Saturday, 3 December 2022

Whimsical Christmas and physical efforts

 After reading Deborah's post this morning, I thought I might share what we did this year to make this Christmas more whimsical and fun. After the last few months, I knew I wanted to insert some fun into the decorations and the Christmas season. Every year (EVERY YEAR) I put up the village. It has grown and morphed over the years and has changed locations in the house. Often I get help from the family. It's a bit of an ordeal, placing everything, hiding all the cords under the "snow". Deciding how we want to divide up the village - where will residential go? What about the commercial district? What about the duck pond? Is the school too close to the pub?

Along with all the buildings, there are accessories like trees, stone walls, and people. I decided that instead of using the people we always use, we should use Lego mini-figs (figures). These are the little people and characters that come with Lego sets. Over the years our son received many Lego sets, some themed like Star Wars or Indiana Jones movies. Our son dug out his collection(s) of mini-figs and he and his sister (ages 22 and 26 respectively) started assembling them, including items in their little yellow "hands". Our daughter had the idea that we should each make a mini-fig to represent ourselves as well. That was fun. Mine had a book in my hand, husband had a drill in one hand and a beer glass in the other.

Then the placing of the little Lego people began which was lots of fun. Here's daughter with the village.

Next, Darth Vader has joined in on the fun. 

Frankenstein's monster is waiting on the porch of the Norman Rockwell collection home where two old folk are enjoying their tea.

We almost always put Santa in the gazebo in the town square. We allowed for him to be there this year as well, but it is the storm troopers who are lining up for Santa instead. 

One poor, unfortunate storm trooper is being dragged under the bridge by a crocodile. It happens. 

Next, we have Rebel fighter pilots (as the only non- Star Wars junkie in the house, I had to ask husband what the orange guys were) atop Santa's workshop.

This knight is ready for battle on top of another Norman Rockwell house where everyone is gathered at the table for a Christmas dinner. If you look closely, you can see husband's mini-fig where he is sitting on the side porch, waiting to be invited in for dinner. 

Outside the pub (the log built structure) we have Hagrid helping out a patron who is bent over the fence after too many drinks (it's actually daughter's boyfriend's mini-fig and no he is not a big drinker) with two Rebel fighters seeming to be ready for a brawl in the street.

Outside the same pub, we have Han Solo and Indiana Jones (ha ha, get it, both of them were played by Harrison Ford, so they are seeing each other at the same time!)

This is how the entire village looks. I have to decide what I am going to put on the bare shelf above. Something less "busy" I imagine.

Husband, by the way, built that piece of furniture after we saw similar ones in P.E.I. one summer. 

Onto the physical effort part of the post. As part of making my chronic back crap feel better, I roll around on the floor and do physio stretches and strengthening exercises. I also decided some overall increase in activity would be good now that most of my recovery is behind me. I'm not the only one in the family with an expanding middle:

When I unroll my yoga mat to prepare to do my stretches, this happens:

Not helpful, Murph. 

The first time I decided to use the treadmill for walking because "outside" was too cold/snowy/wet/windy, this is what I found:

Again, not helpful, Scooter. (Excuse the two Christmas storage boxes... it's that time of year).

Do any of you have a Christmas village? Do any of you have pets who thwart your exercise efforts? Do any of you have a treadmill that just doesn't get the same attention is used to get?

Have a great weekend, all. 

Thursday, 17 November 2022

Thursday, November 17, 2022

 You know, as I was typing that really creative title, it occurred to me that it’s something I’ve done almost daily for 31 years. I started by printing in white chalk, or sometimes coloured chalk if it was close to a holiday, on a blackboard. Later, I used dry erase markers on a white board. Every day, Monday to Friday, and if I had grade four that year, I also wrote it in cursive. Grade four or late grade three is when students learn how to write versus print, although I wonder if that will change altogether with everyone using keyboards or other forms of technology to communicate. 

I remember really working on my “ hand writing “, deciding what I wanted my signature to look like. You could tell who wrote what according to their writing style. Will young kids even do that anymore? But that isn’t even what I was going to post about. 

