Saturday, November 29, 2014

Our own mini Black Friday

We didn’t plan it that way, but we ended up out among the black Friday shoppers - I had to go to the “bloodletters”, and we had a coupon at Home Outfitters. We generally try to do as many errands as possible when we make the trek into town so we hit up a few other stores. We left the house at 9am and didn’t get back until 3:30 – I was exhausted and very grateful there were leftovers in the fridge!

It wasn’t actually all that busy where we went and I did get a few awesome deals at HO. The dogs even got new beds as part of our bedroom redecoration. Costco was no busier than normal, the battery store was of course deserted, and Home Depot was empty – there were no great deals there.

There were many other stops along the way, including breakfast and coffee after my 12+ hour fast. Why was I starving all night when normally I wouldn’t snack? Just knowing that I couldn’t have anything made my mouth water and kept my eyes wide open.

The first thing we did when we got home was check the answering machine - we were frustrated to find that we’d just missed the girl calling to schedule our bedroom hardwood floor installation! So now we agonized about whether we should start ripping up the carpet, or wait until we hear… I suppose at this late date it might not happen until after Christmas :-(

Saturday morning, in a fit of excited anticipation, we emptied most of our closet… as the piles of clothes scattered through out the house came near to toppling I came to my senses. We’d already emptied some of the closet a few weeks ago – piles are stacked around the edges of the living room. Now all my clothes are distributed throughout the house in unmanageable piles – how am I going to find something to wear? How long am I going to have to live with the house in utter chaos. At that point I may have started freaking out just a bit… so we left what remained in the closet. We settled on ripping out the carpet from the closet which moved us slightly forward but is more or less out of sight. Oh my.

Next weeks writing group is a “freestyle” – I was thinking of reading one of the short stories I wrote in the summer – which one would you chose? I’m thinking either “Green Fields”, the story about the dog, or the story of the man in the wheelchair dreaming about the prairies.


Never mistake motion for action. ~Ernest Hemingway

Thursday, November 27, 2014

WYL #32 Perspectives of Life

Finally a happy topic! I could have gone on and on but decided to save the rest of the story for another time.


It was on July 15, 1994 at 7am; the sky was as blue as can be and there was a light breeze, it wasn't too hot.  I was at the top of the field leaning against my car and sipping a coffee while I listened to Nick, our builder, shout out last minute instructions to the shovel operator. I felt light headed with excitement.

The shovel finally raised its huge bucket into the air and then crashed into the earth, gouging a wide swath through the green grass. I could feel a burning  at the back of my eyes as emotion welled up inside me. It was really going to happen. After a lifetime of wanting to live in the country, it was actually going to happen. I gulped some air and tried to dry my eyes as Nick made his way up to the car. He smiled at me and leaned next to me to watch the progress.

As I watched the shovel sculpt a place in the earth for our home, I thought back to the last year. No, I thought back several years, to when I was a little girl visiting my Aunt's farm and wanting a farm of my own. How many blown out birthday candles, and shooting stars were called upon to make this dream come true?

I had constantly bombarded Carm with real estate listings for years. Sometimes I wore him down enough to go and look, but it didn't happen all the time. I was relentless though. One spring I came across a listing for 28 acres that partially flooded in the spring. I don't remember what sort of persuasion I used, but he finally agreed to go for a drive. We rolled to a stop on a little stone bridge that crowned a roaring creek - this was no babbling brook, this was a torrent of uncontrolled energy. A double check of the map confirmed that this was the property, and that the flooding was magnificent. We drove up to the corner and turned into the field to get a better look and as we got out of the car we looked at each other with the sudden realization that we had seen this land before. A few years earlier we had driven past and been enchanted by the green valley with the creek and river. A call to the real estate agent on the old sign confirmed that it had already been sold and as the years went by and we forgot all about that verdant valley. We looked around the property a bit more, but we both knew in our hearts that this was the one so we were soon speeding towards the real estate office.

When the agent told us there was already an offer on the property we were crest fallen. She explained the process to us and let us know that IF the current offer was turned down we had a few minutes to get our offer presented. I paced a hole in the carpet that night waiting for the phone to ring. Finally it did and when Carm nodded his head at me my heart leapt and our path through life took a big turn.

