Wednesday, July 27, 2016

not much of anything

I'm sitting on the swing, where the warmth of the humid air wraps my limbs like a hot towel in a Turkish bath, draining all energy. My arms and legs feel like jelly. Carm is out golfing, while I've been quietly enjoying this lazy day. I haven't gotten anything much done but today isn't a day for doing, for me at least. I have to talk to my doctor about reducing some of my meds as they are leaving me especially low in energy, sure, I feel good, but I also  feel like I could sleep for days.

Kirsten, Shawn and the girls are due back in Ottawa late tonight. While I'll be glad to see them again, the reason is too sad. I hope I'll be able to do some things with the girls to take their minds off the loss, if only for a short time.

The wind is rustling the leaves in the tall poplars, like a snare drum rolling before the main event. Occasionally birdsong accompanies it. All a chorus for Grace's cheerful whistles.

Today's read from 2013's blog had us driving from Kenora to Brandon, MB. The excitement of hitting the prairies was upon us, I think even Spike felt uplifted by the giant sky. The weather turned for us too - from periods of rain, to a bright blue joyous sky. We'd been on the road already for 5 days, but that 6th day was in some ways, the start of our vacation.

Yesterday we joined Jo Ellen and Don to see the new Star Trek movie. It was great, perhaps the best of the series so far (although I liked Benedict Cumberbatch in the last episode). We all enjoyed our giant bags of popcorn (no sugary drinks) and  didn't have room for a proper supper afterwards. It was only 4 pm though, which is early for dinner, even at our advanced age :-0

Cool water enveloped me as I slipped into the pool. A few times. When the heat got too much, I'd put down my book and ease myself into the refreshing water. Ah… heaven. There is perhaps nothing more lovely than an afternoon on the hot deck, comfortable in the shade of my swing, and the blue waters a step away. I was too lazy to make myself a fresh lemonade (lemons, limes, mint, ice, soda water). The ice would have just melted anyway.

Grace enjoyed her time outside except for when I spritzed her with the water bottle - she was noticeably hot and needed the cooling shower.

“I will not say: do not weep; for not all tears are an evil.”
~J.R.R. Tolkien,

Monday, July 25, 2016

out of boredom comes friendship

A visit with my parents seemed like a good idea on Sunday. Mom wasn't there - she was helping a friend start taking care of Kenda's estate, but my dad and Graham were home. We visited for a while, then Dad and I went to see his friend Lorne and his wife. They are in their 90s and living in a retirement residence not too far from my parents. After a short visit with them, Dad and I went out for lunch - Dim Sum yum. I pigged out so much I could barely move for the rest of the day. Once Dad and I got back to my parent's place, Carm picked me up. I had to fight off a nap when we got home.

I have some advice for everyone: make sure your wills are up to date and somewhere that someone could find them. Tell those closest to you where it is to make it even easier. Keep a list of emergency contacts and phone numbers in an easily found place. I will add to my list: let your emergency contacts know who can look after your pets until homes can be found. I think of this one a lot.  You could be here one minute and gone the next.

I've been reading back to my 2013 blog posts about our trip west. On this day in 2013 we were travelling from Nipigon to Kenora. It was a long day with a short stop at the Terry Fox Memorial. Spike recalled the squirrels, while I recalled the hush that hung over the park. Spike's blog entries are from a slightly different perspective which is fun to recall.

We've been having another heat wave, and while it seems it might be a more comfortable 25C, today is overcast with a humidex of 37C.

Today I'm tired and my head is a groggy fog - I don't have the energy to do much but feel antsy and want to do something. Carm has been working on getting our 3 computers upgraded to Windows 10 - he's sick of computers and feels antsy too. What is a good activity for these sorts of days? One that doesn't involve eating…

Several hours later… just shut the gate behind Jo Ellen and Don. I had the great idea this afternoon to invite them over for a casual supper - it turns out they were bored too and had no plans so voila! A lovely evening.

"What people have the capacity to choose, they have the ability to change.”
~Madeleine K. Albright

Saturday, July 23, 2016


I sat down with my tablet in my lap to write about the last few days. The phone rang. It was my mother with the tragic news that Kenda had passed away in the night. Kirsten's sister-in-law was ill and fighting cancer but none of us foresaw her imminent demise. I feel shaken up and can only imagine what Shawn and Kirsten must be feeling. Kirsten and the girls got several opportunities to visit with her when they were here, but Shawn was due to come August 5… too late.

Kenda was an occasional presence in my life, but my parents were much more involved with her and her illness. They will feel her absence more.

