Sunday, March 31, 2019


We’ve stepped from one universe to another kindler, gentler one. One where three course meals are served for lunch and supper. One where crisp white linens grace the tables, and heavy silver cutlery shines. One where my bed is made and chocolates magically appear on my pillow. It is strange but wonderful.

We took an Uber from the hotel to the port and then whipped through the embarkation process in minutes. The longest time we had to spend was convincing the security guy that our power bar was not surge protected (those aren’t allowed). We picked up our medallions - little round disks that open our room door, buy us drinks, and we aren’t sure what else. Zap, we were on the ship. Zoom, up 3 flights of stairs to our stateroom. Zonkers - even though it was only 11:30 our room was ready, so we took a few minutes and unpacked our carryons.

By noon we were in the MDR (main dining room) having a lovely lunch. I had a shrimp salad, beef tenderloin, and an orange souffle with hot custard. belch…

We wandered around until it was time for muster - that’s when you go to a predesignated spot to find out the emergency procedures (cue memory of Viking Sky). After that it was sail away time, oh and time for a pina colada!

Hurrah we sailed away! With the theme from the Love Boat blasting on the ships horns we sailed out of Fort Lauderdale. That’s one of my favorite parts. The sound of those horns brings back the memory of our first cruise and how excited I was.

Our suitcases had been delivered by the time we got back to our room, so we unpacked, got changed, and went… to dinner…

We sat with a lovely couple from Edmonton (retired ranchers), and two women from New York City, one of which works on the ship as something to do with entertainment. It was a controversy free meal.

After supper we scootched around for a bit and then got our seats in the theater. ‘Sweet Soul’ was a great singing and dancing production with excellent music. I think the singers are the best we’ve seen, and the ships band really rocks.

So now it is a little past 9pm and I am totally knackered and ready for bed. I just wanted to post a few words, and gosh I would have liked to include some photos but I took them all with my phone and it is too complicated right now to figure out how to get them from phone to tablet. I wish I had a bluetooth connection between them.

I think I’ll sleep soundly tonight!

a bit of sun

it's a beautiful morning here in fort Lauderdale, the sun is shining brightly and it's actually little bit hot. we are having our our breakfast out on the the patio that looks over a nice little lagoon with Palm trees.

Our flight yesterday was good although it seemed that it took forever. But we got here safe and sound and even had time to go out and suss out a liquor store for some wine.

The hotel is nice, I think we'd stay here again especially with the outside areas.

now we are just cooling her jet's waiting till it's time to go board the ship.

Saturday, March 30, 2019

lucky charms

I should have bought a lottery ticket on the way to the airport this morning cause today is my lucky day. It was with some surprise that I found I’d been randomly chosen to go through extra security measures in Montreal. Oh yes. Everything was torn apart and I was scanned and swabbed for illicit materials. Perhaps they were looking for explosives, but little did they know that the most explosive thing in my life is bean and cabbage soup :-0

It made me wish for some profiling.

Oh, and did I mention the freezing rain and snow? Yes, the plane spent extra time being de-iced, and I expect our flight out of Mtl will go through the same procedure. I was already happy to escape the final dredges of winter, but gosh, what a send off! (cue the stress music).

Pat came yesterday afternoon to get settled, then we had a lovely supper at Trudie & Leo’s. We were back home at just past 8 which gave me time to stupidly remove all photos from my tablet, or at least the ones that were also in the cloud. But you know what? I wanted some of them to stay local :-/

This morning we were up before dawn to get ready to go. The dogs hung around closely, until Carm started wheeling suitcases to the door - Spike immediately disappeared to the bedroom. Poor wee guy knows the signs. Kabira & Bella take it more in stride.

Onward and upward.

Thursday, March 28, 2019

involve me

After a few head slaps and groans I got back to work. I fiddled and faddled and by this morning it was working again… mostly. It works on IE, it works on Chrome running the server version, it does not work on Chrome running my local version. Huh? And it runs on Chrome on my tablet. Whew, at least until I get back and start figuring a few other things out.