Compass headings were soon taken and the home design process started. Every detail was taken into account - I knew I wanted to live in the light with lots of south facing windows, so we made that axis the longest. There were views to the east so we didn't skimp on windows there either. Having a west facing window in the great room to scoop the last rays of sun meant that we'd have light all day there. Windows were shoehorned in where ever there was space. I must have walked through the 3D computer design thousands of times before I was happy with the alignment of each door and window. In my dreams I'd imagine every light switch and power outlet. I may have driven some people crazy with my obsession with room dimensions.

My excitement rose every time I looked at the plans - my house in the country was soon to be - the thought was almost enough to make me swoon. Soon we had a contractor hired and a real estate agent working on selling our house. It must have been the hottest day that summer when Carm almost got heat stroke mowing the acre lawn for what turned out to be the final showing. I was busy in the house vacuuming and washing floors - we had 3 dogs, 2 cats and 10 parrots whose existence we had to hide. When our real estate agent dropped by later in the day with an offer in her hands we were ecstatic. The race was on - 9 weeks till we had to be out of our Limoges home, and with 10 parrots, 2 cats, and 3 dogs we needed somewhere to move to. Nick had a challenge.

A few weeks later I was leaning against my car with tears in my eyes as I watched my dream materialize.


The ache for home lives in all of us. The safe place where we can go as we are and not be questioned. ~Maya Angelou






Monday, November 24, 2014

Glass can bend (I hope)

One of the large windows in the living room is flexing with the howling wind - the reflexions back into the rest of the room are wavering as if viewed from a carnival glass mirror. I'll have to tell you - it is scary to watch. I did close the blind so I don't have to see it…

I've been getting full use of our freshly done bathroom - lingering in the tub with the view of trees from the mirrors is fantastic. At night, the remote control LED candles (I'm all for authenticity, ha ha) light up the room just enough to be romantic. With a capful of bubble bath and some great tunes on my mp3 player - decedent relaxation.

Spike has been acting strangely lately… the dogs get their evening meal of meat in their crates, but the doors are only ever closed if they get a bone (it saves finding bloody bones on the sofa, and pig's ears behind the guest room bed pillows). However, Spike has taken to not leaving the crate until I go over and explicitly ask him out. He even sits inside and gives a small bark to remind me that he's waiting. HOW WEIRD!!! That dog is an enigma.

Bella seems to be on the mend - graphic details ahead… the anal sac ruptured, releasing the fluid that was causing some of the pressure. Strangely there was no particular odour - I'd heard that it would be horrible. It is a terrible gash that is already starting to heal. The antibiotics and anti-inflammatory meds seem to be helping her to get better. There is still a hard swollen area that the vet will have to look at in a few weeks. She is the most trusting and compliant dog that has ever lived. She stands quietly shaking while I wash the area, which must hurt like he:: She's such a good dog.

No crushed fingers or wrenched backs (just barely) getting the big furniture out of the bedroom in preparation of the new floor. We've left the bed there for now, as well as bedside tables… but once we get the news we'll be ready in a flash. We moved a hutch and a large dresser - neither of them had drawers that would remove! In the olden days I'd just pull the drawers out, and the whole thing would be lighter, and I wouldn't have to rearrange my stuff at each end. In this case, I emptied out the drawers, wrestled with a giant, heavy dresser, then put all the stuff back into the drawers. ugh.

My fingers are crossed for an uneventful night and that no windows over-flex.

Sunday, November 23, 2014

The Transformation–a photo study

I’m pretty sure nobody cares all that much, but I want to have these photos print out in my annual book (a very wordy photo album!).

Unfortunately I didn’t get a photo of our bathroom before we started tearing it apart with its light fixture that the 80s desperately wanted back... but the pink is still there, tired and dated (but oh, how I loved it for so many years).

~ Before





~ Along the way




~ After






And finally the main bathroom



I am so looking forward to getting the new hardwood for our bedroom and changing the paint. That will be a huge transformation!

Mere color, unspoiled by meaning, and unallied with definite form, can speak to the soul in a thousand different ways. ~Oscar Wilde

Saturday, November 22, 2014

WYL #31 Who are you really

Have you ever given any thought as to who you really are? I don’t normally give it much thought, but in the past I struggled mightily at times. When depression puts me into a fog, or medication side effects dull my mind I have to remind myself that this is not who I am and that I am the same person underneath the side effects. It took me a long time to understand this, but when I did it became easier to accept my illness. But I’m getting ahead of myself.

