Pages

Thursday, 22 September 2022

It's Going to be Breezy and Damp in Donkeyland

 

Hurricane Fiona is headed toward the Atlantic Provinces here in Canada. It's a storm that we are being "strongly encouraged" to "take seriously" because the prediction is for category 1 sustained winds and category 2 gusts, along with significant rainfall.

I am not looking forward to this, nor is anyone else. And yet here we are. Nature wins again.

I am scheduled to have the new bivalent vaccine tomorrow just as the storm begins in earnest. I'm not sure whether to go ahead or not; I've read that some people are experiencing extreme tiredness for 24 hours afterward. It feels a little risky to chance that during what is being called "an historic hurricane." But I've looked at the available appointments for rescheduling, and there is nothing in the near future. My last shot was in January, so I am keen to get another as soon as possible.

If the pharmacy doesn't cancel the appointment due to the storm, I will probably go ahead with it. 

My mom is going to stay with me for the duration. Maybe she can look after me! As long as she doesn't let the cats into the same room together, it will be okay.

If I'm not answering comments for a few days (starting Friday afternoon) it will be because we have lost power. I'll be back as soon as I'm able.

Being vertically challenged, at just under five feet in height, I felt special when I found this meme (with apologies to the tall people reading):

 


Of course, tall people also dry out first once the rain has stopped 😄

I know that Marie of Island Musings with Marie is facing this in PEI also. Good luck, Marie.

For the rest of you, I hope you have no storms looming, and have a good weekend.


 

Monday, 19 September 2022

Talk Like a Pirate Day

I missed Pirate Day last year, so gotta hurry and use up my pirate memes this trip around the sun: 












For more "Talk Like a Pirate Day" memes, visit bluebird of bitterness HERE. Don't forget to check out the additional memes from other years under "Related" at the bottom of that post!



Thursday, 8 September 2022

My Spirit Animal, Plus Home Repairs

I may not run as fast as the little guy in this video, but most of the time I fall asleep this fast.

As for the snoring, well, let's just gloss over that part.

(The video is six seconds long, for those who are wondering.)

Click here.

 

*****

I've been offline more than usual, trying to arrange to take care of things that need fixed around the house, which takes longer than I ever thought possible, and also worrying about everything that needs fixed, which also takes longer than I ever thought possible.

So far I've dealt with a plumber, to fix a leaky supply line, replace shut-off valves, and stop toilets from running; an air exchanger technician, to find the source of an air quality issue and fix it; and the power company, to reconnect a loose power supply line where it attaches to our house.

Now I'm waiting on a masonry company and a general contractor. 

The need for a mason arose because the floor-to-ceiling brick behind our wood stove started separating about mid-way up the wall a few years ago. The gap continues to grow. I was recently advised to have it repaired or removed ASAP as the top half is not being held up by anything other than brick ties, air, and my naivete, and it could (and probably will) fall down at some point.

Yay! There's nothing like the thought of an imminent fall of 126 bricks inside the house to make a person get on speed dial to a chimney and fireplace expert.

The chimney also needs a new cap, an inspection, and a cleaning. We rarely used it, and heaven knows what they'll find. But it's the back-up heat source in case of prolonged power outage, so it needs to be reliable.

The general contractor is needed to replace some very drafty windows (original to the house which was built thirty-four years ago) and also - I hope - expand the main-level half-bathroom to include a shower. That will make the ground level of the house more accessible and potentially self-contained. I would like to keep living here for a good many years and I hope this renovation will allow me to do that. I'm crossing my fingers that the way I envision it being done will actually work.

It's hard to find tradespeople who are available to do any of this kind of work. They're in short supply as many are aging out of the industry and not many young people are training for this work. Those who are still working are very busy. It is not uncommon to have to book work six months or more in advance.

