Being thankful….no matter what

I don’t even know how to start this one. We know this year has been insane and we don’t know what may happen next. But through all of this, we remain hopeful, thankful, and I truly hope, positive. By the way, they’ve changed this program AGAIN, so I’m sure this post will be a bit wonky as I figure it out…again.

My kids and I were all last all together in mid-March for their birthdays. The following weekend, life as we knew it completely changed. COVID hit, the world shut down, and I was suddenly working from home. We were only going out when needed, for groceries and things, and my somewhat solitary life, became more of a period of complete isolation. We immediately set up a weekly Zoom call between my kids and myself for Sunday afternoons, at least this way we could see each other and feel a bit more in touch.

Finally, things started to loosen up and Mike planned to come visit for Thanksgiving weekend. Yes, it was going to be a much smaller celebration, given that the government was encouraging limiting indoor groups to a maximum of 10 people, so it was going to be just the three of us. I’d planned on turkey dinner for Sunday, which I do every year. Mike had also picked up some gluten free pie crusts for Kate on his way to visit us. We planned on her making her pumpkin pies on Saturday, and I’d do mine Sunday morning and then we’d head out for a nice Fall walk after I put the turkey in the oven. 

So far so good and everything was going to plan. Sunday morning arrived and I started making a couple more pumpkin pies. I’d checked them a couple of times while they were coking and, when they were just about done, set the timer for another five minutes. After the timer went off, I headed back to the kitchen to take them out to cool and start on the turkey. Wait a minute! What the hell? The oven door wouldn’t open. I’d opened it just five minutes ago! I tried again. Nope, the door was not moving. I have a double oven and each door locks, but only when you set one to self-clean. Neither one was self-cleaning and I’d just turned the bottom oven completely off, since the pies were done. OK, this is ridiculous! I guess I have to pull the stove out and unplug it to reset the lock. Nope, that didn’t work. Maybe if I flipped the breaker on the panel in the basement. I flipped the switch, left it off for a few minutes and flipped it back on. Nope, that didn’t work either. I took a look inside and, damn, those pies looked good, but I had no way to reach them. I decided to wait a bit, to see if the oven cooling down would trigger the lock to open, no such luck. Just a note, my son slept through all of this morning excitement.

I then decided to do two things: Google to see if there was anything I hadn’t tried, nope, I’d covered it all; and post a message on a local “helping small businesses” page on Facebook to see if anyone knew someone who might be able to do a service call, and not charge me an arm & a leg on a Sunday. I was going to need that big oven for the turkey shortly. First I’ll say that those who know me, will be able to see my facial expression as I typed some responses to comments made. I’m extremely independent and you can guarantee that, if I’ll reached out for help, I’ve explored all other options first.

Remember that my post said I was cooking two pies when the door locked, this was very clearly stated. One response, “Did you check online for trouble shooting for your oven brand? It’s worth a shot before calling in a repair man.” No, I just figured I’ll reach out to a bunch of strangers on my computer before using my same computer to find a simple fix. Another response, “Ovens only lock during self clean function, you shouldn’t have to worry about your turkey being locked in your oven.” (Insert the appropriate facial expression here.) My response, “I’m aware of this. It’s obviously malfunctioning because I was baking pies and it locked.”

Another comment, “Ours, a GE brand, did the same and we simply did a 2nd self clean cycle as per something my wife found on GE’s website and at the end of the 2nd self clean, it did unlock.” (Go ahead, just imagine the facial expression as I typed my response to that one.) My response, “I can’t do a self-cleaning cycle. I was baking pies and the door won’t open to get them out. If I put in on self-clean, I’ll have a fire and no way to open the oven to put it out.” Do these people read before “offering” help??

I must say that I did get some helpful suggestions, like picking up an electric roaster, all of $38 at Walmart, and even the offer from a complete stranger to loan me one to save buying it. Mind you, I also got someone trying to sell me a deep fryer??? A last-minute, first attempt at deep frying a turkey was not on my bucket list of the day.

So, I decided to pick up the electric roaster and more supplies for more pies, after all, I still had my top oven available. Dinner was great, the roaster worked well, and yes, I was thankful to be with my children, we are all safe and healthy.  I was also thankful for the comments that were actually helpful, and even those that were just entertaining, I mean, you have to laugh or completely stress out. 

