Tuesday, May 31, 2016

the middle

My eyes teared up with emotion a few times today as we walked through 'Bird Kingdom'. Blue and Gold Macaws, African Grey's, and other parrots were peppered throughout the building. I thought of our old friends and tried not to wonder where they were.

There were lots of other birds of course. Small finches and other small birds flitted through the plants in one exhibit. Reptiles, skunks, bats, and other non-bird kingdom creatures were tucked away through the exhibit. The best is the huge atrium with trees and countless plants. The path winds it's way down from the third floor tree tops to ground floor waterways. Birds fly everywhere.

Yesterday was another sweltering day (today is hot but not overly so). We all felt like we might melt into the pavement as the dogs and I walked around the campground. It really was too hot for such a walk, but Spike, being a little pita, insisted. If he wasn't such a ‘son-of-a-b’ he would get out more, but he doesn't react well to other dogs. They've spent a large amount of time locked in the air-conditioned bedroom with the tv static as background noise. I'm not sure if I mentioned it before but the tv will no longer change channels so music is no longer an option.

I've been making it out to campfires, staying until the mosquitos drive me back to the camper. Plus I like to take the dogs out for a bedtime walk before it gets dark.
We've been going to the path behind the houses on the other side of the tracks for our morning walk. We can hear the train coming from a long way, and yesterday had to wait for it to pass. What a rumble! Most mornings we get up really early - between 6 and 7 - getting the important walk out of the way before traffic gets too bad. Then I go back to bed!

Carm played golf yesterday (Monday); I think it was a hot day for them.
Tonight (Tuesday) we went out for supper with a big group. The food was fun and company better. We sat with John & Judy, and Joan & Vance. It was our first time spending much time with Joan and Vance - I love the opportunities to get to know others.

Long pants were required at the campfire tonight. Temps have dropped significantly over the past few days - the cool air makes for good sleeping!

Saturday, May 28, 2016


The little rotter started fussing to go outside at 6am this morning. I contemplated throttling him and then decided that it might be easier to walk them early as there'd be less traffic (dog, bike and vehicle). We walked along the ditch again - despite clouds of mosquitos it wasn't too bad. There were very few trucks going by and the dogs have had a few more days to figure out how to walk on a leash without enraging me.

After our 'little' walk I was happy to climb back into bed for a few more hours sleep, a clear benefit of going out so early. The heat and humidity were already high that early in the morning, and by 9am it was stifling, not sure how the dogs will fair on the pavement for our late afternoon walk.

We were slow to get going, but fast enough to catch breakfast in the 'barn', too slow to meet up with others though. On our way back we stopped to talk to Real and Ginette, but I couldn't handle standing in the heat so escaped to the cool of a shower and the camper. I lay around for much of the afternoon, listening to music and feeling exhausted. I did force myself to go out for a while and of course had a lovely time with John & Judy. Marilyn and Mark joined the conversation for a while, and then it was time for Carm and I to take the dogs for their afternoon walk.

I don't think I mentioned yet how hot it was. The sun blazed down and humidity created a haze. The only escape was the cool, air-conditioned interior of the trailer. The dogs dragged their feet and their tongues hung out of their mouths every time we ventured outside. It was a scorcher!

When it came time to go to the campfire, I stayed back with the music playing again. I felt exhausted, mentally and physically, but I didn't want to miss out on visiting with people. Plus I wanted to see the rest of Marilyn's photos of their trip on the Amazon. I shooed the dogs into the bedroom, grabbed a chair, and went to the campfire. There was already a good group of people there, but still room for my chair. The Amazon looked amazing and then it was getting dark and time for me to come home to take the dogs out.

Another banner day.

Friday, May 27, 2016

first and second days

We are just winding up to experience the Ti Rally week and what a windup so far. Yesterday was the first official day of the rally and the trailers kept pouring in. Talk of supper at a nearby Thai place circulated, and since a) Thai is one of my favorites, and b) we wanted to spend time with everyone, cooking plans were shelved.

We had a great supper (Pad Thai) and then raced back to the campground for the opening campfire. With a pen in one hand and the schedule in the other I swatted the odd mosquito while figuring out what we are doing this week. I left the campfire before dusk as I wanted to walk the dogs before dark.