Occasionally I stop to reflect on our fleeting visit to this world and remind myself to participate more fully and cherish my loved ones. I sometimes live in autopilot, missing out on life by my inattention.

Killing time on facebook… a bunch of posts with RIP Rolf so I can only surmise that Rolf, the loveable Viking from Norway has also passed away - from Cancer.

Well, I guess I'll do a brief rundown of my quest to keep from getting depressed after Kirsten and the girls left.

Carm played golf on Thursday morning early, leaving me to have a luxurious sleep in. I couldn't have a lay-about all day though as Dave was coming for supper and the house hadn't been cleaned for days. What a way to spend an afternoon, but I did sneak out for a few swims.  The temp was 32C. Supper with Dave was a simple affair and then we all moved to the living room for several hours of (boring) Republican Convention. Surreal at times. According to a fact checking organization 50% of the facts stated in Donald Trump's speech were outright lies, while many others were misleading.

Damn prickly eyes. Get a grip. Put on some music (no, not that song, it's too depressing… let's try 'Joy to the World' by Jim Croce).

Friday I dilly dallied in the morning until we decided to make a dash for the city. We were looking for a USB stick, some touch up paint for the car, some sandals for me (already picked out), and a quick visit with Carm's mom. Whew - way more stops than I like in a day, not to mention heavy traffic and construction wherever we turned. My favorite thing: spend time in the car on a beautiful day. But,  we did get home while the heat was still upon us. The temp topped out at 34C.

Every moment was a precious thing, having in it the essence of finality.”
~Daphne du Maurier

Wednesday, July 20, 2016


Yesterday, the last day, flew by like a leaf in a wind storm - here and then gone. Carm dropped me off at my parents house in the morning, leaving to run some errands and then home, but returning for supper. I stayed and we walked, putzed around, visited Kenda, had supper and then it was time to to leave. I'm sure you can guess that my eyes were not dry. My niece Nissa wears her heart on her sleeve and hadn't a dry eye either. Everyone else was remarkably composed - how do they do it?

Anyway, it was a long drive home. I tried not to think about how many years it might be till the next visit, instead planning when I might go there instead. I managed not to sob. There are 5 years between us with me being the oldest, so when we were growing up we weren't particularly close - what 15 year old wants a 10 year old tagging along? However, we did get along which laid the base for a close friendship when we became adults. Unfortunately we've never lived in the same city as adults and now live 1/2 a world away. Thank goodness for cheap phone rates.

Today I was saved from a morose day by Christina. Yesterday she emailed that she'd like to take me for a walk and picnic and of course I said yes. She picked me up and we drove to one of their farm properties for a walk along a corn field to a giant quarry lake. It was pretty. Plans changed so instead of a picnic in the hot sun we brought it to my place where we could swim first. The water was cool but oh so refreshing. Then we sat down, Carm included, and enjoyed the best lentil salad I've ever eaten. Must get the recipe. All in all, a lovely diversion.

The day finished off with a nap on the swing and a fantastic salad full of greens from Christina's garden.

The magic fades too fast
the scent of summer never lasts
the nights turn hollow and vast
but nothing remains...nothing lasts.”
~Sanober Khan

Monday, July 18, 2016

one day left

Just one more day left, not counting today.

Friday we had a great time with friends and ate a giant meal at the Keg. Carm dropped me off at my parents after dinner and I had a visit with my parents while Graham went to the train station to pickup Olaf. Kirsten and the girls were still with Kenda but managed to tear themselves away to arrive home not long after I got there. We all sat in the living room talking for a couple of hours - it had been years (we couldn't figure out how many but at least 8) since we had all been together at home - there had been a few days in 2013 at the reunion but that wasn’t the same as being at home.

Saturday was an early morning after a lumpy sleep on the sofa, but I was happy I stayed overnight. After we were all up and cleaned up (which takes a while with 12 people in the house!), the siblings went for brunch. We didn't think we had ever had an outing with just the four of us, but Kirsten, Olaf, Graham and myself had a great time while eating a giant breakfast at Stone Face Dolly’s. We did manage a short walk afterwards, but we were so full some of us could barely move (me). Back at Mom and Dad's, Kirsten and I swapped Olaf and Graham for Shenna and Nissa for a short bit of shopping.

We were back in time to help Mom a tiny bit with supper (she had already gotten almost everything ready. It was an all-inclusive family affair with the immediate family (including Carm of course), our aunt and uncle that lives nearby, and cousins that also live nearby. The house was packed and we all had a wonderful time.