After my son headed home on Monday, I started doing research. I figured it would be cheaper to buy a new stove, than the cost of the service call to determine the issue, ordering of the part, and second service call to install it, all for a stove that was 18-years old. I soon found that deciding on what I wanted was the easy part. With the mess of Covid, factories have cutback on staff and there are long delays for getting stock, such as appliances, in. I had appointments all day Tuesday, so Wednesday I went to a few local stores and quickly found it would be mid-December to early January before the stove I wanted would be available. OK, so I could make due with my small oven until then, and I still had the burners, but the two pumpkin pies sitting in the bottom oven were going to get pretty damn ripe in two and a half months. By this time I’d even tried to figure out a way to just take the door off, which is not possible unless you first….open the door. My next attempt was going to be a sledge hammer.

After having visited two stores, I knew the questions to ask and I took some time to do some more research on pricing, and made plans to call a few more places Thursday morning. I loaded my new electric roaster with the makings of cabbage roll casserole, and hit the phone to find a new stove. My first call was to a local independent appliance store. I told him what I was looking for and he immediately rattled off the model number and said, “I’m looking at one right now. We just took it off the truck and unpacked it and I was just wiping it down. It’s here if you want it.”

Are you kidding me??? I asked him to put my name on it and said I’d be right there. I was at their door within 10 minutes. Yes, it was exactly the model I was looking for (mine but 18 years younger and in stainless steel that would match the fridge I bought last year.) Not only was it available, it was $50 cheaper than other locations, and they could deliver it Tuesday!

So this year I am thankful for many things not least of all my family, and to this list I add the community I live in that has rallied around those who have truly suffered as a result of this pandemic. They are very vocal in supporting local, small businesses and helping others do so as well. I’m also thankful that I’ve been able to continue to work and, while I hadn’t planned on replacing my stove at this time, I was in a position to do so. As my son said, those were some expensive pies!

How times have changed

I know, it’s been forever since I blogged and WOW, have things changed in that time. First of all, WordPress itself has changed how my template looks, so it’s going to take me a bit of practice to get back up to speed on my process for doing this. Oh wait, and there’s that little worldwide health issue, COVID-19, that has upended everything and revolutionized how we do damn near everything. I left work on Friday, March 13th (good ole’ Friday the 13th) and was advised to pick up my laptops Monday and start working from home. To say this has all been a huge learning curve for everyone, is putting it mildly. I’m glad to be able to say that the majority of those I’ve interacted with have taken both their health, and the health of others, seriously. Together we’ll get through this.

So what has this done to daily life? For me, not a lot has changed. I now have a two minute commute to work, with the detour to the kitchen to grab a coffee, rather than 10 minutes with the detour to Tim Horton’s for coffee. I’m something of a solitary person to begin with, partly by choice, so this hasn’t affected me a huge amount otherwise. Yes, I’m now working from home, but I generally pick up groceries once a week, and I’ve adjusted that to every two weeks when possible. I’m usually well stocked in most supplies, which meant I was somewhat prepared. I’m not big for going out to bars, so again, that hasn’t affected me. What it has changed for me is my daily interactions. Yes, I’m a solitary person but solitude 24 hours a day, seven days a week, for over three months is more than even I can handle. I’m use to talking with co-workers daily, in person, face-to-face, not on a computer monitor. I’m also use to jumping in the car and hitting the road for an adventure; stopping in small towns, visiting unique shops, and interacting with the locals as I discover hidden treasures just a short trip from my home.

OK, so I did great for the first while. I’ll tell you, there isn’t a damn thing in a cupboard, closet, box or bin in my home, that I don’t want to keep. I did a major clean and purge of “stuff”. You know, the things you pick up on a whim; the gifts you keep….because they were gifts; the items that follow you from place to place, through different stages of your life, but that you don’t really know why you’ve kept them. Well, they are all gone. If it no longer resonated with me, didn’t serve a purpose or feel “needed” anymore, into a box it went. My home has never been what you would call cluttered, but I was amazed how much I had, that I didn’t really need. I then moved on to the windows and removed all the screens and washed them, washed the windows, and put the clean screens back in. Oh yeah, and I went a little crazy with organizing and labeling things in my pantry. OK, so that got me to the end of April. 

Before I get too far along here, one of the things that have changed in this setup, is how to add pictures. Here’s hoping I can get that one figured out.

Anyway, after all of the cleaning and organizing, I moved on to TV. Like some people, I’d planned on watching several series on Netflix. Things people had recommended but, for whatever reason I didn’t have time for. Now was my chance and I had nothing but time on my hands. We are now in early July and I’ve done yardwork, but not a huge amount, and I am now tired of watching regular TV, binge watching multiple series on Netflix, and scanning Facebook and Twitter. I have some painting I want to do in the house, but now a heatwave has hit and well, that’ll have to wait. I have more work to do in the yard but….heatwave, and the sidewalk I’m building with repurposed patio stones is a project for the week first week I’m taking off in August. But, I’ve now realized I have only read three books since March, and I haven’t written nearly enough over this period of time. So, that is going to change. I’m still working full days, albiet from home, but it’s an easy commute so I’m going to start making time to read, or write, every day. No, this won’t mean I’ll be blogging daily. I’m sure both you and I’d get tired of that very quickly. But I am going to start writing some things I’ve promised myself I’d do for a long time now. Things to stretch my creativity as well as the stories that friends and family have encouraged me to put down on paper.

