, but it took me a minute to get over the eerie feeling I experienced when I first saw it on the lapel of someone who just passed away.  Must be my superstitious Irish peasant heritage, but seeing it there in the newspaper obits gave me quite a start.

Thursday, February 13, 2014

Edmonton, 1962

In a box of old papers and books my husband recently sorted out, he discovered a page from an Edmonton newspaper published in 1962.  

I had fun today looking at the new releases in the movie theatres, features like Sodom and Gomorrah, The Miracle Worker and Warriors Five.  Even more entertaining were the various ads adorning one entire side of the sheet.

Standard gauge inlaid linoleum tiles were 8 cents apiece, wall coverings were 40 cents a lineal foot.  Automatic electric ranges, on sale for $169 were regularly priced at $279.  Wow, can you imagine even picking up second hand appliances nowadays for such low prices?  Remember mantle radios?  These were on sale for $15.98. You can't even buy such things any more. Hot water tanks were selling for the huge price of $19.95!!!!  We just received a bill for over $100 just to have ours repaired!  AND how could anyone resist purchasing hip waders for $4.95???  Or putty knives for 29 cents?

The most amazing price to me though was the advertised sale price for Heintzman's studio pianos.  They were sale priced for $725, one hundred dollars below regular retail price.  I purchased my first studio piano from Heintzman company in 1973, only 11 years later.  The actual retail price had all ready doubled in that time.  My piano retailed for just over $1600 but because I was paying in cash I received a $100 discount.  I was proud of that little piano and the fact that I could walk into the store with a wallet full of cash to make the purchase. Granted, it wasn't a tribute to my fine money management. The cash was part of a court settlement from a serious accident I had been involved in.  Nevertheless, purchasing that piano with cash and then walking into a music store a couple of days later to purchase stereo components the same way and receiving another big discount for a cash purchase, gave me temporarily what today's young people have been calling "swagger". haha O my, I was proud of myself. hahaha

So many fun memories, drawn from a few minutes of looking at a yellowed, torn page from a paper published over 50 years ago.

Grand To Get Outside!!

Today was my first day in 4 days to be outside doing something other than shovelling snow....although I did a bit of that as well this morning.

After lunch the temperatures started to rise and the wind died down.  It was a perfect day to dress warmly, grab my winter cane and head to the post office.  There were a few icy "hills" to climb as I crossed parking lots and some sidewalks that hadn't been shovelled since the storm yesterday.  It made a boring walk more interesting.

The post office box was, as I had suspected, filled to overflowing with mail, mostly for the church.  However there were 2 parcel pickup slips.  The parcels were our passports.  I can't believe it....only 3 weeks since we sent in the information.  I thought it would take twice that long.  Now, if we can just find somewhere outside of Canada we would like to go and visit, plus find the money to do it as well. hahaha  They will make boarding airplanes easier though even in our own country as they are wonderful ID's.

I was delighted that 2 parishioners were in touch with me today to find out how I am doing during my extended time on my own and they both offered me rides to the post office.  However, I needed and desired the exercise walking would afford.

It was glorious to get out, glorious to get my feet under me on the icy streets and glorious to get a downtown chore done.  AND I will be just fine if I don't have to walk up there again before spring melt!!

I Really Want to Avoid Diabetic Burnout Up the Road

I read an article this morning on diabetic burnout and I can clearly see, even a few months post-diagnosis, how this could become a problem after a few years.  

Diabetic burnout happens when the realization hits a person of how confining the disease is.  Diet, exercise, blood testing, regular lab tests, meds...once the diagnosis happens these things are your life.  You can't choose to just take a day off and get away from them for a break.  365 days of every year must be devoted to this issue.  Burnout happens when it all becomes tiresome and it sinks in that there is no escape. On burnout people tend to become stressed and depressed, start ignoring their diets, blood tests and exercise and do silly, harmful things to themselves with their food intake.  All ready I can understand how this could happen.  Our summer holiday plans for this year have all ready had to be adjusted in order to accommodate my quarterly hospital lab tests.

