Monday 29 August 2016

A Little Monday Cheese, to go with Friday's Whine

Thank you to everyone who left kind comments on my last post. Which was everyone. I've crossed a couple of more things off my long, long list over the weekend, so I'm hoping momentum will take over from here. And if it doesn't, I need to remember that getting started is probably the hardest part.

On the heels of my Friday whine, a cheesy post might be exactly what's needed today.

I was surprised to find so many definitions of "cheesy" online, at least in the sense that I mean it here:
- tacky, tawdry, trite
- lacking style or good taste
- of poor quality, shoddy
- corny, cornball 

Stop the presses! I think that last one is just what I'm looking for.

And that brings us to corny jokes, doesn't it? Sure it does.

How do you fix a broken tomato?
With tomato paste!

Why do flourescent lights always hum?
Because they don’t know the words.

 How do you stop a charging rhinoceros?
Take away his credit card. 

Why did Beethoven get rid of his chickens?
Because they kept saying Bach, Bach, Bach!

Why do cows wear bells?
Because their horns don't work.

Guess who I saw today?
Everyone I looked at.

And somehow they are even more delightful with pictures:

 Especially pictures of cats, if you're a cat person:

This one rings true for me:

And here is one of life's mysteries ... solved:

Are puns considered cheesy? I think they are clever.

And this joke made me smile out loud:

Searching for these jokes on the internet actually did make me feel pretty good. Like this, really:

In future, when I feel like having some whine, I have to remember this: find cheese instead!

It's settled, then:

Over and out.

(All photos and jokes shamelessly lifted from various places on the internet, where they had been shamelessly lifted from other places on the internet, where they had been shamelessly lifted from OTHER places ...)

Thursday 25 August 2016

Friday Thoughts, A Day Early

(I've been forgetting to hit Publish the last while, meaning my posts have been late. Today I meant to save my Friday post as a draft, and apparently hit Publish instead. I wasn't even sure I wanted to post this. Too late to retract it now, with several comforting comments from dear friends. Ah, well - full steam ahead :))

I've always been on the shy side, personality wise.

But when my dad had his stroke, I had to learn to step out of my comfort zone. Because I was involved with his treatment from the day he went to the hospital, and because his brain was affected by age and the stroke, my brain became the repository for all the bits and pieces of information that he would otherwise have stored in his head to deal with the health care system - everyone from caregivers to paramedics to nurses and doctors. I became familiar with his conditions, his medications, his prior treatments, his appointment dates and times, his specialists' names, his food preferences, his abilities, his Everything, as he travelled the path of life in his last eight years. He often introduced me to people as "my daughter, my right hand."

I found it hard to speak up: to ask for what he needed; to "bother" people for a blanket or help shifting him to a more comfortable position or giving him his puffer or finding missing clothing; to question a doctor's prescription or a nurse's behavior; to stand up to those who, for some reason I cannot fathom, had chosen to go into a helping profession without a basic level of empathy for vulnerable patients. But I did it, and it got a bit easier as the years went by.

Let me take a moment here to add that the great majority of the people Dad and I encountered were caring and capable, and if not capable, at least well-intentioned. I am so thankful to them. But there were a surprising number of the other kind, more than I ever would have expected, and my fervent wish for them is that they become a patient of an arrogant, loud, rough medical professional or caregiver some day. For many, many days on end. Years, even. Pah!

As I was saying.

I learned to speak up, for my dad's sake. But since his death, I feel like I've lost my voice again. I don't like to call people. Any people. I don't like to arrange things. I don't like to make appointments for myself. I don't like to go to appointments for myself.

I gave myself six months of cocooning time and forgiveness; it didn't seem enough. It's been over a year now; I'm getting worse. I put off going to physiotherapy for my hip for six weeks, telling myself that I just needed more exercise in general, I needed to do my old physio exercises, I needed to fill in for work vacations, I needed to clean the house ... I used similar reasons to put off calling the dentist to have an adjustment done to a crown that's been living in my mouth for over three months now.

There is a list on my cupboard of all the things I should do, and the list is getting longer, not shorter. Things are piling up, and I can't seem to Just Do Them. The calls are the worst part by far. What is it about picking up the phone and talking to people that has me so knotted up?

I don't have a clue.

I took a week off work to try to get my physio started. I have succeeded in that, at least.

May it be only the beginning. May I be on my way out of this fog. May I cease to dread talking on the phone. May I get over being so rattled that I forget to give medical personnel important information. May I stop looking like a deer in the headlights, as they say here, meaning frozen in place.

May I come out of my second childhood of painful shyness and, once and for all, grow up.