Oh, look at that! Playing with buttons and icons and I found how to switch back to the old editing format, the one I know. I can add pictures again! I guess that means I have to get my camera out and take a few! For now I just used some I had saved on my laptop. My friend made this sweatshirt and I got her permission to post it here. If you’re interested, you can pick one up at Dog Eat Dog on Mitton Street South in Sarnia, and they are available in both sweatshirt and T-shirt versions. 

Well, now that I’ve refreshed my memory on how to do this, although I can’t guarantee my editing skills are up to par, I’ll have to look through my notebook at the topics I’d planned on blogging about. I promise, it won’t be another year and a half before I post again. Yes, it’s been that long. I actually have a few people who like to read my blog, believe it or not, and I’m sure I’ll be hearing from them when they see this posted. I’ll try to keep them happy by posting on a more regular basis again.

‘Til next time!

 

When technology makes choices for you

I’ll start by first saying I’m not the most technical person around. I can hack my way through most things, playing around with a program to get it to do what I want it to, but when it comes down to real technical issues, I call IT (my son). For a good home-cooked meal, he’s more than happy to take care of my technical problems.

This being said, I took advantage of the electronics sales just before the holidays, and picked up a couple of Google Minis for myself. I was also due to upgrade my phone, so I went from the Google Pixel to the Pixel 3. Can you tell I’m not an Apple gal?

My son contributed to the technical advancements of my home, by gifting me with two “smart” bulbs. These bulbs can be controlled through my Google Mini or my phone, by voice or an app I’ve downloaded. After playing around with the bulbs for a bit, I took advantage of further sales, and picked up four more bulbs. I now have several lights in my home that are managed through the app on my phone, and I can override the app by voice when and if needed. This is going to come in handy when I have my second knee replacement in April.

I was getting to learn the “shopping list” feature of my Mini and have found it to be quite helpful, since I can access it on my phone when shopping, and no longer slap my forehead in the store when I realize the printed list I took off of my fridge, is sitting on my dryer in my basement. If you have read previous blogs, you’ll remember the “Shit I need to do, but probably won’t” notebooks I did up for a number of people for Christmas. Well, I wanted to gift more, and realized I needed two more notebooks, to add to those I still had at home. So that I’d remember to pick them up while shopping, I added them to my Google shopping list. Of course, I needed to remember what they were for in order to remember what size notebooks to get, so I called them “shit notebooks”. I told Google to add “shit notebooks” to my list and went on with other things I as doing. A few days later, I wanted to add toothpaste to the list, but couldn’t remember if I’d already added it. Since I’m still learning all of the options for my Mini, I figured I’d ask if it could read my shopping list back to me. Yes, yes it could. However, I wasn’t quite prepared for how it would read the list. I wanted to add the picture with the audio link within it, but this program won’t let me for “security reasons”. You should be able to reach the audio here. 

To say I was surprised by Google’s editing of my list, is to put it mildly. It certainly caught me off guard, and made me laugh out loud. In fact, I had my Mini read the list back several times, and laughed just as hard each time. I mean, when technology edits your potty mouth, and you aren’t expecting it, it can certainly come as a bit of a shock. I’ve yet to pick up the additional notebooks and sometimes wonder if it’s an unconscious decision so that I don’t feel I have to delete this item from my shopping list.

Flash forward a few weeks and I was adding more items to my grocery list. I’ve always been conscious of financial management and tend to shop the sales, reviewing the flyers when they arrive and stocking up on regularly used items when they are sale. I was trying to figure out how to ensure I had the store noted on my electronic list, and started reading the store name out at the end of the product I wanted added to the list. This was working well until I decided to add multiple items at once. I mean, I was going to get cantaloupe, blackberries and fresh pineapple at the same store, why have them noted separately?

I dictated the list of three items, added the store name, and suddenly heard Google on my phone say, “OK, calling Dave at work”. What? Wait! I quickly opened my phone and disconnected the call before it went through, then burst out laughing. I haven’t dated, or even spoken with Dave, in over two years. We occasionally exchange an email, just seeing how the other is doing since we’ve both had health issues in the last few years. I’ve maintained friendships with the majority of the men I’ve dated so this isn’t out of the ordinary for me, but even the last email exchange was at least a year ago. I didn’t even realize I still had his work number in my phone and suddenly I’m going to call him out of the blue? Considering I had no idea what shift he might be working, he may not even be the one to answer the call. After I regained my composure, I added the rest of the items to my shopping list, but kept thinking about “OK, calling Dave at work”. After thinking about it for a couple of days, I sent Dave an email and told him the story. He got a kick out of it and we exchanged a few messages back and forth but no, before you start wondering, there is no chance of that relationship reigniting. That ship has sailed and he was a part of my life exactly when, why, and for how long he was meant to be.