Another night on the living room sofa… and another early morning. A brunch with all of us packed around the dining room table followed by some picture taking. Carm and Kirsten's husband Shawn were absent so we left spaces for them and someone will CG them in.

After the photos we piled into cars for the drive out to Kari and Trevor's house. They have a lovely backyard with a fantastic pool - the kids, big ones too, spent the afternoon splashing around and having fun. Trevor said the water was down 1" after all the horsing around.

Kirsten came home with us for the night and we had a pleasant evening sitting at the outdoor table until the mosquitoes drove us inside.

Carm golfed this morning, leaving Kirsten and I to have a leisurely morning and then I saw her on her way. I had to use some mental discipline to keep my mind from the fact that this was the last time she'd be staying at our house, possibly for many years. (okay, stop that now!!!). She has a dinner tonight with her husband's side of the family and then tomorrow (hopefully) with us before she leaves at 5am Wednesday.

After Carm got back from golf we had a swim then cleaned up to go visit his Mom and sister in the city. We even managed to catch up with Kirsten for a few minutes before she headed to her dinner. It turned into a whirlwind day, even though it was supposed to be restful.

"All in all, it was a never-to-be-forgotten summer — one of those summers which come seldom into any life, but leave a rich heritage of beautiful memories in their going — one of those summers which, in a fortunate combination of delightful weather, delightful friends and delightful doing, come as near to perfection as anything can come in this world.”
~L.M. Montgomery

Friday, July 15, 2016

the middle - just 1/2 week left

Just 1/2 week left…

I left off last Saturday when they were all in Montreal. They were due back on Sunday so mid-afternoon Carm dropped me at my parents for another sleepover. Kirsten, et. al. got in the door just after I arrived so we had the whole afternoon together. The girls were antsy for a walk so we took off on a 6.5 km trek along the paths that snake through the suburbs.  We got home in time to help with supper and a flurry of activity swept us along until bedtime. I flake out on the ancient sofa in the livingroom which is comfortable enough.

Monday we spent the day with Kenda, Kirsten's sister-in-law, helping her through her day. That's when I posted about being grateful for our health among other things. Hold your loved ones close. Carm picked me up around 7pm, after an epic golf game in the west end. I fell into bed exhausted that night - physically and emotionally.

Tuesday afternoon Carm and I picked up our nice nieces for lunch at the Works and an overnight at my house. Lunch, swimming, and cards filled the rest of the day and evening.

Wednesday the girls and I swam while we waited for Kirsten to come. My friend Christina dropped by for a quick swim and to meet my lovely nieces. Finally mid afternoon (and I mean finally - we were anxiously awaiting her arrival all morning), Kirsten arrived and we spent another hour in the pool. There were lots of wrinkled fingers those days. One of the things we like to do is take the ladder out (for its safety) and run around just inside the edge to make a whirlpool. Floating along after in the current is simple fun. Then we get to work to reverse the flow - hard work and surely worth some extra steps on my Fitbit! We didn't spend the whole day in the pool (or did we?) but with a humidex of 41C there wasn't a better place to be.

Carm had taught the girls and I how to play hearts the night before so we briefed Kirsten on the rules and played another round. The first night Carm won, but the girls are quick studies and Shenna won Wednesday night. Nissa won the next morning. We were starting to turn into card fiends, which is funny for me as I am never one to play much. I'm not with it enough to follow which cards have been played so pretty much play by luck.

Thursday, Kirsten and the girls left between downpours and I lay down for a nap. I feel like I might nap for days after they all leave, but I MUST find some things to fill my days or I'll likely drop down into a bit of a depression. I'll have to work hard to avoid it.

Today, Friday, is Carm and my 27th anniversary! My oh my, time flies. It has been 27 wonderful years, and even though there have been challenges, our relationship is stronger than ever. Being kind to one another and living with compassion are key. Tonight we are having supper with friends that share the same wedding date, as well as ones that don't. Afterwards, Carm will drop me off at my parents for another sleepover. He’s been a good sport about all the lonely nights. I feel desperate to eek every last minute I can out of Kirsten's visit, especially now that we are on the last few days.

"I would feel more optimistic about a bright future for man if he spent less time proving that he can outwit Nature and more time tasting her sweetness and respecting her seniority.”
~E.B. White

Monday, July 11, 2016

but for the grace of God go I

sometimes those around me are a reminder of how lucky I am... and to be grateful for much.

