Sunday, 16 January 2022

Sunshine and Wordle



 Today it is sunny and although it is still very cold, if you are outside, you can feel the warmth of the sun.


I always like shadows on the snow. At this time of year in the countryside, things are very mono chromatic ( well maybe dual chromatic) with white and variations on brown dominating. 

I am enjoying the new internet game, Wordle. It took a bit of doing to find the original game as there are lots of apps and imitations out there ( at least, I think I’m playing the original one). This is a game where you must guess a five letter word and have only a few chances to guess it correctly. It indicates if you have guessed a letter correctly and if that letter is in the correct spot or not. I love word games and this one really appeals to me. You also get a summary of how you’ve done so far. Here’s mine. 

Friday, 14 January 2022

Cold, Hopeful, Bored

 Just throwing together a quick post. It’s Friday night and holy cow it’s cold. It’s currently-16 degrees Celsius and it will be -22 tomorrow. Yikes! I might make a fire later just to make me feel cozier. 

The “hopeful “ part of the title of this post refers to me being invited to go for a walk with a friend. I warned her I probably wouldn’t be able to walk as far as she would like with this S. I. joint issue and other pain but she said that was fine. So we walked ( in a town close by) and I did great! It was the longest walk I’ve done in three months. Why? I attribute it to the acupuncture treatment I got at the physiotherapists. I only had the one treatment but obviously it made a difference. She also did a type of adjustment too. It was like a tiny miracle had occurred. I go for five more acupuncture sessions. Yay!!

I know I have no right to be bored, but I am. There’s really nothing on tv that I want to watch. I just finished a book ( the latest Janet Evanovich, if you know her) and don’t really feel like getting into another book, of course we are currently in a “lock down “ situation, and cleaning or organizing something doesn’t hold the kind of joy one might anticipate. Ha ha. So… here I am writing a post. 

I made beef stew for supper with enough for tomorrow night and more to freeze for another time. On that thrilling note, I bid you adieu. 

Monday, 10 January 2022

January 10, 2022

 Well, that was interesting. I am referring to the traffic that my most recent post, lamenting the state of health care and the present restrictions (again) in Ontario. I appreciated all the comments. We are now done with that, so things don't start to go in a direction that I never ever intended. Enough said. 

Shall we get back to our regular programming? Today I drove to a town about forty-five minutes from my home for an orthodontist appointment. Remember? I still have Invisaligns on my teeth after about two years or so and I am FINALLY able to see the end is near. At the next appointment, all the little knobs and bumps (attachments) will be ground off my teeth and the tiny metal post which anchors a tiny elastic band will also be removed. Yeehaw! Of course, nobody will see my nice straight teeth except my immediate family, as half of my face is always enclosed by a mask. Some day...

However, the other part of this tale is WINTER IS BACK !!!  Good old snow squalls and white outs. It was manageable when driving north / south, but driving east / west was a bit "knuckly" at times. I put the four way flashers on a few times, just to be even more visible. We've been lucky up until now with weather, so grinning and bearing it!

Here are some "snaps" as my grandmother used to call them of our regular life over the "holidays" (can you call them holidays when you are retired?).



We played a game at Christmas and Murphy chose the best seat in the house.



We discovered that Murphy also watches tv. He's actually quite engaged, for long periods of time. He's not picky about what he watches and got pretty involved in the series, "Narcos". 


We celebrated son's twenty-second birthday recently. This is the standard chocolate layer cake that I make for everyone's birthday. I'm not a big decorator, but it's always good. Yes, he's about to touch the flame. That's likely just to annoy me. 


We played the same game at son's birthday. Murphy adapted his use of the box. 



We had take-out Chinese food for his birthday. A few days later, the bag is still being put to good use. 

Saturday, 8 January 2022

What I Know FOR CERTAIN

 I have avoided this particular post up until now. But alas, I just have to get it out of my system. I will try to keep my points to what I know for certain, and what I have experienced myself. If you don't agree, that's fine, but as I said, it's my blog and my experiences and my take on things.

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This is how I feel, living in Ontario right now. The perpetual pulling away of the football by Lucy for poor old gullible, trusting Charlie Brown who ends up disappointed once again. 

I'm going to start by saying I am NOT an anti-vaxxer. I have had, in fact, three doses now. But that doesn't seem to matter. The hint of a fourth dose is enough to make me scream. When, please give me an actual time line, when will it be enough? When will we get back to "normal" and what will normal look like?