Speaking of dogs… it is a bit of a pain to get to somewhere to potty them away from campsites, but we are managing. HOWEVER, I picked a TICK off Spike this afternoon so somewhere that we are going is not a good place to be. The dogs have flea/tick collars on but I wonder if they are working? I'm not sure if the ticks are supposed to fall off right away or bite and die. We still have over a full week here so I'll have to be on alert. (shudder at thought of Spike on bed…)

Spike's eyes are all cleared up and he only has 2 more days of drops. He has been such a good dog about the whole thing. I tell him that 'it's time to do your eyes', and he comes over for me and stands exactly where I need him to make picking him up easier. Then I lift him onto the table which has a mat on it; he he stands quietly while I put drops in each eye, waiting for his little treat.

Today the little rotter (aka Spike) got me out of bed at 7am. He heard another dog bark and that was it - he wasn't going back to sleep no matter what. So we went for our walk and got back to gulp coffee. Carm got up not long after and we decided to go for breakfast again. Oh my. The excuse was a trip to Lowe's and some groceries.

This afternoon we had some people over to our place and spent a lovely afternoon visiting outside. Judy and John joined us first, then our neighbors Orvel and Ellen squeezed into the shade. Christine and Peter came for a short while, and Ken sat with us for a few minutes. It was warm, but the breeze cooled things down perfectly.

I cooked!!! supper and then we joined the campfire. I sat next to Dottie and Dewy who are long time full-timers from Arizona. Dottie showed me their new trailer (not a Titanium) that has a neat balcony off the main room. Sliding glass patio doors let in plenty of light when the deck is down.

Darkness has fallen but instead of going back to the campfire, I'll get an early night to bed. I can tell how tired I am by the struggle I'm having trying to make coherent sentences.

Thursday, May 26, 2016

I'm falling for you

We finally made it down to the falls for a quick lookie loo. The roar of water hurried our steps as we made our way from the parking spot. Rushing water raced ahead of us and plummeted over the edge. Spray cooled our skin. The magnitude of Nature’s progress gave me vertigo if I went too close to the railing.

After our walk, which included a path along the edge of an arbouretum, we drove along the river, noting a walking path that might be nice for the dogs. There were no people, only a paved path through grassy lawns, and overlooking the river on its race to the falls.

This afternoon more rigs started pouring in. Unfortunately our site is not situated in such a way that we can see the action. We are right at the end of the lineup of Titaniums and facing away. That didnt stop us from taking a walk down the line to say hello to the newcomers. It was lovely to see old friends, and to make some new ones.

Grace has been outside for the afternoon, chatting away, enjoying the outside. It has been windy though which freaks her out at times. Still, given the option, I think she’s happy for the change.

Wednesday, May 25, 2016

and so it begins...

And so it begins…
My morning started with walking the dogs. Along the uncut ditch of a busy road, or would that be highway. Hellish is one word that comes to mind.
Once back at the camper I found Carm outside talking to two guys about the crack in the door and all the spider cracks in the fiberglass bumper. They can do a simple patch on the door, but the fiberglass work will be more complicated ($$). They'll be back in a few days to do the work.
Coffee. Yum.
We were both hungry for a bacon and eggs breakfast, and yesterday while out at Lowes (to fix some other broken thing) Carm had seen a place that served all day breakfast. We were avoiding the job of fixing the hotwater tank so it didn't take much to get us into the truck. After playing around with the tv in the bedroom which no longer works properly. No music can be streamed from the satellite system like last year - the channel won't change. So the dogs got to watch Cars. White noise is another option.
Back from breakfast (which was fantastic), Carm got busy fixing the water tank. Through a series of coincidences and flukes we now have piping hot water.
Mary and Jim arrived at the park. A few of us are here now, ready to greet the horde that will come in tomorrow.
It wouldn't do to light the stove so off to Swiss Chalet for supper with Mary, Jim, Lynn and Drew.
Throw in a few more times walking the dogs (not on the highway though!). I'm exhausted and it hasn't even really started yet.

Tuesday, May 24, 2016

we paid good money for this?

Darlington Provincial Park was a lovely rest point on our way to Niagara Falls. The park is nicely treed with some meandering park roads to wear us all out. We saw a racoon helping itself to a weekend’s worth of garbage. It waddled away when we got close. Last year we stayed for two nights and to be honest, I wish we had this year too. It is a nice place to ease back into the camping life. And it lets the dogs get used to civilization again without a crush of people and other dogs.

yuck as we make our way through Toronto this morning. The traffic was steady, at times slow, but mostly well behaved. I think we all got a bit stressed going through the big city, even the dogs sit in the back seat and look at us with big eyes.