But just as hard, in my experience, has been finding contact information for smaller businesses. Often they do not have an office or an assistant to take calls, and they use cell phones, which are not included in our phone directories, and they don't advertise in the yellow pages of those directories. Frequently they are not on the internet either. I think they have so much work from word-of-mouth that they don't need to look for any more. For every successful contact I have made, I have chased several dead ends. When you are an introvert who gets anxious even phoning your relatives, it makes the job of finding and calling complete strangers who may cost you enormous amounts of money a trying situation indeed.

But what must be done must be done. And I'm slowly crossing things off my list. 

 

*****

Fix-it funnies! I hope I don't end up with any of these - except maybe the dog in the hole in the fence.









 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Until next time, I hope you need zero home repairs - or if you do, I hope they are easy and successful and do not involve 126 bricks potentially falling on your hardwood floor, or on you 😬

 

 

Tuesday, 30 August 2022

Fruit Fly Season

It's that time of year again.

Late summer.

And the fruit flies multiplieth.

They got a little out of control here about a week ago.

Some of them were so fat they could hardly fly.

But the little devils were still surprisingly agile and able to evade my quick hands* and the fly swatter.

Usually I dig out the cider vinegar and a shallow can, use an elastic to fasten plastic wrap over the top, and poke a few holes in the plastic with a toothpick. Fruit flies are attracted to the vinegar and crawl through the holes, but can't find their way back out again. When they accumulate, I take the can outside and let the flies go, hopefully before they drown in the vinegar.

I was too tired to do that this year, so instead I periodically threw a damp paper towel over the top of the container I keep my compostable items in, took it outside and released the fruit flies.

It was so much easier and very effective. In one evening I got rid of the majority of them. It usually takes several days to trap them using the vinegar method.

The only questionable moment came when I noticed a spider just outside the door. He was in the center of his web, waiting for some dinner, so without really thinking it through I waved the fruit-fly-laden paper towel in his direction, wondering if he'd like a treat. Four of the fattest fruit flies were immediately caught in the web. The spider ran lickety-split over to the first one and devoured it, then moved on to the second one and devoured it too. The other two flies didn't even struggle while this was happening.

By the next day the spider had packed his bags and moved on. You'd think he would stay where there were plenty of victuals but no.

I was glad he'd had a good meal, but I felt bad for the fruit flies. I was trying to release them into the wild and due to my reckless and thoughtless action they had .5 seconds of freedom before being caught and eaten.

Some days I hate Nature.

Then again, the spider wasn't the only one killing the fruit flies ... (see the * above)

Some days I hate my hypocrisy too.


 


Let's have a quick survey:

Do you swat, drown, or catch and release fruit flies?

 

What the Heck

Our local dollar store has a book section. I've found some pretty good books there for myself and I always check the children's books as well, hoping for something to interest my two little grandsons.

Recently I found a kids' book about a little mouse who hears a lot of strange noises after he's in bed for the night, and the noises scare him. Eventually he lets out a frightened cry, and his mama comes quickly to his bed and explains what all the noises were. He is comforted by her explanations and soon the only noise is the snoring of the little mouse as he falls fast asleep.

The illustrations were lovely; I was completely captivated by them.

And the story line addressed a common cause of children's fears.

I felt there was a slight problem with it, though.

The first noise the little mouse heard turned out to be an owl. The mama mouse said the owl was "singing".

But ...

. . . OWLS EAT MICE. Quite reliably, in fact.

Mama Mouse missed a very important part of educating her son about the dangers around him.

I don't blame her. She only did what the author made her do.

What was the author thinking? What was the publisher thinking?

As much as I loved the illustrations, I did not get this book for my grandsons. I don't want to be the one to cause trauma when they realize Mr. Owl wasn't "singing", he was hunting . . . 😬

Apologies to Charlotte (Mother Owl) and I hope she realizes this post is 99% tongue-in-cheek 😀

 









Sunday, 14 August 2022

Highlights & Lowlights

It has been a relatively quiet week here.