It’s been snowing gently on and off and it’s quite pretty. It makes me feel all cozy and Christmas-y. I could even start decorating but alas, my back (s.i.joint pain- my old nemesis ) is making some things rather tough at the moment. I blame this on having to sleep in awkward positions and lack of movement during my cancer ordeal and subsequent recovery. However, it’s nothing that targeted stretches and Physio appointments won’t solve.

Yesterday and today I’ve been enjoying my new read.

I’ve read Osman’s first two books in this series and I’ve gotten to really like the characters. 

I like to be in the den on days like these as the wood stove has been kept burning and it’s such a nice spot. 

Ignore the ashes that haven’t been swept up yet. It’s kind of an ongoing task. We chose that cream coloured stove years ago and it’s one of my favourite things in our old house.

As I’m typing this, husband is watching a video on YouTube about the making of the movie, The Battle of Britain. He adores movies like that, almost as much as he adores Hammer films (old Dracula and various other monster movies). Our daughter jokes that it’s like her dad is studying for a test on World War II. 

I’m not so much of a movie person. I watch more tv shows than my husband does. My slightly ADHD brain is better with hour long mysteries that I can fast forward through the commercials. He also has favourite movies that he enjoys watching over and over again. The only ones that I can do that with are funny Christmas ones and Monty Python movies.

We have, however, found common ground in watching the newest season on The Crown on Netflix. I realize it’s likely not completely accurate, but I like it regardless. 

And there you have what’s floating around in my brain on this snowy November day. 

Friday, 11 November 2022

Good results…

 It took almost six weeks from when I had my surgery but I finally had my post-op appointment with my surgeon where I found out the final pathology results. I had a pretty good idea going in, but surprises can happen so I was anxious about this. Hope for the best, prepare for the worst as they say. 

Thankfully my results showed clean margins ( for those of you familiar with that term) , meaning no cancer was detected in the surrounding tissue that was taken at the same time as the cancer and no cancer was detected in my lymph nodes. My surgeon came in smiling saying, “ good news, huh!”

So the next step is radiation and I was delighted to hear about recent findings where, for early stage cancer, five days of radiation can have basically the same effect as 3 1/2 weeks of radiation. I do hope this applies to me as I’m quite a distance from the city where I would receive treatment. I won’t know for a few weeks but waiting has been my middle name lately!

So, this is all very good news. It’s been a hell-up-a thing but I know many women have had far worse experiences and outcomes so I count myself lucky in that respect. If there’s one piece of advice I would give, it’s get regular mammograms, even if you think nothing is wrong. The second thing I would add is to thank your nurse because there is nothing like a good nurse!

I leave you with this picture of happiness.

Monday, 7 November 2022

Oh, pardon me.

 I guess I’ll brush my teeth at a different sink.

He often sleeps in the upstairs bathroom sink but he’s changed it up.

Saturday, 5 November 2022

In One Day

 I have just finished reading this:

I started it late this morning and finished it this evening. Highly recommend it to any other Elly Griffiths fans. 

Today was strangely warm and windy, getting more windy as the day progressed. 

Other “ news”- I made a roast chicken for supper and it was lovely with mashed sweet potatoes, broccoli, and a pseudo Greek salad.

We helped friends of ours to set up a booth at The Royal Winter Fair in Toronto for three days and I felt like a decrepit old woman afterwards, feeling every joint and muscle!

One of my three chickens has apparently decided she is now going to start laying eggs again.

We had a grand total of twelve trick or treaters come to our door for Hallowe’en. Our daughter had about 140! 

Sunday, 30 October 2022

Do you Bring in Herbs?

 Today was another summer day in October. I’m feeling quite a bit better so was happy to be out helping with some outdoor tasks that still needed doing. Husband and I shifted a big pile of rails and posts. Murphy did his best to be in the way or finding little hidey holes amongst the rails so we had to extricate him before we could pile more on. 

Much was burned in the burn barrel. When son joined to help, the small chainsaw was used to do some trimming and cutting up of limbs that had come down over the past few months. Husband can get a little “Clark Griswold” when he gets a chainsaw in his hands so I was a bit nervous of what was being trimmed next.