On a better note – I’ve got happy tales for the next few topics!


My hand hovered over the pill bottle as I thought back to the last two days. Energy had flowed through my body as if I had been powered by a lightning strike and ideas swirled in my mind like Dorothy's house in the tornado. I had so much that I wanted to do - did I really want to put an end to it?

Getting back to normal, whatever that meant, would be the smart thing to do. I knew what usually followed an energy surge like this, and it wasn’t pretty. But maybe it will be different this time, I thought to my self, and besides which, this flash of vigour felt good - much better than the flat mood I was normally in, where beauty wasn’t found at every glance and the stars didn’t glow in the sky like so many diamonds. “One more day” I promised myself, the allure too much to resist, and I turned away from the bottle.

I lay in bed that night staring at the ceiling, plans for home renovations formulating in my head. From painting the bathrooms, new flooring in the bedroom, finishing a room in the basement, I mapped every step in my head until even the smallest detail was carefully planned (or so I thought). The dark sky was just barely tinged with light when I leapt out of bed to start.

Everywhere I turned there was mess and disorder - I couldn’t stand it. My thoughts were jumbled like an errant string of Christmas lights, ideas bright but out of order; my mind zipped around trying to create some order. Anything sitting out in plain view was likely to be stashed away in a box somewhere, unless it was a tidily ordered vignette that somehow pleased my eye. I dashed from one spot to another, disorganized and frantic. I knew I had let things go too far and headed to the cupboard where I had resisted normality so many days before. I knew the meds wouldn’t put an end to it, but would at least stop further escalation.

A few hours later the swirling in my head had slowed down a bit. For the next two weeks I kept up with the extra meds, and was flying along just above ground level and not soaring into the clouds with the Canada Geese that were passing by.

I was standing there, in Canadian Tire next to a pile of hockey equipment, I think they were gloves, when the crash happened. It was as if a hypnotist had snapped his fingers to suddenly end the spell and then dropped a truck load of cement onto me, coating my limbs with a heavy burden that made it hard to move. Suddenly the string of bright lights in my head became a tangle skein of wool carded into a mass of fuzz - thoughts came slowly and with difficulty.

We left the store and packed my new craft table into the backseat. I had to finish staining the furniture no matter how I felt. Dragging the table down to the basement, I almost tripped over the 12 gallons of paint at the bottom of the stairs. The sight of them overwhelmed me and I choked back tears of frustration - why couldn’t it have lasted? Just a few hours ago the same sight had caused an upwelling of excitement. Polar opposites. I didn’t know how long I’d be dragged down into this cavern of low energy and negative thinking and tried to delude myself that it wouldn’t be as long as the bright energy had lasted.

But who am I really? It is hard to remember at times, but I am not my mood, I am not bipolar, I merely have bipolar disorder. It is not who I am, although it does effect how I live my life. I have struggled and railed against defining myself by my illness, in the beginning it was hard not to. But life has taught me that I am still essentially myself. I laugh and I cry like everybody else. I am an animal lover; I am empathetic and cry for others; I value nature, the sun and the earth; I value honesty; I am a clown and jump out from behind corners; I am organized and precise; I follow rules; I like to think that I am funny.  I am me.


I’m not bipolar, I’ve just had a bipolar life foisted upon me. ~Daniel O'Malley, The Rook

Friday, November 21, 2014

Phase 1 Done!

Well, we got phase 1 done! The trim was finished by Wednesday afternoon, we started putting things back, and yesterday hung the new mirror in the main bathroom. I'm really happy with how it turned out - it no longer seems green, but is a lovely whipped butter colour - just what I wanted. I'm chomping at the bit to get the bedroom done, but we have to wait till the floor is installed. Plus, I'm exhausted...

A new addition to our bathroom is a mirror over my tub -  with the 2 windows that are already there, the mirror is like a third one, reflecting the view from the opposite window. I like :-)

Although there was no actual painting  yesterday (Thursday), we were busy enough. I had the writing group meeting in the morning, and then Heather followed me back here for tea and toast. Carm of course was at his mom's.  Once he was home we got the mirrors installed and then crashed onto the couch for a bit, before rushing out to have supper with Jo Ellen & Don.