All this has been good, my brain is liking the challenge.

I took some time for some girly stuff today: mani/pedi for our trip. Packing is in hand - tomorrow the cases will be closed to free up the spare bedroom for Pat - she arrives tomorrow afternoon. We’ve been stocking the freezer with goodies for her, and clearing leftovers out of the fridge. Tomorrow I’ll give Grace’s cage a once over and maybe speed the vacuum over the floors.

It seems impossible that in a few days we’ll be on the high seas again. The Caribbean sea will be a welcome destination during this awful spring.

Carm’s birthday was a grand event with supper at the Keg with Bruce & Tina. The men (one of which is now a senior citizen) share the birthdate and have celebrated together for years. We gorged on huge chunks of beast accompanied by pillows of garlic mashed potatoes, and topped with frizzled onions. burp.

“Tell me and I forget, teach me and I may remember, involve me and I learn.”
~Benjamin Franklin

Wednesday, March 27, 2019

brain games

A swirl of html tags, bits of javascript, a line or two of jQuery, and hundreds of css style elements swirled in my head making it almost impossible to do anything else. <DIV>s and <position=absolute>s snuck into my dreams… was I going mad? Or was it just the chaotic brain waves of learning something new.

Just over 8 years of retirement has left my brain sluggish and out of tune, but this website project is rekindling old skills and honing the brain just a little. In my working life, most of the work I did was ‘by the seat of my pants’... in other words, I learned how to do much of what I did by myself with little help from others. It was lonely, but it also meant that I got really good at figuring out how to do things on my own. I would look at source code from the products that I worked with, take it apart, and then build my programs with what I learned. I was never good at reading manuals, except to reference, but I was good at learning by doing.

A few days ago I thought I had the site all fixed and ready for data (after getting feedback from others about it), and then!!!! some sleuthing for something else landed me on a page that said that much of what I based my website on was deprecated for the next version of html. WTF!!! I was crushed. But then I pulled up my pants and got to work to figure it all out again.

Swearing, head banging, stalking around the house muttering to myself that “I can’t do this”, and then sitting back down and trying some more has finally netted a result. I think I have it working again, and this time with supported code. I just have 1 template page done, but everything else will use the same code, just the text and images will change. It will be easy to add data, and to make changes to the overall look of the site. I think it is better than what it was.

Some of the sites I hit said you’d be crazy to build a website by hand without using a development tool, well! Call me crazy but I’ve done it!

I do have to play around with a few css tags though so that I know for sure what each does. Positioning elements on a page is not straightforward and I might have fudged it a little bit.

So while all that is fun and good for me and my noggin, I’ve been having fun with amazon music. It is wonderful to listen to some new music and I’ve been loving some of the jazzy playlists. We haven’t been watching the videos as we’ve been out or busy almost every night since we signed up.

Let’s see… Saturday night Trudie & Leo came over, Sunday we watched Rick Steves, Monday Jo Ellen and Don came for supper so that we could celebrate Don & Carm’s birthday’s (burnt sugar cake!), Tuesday we watched stupid tv. The days have been a blur.

Well CRAP!!!! I just uploaded the site and tried to open it on my tablet… NOT. The formatting is all wonky and the first few things I tried did not work… so back to square one. One step forward… two steps back.

The crazy thing is that in my old ‘deprecated’ code everything worked well! I guess until the constructs are removed from HTML.

The best thing for being sad," replied Merlin, beginning to puff and blow, "is to learn something. That's the only thing that never fails. You may grow old and trembling in your anatomies, you may lie awake at night listening to the disorder of your veins, you may miss your only love, you may see the world about you devastated by evil lunatics, or know your honour trampled in the sewers of baser minds. There is only one thing for it then — to learn. Learn why the world wags and what wags it. That is the only thing which the mind can never exhaust, never alienate, never be tortured by, never fear or distrust, and never dream of regretting. Learning is the only thing for you. Look what a lot of things there are to learn.”
~T.H. White

Friday, March 22, 2019

puffy mc puffalot

There was no joy in Mudville this morning when I clanked out the box of clippers and blades… oh no… and when the table was trundled from the laundry room they knew they were in for a lousy morning. Yes. It was fur-flying, clipper clacking day for the poodles. They didn’t have it very rough though - a buzz around their faces, a tickle of their toes, a clackity clack over their bodies, and then we finished with a light scissoring of their legs. They still have fancy haircuts - it isn’t summer yet - so they’ll keep reasonably warm. And gosh, they look so nice!