I am new to this disease, thus have not developed any long term resentments over what foods I can no longer ingest.  I have only once experienced the problems that can happen to my daily exercise schedule when I am travelling away from home and the hassles of having to find restaurant foods that work for me.  I have years of this to learn to cope with my  new life. However, I assume I will take my turn with burnout at some point in the future.

Yesterday was my first real glimpse of the frustrations that can happen.  I woke up with the beginnings of an infection that I knew I could treat myself at home.  I also knew that the home remedy would likely raise my blood sugar levels too high.  If the weather had been accommodating I would have walked the 8 blocks to the on call doctor at the clinic to get a prescription, then the 12 blocks to the pharmacy and another 6 blocks home again.  From yesterday's post you will know that wasn't possible for me.

So I decided it was worth the risk to treat myself.  The treatment was completely successful. By last evening I knew I was going to be just fine and this morning that was confirmed to me.  However, yes, my blood glucose numbers by mid afternoon yesterday were not anything to be proud of. They were too high.  The problem was exacerbated by my needing to have a long nap after lunch rather than keeping to my usual exercise schedule.

I can see how, if this sort of thing was to become the norm, I could freak myself right out over simple infections when unable to get to the doctor the same day they arise.  I was panicked enough wondering what decision to make about self-treatment.  Fortunately I felt well enough after my nap to get outside and shovel to bring that sugar level down again. By dinner it was back to normal and I have been testing ever since to ensure it stays that way.

For now I am trying to not imagine how I am going to respond a few years from now to the all consuming nature of this disease.  A good attitude I have learned from other friends with diabetes is the simple one of, "This is just how I live my life.".  I pray I can keep that attitude in the years to come.

The next Canadian Diabetes Assn. webinar I will be participating in is all about diabetic burnout.  I am looking forward to learning as much as I can about it in order to guard against experiencing it to any great degree in the future.

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Invigorating Winter Activity

Today I had to do a medical treatment that shot my blood sugar up mid afternoon, so to bring it down I went outside into the cold wind and shovelled out the front sidewalk.  Nothing like 30 minutes of activity that physical to restore things to right!

I love shovelling.  It is a great excuse to be outside in the worst of the storms.  The way the wind blows the snow across our sidewalks requires me to be out there working away clearing it at least 2 or 3 times more often than any of our neighbours so that it doesn't get so deep I can't move it at all.  It was up to my knees on the sidewalk closest to our front door, mostly from the strong wind blowing the 5cm of new snow across from west to east. I will go out tonight and shovel again, at mid evening in the dark, so I can watch the snow blowing around under the street lamps.  It is kind of eerie in a beautiful way.

After shovelling I completed the last of my extra kitchen cleaning chores. Tomorrow I will be able to start the regular weekly cleaning routine.  Despite being stuck indoors alone all week, the amount of work I have accomplished thus far with no other people concerns has been amazing and encouraging.

I am so glad my husband is safely ensconced with his clergy colleagues at a beautiful retreat centre and is not trying to drive anywhere. All around his location the highways are closed due to snow and zero visibility.  A serious accident with a multiple car pileup added into the mix has occurred not far from where he is staying and it is a wonderful relief to know he is not out there in the midst of that disaster.  

I am praying for friends who are returning this very evening from Hawaii. Their trip started out with weather problems delaying their flight there and they lost an entire day of their vacation.  As I write this they are flying home to a highway that has been officially closed due to snow and wind. They will probably have to take a hotel even though the airport they will land at is only 45 minutes from their home.  O how I pray they will not attempt the drive back this evening.

In  2 more months we should be experiencing spring to some degree. Lawn mowing will replace shovelling as my main outdoor physical activity; lawn mowing and WALKING!  YES!  In the spring the snow will melt and I can go for long walks once again.  Soon.......soon........soon.......

Not Quite the Improvement in Weather That was Forecast.....Yet.......