Last night we noticed Bella acting weird - further investigation revealed that she had some sort of impaction or abscess of her anal glands (sorry), so this morning I was up in time to call the vet as soon as they opened, hoping to get an appointment first thing. Luckily there was an opening with the vet tech, and even luckier still the vet was able to see her as it wasn't an impaction at all, but either an abscess or tumour. We will try not to freak out until the 3 weeks of antibiotics has a chance to clear things out.

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

I may have paint in my hair…

The second coat went a bit faster than the first, probably due to the little roller that we bought yesterday. Carm was in charge of the cutting in again today, and with the little roller as well he kept me a bit farther from the ceiling. No worries though, there was already a ton from yesterday…

I did manage to get paint nearly everywhere again – hair, face, hands, ceiling, floor, BELLY! oh yeah – and the walls!

We did encounter something weird – there is a little spot over one door where the pink paint beneath yesterday’s coat of yellow started COMING OFF ON THE BRUSH. WTF. I have never seen that happen before – paint that has been there for 20 years coming off – maybe the pink dimension was trying to take back over.

It was bright and sunny which washed a bit more yellow over the surface – I liked it. What a change though – wow. Can’t wait to get the trim done and everything back in place to see what it really looks like.

It seems like a day of painting, followed by a bottle of bubbles to celebrate is the best antidote to sleepless nights - I slept like a log.

Monday, November 17, 2014

Mere absence of colour

By late afternoon we were done the first coat in the two bathrooms and hallway. My back aches and I have a pinched nerve in my shoulder… but we got it done!

Our bathroom took Carm over 2 hours just to cut in the ceiling and all the trim. With two windows, a bathtub, shower enclosure, wall mirror, vanity, lights and goodness only knows what else it was tedious. Me, I had the roller – the fastest way for me to get paint all over everything in my path. I may have had as much paint on me as the walls did. Painting is not one of those “be the best” actions – I know full well that I suck at it!

All that work and the colour is blah. It isn’t horrible, but isn’t rocking my world either. In the bathroom it looks like a greenish white – what happened to whipped butter? As the “beige” paint covered up the vibrant pink I could feel a little bit of myself slip away – I will admit to feeling a bit choked up. The pink was so me – a bold visual statement. It made me happy and always took the gloom out of a grey day. So now we have beige, a colour sure to add gloom to even the sunniest day. What was I thinking. I need colour!!!

With 4 3/4 gallons left we will finish the job…


White is not a mere absence of color; it is a shining and affirmative thing, as fierce as red, as definite as black. God paints in many colors; but He never paints so gorgeously, I had almost said so gaudily, as when He paints in white. ~G.K. Chesterton

Sunday, November 16, 2014

First Snow

A bright frosty morning greeted me yesterday so I bundled up and wandered around the field, happy to be outside for a while. The dogs raced around, perhaps to keep warm as the poodles have been recently clipped. Frosty grass brushing against my bare belly would have me running for the front step instead of in joyous circles.

The honking of the geese overhead caught my attention. Some were Canada Geese, but others flashed white against the sky. The sun glinted off their bright feathers making them look like whitecaps in a blue sea.


Instead of graceful snow geese this morning, there was just snow. Plain old yucky snow. Not much, but there was no denying it, we are entering winter.

I attended a baby shower for our 4th great niece/nephew yesterday. This one isn’t due to arrive until the middle of January but there were other cute little babies for people to gush over, as well as the regular games that are played at these sorts of gatherings and lots of sugary treats to follow the lovely lunch.

On our way home Carm and I stopped at the Brick to use up the $300 credit we got from not using the warranty on our washer and dryer. I had long forgotten about this windfall, but Carm was on point and remembered in time. I decided on a tall, dark and handsome dresser for our bathroom which I think will bring a touch of maturity – the one there now was rescued from the garbage almost 50 years ago. It lived in my parents garage for 20 years until I rescued again and stripped it of its peeling paint. It was with me in my first apartment and through numerous moves. No, it won’t need rescuing again as it has a forever home with me. I’ll find it a comfortable spot.

The grey skies and flurries of snow make me want to snuggle up under the blanket with the dogs, but first some more scrubbing – I think we are ready to crack open those paint cans tomorrow morning. I’m both excited and apprehensive – there is a mile of trim and too many weird little spots where even a tiny brush will have trouble fitting.