After that success I fired up my laptop, made of backup copy of what I had of the web pages so far, then got to work trying some things I found on the internet. A bit of javascript meant I could have one copy of the style codes to be used on all pages - just what my little heart desires. I hate duplication!

Oh… call me crazy… but I got another instant pot yesterday. There are many times when I’m preparing a meal for guests when one more would do the trick. I have forgotten how to use my stove, and forget about the microwave :-0  But roast in one, rice or potatoes in another, and then the third gets a lovely soup. And lets not forget about the actifry - the veggies go there. That’s not crazy at all… is it?

Maybe they’ll all get a rest tonight though and we’ll do take out. lol

A small bit of madness overtook us today… we were about to email Don to ask him to order something from Amazon for us… when, with a flash of clarity, we realized that our own subscription of Amazon Prime could be justified. Once we were all set, I fired up my phone with the Amazon Music app and started to stream… oh yeah! A million songs at my fingertips. I haven’t perused the movies yet though.

It's spring fever. That is what the name of it is. And when you've got it, you want—oh, you don't quite know what it is you do want, but it just fairly makes your heart ache, you want it so!”
~Mark Twain

Thursday, March 21, 2019

muddled and not a mojito

The sun isn’t shining at the moment but a chorus of birdsong echos amongst the trees. The sound that speaks of spring and the joy of rebirth. Robins, red-wing blackbirds, cardinals all have a bar or two to contribute to the masterpiece that rivals Vivaldi’s ‘Four Seasons’.

The melting has been slow but sure - a good thing with this much snow cover. Parts of the laneway are showing, and every fallen leaf has melted deeper and closer to the earth.

The dogs are joyous at their expanding world. In the mornings, after a hard cold overnight, the snow is hard enough for them to walk… no run… on. Spike has been going crazy, the big dogs are more sedate, but no less happy, to be off the laneway.

I feel the same joy. Or at least I tell myself I do…

I’ve been keeping myself distracted and frustrated and satisfied by working on the Family Website. Gosh, there is a lot to remember and relearn. Getting a template built that works and looks good has been a challenge. I need to get that one page done so it can be copied to create all the other pages. I’ll have to edit all the pages for a format change so want to get that nailed down before creating the rest of the content.

I fought with it a bit yesterday trying to get rid of the extra space between one section and the next. I pored over the code and just couldn’t see anything… until there it was nowhere near where I was looking. Three <p>’s that fell outside the </td></tr> but before the next <tr>. Orphans shuffled to the top of the page. Oh Gosh (and those were not the exact words :-o

Today, for some reason unknown to man, the files that I transfered from my laptop to the web server were not updating. I wrestled with it for ages, server connection kept crashing, gave up, wrestled some more, deleted everything, re-uploaded, still wrestled, and then it worked. What the Heck!!!

Did I actually do stuff like this for a living?

Time for another coffee and a gingernut while I ponder the next refinements. By accident I found a debugging tool (built right into Chrome), that I’ll use to run the pages through to look for problems. At this point there are two problems showing up on my template page and for the life of me I can’t see why I’m getting the warning. All tds and trs are counted and accounted for but for some unknown reason the debugger is not happy.

(fyi - <tr> starts a table row, <td> starts a table cell and one row can have many cells depending on the parameters that you set within the tag… easy, right?) Oh gosh… I think I’ll do some studying on the internet and maybe change some things over to javascript to really confuse myself!