Due to some crazy time recently with my mom, including this, I did a lot of reading about certain behaviors of dementia patients, and was able to pinpoint what I was doing to contribute to the crazy. Changing my own reactions to my mom's behavior has made the path much smoother. It's not perfect, of course. But I'm learning. (The essence of what I've learned is not to argue or try to use logic, no matter how unfair, untrue, or weird her conversation gets.)

There was another factor contributing to the crazy. Mom had family visiting from another province. She hadn't seen them since the summer before the pandemic started, and although she knew they were coming and was very much looking forward to their visit, when they arrived she did not recognize them and could not work out who they were, no matter how many times we explained it. After a three-day visit they left and she had some quiet time to think, and finally she realized who they were and she was distressed that she had, essentially, missed their visit. Fortunately, the two she most wanted to see were able to return for a day, and she was able to enjoy their second visit.

Remember how I mentioned I had returned to my workplace instead of working from home? When I went in Friday, my boss had a cough and some congestion. He had tested negative for Covid using a rapid test for two days running. On Saturday, however, he emailed staff to say he had tested positive.

So I've been exposed to the dreaded virus. I am a little freaked out, because I have iffy bronchial tubes (technically asthma) and I'm overweight, but I'll just have to wait (with dread) to see if I've caught it. I have had three Covid shots, but the most recent was way back in January. Our province recommends that my age group wait until this fall for the fourth shot.My mom has had a fourth shot, and although her age (92) is not in her favour, she is incredibly healthy, physically speaking. I'll be double-masking when I am around her, and keeping my visits to the briefest time possible. If I develop symptoms, I have a plan for getting her medication to her. I hope we have avoided the virus, or, if not, that our symptoms are mild.

We had a spell of very warm and humid weather which started two weeks ago and lasted for a little over a week. That doesn't sound like long, but I worried the whole time about my mother because prior to that she wouldn't use her air conditioner and seemed not to understand what it was for. When I tried to explain, she would get very upset at me. She somehow figured it out, though, and I mostly stayed away because when I visited her, she would follow me outside when I was leaving, leaving the door wide open and letting all the cool air escape from her house. I'm there every evening anyhow, so I could make sure she was okay at that time. I'm happy that the weather has moderated since then. That week was too stressful for my liking.

That's the highlights and lowlights reel from the Donkey's life recently.

Let's have a few funnies, shall we?

 


 














 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

*****

My wish for you:

May your week be a great one; and if it can't be great, may it at least be good; and if it can't be good, may you at least not be squashed by a polar bear in your own home.

Stay safe, folks.

 

 

 

Sunday, 7 August 2022

In Case You Were Wondering . . .

. . . this is how things are currently going whenever I visit my mom.

Every evening, seven days a week.

And twice on grocery day.

 

https://www.gocomics.com/calvinandhobbes/2022/08/06

 

Footnote: It might not be quite this bad, but the comic certainly resonated with me :)

 

Wednesday, 3 August 2022

Work

A month ago, I was in the middle of a crisis. Not the kind that comes on suddenly, but the kind that results from a steady building of pressures, especially when many of them are out of a person's control.

I had work deadlines looming. I was dealing with several issues related to my mom. I was preparing for a family visit. I was trying to arrange to dispose of my second vehicle before a deadline came due. I was trying to figure out who to call about several issues that need taking care of around the house. I was trying to make financial and legal decisions stemming from my husband's death. 

I was becoming so overwhelmed by the things that had to be done that I became incapable of doing anything unless it was an actual crisis. It felt like my brain had frozen up -- like a computer hung up because too many programs are running for its capacity.

It was a scary feeling, one I've never had before, even during times of high stress. Even though I recognized what was happening, I couldn't find a way to change it.

The thing that finally saved me was that I had questions about my work which needed answered, and that meant I had to go into the office instead of working from home. Once I was there, I was able to concentrate just on working, and it gave my brain a rest from the loop it had been in.