I wonder if the snow loves the trees and fields, that it kisses them so gently? And then it covers them up snug, you know, with a white quilt; and perhaps it says "Go to sleep, darlings, till the summer comes again. ~Lewis Carroll

Friday, November 14, 2014

Cinderella, Cinderella

There was no good fairy to turn a pumpkin into a carriage, nor were there any magical animals to help me with my tasks, but I scrubbed and washed and scrubbed some more in preparation for painting. The evil step-mother in my head kept urging me to perfection. I hope the prep is more effort than the painting itself. I still have some prep left, including laying down a few miles of tape - if all goes well the world changes from rosy pink to pale yellow on Monday (do you think I've jinxed it by writing it down?).

Thursday was another great writing group meeting. I was a bit apprehensive about reading yet another story that focuses on bipolar, but I got really positive feedback. I've started writing next week's story and I'm glad to say that it is a happy one.

After the meeting, some of us got together for lunch at a local restaurant. After years of almost being a hermit it feels good to be out in the world of the living!

Snowflake sighting this afternoon – they reminded me of the tiny lights on Dr. Who’s last episode – if you’ve seen it you know what I mean, if you haven’t, well, they were just tiny lights swirling around.

Have a faith in your dreams and someday your rainbow will come smiling through... Cinderella

Thursday, November 13, 2014

WYL #30 Giving Advice

This was the hardest topic to write about. What advice would I give? What is the most helpful and meaningful? Should it be advice that I would give to my 12 year old self, and if it was, how detailed would I get? My mind swirled with ideas and false starts before settling on what I’ve written below.


It is often said that the best advice is to not give advice at all, but who can resist telling people how to live their lives. I'd like to say that I keep quiet, but alas, I don't always. Having lived through a diagnosis of bipolar disorder I find it difficult to not share some of what I have learned.

I don't know who said it, but one of my favourite quotes is "Control your thoughts or they will control you".  This is a powerful statement that reminds me that I control my own happiness. By learning how to change my thoughts from negative ones to positive ones I can change my feelings about the circumstances that shape my life.

As someone with a mood disorder I will concede that this is not an easy task and at times I forget to apply the techniques, but with practice it does become easier.

But our thoughts are our thoughts you might say. This is true, and because they are our thoughts we can take control of them. With hard work we can discipline ourselves to replace negative thinking with a positive outlook.

Let's say that I was brooding about something that happened earlier in the day and I was starting to feel depressed or anxious.  I have two choices: I can continue to replay the situation over and over in my head, castigating myself for poor behaviour; or, I can look at the situation objectively, identify what I would change, if appropriate make amends, and then move forward, satisfied with having learned something. Every time my thoughts stray back to the situation, (and they will), I can continue to beat myself up, or I can remind myself of what I have learned. If I do the latter, I have changed my thoughts and reduced anxiety.

I find it often it helps to have a mantra to trick my mind into replacing a persistent negative thought. I like Monty Python's "always look on the bright side of life". Mantra's can be a useful tool, although I will admit to forgetting to use them as often as I should. During a moment of conflict a mantra can be recalled to defuse an emotional response. The mantra that I like to use when having a disagreement with Carm is B52s lyrics "I'm having a vision, I'm having a vision of a kiss from your sweet lips". It's difficult for my emotions to escalate when I'm looping that through my head. Instead of feeling overwhelmed and on my way to depression, I have a bit of an inner laugh and can then continue the discussion with less angst. I have changed not only my thoughts but also my mood.

Visualization of a cherished place can also be helpful when negative thoughts threaten to overwhelm me. I contemplate one of my favourite places: the swing on my back deck and envision the trees around the deck, the far away vista, the smell of honey in the air, the feeling of the sun on my limbs and the gentle rocking of the swing. Setting the scene with sublime detail doesn’t leave room for injurious thinking.

Who hasn't had a conversation with someone and thought that they are saying hurtful things. When it happens to me it is time to re-evaluate my thinking. It is quite possible that the person didn't mean what they said; if they did, they may be reacting to their own insecurities, in which case I can concentrate on feeling compassion for them. I try to remember that no one is a perfect communicator and that we all have our own baggage influencing a conversation. By changing my focus from myself to them I have changed my thoughts.

Having bipolar disorder has made me aware of the slightest change in my mood which triggers me to evaluate my thinking. When I catch changes early I can work on changing my thoughts, which sometimes helps me to avoid a mood episode. My thoughts can make me unhappy with depression or anxiety, and with hard work I can change them to make me feel, if not happy, at least in control.