After all of these issues with my new technology, I’m wondering what I can do next to challenge AI…..I’m sure I’ll find something. Until next time, be careful what you say. You never know who, or what, is listening.  

 

 

 

It’s that time again

It’s yet another new year. Another chance to make promises to ourselves, some may call them resolutions, that the majority of us break within the first month, if not the first week of the new year. img_0250

I choose not to make resolutions, but instead, make promises to myself that I am under no obligation to fulfill. This being said, blogging regularly is one of those promises I’ve made to myself, yet again. This one I really am going to push myself to meet. I’ve added to this: reading a minimum of one book per month; purging my home of “stuff” (it isn’t cluttered by any means but there are a lot of items I haven’t used in a number of years, and I’m sure someone else could make use of them); and, doing more preparation for knee surgery than I did last time.

So, the first item, blogging regularly. I’ve spent some time over the holidays writing up some blog topics. My plan, whether I follow through or not, is to write a piece about each item, possibly two or three at a time, and post one per week. OK folk, don’t hold me to this since I’m not even sure I can hold myself to it, but it’s a goal and we all need goals.

The second is to read a minimum of one book per month. I’ll have to say that this is one I owe to myself. I’ve always enjoyed reading, and tend to have two or three books on the go at a time, but I’ve struggled to find time to finish any. So, I’m making myself stick to one book at a time, and I’m alternating them. All of the books I read are ones I want to read, but some I just have a more intense desire to delve into. My plan is to alternate the books so that I am reading one I want to read, followed by one “I can’t wait to read”. I’m currently finishing up Hillary Rodham Clinton’s book, What Happened, and have Michelle Obama’s book, Becoming, sitting in my living room tempting me to crack it open. I must say I did read, Bob Woodward’s, Fear, during my stay in Cuba (the trip will be another post), and got through that one rather quickly. I need to get away for the US political intrigue and will be moving on to, Women Who Run with the Wolves, by Dr. Clarissa Pinkola Estés, after Mrs. Obama’s book of course. 

The third is to purge my home of “stuff”. I’ve started already and plan to pick a closet, dresser, or cupboard to go through each weekend and be brutal in my assessment for the items within. If I haven’t worn the item of clothing in the past two years – it’s outta here. If I’m keeping something for sentimental reasons, and it’s really just gathering dust or stuck in a box somewhere, what is the sentiment behind the item? Do I need to continue to keep it, or do I know someone who would appreciate it and use it, or honour the purpose of the item?

As for the preparation for knee surgery. For those who know me, I had a total replacement of my right knee two years ago. At the time, the left knee needed to be done as well, what with being 90% bone-on-bone, but I’d used up a fair bit of sick leave with my stroke the previous year, and needed to build up my sick leave bank again. My surgery is scheduled for April 5 of this year and, having gone through the process before with flying colours, I plan on making this recovery even better. I did my pre-surgery exercises, but now know that my own issue when recovering is getting the post surgery bend as quickly as the doctor would like. My surgeon would like you to have a 95 degree bend by the time you leave the hospital, which is usually three days post-op. I was struggling to get to 85 degrees and cannot tell you how pissed off I was that the gal doing physio beside me each day was easily reaching 115 degrees! Yes, I know everyone is different, and I know reaching that bend is my main issue going in, so I’m preparing for that ahead of time. I’ve started going for purposeful walks. Not just the daily steps, in fits and bursts, that my Fitbit has me trying to reach (I’m reaching it pretty daily and the damn thing keeps adding more steps), but longer walks specifically to help build up the muscles around my knee. I started yesterday with a walk around my block. Most of you would think, “Hell, a walk around the block is nothing!”. To me, it’s a challenge. My home is at one end of the street and by the time I get to the other end, I’m starting to limp. By the time I get the other three sides of the block done, I’m hobbling pretty good, my knee is swollen and I’m verIMG_20170508_090206y uncomfortable. Am I in pain? Sure, but my knees have given me a fair bit of pain for the past 20 years, so I do have to say I’ve become somewhat use to it. I’m also bringing out my glider, one of the tools used in physio post-op, to help reach that bend goal. I currently have a less than 90 degree bend in my left knee, and want to push it as much as I can to stretch out the tendons so their memory is there post surgery and, hopefully, I can reach that 95 degrees before leaving the hospital.