If you are not familiar, in Ontario we are under some version of a revised stage two something or other. I've given up keeping track of what our premier calls it because it's just semantics. We cannot sit inside a restaurant, regardless of how many covid shots we've had. We cannot go to a gym, a movie theatre or a casino or a strip club if that's your thing, retail places are 50 % capacity, and if you are gathering in your own home you can have no more than five people. If you are gathering outdoors (and might I add it is currently -9 degrees Celsius, feels like -17) you can't have more than ten (I don't know if you could even find ten people who want to gather outdoors with you anyway!) If you live in Quebec, you are under a curfew between 10:00 p.m. and 5:00 a.m. As well, schools are back to being virtual instead of in class for two weeks (at this moment, but who knows how much more it will be extended). There is also talk of what "fully vaccinated" might mean. Two doses now, will it be three, four, five?? We already have to show proof on paper or on our cell phones of our vaccination status for various "priviledges", but currently most of those priviledges have been taken away.

Of course, all the usual practices are still happening: masking, distancing, self-assessing before going to an appointment... 

Yes, I realize Omicron is highly transmissible. I also realize that even if you have had one, two, or three doses of the vaccine you can still get it. I also realize that if you have had the doses, you probably won't get terribly ill. But I also know, if the articles that I am reading are correct, that people are still going to the hospital even if they are only a little bit sick because they don't know what to do. They don't know if they can take something for it, don't know if they are going to get sicker, or if that's just what they are supposed to do. And what I do know FOR CERTAIN, is that our hospital system is the thing that is broken. 

Here's why I know this. I know this because back when I had a family physician (primary care doctor), if I needed to see him, he was often booked up solid for three weeks. Usually the thing I needed to see him for could not wait for three weeks, so I would then have to go to the emergency department at a local hospital. That really is NOT what emergency departments are for, but there was no other choice. I know for certain that there isn't a "medical clinic" in which one can walk and see one of a collection of doctors who all work for that clinic. That is not what is available for me where I live. Now that my doctor has retired, I know FOR CERTAIN that the doctor who was supposed to replace him backed out and now I have no doctor. I know I can "see" a nurse practitioner until the end of February (that's if you can get an appointment because she is also booked up two to three weeks ahead). After February, I am up the creek (as is my husband and both of my adult children) and if we need anything at all, medically, we go see a random doctor in the emergency department. There will be no continuity of care.  I also know FOR CERTAIN that no other medical groups in our "area" (an hour's drive) are taking new patients. I know because I have personally called and spoken to people. We have registered on something called "Health Care Connect" which is supposed to help you find a doctor in your area, but I also know, having spoken to the people at these other medical groups, that people sometimes are on the list for two years or more. Just to add to the mix, if I were to, I don't know, accidentally slice myself making a late supper or evening snack, I could not go to the little hospital emergency department about ten minutes from my home, because their emergency department is CLOSED after 7:00 p.m. Why? There aren't enough nurses to staff it. And if my daughter were to do the same? She would not be able to go to the emergency department at the hospital in her own town because it too, is closed after 7:00 p.m. Why? A nursing shortage.

Yes, we have "free" health care in Canada, but we have LONG wait times. My sister, who has been hobbling about on a wonky leg for a couple of years, was scheduled to have surgery on the 21st of this month. Guess what? Her surgery is now postponed due to the fear of Omicron patients flooding the hospitals and there not being enough people (not just nurses, but doctors, orderlies, cleaning people, lab techs, etc. etc.) to give enough proper care. Again... this isn't a rant about people not being vaccinated and therefore taking up hospital space, because anyone can get Omicron and people go to the hospital regardless of symptoms. 

I also know FOR CERTAIN from my own teaching experience that most kids (in my neck of the woods) want to be in school. I know FOR CERTAIN that most parents want their kids there and do not enjoy having to guide them in their online learning or simply can't because they work and I know that child care is hugely difficult for many families and when the Ontario government announces that school will be delayed by two days and then within that time pulls the football away again and says, no, actually it will be two weeks, and now parents are bracing for the next announcement. I also know FOR CERTAIN that teachers don't want to teach online anymore. For elementary education (can't speak for secondary or post-secondary), it is ineffective and there are some students who just never really attend and it is a nightmare to assess. I know for certain that I am sick and tired of seeing the government commercial on tv encouraging parents to get their children vaccinated so they can get back to normal and see their friends and do activities, because even though a lot of them have got their vaccines (and I know this FOR CERTAIN because my friend is a local pharmacist who gives them their shots!), it still doesn't matter because they still can't go to school with their friends. 