I decided to do something that I was meaning to do, then didn’t, and now decided I had the time and the weather was perfect. I have enjoyed being able to pop out in the backyard to my vegetable garden to get snippets of herbs that I planted this spring. I know most of those herbs likely won’t survive the winter, so I dug some out and searched around for pots and crocks I could transplant them into. I just used garden soil. If they survive, then I’ll have fresh basil, rosemary, oregano, chives, thyme, and flat leaf parsley to use through the winter.

I filled up the bird feeders and put out a suet block, too.

Husband did the final (likely) lawn mowing, mulching up the leaves. I often rake up our leaves, but that wasn’t going to happen this year. Again, I freed myself from the “ should” and realized the world will not end if the leaves aren’t raked. The same with my vast amount of perennials that aren’t going to get cut back and piled behind the old apple tree to break down over the next year. 

Do you bring your herbs indoors to use through the winter months? Do you rake or just “leave” them?

Sunday, 23 October 2022

Summer in October

Yesterday and today, the temperatures were summer-like. It was such a beautiful day yesterday, husband suggested we take advantage of the weather and go out for one last drive in his convertible which will be taken off road at the end of this month. We "toodled" around north and west and gaped at the trees which are still putting on a magnificent show. 

We ended up at this set of falls. We've been here before, but this time, being as it was late October, there weren't as many people. Many of these spots have become such tourist traps, with people driving for a few hours to spend a weekend, or even a day. It was nice to have the peace and tranquility and watch the water. There were a number of fly fishermen, which was nice in itself. 


Today, I took a couple of pictures of our maple trees which are gently shedding their leaves.

I don't think I could live contentedly in a place where the four seasons are not defined and distinct. I was reflecting to my husband, as we were driving around, that I was very happy that I had time at my grandmother's / uncle's dairy farm as a child because there was always something to do, something to look at, something to help with. I never sat inside and watched tv when there were new calves to look at, or a ride on the tractor to be had. He mentioned how there must have been a real rhythm of the seasons on the farm, and yes, he was right. Maybe that's why seasons are so important to me. Each one has its characteristics that I would miss if I lived elsewhere.

Today I sat on the back porch and watched my bird feeders. The chickadees were flitting around, back and forth between other trees and the feeder. They were content to have more than one chickadee at the feeder at once. Then I witnessed how territorial nuthatches could be. I love nuthatches and how they come down the tree head first, grasping the bark in their little clawed feet. These two nuthatches chased each other from tree to tree and in amongst the branches of the huge blue spruce in which the birdfeeders hang. A junco showed up and fed mostly from the ground. It was the wrong time of the day for the loud bluejays. The squirrels are out in full force. We have mostly black squirrels, bouncing along the grass. I can hear them rustle the leaves as they move. I know they are burying walnuts everywhere. I will find them in the late spring as I dig in my gardens and window boxes. 

I have to come to grips with not being able to clear up my perennial beds this fall. I'm still healing, and it is coming along, but I don't want to push things. I know it will all be waiting for me in the spring when the snow melts, but I always like to be able to cut back my peonies, and any tall perennials, and even do some shrub trimming. I look at the sea of uncontrollable black-eyed Susans and shudder to think of all the seeds that are falling into the soil, to then make more uncontrollable black-eyed Susans. But sometimes you just have to put things on the back burner. 

My husband was taking advantage of the weather today and cleared away some firewood that had been piled close to the chicken run, from a tree that had come down last year. He uncovered some cat nip. Murphy kind of lost his little cat mind and rolled, chewed, rolled, chewed some more. Then he came in for a snack and went back out again, no doubt to do some more rolling. 

It's Sunday night, and for me that means watching the newest episode of "Island of Bryan" (called Renovation Island in the States) and the newest episode of "The Secret of Skinwalker Ranch". To me, Skinwalker Ranch is just the American UFO version of  Oak Island. That series starts up again in November. Husband and I keep joking that THIS will be the year they find the treasure! 

Hope you all enjoyed your weekend and weather was lovely where you are. 