Well, those are some of my promises to myself…..let’s see how many I fulfill. Happy New Year all!

Of course I remember where I put that!

I haven’t blogged in a very long time and I keep promising my co-working and friend, Hélène, that I would share this story that never fails to brighten her day.

We all get overwhelmed and, as a result, we might forget things. Personally, I blame my stroke from a two years ago, I mean, why would I want to admit that I’m getting older and, with that, memory lapses happen. The busy multi-tasking life I’m so use to, is that becoming a thing of the past? Nahh…..maybe I just need to take more naps

As someone whose daily life revolves around completing multiple jobs at once, I often find myself bringing several bags of groceries, baskets of laundry and personal items (purse, cellphone/wallet), up my basement stairs in one trip. I mean really, why make four trips up and down the stairs when you can line everything up on a couple of stairs, stand on the next step down and move everything up a couple more stairs, then move yourself up those stairs.

I’ve always tended to do my grocery shopping early on Saturday mornings, but my schedule has been completely off lately, and I have found myself making more frequent, smaller, shopping trips after work during the week. After getting home from picking up some groceries one evening, I put them away and proceeded with my evening routine; cooking dinner, cleaning up, watching Coronation Street, making lunch for the next day, tidying up the house….all the little things that need to be done and no-one else is going to do them for me. The next morning I got up and got ready for work but when I went to head to the garage, I couldn’t find my car keys. They weren’t on the dining room table, where I normally put them. I was running late so I figured I look for them when I got home and, luckily, I have a spare car key. I headed to work and the start of another busy day. Mid-morning I decided to do a coffee run for the office. Since I only live two minutes from my office, I slipped by to see if I could find my keys. I told myself it didn’t bug me that I’d misplaced them, but it did. I completed a quick search of the house again, no luck. OK, I’ll give it a good going over when I get home from work. I mean, I live in a bungalow and had used the keys to drive home from the store less than 24-hours ago. How hard could they be to find?

After a busy day at work, I came home and did another search of the house. I looked in places I hadn’t looked before; my home office (which I haven’t spent nearly enough time in lately), my spare bedroom (where I have my make-up table). I even looked in the freezer in the basement because I’d put a few things in there before bringing the rest of the bags upstairs. Nope, my keys were not to be found.

I then decided to use the logic I give to others; Stop looking! When you are looking for something, or trying to think of something, stop. Once you aren’t focused on it, it will be right there in front of you, or pop into your head.

I started making my dinner, but those damn keys kept nagging at me. As supper cooked I started searching again….so much for following my own advice! I decided to check everywhere I’d put things from my shopping trip. I checked the cupboard where the quinoa went, no keys. I checked the pantry where I placed the pasta sauce, no keys there either. I checked the folded cloth shopping bags I’d brought my groceries home in, still no keys (I even checked the bags I hadn’t used that were still in my car trunk!). I finished preparing dinner, ate my meal, cleaned up…but was constantly going over in my head every step I’d taken the day before. It wasn’t so much the fact that I’d misplaced the keys, all of them could be replaced if needed, it was that nagging thought that I live in a three bedroom bungalow, OK, two bedrooms and a home office, but it’s a small home and there are really only so many places to put things.

As I was cleaning up the dishes from dinner, I also started making my lunch for the next day. After I made my salad, I placed it on a shelf in the fridge, and opened the drawer at the bottom to grab an apple to place with it. WAIT! What was that noise? Apples rolling in a plastic drawer should not make a noise like that. I looked into the drawer again and there…in the plastic bag from the produce section of the store……my keys. Well, at least they were nice and fresh!

Apples in bag

How did they get there? Well, in my need to multi-task and carry everything up my stairs in one load, I often throw my wallet/phone, keys, etc. into whatever I’m bringing up the stairs whether it be a bag, laundry hamper…whatever. It appears I tossed my keys into a grocery bag but they slipped into the open bag of apples inside the grocery bag. I was so focused on getting things put away, in order to move on to the next job I needed to complete, that I didn’t notice the sound when they hit the bottom of the fridge drawer.

As I’ve said before, I have absolutely no problem laughing at myself, and the silly and strange things I might do. Sharing these stories may brighten the day of someone having a rough time. They may allow someone to laugh at themselves and the odd things they may have done. With that in mind I do have to confess….I only use photos on my blog that I’ve taken myself. Because I’d already removed the keys from the bag weeks before writing this blog, I staged the photo above. However, the morning after taking the picture, I was once again looking for my keys and not able to find them. Yes…they were still in the fridge…with the apples…still nice and fresh!