Is the spring coming?" he said. "What is it like?"...
"It is the sun shining on the rain and the rain falling on the sunshine...”
~Frances Hodgson Burnett

Monday, March 18, 2019

dancing a jig

Jigg’s dinner was on the menu last night to celebrate St. Patrick’s Day - I’m 1/8th Irish so it only seemed right to have a typical Irish meal. I cooked the corned beef in the instant pot, and then when it was done I tossed the cabbage, potatoes and carrots in for a few minutes. Easy peasy. I was surprised at how much I liked the cabbage.

Pat, Trudie & Leo were here for the celebration, although unlike an Irish kitchen party, it didn’t go on till the wee hours.

Saturday I hunched over my computer for ages, tweaking a <tr> here and a <bgcolor=#33449> there. I’m slowly getting my memory back for the tech stuff, but now have to figure out the structure of all the data - I think that will be the hardest part as it seems there will be lots to include.

It was a great relief after all those bits and bytes to go over to Trudie & Leo’s for some pizza and non-computer talk.

One of the topics that we often drift to is euthanasia and what the rules around it should be. We are all in agreement that at a certain point of alzheimer's or parkinson's that a way out would be good. Alas, the rules are not structured in such a way that it could be pre-setup that when certain conditions were met we would be released from the misery that the world had become.

Today I was in town for a quick visit with my brother and then we continued on our quest for chairs… this is turning out to be a more difficult task than we expected, but at least we’ve narrowed down some of the requirements. I’ve agreed on a swivel chair for the main ‘guest’ chair, even though they are mostly hideous. The sixth chair can be fixed and smaller as it will rarely be used and usually stored around the corner out of the way.

The strong rays of the sun are softening the ice on the laneway and slowly dispatching the snow in areas where a tiny bit of dark is showing. The little peeks of dark soak up the heat and radiate it, melting the snow faster around it.

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

Friday, March 15, 2019


I often wonder how the days go by so quickly. It was Sunday just a minute ago… and now it is Friday. I can never seem to keep track of which day it is - Tuesday or Wednesday? They both seem the same. I’m not complaining! I love the freedom from the calendar.

I’ve been reasonably busy though. Monday Trudie & Leo came by to be guinea pigs for another try at pot roast. I think it was better, but then again it could have been the cut of meat. I doubled the broth to 2 cups, plus I used ½ cup red wine to deglaze after sauteing the onions. I didn’t put in any mushrooms and just stuck with the trifecta of onions, celery, and carrots to flavour the gravy. The baby potatoes were tossed with chopped fresh rosemary an piled around the sides of the roast. Oh yes, and I did brown the meat, but didn’t leave it salted in the fridge overnight. And I reduced the time from 40min to 30min with a long NR.

Tuesday I visited my brother Graham and then Carm and I stopped to look at some chairs. Oh, and had a chicken shawarma for lunch. Oh the garlicky goodness :-)

Wednesday we stayed home (although I thought I visited Graham again?).

Thursday Jo Ellen and Don came for supper and I fabricated a chicken pasta dish that everyone seemed to like. Hurrah for the instant pot (again). I’d better get cracking and write down the recipe! As well as the enhancements I’d like to make.

Through all of this I’ve been giving my brain a workout setting up a website and development environment for a Skjenna Famiy History that some members of the clan are working on. The current owner of the Norwegian Farm, (Arne), has researched so much that it would be a shame to let this knowledge lapse. The site will let us share these stories with the whole extended family.

It has been brain busting work!

Through all of this I’ve had a buzz of anxiety. A quick check of the internet revealed that there is such a thing as reverse SAD… it is characterized by increased anxiety and depression in the spring with the increasing light levels. What the heck!!! Just my luck that I am one of the rare sufferers. I’m not alone though, one of my friends suffers as well.

So, here I am, struggling along, with help from some extra meds. Thank goodness for them - they aren’t addictive so are safe to take.