I realized I felt more relaxed than I had been for weeks. I had re-discovered the power of work to get me out of my own head. I had discovered this right after my husband's death but it had slipped my mind again when my workload became less pressing.

The strange thing about this is that I would never have predicted it would happen to me. Work was always something that seemed like an additional stress, not a way to reduce stress.

And now I think I understand better my husband's laser-like focus on working throughout his illness, right up until a few weeks before he died. 

Work was a way for him to feel like his life still had some normalcy in it, instead of being completely consumed by illness, medication, and appointments.

Sometimes I felt shut out by his dedication to work. It felt like we had such limited time that we should be spending some of it together -- doing what, I don't know. There was nothing left unsaid, no visiting that we could do as it was during the shutdown portion of the pandemic, and he was not a person inclined to dramatic gestures. He wanted life to be the same as it had always been, and I understood that and tried to help make it happen, even as I realized more and more that life as we knew it was coming to an end.

It comforts me a little to realize that work is now doing for me what it did for him then. It feels like a new link to him and to our lives together, when so many connections have been broken. And I think he would approve.

Life goes on. 


A fawn sleeping in our back yard last summer.


 

 

I Overreacted About the Nettles

First, this happened.

Then, in the comments, several readers mentioned the benefits of growing nettles and how they could be used.

Finally, the link below was provided by a reader, Jon -- and it tipped me over the edge toward wishing I had not been quite so murderous-feeling toward the nettle plant in general and especially the one that stung me.

 https://butterfly-conservation.org/news-and-blog/dig-it-may-tips-from-the-secret-gardener

It turns out that nettles are an important part of the ecosystem for several types of butterflies and moths. And there are ways that gardeners can keep them from taking over their spaces.

I should have guessed that nettles -- like other maligned plants and animals -- have their place in the world. 

Don't we all?

(Thanks for that link, Jon.)

 


 

Saturday, 2 July 2022

A Suitable Name

I remember when I was a child reading a fairy tale about a princess who had to make something or other with stinging nettles and I could just tell that it wasn't a pleasant job. It said as much right in the book; the stinging nettles stung her hands.

I've just Googled "fairy tale nettles" and yes, there it is, the story of The Wild Swans. It's got a wicked stepmother, a banished princess, magic, accusations of witchcraft, more magic, and those stinging nettles -- and, of course, swans. There is more than one version, but the Danish one by Hans Christian Anderson, seems to be the one I read when I was little. 

In it, the princess' brothers are changed into swans by the wicked stepmother, and the only way they can change back is if the princess makes shirts for them from stinging nettles. With one thing and another, she is accused of witchcraft and is about to be burned at the stake, but she doggedly works on those shirts until the last moment, flings them over the swans to change them back into her brothers,  and brings about a happy ending.

I wondered if stinging nettles were a real plant, because there's a lot of made-up stuff in fairy tales. Also, I'd never heard anyone in my little world talk about stinging nettles as something that lived in our province or even our country. So the question just sat in the back of my mind for something like fifty years until the internet came along, and also blogging, and I started finding references in other countries to stinging nettles as FOOD -- although, to be sure, you must cook the leaves and stems if you do not wish to have heck in your mouth.

Well, guess what I ran into in my own yard a few weeks ago, and again yesterday? Yes, you get a gold star.

Both times I was weeding and found them with my hands, which had predictable results. I was wearing thin plastic gloves which I use instead of my heavy gloves for many gardening jobs because they are less clumsy and keep my hands cleaner than no gloves at all. Both times, I spent twenty-four hours regretting it.

The first time I was stung, for reasons I no longer remember but can guess at (4x daily trips to my mom's for eye drops, for example) I promptly forgot about it. I forgot to check the internet to see if we even have stinging nettles in Nova Scotia. I forgot to wonder if there were more plants in my yard. I forgot what it looked like. I forgot to wear heavier gloves when pulling weeds again. I forgot that I ever got hurt.

