Friday 29 April 2022

April Showers Bring What Now


Oh, little birdies on the grass

A-hunting for your wormy lunch

The sun is shining brightly as

You wait and watch for worms to munch


You should have been here yesterday

It rained and flooded all the lawn

The driveway was a worm buffet

You surely could have feasted on


Maybe that's not what birds do

Maybe soggy worms are blah

But there's one thing I feel is true

Un-soggy worms aren't much bettah



This poem was inspired by the dozens of worms that crawled onto our driveway from the lawn in the rain.

I rescued a few that made it under the garage door, and figured the rest would crawl back to the lawn when the rain stopped.

They did not.

Don't read the next line if you are squeamish.

They were dried up in the sun the next day and I was sad.


Probably what the worms were thinking when they got stranded.


Hope you had a better week than the worms did.

Tell Donkey all about it if you like.

Friday 22 April 2022

Lifting Mask Mandates

Across North America, mask mandates that were in place for the last two years are being lifted even as Covid cases rise. This includes my province where we were so careful for so long. (Update: My province is Nova Scotia.)

Politicians are caving to the pressure of the we-have-to-learn-to-live-with-it approach by the most vocal of their constituents.

Masks are still RECOMMENDED by the health departments of the government, even if they are not REQUIRED. Even politicians who supported mask mandates all along are now changing their tune and saying it's up to individuals to "do the right thing" and use the tools (including masking) that we know help in reducing the spread of Covid.

But there are too many people who aren't doing "the right thing". They couldn't wait to take off their masks and no amount of appealing to their better nature will make them put those instruments of oppression (haha) back on.

One person wearing a good mask = some protection.

But everyone wearing masks = better protection.

Your protection is automatically less now if the people around you are not also wearing one.

There are still just as many vulnerable people out there. And they are the ones who are effectively being punished now. When they go shopping for groceries, medications, and other necessities, their environment is no longer as safe as when everyone was required to mask up. The vulnerable include not just the very elderly and the immuno-compromised but anyone with a chronic health condition and also those of us who are just barely out of middle age.

This decision has really gotten my hackles up.

Infectious diseases experts are worried about the lifting of mask mandates. These are the people who have the training and experience to make the best judgement. They are the people who saw the potential for a pandemic years ago but were only half-listened to by elected officials, because what was seen as a fairly remote possibility was not a sexy issue for political campaigning; therefore there was no way to fund precautionary measures.

The experts say we just don't have enough data yet to suddenly drop restrictions. They favour a more gradual approach and are no longer even talking about "herd immunity". This virus is not behaving like others we have seen. Vaccines and boosters aren't giving lasting immunity. Even catching the virus is not giving lasting immunity. Hospitalizations and deaths are still continuing at too high a rate among the unvaccinated or partially vaccinated.

As far as I can see, the only way around the increased risk caused by the dropping of mask mandates is to wear the best mask you can find.

Cloth masks are now considered by experts as not very effective against the much more contagious omicron BA.2 variant currently circulating.

Medical masks are somewhat better, especially if you alter them using the "knot and tuck" method ...


... or if you wear two masks together (either a well-fitting cloth mask over a medical mask, or two medical masks - the one closest to your face using the knot & tuck method and the one on top worn the regular way, with the elastics knotted if necessary to give a closer fit).

The best single masks are the KF94 (Korean), N95, N99, and KN95 (Chinese) masks, according to experts. But not everyone can afford them, nor does everyone have access to them. Some of them (such as the ones I bought a load of) are also more difficult to put on and therefore are not as good a choice when you will be taking your mask off and putting it back on without having access to handwashing or hand sanitizer, because you could contaminate the inside of the mask with your hands.

Anyhow, all the griping in the world will not change what the politicians have decided on this issue. They are going to do what all the other politicians are doing. They are all going to protect themselves. And I'm not talking about masks in that sentence.

When things can't change, all that's left is the pleasure of complaining. And so I do.

So let us mitigate the complaining with a few funnies. They help a little, plus they're free, non-addictive, non-alcoholic, and non-fattening, although maybe a little addictive 😀 (Thank you for that, EC). Enjoy.

Wait just a sec ... first we must have a meme that fits the post:


And another.

Okay, NOW we can proceed.

All right, I confess - this is me. I have bought pinecones in a store. I don't know anybody with a pine tree that I can beg to give me their pinecones.