There is so much about my fate that I cannot control, but other things do fall under the jurisdiction. I can decide how I spend my time, whom I interact with, whom I share my body and life and money and energy with. I can select what I can read and eat and study. I can choose how I'm going to regard unfortunate circumstances in my life-whether I will see them as curses or opportunities. I can choose my words and the tone of voice in which I speak to others. And most of all, I can choose my thoughts. ~ Elizabeth Gilbert


People who ask our advice almost never take it. Yet we should never refuse to give it, upon request, for it often helps us to see our own way more clearly. ~Brendan Francis

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

I compare myself

Sewing, sorting, packing have been on the agenda for the past few days, although not at the pace of the previous few weeks. In fact, I’ve been having to force myself to get things done, breaking tasks into small parts and tackling one tiny action at a time with breaks in-between. My theory is that the previous week or two of hypo-manic flurry crashes into x days of depressed recovery. I hope the recovery is over soon as those 12 gallons of paint are freaking me out!

The other thing I’ve been doing is searching for project management, task or event software that can help me set up what needs to be done and when (and if it could magically do all the work, that would be even better!). I’ve had some luck, but the app that does it all is maybe a bit complicated as it does do it all. My mind has been a bit muddled which makes it a harder to figure out a strategy… it is possible that I’m trying to get too fancy.

I did manage to get the poodles clipped which is a galactic job, so I guess I’m not doing so badly after all ;-)

I might use this quote again when I post “Who am I anyway” which is this weeks topic. I’ve read this book and highly recommend it to anyone who is interested in learning about a serious case of bipolar disorder – my life is not nearly as complicated as hers.

I’m behind a week in posting WYL so tomorrow I’ll post “giving advice” which was the hardest to write so far. (hummm… notice a trend? I think the week before was the hardest – these topics call for much introspection!).


I compare myself with my former self, not with others. Not only that, I tend to compare my current self with the best I have been, which is when I have been mildly manic. When I am my present "normal" self, I am far removed from when I have been my liveliest, most productive, most intense, most outgoing and effervescent. In sort, for myself, I am a hard act to follow. ~Kay Redfield Jamison, An Unquiet Mind: A Memoir of Moods and Madness

Saturday, November 8, 2014

What on earth Roku doing?

We've gone mad with excitement over our new internet abilities! We had a visit with Jo Ellen and Don on Wednesday, and Don, who is the Emperor of all Gadgeteers showed us a little box that he has connected to his TV. It looked innocuous enough - barely a handful of black plastic which would surely not astound. Ah ah! We stopped at Future Shop on our way home to get one for ourselves.

You might be wondering what could be so interesting, so let me explain. The roku connects to our internet (now with expanded downloading capacity), and to our TV. Video from the internet can now stream directly to our TV. The roku comes with hundreds of channels of movies, documentaries, music and all manner of interesting stuff - we haven't even sorted through which ones we want on our screens. Even more fun, it can be controlled from our tablets (I hijacked Carm a few times by accident). From my tablet I can play a youtube video or even show photos to the TV. Serious fun for us geeks!

Thursday it took 2 giant cups of tea, as well as an enormous hot chocolate to get the floor and shelves in our closet cleared in preparation for the flooring installer measurement guy. I stopped at the hanging stuff, figuring we'd leave it until just before painting starts. As it turns out it will be 3 or so weeks till the new floor is installed so we'll be living with heaps of clothes all over the living room. Will it drive me crazy? Yes. Unless I'm too exhausted from painting!

After crouching on the basement floor, with all feeling cut off to my legs, staining some furniture I decided I need a craft table. It may have been a bit of work avoidance, but we drove to a nearby town to get one of those resin ones - conveniently on sale! It just so happens that the route we took home too us right past a cheese factory. What coincidence. Squeeky, squeeky, chew, chew. I think our batch of curds had extra squeek!

I wrestled the table downstairs to my future craft room and set it up with a drop sheet and wonderful paper that Trudie gave me. It worked good! The room is going to be a awesome (eventually) - the lighting is fantastic and there is so much space to move around. Someday!