Monday 22 August 2016

Caution: Do Not Read on Empty Stomach

I can't quite remember how we got started on the topic, but my husband and I spent a full hour on the weekend discussing and ranking our favourite sweets.

At first glance this doesn't seem like a helpful thing to do when one of us (me) is trying to lose weight. But since we talked during and after supper, it didn't seem to set up any cravings, and the results of the discussion were quite interesting.

First, I found out that despite thirty-six years of marriage I wasn't able to predict even one of the top five items on my husband's list. I attribute this shocking lack of knowledge to the fact that he will eat anything put in front of him and enjoy it, except chocolate, which I knew would not make the list, and it didn't. A tiny bit of redemption, perhaps?

Anyway, this new information makes it easier to pare down the holiday baking. Or the bake sale purchases, which is how I've done most of my baking in recent years.

My own list surprised me almost as much. For most of my life, ever since making a cheesecake at about age 15, I would have put that at the top of the list. But stopping to actually think about what floats my boat now brought forth this somewhat dubious number one choice: Marshmallow Squares. I believe this name describes a number of different recipes; the one I would crawl over broken glass for includes peanut butter, butter, butterscotch chips and mini-marshmallows. Classy, eh? Basically candy, really. But look, anything with three kinds of butter in it can't be all bad. (Second on my list is butter shortbread. Seeing a pattern? Hence the need for losing weight.) The funny part is that I'm not a big fan of marshmallows, yet they are essential for these squares; without them, you'd basically have gooey butter sugar.
So, here's my question: what is your hands-down favourite sweet? For hubby's and my discussion, we opened up the field to everything - fancy desserts, squares, loaves, cookies, home-baked, store-bought ... everything was fair game; feel free to use those parameters or state your own. Hit me with your best shot. I promise to stave off cravings by eating before I read the comments, each and every one.

Even on a classy plate, Marshmallow Squares are still just candy. But delicious. (Photo: Teri D. at

Friday 19 August 2016

Sometimes Relief is Spelled R-A-I-N

We've had a fair bit of rain here in the last few days. It is more than welcome, as our summer has been extremely dry and there have been several forest fires in our province over the past two weeks.

Personally, I don't mind the rain. The grey sky is easier on my eyes, the humidity is easier on my sinuses, and it even seems that outdoor noise is more muted and kinder to my sensitive ears.

Maybe that has something to do with the fact no one mows in the rain. Or hammers shingles for a new roof. Or does other construction or destruction or road work or even plays outside. There's just the raindrops on the roof and the deck and the warm asphalt and the grass, and the splashing of vehicles in the roadway.

I'm sure if it rained a higher percentage of the time, the grey and the wet would become oppressive. And I know that the damp days are hard on those with arthritis, fibromyalgia, and shattered bones that are healed but not properly so, and as we have family members with all those things, it's hard not to feel a little guilty at enjoying the rain.

But for me the rain is a relief, and I do not begrudge the people who enjoy sunshine their sunny days.

The rain can also make for some lovely photographs.

A petunia blossom in the rain. I've found a way to get very-close-up photos with my point and shoot camera. After taking a photo with the zoom feature, I bring up that photo on the camera screen. Then I use the zoom feature again, while the photo is in the screen, to enlarge it even more; then frame and clip it digitally to produce a second, closer-up shot. If you have a simple digital camera you may also have this feature; it is an easy way to get clear close ups.

 Wishing you a happy weekend.

Monday 15 August 2016

Our Yard is Strangely Light

We had to say good-bye to an old but dangerous friend a few days ago.

Our friend was a tree that was carefully saved from the chain saw when our house was built twenty-eight years ago. Located just beside our driveway, it gave us shade and beauty for all those years. It sheltered birds and the occasional squirrel and it dropped leaves for our kids to play in. It was a perfect leaning post when I had to rest my back while gardening.

But the last half-dozen years, it gave us a few frights as well. In fall and winter storms it occasionally dropped a branch. I must give it credit for never hitting our vehicles that were parked right under it. It was an extremely considerate tree.

However, the last limb to come down almost took down our neighbour's power line.

They had a few other trees on their lot that they wanted to get rid of, so we discussed the future of our tree, too, and we all agreed that it was time for it to go. Best to do it before the windy season that will start in September.

I refused to watch as it was cut down. I hate to lose a good tree. Or even a bad one. But especially one that watched over us for so many years.

After the deed was done, and all the wood removed, the only thing left was sawdust. Our driveway is big enough to hold six vehicles comfortably, and the sawdust was spread surprisingly uniformly over the entire thing.