I asked Carm if he wished we had a smaller camper and his answer was that it wouldn’t make much difference: towing is towing.

We got to our campsite not long past 1pm and quickly got set up. Well… quick except for the satellite dish… but it wasn’t the worst time we’ve had aiming the darn thing. Makes me want to give up TV! Our site is good enough and does have some decent grass and a tiny tree.

We’ve been for a slightly crappy walk and are now inside chilling (writing this) while Carm looks for a hose part that we blew out with the (advertized) strong water pressure.

He came home with food!!!

The lilac that I picked yesterday morning is limp already but still has a heady fragrence so I’m leaving them out.

As is often the case with a home subjected to rigerous earthquakes not everything works. After supper Carm turned on the hot water to test it… cold. Stone cold. He got underneath the camper and started playing with the mixing valve, but it must be jammed on some calcium or something cause it would not be fixed.

The rally is the only place we park with sewer hookups, which means we can shower in our own space. Not this trip I guess, unless I want to really cool down. Luckily there is a new shower building a few sites away with brand-new showers. Such is the life of the mobile! And imagine - we pay good money for the privledge!

Monday, May 23, 2016

two photos from today

I haven't quite worked out the method to get a photo that I've taken on my phone onto a post in blogger on my tablet. I did some acrobatics to get these two here…

But there’s gotta be an easier way…

(on phone save photos to google photos; on tablet edit goggle photos to resize and save to tablet; add photos to google doc file; copy contents of google doc file and paste into new blogger post. Press publish and hope for the best.)

hitched and gone

We were aiming to depart at 10 am this morning and were rolling down the road at 10:05. Not bad for the first time out this year. As I settled back into my seat I breathed a sigh of relief: I didn't have to remember one more thing - if it wasn't already loaded on the camper then we were out of luck. Of course I knew we had the essentials. Meds (something for everyone but Kabira), enough food for at least a few days, long pants to ward off mosquitos, sneakers for long walks and evenings by the campfire, food for the dogs, Grace's bin of fresh food, a bouquet of freshly cut lilac (which I wrecked by not giving enough water), Grace, the dogs, Carm and myself we all safely stowed either on the camper or in the truck.

It is the Monday of Victoria Day weekend and let me tell you the roads were busy. We got into the slow lane and cruised at the speed limit, letting the faster vehicles zoom past us. Actually, there wasn't much zooming as the police were out in full force. The traffic was generally orderly except for several areas where we slowed to a crawl for miles. All good though. Carm said he was doing okay, but I was exhaused by all the backseat driving that I had to do ;-) Spike was knackered by the time we hit camp too. He stared out the window for much of the trip.

It's funny and exactly what Carm predicted, the anxiety and depression that I've been experiencing for the last few months evaporated just before Kingston. I could actually feel the shift. There have been a few years where the change hasn't happened until well into the Titanium rally - those years were awful. Depressed and having to force myself to be outgoing and social - horrible. The last few years have been better and this year I'm happy to be going. This will be our 8th rally - where has all the time gone!

We were pretty happy to see our exit off the 401 and even happier to be safely in our site. No need to unhitch as we are leaving first thing in the morning. Once we were setup we took the dogs for a long walk and now we are getting ready to feed the dogs, Grace, and make supper.

It was a good day. Tomorrow takes us right through the middle of Toronto - let's hope it is a good day too.

Tuesday, May 17, 2016

days creep by


This is surely the coldest spring on record. Driest too. This morning it was 5C… brrrr. I was up at the crack of dawn to call the vets office to make an appointment for Spike. He has been squinting both eyes since Saturday. He didn't seem in a lot of discomfort, but clearly something was wrong. We got an appointment for 10:30 - the vet diagnosed an infection which should be easy to treat: antibiotic drops 3x day. I hope he starts to feel better soon. His wee squinty eyes are heart breaking.

One of the apple trees is tentatively throwing out a few blossoms. Last year on this day I wrote in my blog about the trees having more blossoms than ever before. The photo shows all the trees in full, magnificent bloom - this year is a far cry from that.

Carm got his new cell phone on Friday. There was much excitement as he loaded apps and started playing with the phone. Saturday we went into the city to get a new SIM card and have his phone number transferred over to the new SIM.  No luck. He was on the phone with tech support for over an hour but the phone couldn't get service. Yesterday he picked up another SIM to try and still no luck. At the end of the service call the technician basically said his phone wasn't working and to take it back. Carm got the phone over the internet from somewhere in China - let's hope they accept the return.