What happens when you take an electronics break…

OK, say maybe this isn’t what happens when YOU take a break from electronics, but it’s what happened when I took my self-imposed 48 hour break from all computers and most social media. I really did quite well in sticking to my promise to myself. I had to look at my phone a few times each day, as I use the Carrot Rewards program to track my steps, and I check in a few times a day to see how close I am to my daily goal. I also responded to a couple of text messages from a friend simply because I hadn’t advised them I was taking this break. All-in-all, I think I pretty much lived up to my goal. What was I able to accomplish with the time normally spent surfing the internet, scrolling through email and messaging people?

I was able to go through some boxes in my home office and find my Reiki information. I haven’t reviewed it all yet, nor have I started practicing again, but I’ve made that first step by simply finding and sorting the information.

Bulletin BoardI moved some artwork and the bulletin board in my home office, allowing me easier access to  the bulletin board, and this encouraged me to do up index cards with research for two of the writing projects I’ve promised myself to focus on this year. The cards indicate the basic timeline of the information I have on these topics, and leads on information I still have to research. Now that I have notes going up there, I may end up flipping the bulletin board the other direction as I seem to be running out of space.

I found out I have an insane number of notebooks on the go but, in my defence, they notebooks.jpgall have a purpose. I have one that I journal in, or did, and plan to write in daily again; one for notes after I meditate; one for ideas for future blog posts; one for information gathered from various doctors after my stroke in 2016 (that would be the “I meant to behave but there were too many other options” one); one for notes from various psychic, card and energy readings I’ve had done over the years;  one with notes from my Reiki training and sessions I’ve completed; one for research on my own life story; one for projects others have asked me to help with; one for notes on a second writing project I’ve tasked myself with this year; and, one for the future. Actually, I have three for the future but two are still packed away somewhere. I just love books and don’t want to search through several for the information I need, I want to know exactly what book I will find it in. The ladies I work with can attest to my need to be organized.

I also took some time to just sit and relax, and in doing so, I discovered this beautiful art Mother Nature leaves on my living room floor at a certain point in the day this time of year.

I’m not generally in my living room at 11am, so when I was on this day, the sun shining through the window provided a pleasant surprise.

I also caught up on some of those jobs we all put off as long as possible, or I do anyway. I cleaned my ovens (I have a double oven) and this is the one time I really wanted to use my computer because I know Google could have shown me how to clean the oven racks faster and easier. I also organized the tools in my hall closet. This “Jan-of-all-trades” needs to keep stuff handy for when her next repair or renovation project pops up and that’s one more job out of the way.

Then the real fun started. I decided to download the remaining pictures on the memory card in my camera, only to find that the spring for the memory card had sprung its last, and the card won’t remain inside. I’ve done my version of McGuyvering; taped the door to the memory card compartment shut and voila!…my digital camera is good-to-go again. It looks like I’ll be using the cord to download pictures from now on.

As my break from electroncs wound to an end, I decided to reward myself for all of this productive work, and picked up a bag of chocolate covered raisins while out shopping. When I poured them into a bowl to put on the end table, I grabbed a couple and popped them into my mouth. What followed involves fruit (the raisins), dental floss, and an unexpected visit to the dentist. But that, is a story for another day.

 

Taking a break

We all need to take a break once in a while. Whether it be a break from our daily routines; a vacation from work; or a break from relationships in our lives. I have been dealing with a virus, or cold, in my eye since New Year’s Eve…and as a result, I’m taking a 48-hour break from my electronic devices. This causes a problem in that I promised myself, no-one IMG_0020else, that I would post on here every Sunday. In anticipation of trying to live up to this self-imposed deadline and my, also self-imposed break, I’m writing this on my Friday off from work, and will post today. When I get up on Saturday morning, I will not be reaching for my cell phone to check messages or scroll through Facebook. I won’t turn on my PC to pay bills, I’ve taken care of that today, nor will I use it to do additional research. I won’t boot up my laptop to work on this post. I won’t turn on my tablet to read my ebook version of “Fire and Fury” by Michael Wolff…as much as I want to finish this one. No, for 48 hours I will be reading through notes on the pieces I’m working on, put them in order, make notes on next steps and plan daytrips for additional research needed. I’ll may read more of “What Happened” by Hillary Rodham Clinton, the hard-copy version, and listen to some relaxing music. I’ll take some time to meditate, which I haven’t given myself the time to do in longer than I care to think about. I may try to find my resources on Reiki and start practicing this again, as I promised my hairdresser this morning. Hell, I may even write a letter. You know, those things we use to get in the mail from friends and family and which have now been replaced by quick little posts on social media. I’ll catch up on the TV shows I’ve recorded, or want to see on Netflix. Some may not agree this is taking a break, but I’m more concerned about the strain on my already sore eyes from electronic devices closer to my face. My TV is up on the wall a good 15′ from where I tend to sit, so I don’t see this as an issue. I also don’t see reading from a book, or my printed and hand-written notes, as a problem as they are not accompanied by the artificial light eminating from electronic devices.