We have been told over and over and over that in a few months, after we flatten the curve, things will improve. How many footballs need to pulled out before we just stop trying? What about the next variant, and the next, and the next? Viruses mutate. I DON'T know this for certain, but I think they eventually get weaker and weaker. The British Columbia Health Officer, Dr. Bonnie Henry feels that this surge could lead to an endemic. I'm wary of that football, too. 

An excellent article, written by Rex Murphy really struck home with me. Murphy is a Canadian political commentator and someone who was a regular fixture in my house as a child, hosting "Cross Country Check Up" on CBC radio. He shoots straight from the hip and has a life time of experience in Canadian politics. 

In my opinion, this is all about our health care. We've needed more doctors and nurses for ages. We should pay our hospital employees well. In my opinion, we should change the type of shift work that nurses and other hospital employees are expected to do. I personally wouldn't be on top of my game near the end of a twelve hour shift, although I'm sure I would do my best to not make any errors and put on a happy face for people who are in pain or scared. But I know FOR CERTAIN that medical errors do happen, being at the receiving end of one many years ago. Humans make mistakes. Other humans pay the price. We need to value our nurses (doctors too, but nurses are the ones in the trenches, I believe). We need to make nursing a career that people WANT and want to stick with because it pays well, has good benefits, has good intrinsic rewards, not one where burnout is real and resentment abounds. In my opinion, Omicron could have been handled differently (in Ontario, can't speak for the rest of the world), if our health care system wasn't already circling the drain.

"People" say we need to get to the point where we learn to live with Covid, and I wholeheartedly agree. I can say that because I am not immuno-compromised, I'm not in a high risk category. Others might have their reasons to disagree. But I honestly don't think we will reach that point (football) until things get fixed in our hospitals, big city ones, and little local, rural hospitals as well. Will that cost money? Undoubtedly. Where will the money come from? Well, I know I already pay a ton of taxes... surely some of that could be used even more for far-sighted health care changes. I have read, but don't know for certain, that there are lots of nurses from other countries who are waiting and waiting to be licensed here. 

I'm not really a political person, so I know this isn't my usual type of post as it doesn't feature chickens or cats or baking or reading, but it's been two long years and we are right back to where we were. I know FOR CERTAIN that I am just sick and tired. So very, very tired. And I'm tired of being Charlie Brown.

Monday, 3 January 2022

A Return of Mundane Monday!! January 3, 2022

 Today's topic for Mundane Monday is... storage! Specifically storage in containers and labelling.

I spent a bit of time yesterday carrying Christmas decor upstairs in a laundry basket to then put things away in a variety of large plastic bins. Many of them are Rubbermaid brand bins, but not all (nope, not getting any money from Rubbermaid for naming the company). When we added onto the house many years ago, a small storage room was created with shelving (built by husband out of plywood, etc.) deep and high enough to house many, many plastic bins. This store room is known as "the Rubbermaid room".

I had a mishmash of Christmas things in the laundry basket: Santas, nutcracker figures, snowmen, a string of lights that look like the Leg Lamp from the movie (You'll know what I mean if you know that movie!)... I dragged out some of the big bins from the Rubbermaid room in order to put things away properly. I had to laugh at my labelling system. Over the years I had used a black Sharpie marker (permanent marker brand) to label what was inside, but obviously I've switched things up over the years as some labels were crossed out and new ones added. Large Santas, Snow man collection, Village 1 of 3, Tree Ornaments... I think some years I was very organized and other years I was rushed and just tossed things where they fit. Not all the labels are accurate, even now. 

I am a labeler because organization and being able to find things quickly has always been necessary in my career as a teacher. My binders were always labelled on the spine, my files were organized in a four drawer file cabinet according to subject areas, my boxes (and boxes, and boxes, and boxes, like every other elementary school teacher out there) were always labelled, but sometimes not always easy to get to as space was always lacking. 

When I was little, there were no such things as the big plastic storage containers, or clear ones (which are even better!) that exist in abundance today. Items were stored in cardboard boxes. A good solid cardboard box was a coveted thing. Some boxes ended up being ragged and floppy depending on how frequently items were retrieved or stored from that same box. The box that held the Hallowe'en costumes was one such box. I have a cousin who tells the story of how she came to our house and saw a box in a hallway cupboard where we kept toys and such and the box was labeled "Stuff". She still laughs about that today!

They say the way to a man's heart is through his stomach. I think the way to a woman's heart is through storage. Do tell - do you have colour coordinated storage containers, do you write on them with marker or gasp!!! do you have a label maker? Do you see a good cardboard box and think, "I need to keep that", or are you at the other end of the spectrum? Is your method of storage just a free for all and hope for the best? Perhaps you have cleared your life of extra "stuff" (ha ha, like whatever was in that box in the hall) and you have no need for storage. Or has your accumulation of worldly goods caused you to rent a storage container somewhere else? 