Jo Ellen and Don came over for supper. We had a most congenial evening reminiscing about times past for a while, but that wasn't our main focus. Each time we get together work talk dwindles.


Beautiful morning with bright sky and cool temps greeted me when I threw back the curtains. It warmed up through the day but never got really hot, which was just as well as we had some outdoor work. The rest of the wood chip pile got moved to a space where we can save it for next year. We went to get dog food - kibble for camping. I loaded some things onto the camper. Carm chainsawed some of the log then cut some of the grass. In all, a busyish day.

Friday, May 13, 2016

expertly placed dabs of paint

Well, I didn't embarrass myself by crying but it was pretty darn close. I had a stern talk with myself before we went into Critter Jungle, the pet store where Frank works, which did the trick. I was blown away when I saw the painting in person - Frank did a wonderful job of capturing Spike's character in some blobs of paint. Isn't it a magical gift to transform puddles of colour into an image that looks like it might jump off the page (and straight into my heart).

You might wonder why Spike was so lucky to be immortalized in acrylics and not the other dogs, or Grace. It seems unfair, but Spike and I have a special relationship as 6 years ago he was my service dog, accompanying me to work and other places. He helped me get through the roughest part of my last months of work. Spending so much time together, first training and then being by my side, built a bond between us.

After our adventure of being involved with the Stigma book, and then the video, I decided that it was time to make my wish come true and have Frank do a painting. It was time to stop the procrastination.

Frank is a gentle soul, a true animal lover, painting birds, cats, dogs and other pets. He’s even done some people too. And I love how he does flowers. I highly recommend him: www.franciscus.ca for any project.

From the time Frank started the project, until the end, he posted updates of the progress on facebook. I saved the images, and with his ‘ok’ I’ve included them here. It was really exciting to see the Spike ‘come to life’ on the canvas. I may have become unnaturally attached to my tablet as I compulsively checked Faceook!

I think I’ll start saving my pennies for portraits of the others. Grace would look lovely hanging on the wall and not just from her purple bell.

Thursday, May 12, 2016

to be poor and have trees (and mulch)

 I miss my old self, the one that was excited about writing, the one that noted everything I did and saw during the day so that I could spin it out into a tale. This post is a forced compilation of words as I'm wondering if pushing on no matter how I feel will get me to the end faster?

Yesterday and today we pulled down the old pool. It fought us with rusty screws and stubborn metal. Carm had to muscle sections apart, I merely stood there, hand out to collect the screws and nuts and bolts. After the skeleton was torn apart and piled in a neat pile, Carm shoveled off the old pavers that were buried in 21 years of soil, while I struggled with the heavy wheelbarrow to dump the dirt over by the old manure pile. Then we rolled up the sides, sharp jagged edges threatening our legs as we stumbled to the barn. Those pavers were still sitting around the ghostly outline of the pool and had to be piled up by the garage. I say up because it is up a slope worth 1/2 flight of stairs for each trip. I lugged them one by one - Carm piled 10 at a time in the wheelbarrow.

So now all that is left is the liner (the one we replaced last year) laying flat on the ground - kept there to keep the weeds from growing up while we wait for the new pool. The space that it took looks small now. There is a pile of stuff on the grass, the skeleton of the old pool. It is remarkably small. The rolls of aluminum (Carm cut it into 3 sections) the formed the side is neatly tucked into the barn.

While we were in the thick of it  yesterday I heard a big truck in the laneway and was thrilled to see that it was Samson tree cutters to bring down that tricky big tree that towers over the truck (bird poop) and threatens the camper with pointy branches. Working in a bucket, Jason had that tree down in less than 90 minutes. His ground workers fed branch after branch into the chipper so not only do we have the tree gone, we have scads of mulch.

I helped a bit, but Carm did the lion's share of mulching the front flower beds. The white chips are bright, but are an improvement over the bare dirt. And the price was right. We still have a giant pile of woodchips that we'll have to move to a more convenient spot. Unfortunately it is supposed to rain the next few days so the chips will get heavier… 

We are showered and changed and sitting limply on the sofa. Supper is a simple pasta dish.

But hey! That's enough work for now. Tomorrow we are taking a break and driving into town to pickup Spike's portrait. I'm really excited to see it in real life and hope I don't embarrass myself by crying.