Thursday, 20 October 2022

Oct. 20th

 I awoke to snow on the ground this morning. There was intermittent wet snow throughout the day, but it won’t last. We are expecting it to go as high as 20 ( degrees Celsius) this weekend. Gotta love Ontario.

Today husband and I had “ meet and greet” appointments with our new family doctor (if you regularly read my blog, you may recall that I was without a family doctor for a while and this proved to be very difficult when I found out about my breast cancer diagnosis. I spent a lot of time making phone calls and fighting tooth and nail, but now we have one). Anyway, the doctor is about 40 minutes away, but I really like her and was very pleased with today’s chat. After dealing with two nurse practitioners and now this fairly brief interaction with my new doctor, I realize that my previous doctor who is now retired was not the best fit for me. I didn’t realize it at the time because I had nobody with whom to compare, but I found out more, and had more tests with the nurse practitioner in the very short amount of time she covered my care! 

The leaves have been especially beautiful this past week. They are falling pretty steadily with today’s wet snow, but there are still lovely vistas. 

Husband continues to work hard on the “ insulation project”, putting up stud walls in our very old basement, and using various kinds of insulation, as well as improving wiring and heating ducts. This will all help improve the astronomical bills to heat “ this old house”. We received notice that there is a possibility of natural gas coming to our village. That would be fabulous and our heating costs would be even lower. 

I will end with a slightly miraculous picture I took today of the two boys sharing a mat. As Murph (tiger one) grows up, he is becoming less of a royal pain to Scooter ( black and white tailless one). 

There are multiple mats on the kitchen floor, as a lot of dirt gets tracked up from the basement ( currently a dirt floor before Radiant heat and concrete goes down). 

Monday, 10 October 2022

New Ann Cleeves

 I finished reading the new Vera mystery by Ann Cleeves. I so enjoy her writing and have devoured her whole Shetland series and her new series as well ( Two Rivers). This Vera one did not disappoint and I did not successfully guess “who done it”, which is a good thing. 

I have a couple more library books to read:

As well, a friend dropped off this book, wanting me to read it:

So I have lots to keep me occupied this month. 

Sunday, 9 October 2022

Thanksgiving 2022

 This year my sweet daughter and her boyfriend are taking care of all the Thanksgiving prep, meal, place to gather. I’m very grateful as I wouldn’t be able to do the heavy lifting and motions involved in turkey/stuffing/potatoes etc. 

I’m continuing on my healing journey. At the one week mark I am still sore, swollen, and desperate for a good night’s sleep. Not good having to sleep somewhat propped up on my back and trying to shift on my unaffected side involves great arranging of pillows which then just wakes me up further. Sigh. This too shall pass.

I had a little wander taking pictures today to find a new image for my header photo. Here are the runners-up, some Autumn Joy Sedum and a pretty hydrangea.

Happy Thanksgiving to my fellow Canadians. I think it’s going to be a nice autumn day with a beautiful Hunter’s moon to finish it off.

Sunday, 2 October 2022

This Part's Over With -Sunday, October 2, 2022

 Good morning anyone who is reading this. On Friday, I had my surgery. Husband and I were on the road driving to "the city" by 5:00 a.m. I had to be admitted at 7:30 and my sentinel node biopsy injections were scheduled for 8:30. If you recall, I was beyond scared of this procedure as it was described in bold print on the handout as "a painful procedure" for which they do not provide freezing. 

I purchased and used the numbing gel, and my sweet surgeon actually called me and spoke to me on the phone and prescribed a very mild Ativan to take before the procedure. Long story short, the Ativan barely did anything but the procedure itself was so quick and so simple and due to the numbing gel, would for me have rated about a 2 1/2 out of 10 in terms of pain, so my euphoria at having it done and over with was overwhelming. 