Saturday, July 9, 2016

First days of our visit

The days are speeding by like an out of control locomotive. There is just a week and a half to go with Kirsten and the girls in town and I don't feel that I'm making the best use of my time. Yesterday (Friday) my head was too bleary when I woke up to get out of the house in time to join them at the Experimental Farm, but let me tell you, I regreted that I didn't make more of an effort. Today they are off to Montreal to visit my brother, so that's another day lost. I can't let many more days slip by.

Now for a blow by blow of the last several days.

Tuesday I went into my parents in the morning in time to do something (and I can't for the life of me remember what we did during the day). Tuesday late afternoon Kirsten came out to our place and stayed the night.

Wednesday everyone came out to our place for an afternoon in the sun and pool. It was another hot day - these NZ folks are getting a real taste of summer! Before the swim we went to St. Albert for poutine.

Thursday was picnic day at Mer Bleu, a local conservation area. It was hot, sweltering hot, and the walk down the boardwalk thru the bog nearly melted me.

Friday we've already covered, and today I'm house bound as it is pouring rain. We desperatly need the rain for the crops - everything is looking limp and stressed. Hopefully the moisture is not too late to help.

This has been a pretty lame recount. I can't seem to remember much of what has transpired!

There is a comfort in the strength of love; 'Twill make a thing endurable, which else would overset the brain, or break the heart.”
~William Wordsworth

Tuesday, July 5, 2016

sister and nieces together

Kirsten and Nissa arrived safely on Saturday night (really Sun morning as it was past 1am). I wasn't at the airport to greet them - I figured it would be better to get off on the right foot with a proper nights sleep, and as it was my head was still sleepy when I got to my parents house the next morning.

Nissa had grown up lots since I last saw her, but Kirsten looked the same. (I know I don't as I've gained 20 pounds since we last saw each other… )

The family sat around the kitchen table catching up on news and reacquainting ourselves, then it was off to Apple Saddlery for a browse. After a pit stop back at my parents, we all went to visit Kenda, the girls’ other aunt, with the exception of Nissa and I - we went for a walk and hung out at a park bench until the visit was over. Nissa has a cold and we don't want to risk Kenda catching it.

Back at my parent’s, my dad made a great supper for us all. We girls went for a walk and soon it was time for bed - I rolled out a comforter on the living room sofa, my usual place for a sleepover.

Monday was more visiting, and shopping. Even my dad came out for some of the shopping excursion, until he couldn't handle anymore Old Navy ;-)  The rest of us went to Dairy Queen for lunch - blizzards of course - then Mom dropped Kirsten and Shenna off at Kenda's. Soon we were back to my parent's place and I was in my own car heading for home.

Whew! It is lovely to have them here and I feel certain that I won't get my fill before the visit is over.

Early summer days are a jubilee time for birds. In the fields, around the house, in the barn, in the woods, in the swamp - everywhere love and songs and nests and eggs.”
~E.B. White

Friday, July 1, 2016

Happy Canada Day

Happy Canada Day! It’s the hundred and forty ninth anniversary of Confederation - everybody sing together!

I waited on the back deck, anxiously (well, not anxiously but with anticipation) waiting for the Snowbirds or F18s to fly by. They didn't. In some previous Canada Day celebrations, their flight pattern has brought them right overhead, not doing their tricks, but flying in formation on their way somewhere else. I get a thrill deep inside when I hear those jet engines roar. Today there was just the peep of a Nuthatch, the chirp of several robins, and the cheep of my only aerial show: the swallows.

We thought of going down to Parliament Hill to take in some of the celebrations, but the forecast of rain in the afternoon, not to mention trouble getting downtown and huge crowds made us decide to forego it all. Inertia too. We may still do something, but are not sure yet. Olaf & Tammy are here so something has to be arranged.

I usually put Grace in her outside cage mid-morning, but don't join her on the back deck for a couple of hours. Well… today I put her out, and since it was Canada Day didn't do as much in the house so headed to the swing earlier. OMG!!!!!! She was OUTSIDE the cage hanging onto the side. Heart attack (me not her). She stepped up willingly and was quickly reinserted. The outside hatch for her feed dish (which I hadn't put in yet), was open and she squeezed herself through. I must have forgotten to latch it… Hopefully a lesson learned.

At 6pm last night I still hadn't made dinner and didn't have plans on what I could make. On an off chance that Trudie & Leo hadn't had their supper I called to see if they wanted to meet for Chinese food. They did. The place was packed and a lineup for takeout was practically out the door. It was a slow supper…

p.s. deer flies are out in full force - I’ve been bitten more than a few times today and have red welts all over :-(

Canada is the homeland of equality, justice and tolerance.  ~Kim Campbell