“To be poor and be without trees, is to be the most starved human being in the world. To be poor and have trees, is to be completely rich in ways that money can never buy.” 
― Clarissa Pinkola Estés

Monday, May 9, 2016

my nerves are bear'd

The spring has been long and drawn out with cold temperatures hanging on. The plants had been quick to start with the few warm days we had in April, but growth has slowed. It was a stretch, but we figure that yesterday was 'green day', even though some of the trees, like the apple trees, are barely showing a hint of green. It seems impossible that the trees will be in full bloom by the 12th, like they were in photos on my blog a few years back. I go back to earlier entries on it to compare… this year it is not encouraging.

My excitement these days is watching the progression of Spike's portrait. Frank (franciscus.ca) has been posting occasional updates on Facebook. I'm thrilled to be watching Spike come to life. When the painting is done I'll do a blog post with the photos as it is fun to see the transition as Frank layers the paint. If you've ever wanted a portrait of a pet done, Frank is the one to do it.

This afternoon, Christina picked me so we could walk in the forest a few villages over. The sun was out but the wind was blowing briskly - we bundled up in layers and set off from the car. The first part of the walk was lovely. Sure, I was stressing out about ticks a bit, but was able to keep my anxiety in check. Then I remembered… the facebook post I saw from a friend about a bear visiting her yard. She doesn't live nearby, but could there be bears in the area we were walking? It is plausible as the area isn't highly cultivated. Fear curled through my limbs, almost choking me. My brain started playing tricks on me; I was certain I'd see a bear when I turned around, and my eyes scanned the forest beside the path. I felt sick with worry and did everything I could to stay engaged in our conversation. Part of me knew the likelihood was very low, but the ill part of my brain acted as if I'd already spotted danger.

In spite of all that, it was a good walk. Thanks Christina!

Monday, May 2, 2016

fairies and fairy tales

We went to Montreal Sunday for Freya's birthday. My youngest niece turns four this week so her mom and grandma organized a pretty 'fairy' party for her. There was a fairy garden on the table, festive flowers strung across the windows and a fantastic fairy cake that my mom made. A passel of kids ran around the rainy garden doing a treasure hunt when a human sized fairy appeared. She flitted around the garden and into the house followed by 8 enchanted children. She read a story, sang some songs, danced, helped them paint some ornaments… in other words, she kept 8 kids busy inside on a drizzly day.  She should have stayed for after the cake though! The sugar flowed through those little bodies straight to their brains.

Freya was entranced by the fairy with the blue hair and didn't take her eyes off her for a moment. With wide eyes Freya asked the fairy about her wings and if she could fly. As far as she was concerned, this fairy was the real deal. For a few minutes I felt the wonder and magic of believing. Special moments.

At the party the topic of Stigma around mental illness came up (okay, I forced it by making people look at the stupid video). I talked a little about having a mild form of bipolar but didn't talk about the sudden increase to a more serious form of the disease. I went from having mild euphoric hypomania and depressions, to frantic hypomanic periods and a depression where I was barely able to function and had a suicide plan.

The hypomanias no longer peak at a comfortable, wonderful level like they did in the 'old days'. I had forgotten, as I so often do, that they now spiral out of control until I am not sleeping or functioning normally. I run from activity to activity, not finishing anything, my mind disordered and my thoughts coming so fast that I vibrate. It feels like there is electricity coursing through my body and my nerves sparkle. I may burst into sudden rages, or irritability. At first it is fun. I get things organized and have energy to spare - it is hard to remind myself to medicate and use other tools that I have, like having quiet days, trying to sleep well, cutting out energetic music or frantic exercise, and numerous other little adjustments I make in my day (all easier said than done).

After the height of hypomania there is a fall to depression. If I'm lucky and have cut the hypo ride short, the fall is not too severe. It might just be a long, slow slope, one with fatigue, lack of interest and pleasure, and hopefully no self destructive thoughts. I just have to ride it out, much the same way as the other, except cue the energetic music.

If I was a better off the cuff speaker I could have imparted these ideas better, and left the listener with a better understanding of the illness, and not just my romantic idea of it.

Where am I now? I'm on the long, shallow slope that seems to plague me in the spring, but there is no despair, just acceptance, as I trudge through my day. My thoughts are still foggy but I KNOW that the end is in sight.

"Remember, remember, this is now, and now, and now. Live it, feel it, cling to it. I want to become acutely aware of all I’ve taken for granted.”   ~Sylvia Plath