So be warned, if you send me a text, I won’t reply right away. If it’s urgent, those who need to call will, and I’ll answer. I simply will not initiate the use of any of these devices from the time I wake up on Saturday, until after supper on Sunday. My eyes need a break from brightness of the light from these devices and my brain needs a break from the constant streaming of negativity online these days. Sure, I can adjust the light, but that isn’t all this is about. It’s about taking back control of my time. I work all week on a computer, then I come home and spend my evenings messaging, posting, scrolling. When you think about it, how much time in our lives have we handed over to electronics? Again, I don’t mean TV, because that is a whole different issue but it can provide an escape….or background noise when you need a nap. I’m talking about social media, that just draws you in to other people’s drama.

Funny, I’m posting on social media about avoiding social media…ah, the irony of it all!

What’s next?

NotebookIt’s the start of another new year and with that comes my personal need to make some new starts and clear out some old ‘stuff”. I feel compelled to pare down and clear out what isn’t necessary in my life and to do that, I’m starting with my house. My home has never been what one would call cluttered, but I’ve spent the last month or so going through every single room, closet and box and deciding what I’m keeping, and why. As I recently told my daughter, just because something was received as a gift, doesn’t mean you have to keep it forever. At some point, that gift may become just another item that needs to be dusted; that needs to moved to make room for something else; or that simply needs to be passed on. I have gifts that I’ve held onto for years upon years, and others that have served their purpose and been passed on to someone who can use or appreciate it within a few months of receipt. In no way does that mean I didn’t appreciate the gift, or the sentiment behind it, I simply feel it has served its purpose with me, and it’s time to pass it on to someone else who will appreciate it.

One of the items I’ve kept for a very long time, is this small wooden cat. During the summer after I completed Grade 5, I went to live with my oldest sister. I recatmained there while attending Grade 6 and this meant I was away from my very best friend, who I’d met on my first day of class at Bright’s Grove Public School in Grade 2. We were determined to maintain the friendship, even though we were living about three hours apart. To do this, we wrote each other weekly. I wish those letters were something I’d kept, but the jabbering of two pre-teen girls wasn’t something I thought I’d ever want to reference again. The cat has followed me since, and held a place of pride on my dresser in each of my bedrooms. While she has lost part of her neck bow along the way, she carries with her the security of friendship I so badly needed when my life was being pulled apart, yet again. That period of my life is one of the writing projects I’ve promised myself I’ll focus on this year. I’m happy to say, the friendship that little cat represents, continues to this day. While my friend has now been the one to move away, the bond forged those many years ago remains just as strong, if not stronger, quite possibly because all we have gone through together. The process of eliminating the unnecessary in my home, has so far resulted in more than four large boxes of donated clothes, ornaments, dishes and other items. Now that Christmas is over with, it has also included the passing on of my 15-year old artificial tree, and a number of ornaments that have no sentimental value to me. It feels good to know that, while I’ve enjoyed and appreciated these items for many years, they are now going to someone who will get many more years of use out of them.  

Part of my process, when promising myself to blog regularly, was to write down possible Blog booktopics for future posts. My nattering away about clearing out my home, was not one of those topics. I guess that’s part of what I enjoy about blogging. Sure, I have topics for the future in the notebook specifically allocated for that…yes, that one with the floppy eared pup on the cover, but generally it’s me taking the time to sit down and let my thoughts out. As a good friend said, reading my blog is like sitting down to have a coffee with me. I hope you’ll continue to join me with your coffee, tea, water, wine…or whatever you might feel is appropriate, as I wander my way through this process and see where it takes me, and us.

Mistakes and Lessons

I’ve always tried to teach my kids that nothing is ever a mistake. When we are faced with a choice, the one we choose is what we feel is right for us at that moment. When we look back and consider that choice a mistake, it really wasn’t, it was a decision we needed to make because there was a lesson we needed to learn by taking that path.

My daughter recently showed me she has learned, and understandIMG_20171225_200034s that message far deeper than I thought. Kate made this adorable octopus for me at a local shop. You may notice that the paint on the right eye isn’t perfect and pools at the bottom, almost like tears building up and ready to fall. My understanding is that the paint dries extremely fast and the lady at the shop told Kate they could fix that. It appears they have a special ‘eraser’ that can wipe off mistakes. Kate declined and said she wanted it left exactly as it was. She told me this story and added, “I wanted it kept that way because it looks like it’s getting ready to cry and that represents the struggles you’ve dealt with over the past couple of years. The other eye is clearer as it looks to the future.”