“I have the choice of being constantly active and happy or introspectively passive and sad. Or I can go mad by ricocheting in between.”
~Sylvia Plath

Sunday, March 10, 2019

snow angels and walks in the woods

I think I spoke too soon… and looking back at my records for the last few years, (once I saw a trend I didn’t go back further), it seems that I’m in for at least a month or maybe two of flashes of anxiety with the odd blip of depressed thinking. In the past my doctor prescribed an extra dose of one of my meds, at least for this time of year, and maybe I’ll have to take them again. It feels like giving in and that surely I should be able to control this by myself… but alas, I can only temper but not eliminate the gut wrenching feelings.

There seems to be no rhyme or reason for these flashes - bending over to put a freshly washed dish cloth in the drawer created a jab. The drawer is neatly folded and organized so it’s not the chaos of disorganization that created it. What on earth could have triggered such an overwhelming reaction? Carm and I have decided that it is the change in light, so no way around it, except to continue a stepped-up regime of self care, and some extra meds.

Last night we had a delightful time meeting up with some ‘old’ co-workers of Carm’s. Francine (one of the wives) timed the three guys at 10 minutes before they were in the thick of work talk. I thought that was pretty good. Luckily Francine and Julie are interesting women on their own. Anyway, the babble went on well into the evening. Next time we’ll host as I think it will be easier to visit in a home, rather than a loud restaurant.

There is a light snow falling - it would be perfect for making snow angels and for walks in the woods. I’m lazy today though, so will watch from the comfort of the sofa.

“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

“There is nothing in the world more beautiful than the forest clothed to its very hollows in snow. It is the still ecstasy of nature, wherein every spray, every blade of grass, every spire of reed, every intricacy of twig, is clad with radiance. “
~William Sharp

Saturday, March 9, 2019

lemons, olives and marsala

My hard work has paid off. Just the occasional bit stomach wrenching anxiety disturbs my day and I don’t have to fend off negative thoughts very much. I’ve done lots of self care: reminding myself of all the good things, being mindful and noticing what is around me (in other words, not living in a fog), getting outside, keeping busy with drives and cooking and friends.

I heard a red-wing blackbird heralding the arrival of summer the other day! It is way too early for this fair weather dweller to arrive - someone must have given him wrong directions on his route north.

Thursday Jo Ellen and Don came for supper, and as usual, they were my guinea pigs… I was making Chicken Marsala for the first time, in fact, it was my first time cooking chicken breast in the instant pot… in fact I haven’t cooked chicken breasts, or any sort of chicken, at all for years. So I scoured the internet for recipes. Cooking times varied wildly and in the end I decided on the 5 min cook vs the 12 minute one.

Prep was easy and then I got to work sauteing and then cooking. The end result was good but not great. It needed some work. Yesterday I dug out some slightly freezer burned breasts from bottom of the freezer to try again. This time I sliced the breasts to make cutlets before dredging them in flour and browning them. I added a sliced onion to the sauce along with the sliced mushrooms. Those were sauted, then I added  ½ cup chicken broth and ½ cup marsala, then added the breasts back with a few sprigs of thyme. I pressure cooked this on high for 3 minutes and a 15 min natural release. Chicken was removed and I cooked the sauce with a bit of cornstarch until it was thickened. The result: tender chicken and more flavour in the sauce. Next time I’ll add an additional ¼ cup of marsala to the sauce just before serving. Some salt would have been a good addition. I might skip the step of browning - that would cut down on the cooking time tremendously.

I’ve been in a cooking streak lately. On Wednesday night, for just Carm and I, I cooked chicken thighs with lemon and olives over rice. Well gosh it was good! I have enough thighs in the freezer to make it for guests twice.

So much for vegan cooking...

Tuesday we had supper at Trudie & Leo’s. I owe them a few meals now ;-) And I can’t forget that Thursday we had lunch with new friends that we met camping last summer. It was wonderful to connect with them again. Interspersed with all this entertaining were drives in the country, shopping in the city, dentist appointments, and general chilling at home.

No wonder I had such success nipping this mood shift in the bud - moss doesn’t grow on a rolling stone! Oh… and it doesn’t hurt that we’ve had some days of bright sun. I may even start to get my head around the fact that we leave on our next trip in 21 days. So far I’m stuck in day to day time and can’t seem to look forward very far.