Have a good week :)

Monday 11 April 2022

Book List: Making a Decision

I keep looking at my "Recent Reads" list on the sidebar of my blog, trying to figure out what to do with it.

I stopped updating it in late 2020, when my husband was very sick and I had no time to read.

I took up reading again soon after his death. Along with work, it was the only way I could escape, for an hour or two, the desperate sadness I felt about his suffering and our losses. It was also my only hope for getting some sleep. I would read myself into a stupor, turn out the light, and - most times - fall asleep before the video in my head would start playing again.

But I didn't have the energy or the interest to keep track of what I read. And I was reading what I think of as undemanding books, with predictable plots and happy endings - books I usually would have passed over. They weren't books I would necessarily recommend and they weren't ones I wanted to admit I was reading, to be honest. But they were what I needed just then. In fact, I am still choosing them over more complicated books and definitely over books with sad or uncertain endings.

I don't think any of us, including me, needs to be a shrink to figure out why.

But the point I'm trying to make is that I stopped recording them in my sidebar. 

I did stack up the actual physical books and take pictures of them so I could create a list if I wanted to in future.

But I don't think I want to do that.The list is already too long and it will probably get longer as I get back to more complex books. And none of them are "recent" now, so I'll probably change the title.

So I'll be selectively deleting books from the list, keeping only those that impressed me.

I know some of you have a list in your blog sidebar like I do. What makes the list? What doesn't? Do the rest of you keep a list in some other format? Tell me all about it.

UPDATE: I changed my mind. At the suggestion of Elephant's Child, I've decided to set up a page with old reads on it. Will start a 2022 list in the sidebar shortly :)



Friday 8 April 2022

Unexpected Kindness at the RMV

Remember the snow storm I wrote about here?

During one of my forays outside to shovel snow, I stopped for a rest. It happened that I was standing at the rear of my vehicle, the vehicle my late husband drove. I kept his SUV rather than my small car because it was newer and better for driving in the snow.

In Nova Scotia, our license plates are attached to the rear of our vehicles, and on them we must have a sticker with the date of expiry of the vehicle permit. As I waited for my heart rate to fall out of the imminently-exploding zone, I noticed the sticker said FEB22.

People, I had been driving illegally for over five weeks.

I tried to renew the permit online, but the plates were in my husband's name and the system would not allow it. Apparently, the death of a plate owner automatically triggers withdrawal of that plate from the system. Since deaths are registered with the government, and license plates are issued by the same government, the computerized system blocked renewal and I needed to go to the Registry of Motor Vehicles in person.

I didn't realize that I wouldn't receive a renewal notice - or a notice of any kind - in the mail to warn me of this deadline. If you ask me, this is a stupid system. No one in a position to change this HAS asked me, but I would generously share my thoughts with them if they did.

Anyway, I wanted to get this issue dealt with as soon as possible and was determined to do it yesterday.

Yesterday I also had a physio appointment for my decrepit knee, plus the usual four visits to my mom to put in her eye drops.

I know this story is wandering all over the place, but bear with me.

Partway through the physio appointment I began to feel very warm and not very well and knew I was headed toward fainting if I didn't get cooled down, so I had to leave the appointment early, embarrassed and stressed out. I have fainted a few times in my life, and I've almost fainted a few more times, and when it happens it usually leaves me feeling "off" for several hours afterward, as (I suppose) my body adjusts to the stress. This time I felt even worse than usual, because I felt so alone without my husband to talk to and to check up on me.

By the time I had some juice and a nap and attended to my mom's eye drops, it was getting close to closing time at the Registry of Motor Vehicles.

I was worried that I might feel faint again, I was worried that the police would stop me for my out-of-date sticker, I was worried that I would get a cranky RMV employee, and I was emotionally not all right, considering this was one more link with my husband that I would be severing. That may sound dumb, but it's the way it feels every time I have to provide information that officially affirms my husband is forever gone.

Fortunately, the young lady at the counter was extremely helpful and kind. She processed the paperwork quickly. The last thing she had to do was choose a new plate for me. She rummaged through the drawer of plates, choosing one, hesitating, then rummaged some more and came up with a different one. She showed it to me and said she picked it because it had the numbers of my husband's birth date, and was that okay or would I like a random number instead.

I felt such relief at her kindness. I don't know what, if anything, was in her background to bring her to using this method of choosing a new plate number, but I found it very comforting and thoughtful. Some folks might not, but she phrased her choice in such a way that it would have been easy to say yes or no without needing to say more. I chose "yes please!" with emotion and gratitude.