My plans for the day have been scuttled by the weather.  Instead of a warm up day, our high has been re-forecast to -25C, the wind is blowing and we are under a heavy snowfall warning.  Brrrrr......Friends from south of us are flying home tonight after a couple of glorious weeks in Hawaii. Their immune systems are in for a shock!  Yesterday I envied them their sunshine and surf. Today I am glad I have been here all winter to stay acclimatized.

So, no walk downtown for the mail today.  It will have to wait until tomorrow.

And that is a joy for me of not being employed outside the home.  Let the snow fall and the winds howl.  Most of the time my daily plans can change to accommodate weather surprises.  Instead of going downtown this morning I will clean out and rearrange the spice cupboard and my husband's tea cupboards.  I will be a good girl and not throw anything of his away, no matter how useless the item or paper bag or ziplock and its contents appear to me, but I will reorganize the mess!

Tomorrow I will have an even better outdoor adventure than I would have had today.  Tomorrow there will be hills of snow to climb going back and forth to collect the mail at the post office.  I can pretend I am climbing Mount Everest, or mushing my way across the frozen northern wastelands, or lost in some frozen frontier.  The warmer temperatures are still forecast to arrive sometime tomorrow morning and it will be an even more perfect day to be outdoors than today would have been before the forecast changed to snow.  

My outdoor exercise today will be shovelling and I do enjoy it, so no big hardship there.  If the prediction is true, I will have several chances to get outside and enjoy digging through the drifts.

My husband, son and parents are safely ensconced in warm accommodations of their own, I have no one else to be concerned with this week, so I am enjoying my solitude to the fullest extent.

In many ways I would make a great hermit.  

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Fantastic News For My Dad!

My father had an important meeting today with his back specialist.  Today he was informed he is indeed a candidate for spinal "cement" (gel) injections.  Dad had a list of questions regarding the procedure and possible problems and side effects and his doctor was able to honestly answer all of them.  Of course problems can develop later with leakage if the injections are not done properly and having to go off his blood thinners for awhile prior to the injections could put dad in a position to have a stroke, but both things are fairly rare.

What gave my father the most peace about having this treatment done is that his specialist is waiting on the radiologist he most trusts to do the procedure properly.  Within the next few weeks dad has a chance to be relatively pain free for the first time since 2012! I am so delighted for him.  He is in such agony most of the time, constantly increasing his intake of morphine pills in order to cope.  This treatment is his last hope of pain control and weaning himself off the heavy drugs.  Spinal fractures that happened in the spring of 2012 are still "hot spots", the surrounding tissue still inflamed.  No wonder he is in such pain all the time.

My mother also gets a break when dad has this done.  She may get her husband back to some extent mentally and emotionally as he becomes less dependent on morphine.  She may be able to get out of the house for longer periods of time without as much worrying about what condition she will find dad in when she gets back. Dad will be able to take taxis again more easily without so much worry about the pain as he travels.

I am going to trust that none of the post-procedure problems arise for dad and that this experience will help him and mom transition more easily into the coming phases of older age.

In other news, my son called tonight and we had an excellent chat.  He is sounding healthy and happier than he has in many months.  

My stove, oven and fridge are cleaned and sparkling.  Looking forward to a chance to walk downtown sometime in the next couple of days, or at least to shovelling some more snow in the morning to get fresh air.  My blood sugar has been stable for the past couple of weeks.  I had a great chat this afternoon with friends from BC and AB.

It is all good.

A Tad More Warmth, Outside and In

Woke up to a few degrees warmer temperature than we have had in the past couple of weeks.  Even a few degrees helps eradicate the trapped feeling we generally experience all winter.

I got up right at 7am to take the garbage bin to the curb and discovered a few centimeters of fresh snow needing to be shovelled before the work and school bound pedestrians pressed it down into a solid, icy mass.  We haven't had any new snow for several weeks and I admit it felt REALLY good to grab the snow shovel and work away for a few minutes before I came in for breakfast.  Ever mindful of the bone breaking fall I had a couple of years ago during an early morning shovelling attempt, I put my cell phone into my coat pocket "just in case".