I shuffled stuff from plastic bin to plastic bin to get a matching set for the clothes that I put away for next year. Once I even shuffled to the same type of bin, nothing like making more work for myself :-/  I think I crashed yesterday though as today’s job seems monumental, and I’m right on the edge of tears. Time for a quiet day or two I guess…

I'm smiled out, talked out, quipped out, socialized so far from any being, I need the weight of mortal silences to get realized back into myself. ~John Ciardi

Friday, November 7, 2014

WYL #29 Commandments

To date, this was the hardest essay or story to write. It required looking inwards and thinking about my past difficulties and countering that with my achievements - I’m not sure which were easier to recall. There were a plethora of quotes about being the best, so I am not alone.

Coming into this “course” at the end is sure a challenge! I look forward to when the group starts back at the beginning of the book which focuses more on reminiscing and not such intimate self examination!


I was about 40 years old when he said it. I remember sitting on the floor of my parents family room listening to the ebb and flow of conversation around me when my father pronounced that "It's not enough to do your best, you must be the best.".

I felt as if I'd been struck by lightening. Suddenly much of my life was made clear. I'll pause here to say that this was the first time I'd heard this pronouncement. I'd never been told by my parents that I wasn't good enough, and I would say that they'd never implied it in any way. Rather, I was born with this commandment deep in my DNA.

My brain was still reverberating with the revelation, when, later that night, I lay in bed and started re-examining my life with a different lens to see how this impossible idea might have impacted me. I thought about my daily struggle with being good enough and my occasional laments that I wasn't accomplished in anything.

Playing softball as a 10 year old is one of my earliest memories of failure - not only did I not have fun because of all the time on the bench,  my inability to throw a ball and horrible hand/eye coordination left me feeling that "I" wasn't good enough.

Learning to play the piano left me with the same feelings of insufficiency. Hour upon hour of lessons and practice didn't turn me into a virtuoso, so I quit. I would never be the best so it seemed better not to try than to feel the gut choking agony of my deficiency.

Later in life I was better able to deal with the feelings of failure, but was not immune to them. I desperately wanted to learn how to ride a horse, however, the lessons caused endless frustration and feelings of inadequacy. Riding didn't come naturally to me - no matter how hard I tried, I felt stiff and out of balance. Gradually I replaced riding with other horse activities that I could excel in.

As I grew older, I subconsciously selected hobbies that I could at least become proficient in. Often a new hobby would be started under the beam of hypo-mania - brain chemicals would assure me that I'll be fantastic at my newly chosen activity. Eventually a normal mood state would be reached and I'd look at my efforts with a much more critical eye, and then drop the new hobby.

The same pressure that caused such unhappiness, also created a drive and determination to succeed. Everyday things would be tackled with a **determination to get things done. It didn't matter how many iterations it took - the design of our home wasn't complete until it was perfect. Building a breeding program, for both parrots and horses, was done with the idea of creating superb offspring. We worked hard to acquire champion breeding stock, and to build an efficient infrastructure to support our goals.

Training my own service dog required a dedication to excellence in order to get him to the level for public access. On his first day of work Spike walked perfectly at my side as we entered the office tower and made our way to the elevators. He negotiated getting onto and off of the elevator with aplomb. For the rest of his career he made me proud with his willingness to his duty.

As we strode down the halls towards my office a few people stopped us in the hallway. Spike sat beside me, looking up expectantly for me to tell him that he could 'say hello'. When we made it to my office I crouched down and gave him a hug. He had done well.

From the moment of that impossible proclamation, I have tried to remind myself that it is okay to just enjoy doing things, to do my best, and that it isn't a contest, but to be honest, it is something I still struggle with now and again.


The best or nothing at all. ~Gottlieb Daimler

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

spinning with decisions

One of my daily pleasures is watching Spike fly across the earth. He has two speeds: walk and run like a race horse. When he is racing towards me his joyful smile lights my day and I laugh at his ears fly behind him like banners in the sky. I always smile. When he races into the house, he launches himself at the very last second to reach the top of the deck while he is still airborne. I have to make sure to have the door open as he is going much too fast to stop.

There is no joy that compares to a dogs joie de vivre.

Exciting news here! We got xplornet internet Monday and now have ONE HUNDRED GIGs a month!!!! I’ll be able to look at the occasional youtube video, upload photos, and even do some backups of non critical data onto dropbox and google drive. I am stoked :-)

At my doctor appointment Tuesday, I babbled on about the writing class and what we are doing in the house – and was scattered enough that she wasn’t convinced that I should reduce meds just yet.