I then had to wait about six hours until my surgery, hanging out on a hospital bed in a ward with other people waiting for their surgeries with a little gap in the curtain where I could see people wheeled out and back in. I played word games and "Hay Day" on my phone, tried to read a bit of a book, tried unsuccessfully to nap, and finally got prepped for surgery (lumpectomy and lymph node biopsy) and off I went. It's a bit of a party inside a sugery room, as I was wheeled in and people were introducing me to various individuals who would be there for my surgery. Who knew there were so many people involved? I actually don't even remember seeing my surgeon, but let's assume she showed up at some point.

Waking up was interesting. I think I was having a hard time coming out of it, as I was told a few times to remember to breath deeply. They assessed my pain and I was given some more pain relief. And then the nausea hit. I had NO IDEA this would be an issue. Oh dear lord people. Take your worst late teens, early twenties hangover and multiply it times 100 and that's how I felt. I couldn't even move. So unfortunately I took a few hours longer to leave the hospital and I was so worried by the time I was able to formulate the thoughts that someone needs to call my husband and tell him what's happening so he isn't worried. 

In the end, a sweet, incredibly patient nurse finally managed to get me into my clothes and put me in a wheelchair and wheeled me down so I could get loaded up in my vehicle and husband drove carefully to my sister's place in the same city and I spent the night there. There was NO WAY I could have been in a moving vehicle for 2 1/2 hours to get home. I managed to sleep there and in the morning, I felt like a human again. A sore human, but not a nauseous human. I ate some crackers and some toast and then we went home. 

So this part of my breast cancer journey is now over. I shall heal over the next few weeks and do my range of motion exercises and enjoy the beautiful colours of autumn and then the next portion of my treatment will begin. But in the meantime, I am grateful for good care and lovely friends and family, as well as my cat, Scooter, who brought me a bird this morning as a get well present. 

Thursday, 15 September 2022

Findings and Treatments and Other Stuff

 Yesterday, I had my first consult appointment with the surgeon. I felt very good about her (I know that's not necessary, but it helps me and how I feel about things). I found out that I am stage 1 (early stage) and the procedure will be a lumpectomy, followed after healing with radiation. I will then take hormone replacement therapy. Because I only spoke with the surgeon yesterday, I don't know anything about the radiation or the hormone replacement, as those are dealt with by other doctors. 

I feel very positive about what I was told and I know it could have been much, much worse. My heart goes out to all women who have had to hear less positive information from their surgeons.

The one thing I am most concerned about is the painful procedure that involves injecting radioactive solution into the breast to prepare for the sentinel lymph node biopsy. The hospital paperwork even says it is a painful procedure. They do not freeze you. I don't know why, but they don't. The only suggestion is topical numbing cream. I'm just so tired of pain (previous stuff that I don't talk about here) in hospital settings and just so tired of women having to tough it out. I made the mistake of looking online at first hand accounts of the procedure and scared the living daylights out of myself. Ughhh. 

Regardless, the rest of the news is good and my surgery date is set for only two weeks from now, so that's excellent. If I can figure out a way to sleep without worrying about the other thing, then I'm golden.

Other stuff: Tomatoes continue to ripen. I used up most of my jars canning just plain, diced tomatoes. I guess I'll do some freezing now. 

I booked myself in for a half day of supply teaching tomorrow afternoon just so I can do something and get distracted. 

It is feeling much more "fallish" here, as some leaves are changing colour and the night time temperatures are dropping. 

I'm back to not being able to concentrate enough to read and remember what the heck I've been reading (crucial when you are into murder mysteries - must keep all the clues and details straight).

I'm looking forward to the new season of "Island of Brian" which will start on October 2. There's not a whole lot on tv that I'm really into right now. Watched the Netflix two part series, I think it was called, "I Killed My Father". Interesting. 

Bluejays are loud. 

Friday, 9 September 2022

Friday, September 9, 2022 - Let's Salsa!

 Of course, the foremost in minds in Canada is the death of the Queen. Although we are not surprised given her remarkable age, it is still a momentous event. My daughter’s boyfriend proudly displays a picture of the Queen ( updated- not the age old framed picture that always hung in our schools as children) in his office ( he works in municipal government). There has always been a connection to the monarchy in Canada. We will watch to see how Charles steps in and hopefully leads with the same grace as his mother.