I look forward to hearing your comments, as always, on today's mundane Monday!

Saturday, 1 January 2022

January 1, 2022

 


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As New Year's Eves go, ours was as low key as last year. We haven't really gone "out" to celebrate for years and years, and at the most, we get together with friends. Last night was just husband and I, watching the 'old' version of "Murder on the Orient Express' on tv. We switched over to the CBC close to midnight to watch an equally low key count down to midnight, then switched back to watch the rest of the movie. We texted a happy new year to our kids, only one of whom was with other people (his house mates in college) doing something celebratory. 

As I look out this (late!) morning, there is no snow on the ground. I still must go out and collect the usual three eggs and top up the chicken food. White chicken is soon to join the great coop in the sky, I'm pretty sure. I am buoyed by the news I am reading about this virus seeming to be in the 'end game' because honestly, I'm so done with it. I long for normalcy. I long for lack of divisiveness. I long for news that has no stats in it. Enough said, because I don't want to get anyone riled up (something else I long to have an end to). 

On a different note, I just started reading a brand new Patricia Cornwell. It's called Autopsy. I have read all of her books with Scarpetta in them, some were better than others, but I do like a series, so I am looking forward to getting my teeth into this one. Are any of you Cornwell readers? 

I am also getting very antsy about my Christmas decorations. I had decorated the house pretty extensively (back when I thought I was hosting a big gathering), and now it's getting to me. Because I'm still dealing with some back issues, my clean up has to be done in small chunks, rather than a big ol' marathon session (which is what I would much rather do, and be done), so I'll tackle something today, something tomorrow, and so on, with the final arrangement of big containers in the store room being left to husband or son. Are you a "leave it up after New Years" kind of Christmas decorator, or more of a "Christmas is over, let's pack things up" person? When I was teaching full time, all of this would have been packed up and put away by now. Once the Christmas break (two weeks) was up, I needed my head in the game and did not want to be dealing with tasks at home. So, this is late for me this year. 

New Year's Resolutions? I have done in the past. I do have a couple of things in mind for this year. I'm a pretty goal oriented person and love a good check list. Having things to work towards, having start and end times, well, that's been my whole career hasn't it? I am looking forward to a better year. I like the sound of "Twenty twenty-two". This will be my first full year of retirement, something that was more difficult than I anticipated it to be, but I feel that I can be more comfortable in it now. 

To all the people out there who are kind enough to read this blog and even comment from time to time, I hope this new year brings positive changes for you, brings fulfillment and contentment, and sees a return to more carefree times. Happy 2022!

Thursday, 23 December 2021

December 23, 2021

 The night of the Winter Solstice our immediate family gathered together to do some serious cookie decorating. We've enjoyed doing this (not on this date necessarily) for a few years now and it seems we are achieving new heights in our skills. 



Some of them are sarcastic and naughty, others are seriously pretty. Still others are flawed due to a misjudgment of how much frosting was coming out. 

Husband was quite tickled with his accomplishments on Patrick Star (from Spongebob Squarepants).



Meanwhile, the decorations are done in the house, the gifts are wrapped (well, the ones I'm responsible for, anyway - can't speak for husband and son), and I've done what is, I hope, the last of the food and drink buying. Even though it's only a little gathering of us instead of the big one, I still want to make it special. 


When the kids were young, husband always read "The Night Before Christmas" to them on Christmas Eve. Now it is displayed behind a piece that depicts Santa taking it easy in the aftermath. My mother gave each one of us (myself and siblings) one of these Santa figures (all the same), so this has seen many Christmases. Poor old guy has his gramophone horn broken off, but he is much loved and makes me think of my father who almost always had a cat perched on him when he sat down. 


Here is our tree, picture taken this morning, so not quite in its glory at night with lights twinkling and such. 


Please note the present placement. Yes, there is a large gap below the tree. Why, may you ask?



That is why. When we first placed a few presents under the tree, he actually got in there, nosed and shoved around and made himself an empty spot where he could lie. Rather than fight it, we've just made sure he has a spot now. 


Here is the better behaved other cat.


Calm, cool, collected, comatose.


Meanwhile, I don't think there has been a single fire in the woodstove that hasn't been directly supervised. (These next pictures are taken on separate occasions, same shirt, ha ha).




Today I shall pre-make a couple of things: green bean casserole, baked sweet potatoes. I hope you are all content in your Christmas preparations, or lack thereof, however you choose to wrap up this year. We have snow on the ground, with more to come.