I stood in our garage and considered the tools available to me to move that sawdust off the drive. There was the shop vac, but it's noisy, and has a short cord, and that would require finding a heavy duty extension cord, which would have taken all the time available to me for sawdust removal. There was the water hose, but that seemed like a terrible waste of water. I could have used a leaf blower except we don't own such a thing. A hair dryer seemed like a bad idea also. Not that we keep a hair dryer in our garage, but I can think outside the box as well as the next person.

That left the broom. It's the former kitchen broom, now relegated to the garage and it looks like this:

Screenshot from Canadian Tire website. Actual broom in our garage did not wish to have its photo taken. I can respect that.
As anyone who has ever used one of these will know, those bristles are soft and flexible. Great for a kitchen floor, or even a concrete floor; however, they are all but useless on a rough surface.

As I swept, I had a long time to think. Seventy-five minutes, if you should happen to be wondering.

For awhile, I mourned our tree. Then I began to sweat, and wish it were not quite so humid. Then I began to wish I had followed my heart about twenty-five years ago and bought the push broom I had been coveting, but never did because my longing was exceeded by my frugality. And I cheered myself up - as my carpal tunnel inflicted hand went numb from holding the broom - by reminding myself that since I cannot currently go walking for exercise, sweeping was a decent substitute and allowed me to shuffle around getting an upper-body workout while doing no serious damage to my lower half.

Then, after mining that silver lining to its limit, an image popped into my mind from a movie where the main character had to scrub a very large floor with only a toothbrush. And, lo, I felt his pain, and also felt sorry for myself.

In case you ever need to sweep sawdust off your asphalt driveway with a dinky broom, I have some tips for you.

- Think of raking leaves. It will take about as much time to clear the sawdust as it would to clear the same area of leaves with one of those horrible leaf rakes that impales leaves and won't let them go until you pick them off individually by hand. Yes, I rake very slowly. Bonus: you don't end up with twenty bags of leaves. I had only three shovelfuls of sawdust at the end.

- Think of shovelling snow. It will seem positively enjoyable by comparison because you don't have to keep bending over and lifting heavy loads of snow and throwing them awkwardly to one side on a bank that's towering over your head. At least that's my usual experience with shovelling snow because (a) we often get quite a lot of snow, and (b) I'm not very tall, and oh yeah (c) I'm not very strong either.

- A light touch is more effective. The harder I pushed down on that broom, trying to dislodge the sawdust from the pitted surface of the driveway, the less movement there was of said sawdust. But when I barely touched the broom to the asphalt with each arc, it caught the particles better and the breeze generated by the swish actually blew the really fine stuff in the direction I wanted it to go. Is this physics? Is this gravity? Is this putting you to sleep?

- Buy a push broom.

I finished sweeping just as the humid day turned into a rainy one.  It was good timing, in more ways than one. If I had been able to linger outside, I'm afraid I would have shed some tears, in spite of being glad to have the monotonous cleanup done.

Thanks, my big old friendly tree, for giving us the best years of your life, and I hope you have one last hurrah as you warm someone's home this winter, just when they need you.

Photo courtesy of Pixabay.

Friday 12 August 2016

My Life in Pictures

A brief run-down on my life lately:

Replace Bill with jenny_o
Replace the dog with any of our three cats.

Replace Bob with any of our three cats.

Again, any of our three cats ...

At least half of the time I sew.

We need a new mouse. Not the furry kind. The other one.

Okay, maybe not this bad, but close.

But in the end ...

Heck. He meant Heck.

And how's everything with you?

Hope your weekend is Great, with a capital G.

My appreciation to all the sources, as shown on the photos, for their very funny offerings. No source available for the big dog on the shredded sofa.

Monday 8 August 2016

Baby Talk

I've been finding it harder to come up with ideas for posts because I'm not getting out and about, due to the longer hours I've been working and my inability to go walking because of my sore hip.

What to do, what to do ...

Use my secret weapon, that's what. I have a bit of a packrat personality, and why should that be any different when it comes to hoarding great articles, interesting ideas, and funny videos found on the internet? I've got so many bookmarked that the list has become almost unusable. But, just like other stuff I save, occasionally I come up with a new use for the many things I've bookmarked "just in case." Whenever I need a topic, I just scan down the list of bookmarks until one jumps out at me.

Today I needed a smile, so this is the video I'd like to share:

Another use for breakfast

Apparently because it's a news feed, I can't insert the actual video. But if you click the link, it will take you there. I hope it works for my international readers.

And for those who can't or don't wish to follow the link, here is a still photo on a different topic:

This photo is pretty drab and uninteresting.

But the back story will help, I hope.