On a different, yet repetitive, note, my tomatoes continue to ripen and my canning marches forward. 

I’ve already made seasoned tomato sauce and my mother’s chili sauce. 

Today I embarked on a friend’s salsa recipe.

Time to get all the paraphernalia ready - not like it was stored away since the last round of canning... I just noticed that picture is out of place - I wasn't boiling the water in the blancher quite yet at that stage. 

Lots of chopping ensued.

There were onions from my garden.

Lovely green peppers from my garden (a good year for them), and...

although you can't really tell, there are three jalapeno peppers chopped up (minus the seeds) on top of the mix. They were NOT from my garden.

Next came garlic... I made sure to find Ontario garlic. The two gigantic bulbs beside the package came from garlic that a dear friend grew and shared with me. 

I minced up all those cloves.

I washed and cut out the stem ends of a combination of Roma and "regular" tomatoes. For future reference, that amount, after blanching, peeling, and seeding came to about five cups of chopped tomatoes. I needed about nine to ten cups in total.

I set the mixture (also includes a bit of cilantro, salt, sugar, apple cider vinegar, some cumin and two small cans of tomato paste to thicken it) on the stove to come to a boil and bubble away for about 20 minutes.

It was then time to put it into jars, lid them, and then...

boiling water processing time! 

This final picture is for Joanne - yes, your tea towels continue to live on - still look great, not a thread out of place!! 

So this little adventure took about five hours or so out of my life, but well worth it. 

Now what the heck do I do with all the other tomatoes?!? One can only eat so many toasted tomato sandwiches! 

Have a wonderful weekend, all!

Sunday, 4 September 2022

Planning on Canning

 This year I had a very successful tomato crop. They are now ripening beautifully. I planted some Roma (plum) tomatoes as well as regular kinds like beefsteak and an early one (??). 

I’m am getting myself ready to do some canning tomorrow which fittingly enough is labour day here in Canada. 

Of course for the past thirty years or so I would have been in full on “ get ready to start teaching again “ mode, would have already been back in the classroom for at least a week, dragging furniture around, creating bulletin boards, planning, labelling, photocopying and so on. As well when the kids were younger, there would have been shopping for clothes, assessing the state of lunch containers, renewing school supplies, and all the other things that went along with getting them ready to return to class. Or perhaps loading up two vehicles to move them away from home for university or college. 

The timing of ripe tomatoes and the task of turning them into chili sauce, salsa, or just canned tomatoes always coincided with an incredibly busy, exhausting time of year. But I still managed to do it. Obviously I had more “gumption “ in those days!

Alas, I have the time now. This is what my countertop looks like at the moment:

There are more tomatoes still on the vine that need to ripen but this is a great haul so far. 

I’ve dug out my old trusted and true Bernardin canning book.

This book is older than my daughter! I’m planning on making seasoned tomato sauce. I’ve made it before but maybe only once or twice and of course, I’ve added my own handy notes.

I’ve checked the canning supplies and should go out today to buy more sealing lids. I have jars, retrieved from the basement, in the dishwasher. I have my own onions from the garden and plan on adding my own basil to the recipe. I have garlic that a friend grew herself. I’m looking forward to this! 

I’m contemplating mustard pickles later in the week…

Monday, 29 August 2022

Bringing back Mundane Monday

 I think it’s worth a revisit. Today’s topic is “ my spot”. Where is your spot? Where do you almost always sit to watch tv or converse? Last night the whole family was round and we watched the new Elvis movie ( daughter’s boyfriend had rented it through some account or other). I switched where I was sitting so more people could fit on the couch and in the room. It felt very awkward. Normally, this is my spot, the end of a three cushioned couch, so I can stretch out, have access to the coffee table, and see the tv. 

There is a two-cushioned matching couch on the opposite side of the room where husband's spot is.

If I am out on the “ front porch”, then this is my spot:

As you can see it is partially occupied.  

My father had a rocking chair for a long time which was his spot, book in hand, cat on lap. 

So, where is your spot? 

(I’ve amended my post and decided not to include an email address for picture sending, for those of you who may have seen the original post).