Fortunately it is still pitch black around here at 7am so the neighbours couldn't see what I was wearing out there on the sidewalk.  Thinking originally I would simply be taking the bin to the curb and returning indoors immediately, I hadn't really dressed for shovelling.  Aiiii yiiiii....what a sight I would have been had anyone been around to view it.  I was wearing an old paisley flannel nightgown. The bottom hem stops about 10 cm above my ankles.  The exposed skin, between that hem and the top of my old hikers with YakTraks wrenched onto them and bare feet thrust into them, is still scarred from the liver damage. While it is continuing to heal well, to the uninitiated I would have looked frighteningly diseased!

Over top of the nightgown I wore an old wool coat that is far too big, although it was classy in its day (its "day" was about ten years or more ago), and leaves a full 5cms or more of nightgown showing around the bottom.  I had a torn grey scarf around my neck and my hands sported a pair of over sized ocean blue woollen mittens my mother in law made for my son twenty or more years ago.  I am guessing that by the time I was finished shovelling, the exposed skin above my ankles was a matching shade of blue from the -21C temperature.

In other words, most bag ladies from the downtown core of large urban centres look better than I did this morning, shovel in hand. Sigh....

Well, the job is done, I enjoyed doing it, and about the time I completed my task I realized that no diabetic should be out shovelling before eating breakfast.  How quickly we forget.......  O well, no harm done.  I ate as soon as I came inside again and breakfast tasted just a bit better than usual from the excess hunger I was starting to experience.

Shovelling always gears me up to do other tasks, so I cleaned the stove top after breakfast.  I was in a quandry about cleaning the oven. It really does need a cleaning but the idea of using spray oven cleaner at a time of year when I can't open the windows was repulsive.  Blecch!!  Breathing in such fumes has to be harmful.  However, I got out the oven manual for the first time since we came here to see if there were any other products I could safely use. Lo and behold, it turns out this little oven has an automatic cleaning cycle.  I have lived here 4 years and didn't know that.  When all else fails read the manual!!  Duh!!  I found the switch, turned it on, and in about another 2 hours I should have a clean oven to sponge out.  Delightful!

This afternoon's task is to clean the fridge and fridge freezer.  Yay, work is getting done around here.  I feel Greeeeaaaaaat!!   

Monday, February 10, 2014

Boom Boom!!

Today, after a windchill colder than -40C to start the day, so cold many of the school buses in the area didn't run, the temperature rose significantly this afternoon.  There is warmth starting again in the sun these days and it shone brilliantly this afternoon, partially  melting a tall, knobby stalagmite sort of ice formation rising from the ground under the downspout off the roof behind the house.  One forms every year and my husband and I take bets from each other as to how tall it is going to get before it topples over as the sun weakens it in early spring.

The only downside to this rise in temperature is that some of the melt from the roof trickles down under the plastic siding on the house, where it gets trapped.  Now that it is evening and the temperature is dropping again, the moisture is refreezing, subsequently expanding and pushing against the siding.  Every so often the siding pops from the hardening ice squeezed in behind it.  The noise is so loud it sounds like a sonic boom, or a cannon ball hitting the house.  When it happens at 2am, waking me out of a sound sleep, it is terrifying!

The first winter we were here my husband and I would race to the front door of the house, whip it open, stick our heads outside and try to see who was throwing rocks or icy snowballs at the bedroom wall.  Of course there was no one out there. It was simply the ice expansion behind the siding.  BOOM!!  

We are getting used to it now, but sometimes it still startles us into complete wakefulness.  This past week it has been happening more during the daytime hours so we have been getting better adjusted than in previous winters.

One thing I know for certain:  should I ever have reason to build my own house again, here on the prairies, there is no way on God's little green earth that I would use strips of plastic siding!!  The constant BOOM BOOM for the 4 to 5 months of the coldest part of winter is not appealing at best and causes intense fear resulting in sleep deprivation at worst.

I wonder if there are any stats on heart attack victims as a result of winter siding expansion???