Yesterday it happened all over again. My thumb hurt so badly I couldn't use it and even though I didn't use it, it still hurt. I was so affronted I quit weeding and spent the day on the computer. One of the first things I did was Google stinging nettles and sure enough, we got 'em. They apparently spread through their roots, or you can buy them for $4.00 Canadian for several hundred seeds if you are so inclined.

What I was inclined to do was go outside with my thick gloves and dig up that plant and any others that looked like it and lay them in the sun to shrivel up, after which I used my thick gloves to wrap them in newspaper and placed them carefully in the compost bin for pickup.

Here is pictorial evidence, by the way:

 

Growing right under my nose



 
Ye shall grow no more, wicked plant

 

Do  you have stinging nettles where you live?

Have you ever gotten stung?

Have you ever eaten stinging nettles?

Are you an adventurous eater?

What is the most adventurous thing you have ever eaten?

 


Friday, 1 July 2022

Holiday Thoughts from Canada

Many folks are finding the events of the past few years and especially the past few months to be weird, strange, scary and depressing. It's hard to process how quickly and how badly democracy has been slipping in the world. It's easy to feel there is nothing to be done except plug our ears and yell "I'm not listening!"

But there are things we can do.

If you are on the side of democracy, realize that voting is like a lot of other things.

Just because you do it once doesn't mean you never have to do it again.

Every election is important, at every level of government, every single time.

There is no such thing as "democracy is safe now, so I can relax". Or, "I trust those running our county/town/province/state/country, so I don't have to think about policy or issues anymore".

Because the person/party not currently in power is spending plenty of time and energy figuring out how to get back into power.

If you don't want that to happen, you have to be on your toes, with your ears and eyes open and your brain engaged, all the time.

One thing you can do right now, even if there is no election imminent at the local, regional or national level where you live, is to make sure you are registered to vote.

If you aren't registered already, start the process now. If you aren't sure if you're registered, find out. If you're going to be out of the area or country when the next election hits, figure out now how you can vote early or from a distance. If you wait until the election is upon you, it may be too late.

And if you know anyone who is not registered, find out why. If you can help them, please help. If they don't think voting is important, help them understand why it is and what's at stake.

If you are unclear on these things, read up on them or find YouTube channels or podcasts which help explain.

One YouTube channel I've started watching is Brian Tyler Cohen, a liberal activist whose YouTube videos are brief, knowledgeable, and well-presented, and whose podcasts are longer but also interesting and I say that as someone who doesn't usually like podcasts. Don't be put off by his video titles; I think he's trying to catch readers' attention. If you like what you hear, subscribe (for free) and like his videos. That helps to ensure his videos appear on more YouTube watchers' screens. And tell your friends. (Warning: occasional strong language.)

On a recent podcast, Cohen interviewed Fred Guttenberg, the father of a girl killed in the mass shooting at a Parkland, Florida high school. Guttenberg is now an activist for gun reform in the U.S. and his thoughts and advice are moving and empowering. He explains why it's important to vote at every level for every public office, and what the stakes are.

You don't have to live in the United States to subscribe or give videos a "like", but those actions can help drive the algorithm that suggests videos for YouTube watchers, including Americans.

That's my public service announcement for today . . . which is Canada Day in my country. It's not just a day for me to write about parades and fireworks and strawberry shortcake to celebrate the anniversary of the founding of Canada; it's also a day to reflect on how lucky I am to live in a democracy and also how fragile democracy is and what I can do to help make sure it survives.

Oh, Canada! I stand on guard for thee. (from our national anthem)

Or at least I try.




 


Tuesday, 28 June 2022

The World of Mom

This blog is in danger of turning into a blog about my mother and the dementia that rules both our lives. I don't want that to happen.

But occasionally something funny will happen. Sort of funny. Okay, funny and frustrating in equal measure.

And I am here to inflict it on you.