At the end of a not-great day, this young civil servant made me feel visible and cared about. Although I ended up having a good cry afterward, the world felt a little warmer and life a little more tolerable. It was a reminder that people with kindness and empathy can be of any age and found in the most unexpected places.


Sheena at the RMV, I'll remember you.




Monday 4 April 2022

April in Nova Scotia

We are in the midst of another snowstorm here. The snow is wet and heavy, as the temperature is just around 0C. The forecast is calling for 15-25 cm before evening.

I have already shovelled my lane twice, once before the 9 a.m. trip to my mother's for her eye drops, and once after I came back. It's piling up quickly.

Here's a lone crocus beside my front step. The poor thing popped up this spring in a bare patch of earth I dug up last year, intending to plant annuals but not following through. I wanted to take the photo before the deer decapitated it.



See the nice bare ground?

It's not bare anymore.

Here's a video I just took out my front door.


And here's one from my back door, showing the accumulation of snow on the deck railing in just a few hours.

 For those who prefer photos rather than videos, this is for you.


I am taking the day off medical duty for my mother. I have left the eye drops and her medication for tonight and tomorrow morning with her, along with written instructions.

She has already called me to question the instructions. She feels the eye drops should go in the eye with less vision, not the operated eye. We have talked about this many times. She only remembers having the eye surgery when reminded, because "it was so long ago" (twenty days, but who's counting?).

I asked if she wanted to come stay with me until the storm was over, but she said she would be okay. And I am too worn out to push the suggestion. The snow is forecast to stop this evening, and the streets should be plowed by morning, so whatever damage she can do with the eye drops and medications will only last one day.

I was scheduled for a physio appointment today to try to figure out a knee problem that has been creeping up on me for well over a year now. Because of the snow, I have re-scheduled for later in the week. I fear losing my mobility because there is only me, myself, and I to depend on now.

So I have a rare day with nowhere I have to go and no deadlines to meet, except to call my mother to remind her of the time to take her eye drops.

I wish I could shut off the worry in my brain.

When my dad was in the last years of his life in a nursing home, I found I needed to be there almost daily to keep an eye on his care. I also enjoyed his company and he had few visitors so I liked to drop in every day. As his health worsened, I learned to put my worry in a box, mentally, because I knew that he was at least safe in the home. It was hard, but I learned to relax for the time I wasn't with him.

I can't seem to relax about my mother. I think the difference is that there is nobody there with her. I know her neighbours keep an eye on her, but it's different than having someone right in her home.

But she will not agree to anyone being in her home (except me, or my brother who lives a six hour round trip away). Home care is available but only if she will sign up for it, which she adamantly refuses to do. She is considered competent to make that decision until such time as a doctor can declare her incompetent. She has no doctor to do so. It seems to be an impossible problem to solve until she gets to such a stage of deterioration that she ends up in hospital, either from a fall, from malnutritioin, or from an illness of some kind.


I almost forgot - I have a story for you about snow in Nova Scotia. The month was May and the year was 1957. My mother was just about due to give birth to her second child. That would be me. She realized she was in labour in the evening on May 2. It was snowing heavily and the hospital was fifteen miles away. They had to drive very slowly and were worried about getting there safely. I was born the next morning.

By the time she (and I) returned home a few days later, the snow was gone and it was so warm my four-year-old brother was wearing short pants. (Trousers, for those in the UK.)

My mother told me this story often. Until last year. Last year she forgot my birthday until two months after it happened. This year she no longer remembers my birth date or my age.

That's okay. She can't remember her own, either.


Surely some funnies are in order after that sad, soppy tale :)

I found this series of "embarrassing moments" in a YouTube video. By the time I got to the end I was crying with laughter. 



















I hope you enjoyed them as much as I did. And I hope the inside of your head is tidier and less chaotic than the inside of mine :)


Saturday 2 April 2022

Why I'm Slowly Going Crazy

The euphoria over Mom's better vision lasted only a few days, which didn't surprise me. She went back to the surgeon for a checkup and he says her eye has healed nicely. But because she said at the initial appointment with him that she didn't want the other eye done, she will now have to wait for a couple of months to get a second surgery date. She was not pleased. Meanwhile we are still working on the 4X daily eye drops for the first eye.


Captain's Log: Friday, April 1, 2022

9 a.m.

(Went to Mom's for her first eye drops of the day.)

Mom: You're up early ... (Questioning voice, meaning WHY am I visiting this time of day?)