I then shared, with both of my children, the story behind a walking stick I’d purchased a number of years ago. Many years ago, I’m going to say around 2003, a Native American – Wiccan – psychic woman told me, the moment I stepped into her home, that my Totem was the Bald Eagle. I’ve always remembered this and, after meeting the award winning Ojibwa wood carver Wilmer Nadjiwon at the Toronto Sportsman’s Show somewhere around 2005, I’d felt drawn to his work and wanted to visit his studio in Tobermory to see if I could find a Bald Eagle carving by him that I could actually afford. This visit didn’t take place for many more years, and unfortunately, I was not able to find a Bald Eagle carved by Wilmer, those who know his work will recognize his familiar owl carvings and there were many of those there. However, I did find a walking stick carved by his nephew with a Bald Eagle topper. It was exactly what I’d pictured, and it was in my price range. Sadly, this particular walking stick is not signed and I don’t remember the artists name.

I was taking it to the front of the shop to pay for it, I noticed one eye missing. I could have easily mentioned it, but I didn’t. I wanted it exactly as it was. As I told my sister, who drIMG_20180101_111659ove to the studio with me, it reminded me of my daughter. For those who do not know Kate, she was assessed with Asperger’s Syndrome in her early 20’s. She doesn’t mind me taking about this because we both use it as a teaching tool. The easiest way to explain Asperger’s is to call it high functioning Autism. It’s so much more, but that just makes it easier for people to understand without going into it too far. As I explained to Kate on Christmas morning, it reminded me of her because she sees the world very differently than the rest of us. I’m extremely proud of the steps she’s made to adjust herself to ‘our’ world, and the strength she’s shown in sticking to her guns when she simply chooses to stay true to herself and do what is comfortable for her, whether others understand or not.

I’ve since been gifted with another walking stick, this one a Wilmer Nadjiwon oIMG_20180101_115941riginal, and the head of this one is a Wolf, crying to the moon. I’ve become very drawn to interpreting the animal imagery I have during meditation and, when researching Wolf as a power animal, I very much see this as my son. I won’t go into that further as he is a private person, but I display these two walking sticks in the entry of my home; one allowing things to be seen differently, and one with a strong sense of family, avoiding confrontation but fiercely defending loved ones when necessary.

I hope that people feel that when they enter; the ability to see and respect things from various perspectives, a strong sense of family and loyalty and a non-confrontational atmosphere. Home….

A New Year – New Goals

After a day of feeling absolutely horrid, and much of it spent napping on the couch, I’ve started to feel better and decided I’d start my 2018 promise to myself, on the last day of 2017.

The new year brings with it the promise of new goals, expectations, adventures and so much more. For me, it brings a determination to change the path I’ve been on for the past two years. For those who have read my blog in the past, you know I had a stroke in July 2016. This followed several months of extreme stress and pressures that I normally wouIMG_0004ld be able to handle. I’ve dealt with things like this my whole life, as they say, it seems to be “my lot in life”. Unfortunately, my body decided I needed a break and a stroke resulted. Given a choice, I’d preferred a different type of break, you know; a trip to somewhere exotic, a lottery win and all financial worries taken care of… but I guess it was the natural defence mechanism of my brain forcing me to take a step back to realize I don’t have to try to handle everything at once. Thankfully, the stroke was minor and I’ve pretty much recovered, although the gal who always had a problem remembering names, sometimes finds herself not able to remember the name of someone I’ve known forever, even when they are standing right in front of me. I hope this will change in time but there is so much we don’t know about the brain and the parts affected by my stroke have to do with vision, balance and memory. My vision and balance are fine….memory…well, it’s getting there.

This health issue, as well as my knee replacement surgery in April 2017, just seemed to put what I wanted to do on the back burner once again. I had to focus on what I needed to do to get physically and emotionally healthy again. Had I really thought about it, getting emotionally healthy would have happened faster if I had focused more on what I wanted to do. So, once again I’m promising myself to write more in the new year, only I’ve recently had the passion for a couple of topics reignited and I can’t wait to get started. Tomorrow, the first day of this bright new year, I’ll be organizing the information I’ve already researched, making notes on what I need to source, and starting online research to add to my current knowledge.

That all has to do with three main projects I have in mind, the fourth is regularly posting on this blog again. I was doing so well, and then life got in the way. To start this on the right foot, I’ve taken the first step in blogging regularly again by jotting down some blog topics. Drop by tomorrow for Mistakes and Lessons.

Until then, I hope everyone has a happy, warm and safe New Year!