My mother wears slippers something like these, but in a tan colour and in much clearer focus:

Giving new meaning to the phrase "fuzzy slippers"

 

 

Never mind that they are completely unsupportive of her poor, bunion-deformed feet; they are what she wants to wear and have I ever mentioned that my mother is contrary an independent thinker?

So when the bottom started wearing off one of her current slippers, I started hunting for a replacement pair.

The reality of living in a small town where retailers have melted away over the years means that I had two stores to buy from, WalMart and the dollar store. The upside of buying dollar store slippers, by the way, is that no two pairs are exactly the same length, due - I assume - to quality control issues. Because dollar store quality.

Since the dollar store slippers cost only $3, I bought the two pair that looked largest for their stated size and took them home for her to try on.

She tried the first pair on and they fit!

But they were pink, so she wouldn't wear them because she didn't want to get them dirty.

The other pair, which was black, did not fit; they were just a bit too short.

I went back to the dollar store and bought another two pair, both in dark colours. They had gotten fresh supplies in and there were more to choose from.

Neither pair fit.

So then I went to WalMart and bought another black pair in her usual size and a pair in a larger size.

The usual size was too short and the larger ones fell off when she walked.

Finally the bottom fell off her old slipper completely, and she was walking on the felt inner layer, which was very slippery. After some heated arguing back and forth I took she allowed me to take those slippers home to put in the garbage (I was afraid if I left them in her garbage she would dig them back out and take a fall while wearing them) and she found an old, too-short pair of slippers in her closet to wear until ... well, until a miracle happened, I guess.

Meanwhile, I had the bright idea that if I washed the too-short WalMart slippers and then put a slightly larger pair of shoes inside them while they dried, they might stretch enough to fit.

Today I took the stretched slippers to her to try on.

First I heard the story (and I can assure you it was not for the first or even the hundredth time) of how she is left-handed and therefore needs a larger shoe for her left foot and she has always had to buy her left shoes specially made (note: she has not) and where did I buy these slippers anyhow because she bought her last ones at the dollar store and they were the best slippers ever and the cashier gave her a third slipper because it was just lying around and the woman said she might as well have it. (I have actually looked in her closet for a third slipper to match the others but failed to find it.)

As she was talking, she was trying on the slippers.

At first she said they were too short. She was still sitting, and her feet were jammed forward in them, so I suggested she try walking in them.

Instead, she said maybe if she switched them to the opposite feet they might fit. Which she did. And they didn't.

The left one was still too short. Cue the story of the dollar store slippers again.

I suggested again that she try walking in them. Again she responded by switching the slippers to the opposite feet.

Still too short. What are the odds, people? Cue the story of the dollar store slippers AGAIN.

Finally she switched the slippers to the opposite feet again and announced that . . . THEY FIT!!!

It was like a comedy routine except my head hurt by the time we were done.

I am under no illusion that the slipper saga is over yet, and fully expect that when I visit her at suppertime to do her eye drops she will be wearing the old ones and trash-talking the new ones. Meanwhile, a perfectly-fitting pair of pink slippers languishes in her closet.

Also in footwear-related topics, the geriatric doctor has just recommended she be fitted for supportive shoes for indoor and outdoor use.

Another hurdle to jump. She doesn't believe in indoor shoes, because slippers are easier to put on and shoes track in dirt. You and I both know that the solution to the dirt problem is to buy two pair, one for inside and one for outside. But it will be hard enough to get her to buy one pair, let alone two.

The geriatric doctor likes to tell caregivers that they can blame him for anything the dementia patient gets upset over. He chuckles indulgently and says he doesn't mind being the bad guy. I refrain from telling him that my mother doesn't give a sweet care about whether he says to do something or not.

She is, my friends, an independent thinker.

*****


Funnies! Let us have some.

Today's theme is signs, because all the signs above point to Donkey having a mental breakdown and I want to replace those signs with better ones.

(I believe El Arroyo is a Texas restaurant. I don't know how the food is but the sign person is to be commended.)




























*****

Hope you're having a good week, in spite of the craziness that's going on in the world.