Me: Yep! I'm here to do your eye drops.

Mom: Again?

(I have been here 72 times previously to put drops in this eye.)

(Put drops in Mom's eye for the 73rd time.)

Mom: Aren't you going to put them in the other eye?

(She asks this question 99% of the time.)

Me: No, just in the eye that was operated on.

(Always the same answer.)

Mom: I could do those drops myself.

Me: (Smiles.) (Swears silently.)

Mom: When did we go for groceries last?

Me: We went on Sunday. Would you like to go again today?

(She checks fridge. This is an extended process. Finally she shuts the door and says she needs most everything. I had a look, too, while she had the door open. It's a toss-up: we could go, or wait, but we might as well go before the busy weekend. Because Nova Scotia has lifted its mask mandate and there are lots of un-masked people everywhere. Aaaaaand that's a different post topic.)

Mom: Yes. I don't really need anything. But I like to get out. And I think I need to go to the bank.

Me: Okay, I'll be back at 1 p.m. to do your eye drops. We'll go then if it's not raining.

(For definite appointments, I always print a note for her so she will keep seeing it and be able to get ready more or less on time. Now, thinking to myself, I decide I won't make a note for her about this, because it's supposed to rain and then we won't go, but if there's a note about going, she will get ready to go, and then we'll need to have an extended conversation about whether she really wants to go or if she's just going because the note said we were going. And if there's no note, and she forgets we planned to go, it's not a big deal. If she wants to go, I'll just wait while she gets ready. If you've followed all that, you get a gold star.)


1 p.m.

(Went to Mom's for her second eye drops of the day.)

(She was outside gathering up dead leaves and grass from the flower garden she has been unable to work in for the last few years due to her poor vision.)

(She wondered why I was there.)

Me: Eye drops, Mom!

Mom: (Frowns.) You and your eye drops!

Me: Yep! And would you like to get groceries?

Mom: (Frowns.) Were we supposed to go for groceries today?

Me: Well, we talked about it. Would you like to?

Mom: I'm not ready to go. I didn't know we were going. There was nothing written down.

Me: Y- es-s . . . we weren't sure if we were going, because it was supposed to rain . . . would you like to go?

Mom: Well, I have to brush my teeth. And change my clothes. And can we go to the bank?

Me: Sure. Take your time. There's no hurry.

(5 minutes later) (I give her full credit for getting ready fast. Except she hasn't changed her clothes. Never mind. No one will notice. Half the people at the grocery store won't be wearing the ONE THING I wish they would wear -- a mask. At least Mom will be wearing a mask.)

Mom: Are we going to the bank?

Me: Sure!

Mom: Just let me see if I have any money.

(Mom forages in purse. With some help, she discovers some money.)

Mom: Oh, that's enough. I won't buy more groceries than that.

Me: We can still go to the bank if you like.

Mom: No, that's okay. I have enough.

(Decide not to push the trip to the bank today, because it's Friday and probably busy downtown.)

(Go to grocery story, where she spends all the cash she had.)

(Go to her house to drop off her and her groceries.)

Mom: Thank you. And can we go to the bank sometime? I need to get some money.

Me: Sure ..... but not today. We both have groceries to put away, and I have other things to do.

Mom: When can we go to the bank?

Me: How about the next day the weather is good, okay?

Mom: (Very worried looking.) Okay .... 

(I step out of the house to leave)

Mom: When did you say we were going to the bank?

Me: We'll go the next day the weather is good. Would you like me to write that down?

Mom: NO!! I just need you to tell me and I'll remember.


This is a condensed version of the conversation.

Every interaction is something similar.

I realize this is caused by the shrinkage of brain cells. I have seen sample MRIs online of brains of dementia patients. Mom has had an MRI that confirms her loss of brain mass.

But I am so tired. Mentally tired. Emotionally tired. I spend so much energy just on interacting with Mom. And I have to be upbeat or she will ask me what's wrong. I don't want to explain; explaining would be futile. But the effort to be upbeat and to accommodate her memory problems and unfortunately her personality quirks is taking almost all the energy I have. I am not working at my job, I am not getting anything done at home, I am trying not to think beyond the next ten days of eye drops ...... but when the worry about the future gets too big, it's hard to ignore it.


The sign says: I am NOT dead, just tired & ugly. PLEASE LET ME SLEEP!!!!

That's all I've got for today.

Better days ahead. I hope.

For all of us.