With a few almonds and apricots to fuel us, we headed to Home Depot with paint swatch and carpet choice in hand. As we made our way to the carpet ordering area we passed the bathroom light fixtures and found two that will modernize our two bathrooms – with their brash brass finish and giant globe lights the old fixtures look exactly like they are from the 80s, oh wait - they are.

Carm corralled someone to take our carpet order, and while they struggled with the ordering system I wandered around finding things to buy. They were almost finished with the order when I stumbled across a bamboo flooring that I totally loved – nothing else we had seen had struck me like this flooring – I was smitten. I stood staring at it for what seemed like ages, then ran over and dragged Carm and Vlad to the display where we did some cost estimates. Okay, way more expensive, but so much nicer than broadloom - we changed our mind and started to walk back to the order desk. We hadn't quite gotten there when I realized that it would be the same price as the maple similar to what we already have in the house which while not being as dramatic, would give a cohesive look to the house.  We veered off to that aisle and after more discussion, we changed our mind again.

Our heads were spinning, and I feel quite certain that the sales guy would have liked to throttle us! To his credit he remained calm. Home Depot must have superhero hiring practices. Vlad's super power is the ability to keep a straight face when tormented by middle age women who can't make up their minds!

By the time the paperwork for the floor was completed and signed, our shopping cart was full from my gleanings, so we grabbed another one and headed to the paint section. We bought GALLONS of paint - omg it is overwhelming. We even got some paint for the floor in the old bird room/new craft, exercise room. Our shopping cart train cho choo'd its way to the check out, and then on to the car. It took some shoving and prodding but we got everything in.

We are going to be busy. Do any of you like painting and want some practice?  I'm excited about the changes we are making, and hope that this excitement keeps me going until the job is over.


I actually stopped talking. I actually listened. So I knew that I wasn't all the way manic, because when you're all the way manic you never listen to anybody but yourself. ~Terri Cheney

Sunday, November 2, 2014

now I whitewash walls

Right on schedule, at 7am this morning, the power cut out. It was a planned power outage so we were somewhat prepared with buckets and jugs of water. The one thing we don't have a contingency for is coffee and first thing in the morning I NEED a coffee! So we stumbled into the truck and went looking for breakfast, I was hoping for bacon & eggs, a final hurrah before getting serious about my diet again. No such luck as the village was out of power as well. We drove on to the next village and they were also without power, but luckily for us, Tim Horton's has a generator and was serving up countless cups of the lovely brown nectar. I've never seen their line-up so long. We parked and got in the lineup inside and quickly jumped to the front of the line as we were just getting coffee - I was spared the naughty breakfast.

I spent part of the day Sunday stretched out on the futon in the sun, with the dogs cuddled up beside me. I was working on next week's writing assignment: giving advice. It has been (still is) a struggle to write this one. I joined the group towards the end of the course, so topics are more difficult. They aren't the reminisce musings that I missed from earlier in the book, but trickier.


Saturday, after a late sleep in and slow morning, we headed into the city to look at carpet and pick up some little test pots of paint. We looked at hardwood, engineered wood, and enough carpet options to totally confuse us. We did settle on a "brand" of carpet and now have a sample board of colours to chose from. I've picked one colour, only to change my mind to another, and on and on… We have to order by Wednesday to get in on a few sales.

The paint samples were sloppily brushed on the walls in a few places (note to self: don't paint with a crappy old paintbrush!). This decision was easier as we both liked the paint with more of a buttery cast (think butter whipped like crazy until it is a pale yellow, then add a bit of milk to further dilute the colour). It is tough to go beige after all these years of colour! I'm waffling on the colour for the bedroom though: green like the living room giving feeling of being in a sun-dappled forest glen; or buttery beige like a summery day in the prairies.

My head might implode!

I'm still moving backward in time: I'll start with Wednesday night. I was prepping for dinner and realized that I had enough for 4 so I fired off a quick email to Jo Ellen. They were here almost before I put the phone down! We had a congenial evening with conversation that did NOT focus on work (see Carm, it can be done!). Then Thursday was writing group and lunch with Heather. A very pleasant way to spend a day. And on to Friday for a visit with my brother and out to friends for the evening. Whew! No wonder I am exhausted and grateful for a quiet day at home. I’ve reached my activity limit for maintaining good mental health.

I lacked the knowledge of linear perspective needed to get into the art school, so now I whitewash walls and imagine I’m heaven’s landscape painter.  ~Bauvard, Some Inspiration for the Overenthusiastic