Optimism is the faith that leads to achievement. Nothing can be done without hope and confidence.”
~Helen Keller

Monday, March 4, 2019


It happened a few days ago in the tub. It was a barely perceptible thunk in my head, a slight shift of my universe, just a little twist in my brain. Anxiety has started to make an occasional appearance, at first just a little peek, but as the last few days have gone by it is spending more time in broad daylight. I’ve been having long conversations with myself about how good things are and that there is nothing to be anxious about - it’s working… a bit.

I can feel my thoughts turning a little more negative and I’m overcome at times with “I can’t do this”. Thankfully, I can still talk myself past these points of discombobulation.

The anxiety tightens my throat and makes my extremities tingle. My stomach feels like it is pinned to my spine. My head spins and I feel out of balance. It is like the feeling when you are about to fall on ice, a quick panic that never leaves.

Pat came for supper last night and she was a good distraction. I’m pretty sure that I’ve been so mentally good this winter is all the supper company we are having. Making supper, gathering around the table with friends, long conversations, are all good salves for a bipolar brain.

So, this week will be an exercise in doing everything I can to get back to equilibrium.

Yesterday and today have had glorious sun with blue skies. We’ve been out and about in the car. Yesterday we visited with my Mom, Dad, brother Graham, and niece & nephew. It was just Erik’s 15th birthday so we wanted to give him some well wishes.

Then we did some groceries and of course treated ourselves to a chicken shawarma. We were home in time for me to have a quick nap and then get ready for Pat. Today we went shopping for a ‘dry pouch’ for our money and cards on our beach days. We had a short visit with Carm’s mom & sister, then hotdogs at Costco. Lots of running around.

The table is a meeting place, a gathering ground, the source of sustenance and nourishment, festivity, safety, and satisfaction. A person cooking is a person giving: Even the simplest food is a gift. ~Laurie Colwin

Friday, March 1, 2019

winter comforts

I love making soup; there is something so ‘Mother Earth’ about it. I stand at the kitchen counter chopping the vegetables, half an eye on the birds at the birdfeeder, the other half on what I am doing. Seventies music plays in the background. It’s mindful in a mixed up way, birds and knife leave no room for any other thoughts. Then I fire up the instant pot and start sauteing garlic and onions (everything in this house has them). As each ingredient gets added to the soon nearly overflowing pot, my feeling of satisfaction increases, until, when the lid is finally twisted on, I have that sought-after ‘peaceful easy feeling’.

When the soup is finally ready - it takes ages as I use dried beans and lentils - the heavenly aroma of vegetable rich soup fills the house. I’m not a totally good planner as the giant soup is enough for several days so I don’t get to re-enact the ritual for a while.

Not all soups are vegetable/bean (minestrone) soups. Sometimes a curry infused lentil soup is on the menu. Or a tomato lentil soup (I can’t remember how I made it last time, but gosh it was good and I’d like to make it again…). For company I might make a mushroom soup with thyme and rosemary, and of course there is the potato soup… and… and… and.

Soup is perhaps the best thing about winter.

Last night Jo Ellen and Don joined us for supper. I made a hack job of the pot roast - it turned out dry but had good flavour. I’ve scoured the internet for more recipes and will try another method which uses more broth next time. All was not lost though - we had yorkshire pudding too :-)

In the last week or two Spike has taken to spending part of his day on the bed in our room. I can’t figure out why… is it too noisy in the main part of the house? There are rarely loud conversations during the day, and I don’t play music every day, so it is usually quiet. It isn’t cooler, but there may be more sun. Is it some sort of new anxiety that he’s developed? He is a strange one.

Winter, then in its early and clear stages, was a purifying engine that ran unhindered over city and country, alerting the stars to sparkle violently and shower their silver light into the arms of bare upreaching trees. It was a mad and beautiful thing that scoured raw the souls of animals and man, driving them before it until they loved to run. And what it did to Northern forests can hardly be described, considering that it iced the branches of the sycamores on Chrystie Street and swept them back and forth until they rang like ranks of bells.”
~Mark Helprin