These are both crows. But the one on the left is a youngster, while the one on the right is bigger - and, I assume, older. And also, I assume, the parent. He or she was giving me the beady eye stare while I took the photo, and shortly afterward, they both took off for the nearest tree, with the parent urging the youngster to "get over here, NOW." At least that's what it sounded like.

It reminds me of the day I saw a similar parent/youngster duo when I was out for a walk. It was a quiet day and I could hear them clearly from a distance. The parent crow was making a sound I've never heard a crow make before - it was like the chirping of any ordinary small bird, not the strident and/or gutteral cawing that crows usually make. And the youngster, who was hopping about on a lawn while the parent watched from the wire above, was chirping back. I was amazed to hear this exchange. Crow baby talk? Family voice (as opposed to public voice)? Who knows? But what a treat to hear it.

Friday 5 August 2016

Do Pets Really Look Like Their Owners?

There isn't much to say today except this:

Yup. This is about how I feel. But with less energy.

How was your week?

Monday 1 August 2016


This post was inspired by this recent BBC article; it talks about early memories and why we don't recall anything from before two-and-a-half years old, at the very earliest, despite there being some major things going on during those years, like being born, for instance.

It made me think about my earliest memories. Each one is a visual memory, lasting only seconds, sometimes just the equivalent of a photograph, one single frame - and the glimpses into my past are the same every time I think about them. Either I have no imagination or my life was quite dull! I've been told that our memories are constantly changing as we think and re-think about them, but that is not the impression I have of my own memories. They seem to be constant, and try as I will, I cannot add to the details.

The following memories are all from before I was five; I know this for sure because they all took place in the house we moved away from when I was five years old.

... having relatives from the U.S. visit on a summer day when my older brother and I were recovering from the mumps. We were well enough to be up and around and playing hide and seek by the time our company came, although my neck still felt sore. I hope we didn't pass on our ick to our cousin. Another brief memory from that day was that we had more people than chairs at meal time, so we used the piano bench as a seat for several people along one side of the table. For some reason, that made a big impression on me.

... the aftermath of a fall from a rocking chair, during which I bit my tongue deeply. I don't remember the fall, the blood, or the pain but if you want the details my mother can still provide a full description. No stitches; the mouth heals quickly. The only memory I actually have is from the next morning, when my father carried me downstairs and my mother gave me a glass of orange juice - which stung my tongue and I couldn't drink more than a mouthful. I had a horizontal scar on my tongue for many years; there is still a small line there. Unless that's just a normal line - I don't know - is it normal to have an indentation going from side to side on the surface of your tongue? Why are we not taught these critical things in health class? All I know is that it has never stopped me from talking - which some people think is a pity.

... crying as the television set which had been lent to us for awhile was taken away again. I hid my head under one of the couch cushions to have a proper boo-hoo. We didn't have a TV again until I was about 10 years old. In retrospect, I'm glad of that. I had to use my imagination a lot, and I read and read and read, which is a good basis for later learning.

... seeing my brother cry when he came home from school to the news that our elderly, deaf dog had been struck and killed by a car while trotting beside the road ... strangely, I did not feel any sadness myself that I can recall. But I remember my brother retreating behind a large chair to cry and getting mad at me for following him and not leaving him alone. I don't think empathy had kicked in yet.

... playing the piano, a simple tune - probably Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star. I had a little music book with numbered notes. My daytime babysitter was very patient with me, I'm told. Just imagine if you had to listen to the same tune over and over and over. You'd have to be a saint.

... visiting the house we would move into when I was five. The family living there had a disabled adult daughter, and she was playing with some sort of large machine. I remember thinking that when we moved in I'd be able to see it closer and figure out what it was - that was before I realized that moving means taking all your stuff with you, and that goes for the people who are vacating the house, too!

... going to school with my mother for a day. She taught in a one-room school with grades from primary to senior. I can remember sitting and doing something to keep busy (colouring? hah - probably not, I never liked to colour ... looking at books? more likely) while she taught. At lunch time the older girls took me outside to have a picnic; they were superbly kind and mothering and I wanted for nothing. It was a beautiful warm-but-not-hot day, so it was probably in June, close to the end of the school year.

How about you? What are your earliest memories? How old do you estimate you were? Anything else to add? I'd love to hear about it. It's an endlessly fascinating topic for me.

I was between 12 and 18 months in this photo. Too young to remember a blessed thing, apparently. Somehow I don't have any "age 4-5" photos of myself. I haven't grown much, and I still squint in the sunlight. Also? I've figured out how to post things without a scanner - by taking a photo! It's a photo of a photo, folks.