Tuesday, May 3, 2016

30x30 Challenge

Good morning!! The sun is trying to peek out which is a whole lot better than the forecast of rain. When I was in the forest yesterday I didn't feel the heaviness of the cloudy sky at all - so what does that say? More trees and bushes were in leafy bright green bloom and any day now the whole forest will totally transform into a leafy green wonderland. The trails will be harder to find (in some crowded sections) and the animals and birds will be harder to see but I love it. I love being enveloped by a huge green hug full of chirps and tweets!

Oh, and let's not forget the tree tapping woodpeckers!
Northern Flicker
That was the only bird I managed to get a photo of - a Northern Flicker who was so focussed on his job that he paid me no attention.  All the other birds I heard and saw briefly were a lot more shy - but I saw the usual blue jays, cardinals, robins, chickadees etc and the gold finches are back!! I also saw a wild turkey but boy did it ever move fast! I lost it before I could even get the camera turned on. Have you ever seen a wild turkey run? It's hilarious!

I'm happy to say that Annie is joining me in the 30x30 nature challenge. The goal is to spend a minimum of 30 minutes in nature for 30 consecutive days. Here's more from David Suzuki's website...

"Evidence shows that being regularly immersed in a natural setting, like a park, wetland or woodlot, reduces blood pressure, anxiety and stress levels and boosts immunity. Simply having a view of nature leads to faster patient recovery times in hospitals and higher job satisfaction and increased concentration in office workers. Outdoor exercise increases energy levels and reduces anger, depression and obesity."
* So Anne in the Kitchen I think it's about moving through nature although I'm sure being surrounded by trees/plants and flowers in a garden would provide many benefits too!

If you're interested there is a good article from the National Geographic that explores nature's effect on our brains - it's fascinating! 

The end of my day was a lot noisier than the forest but very melodic :) A favourite band of mine has come back together to tour and played at the Music Hall where Kazi works as a bartender. The band is called Collective Soul and I still have some of their music that I purchased back in the 90's.......... on CASSETTE!! Time to visit iTunes again :)

Ed Roland - he can still hit the high notes!!
One of my students, a very bright girl with autism, was in love with Ed Roland while I was her teacher. Every day she'd ask me if I had phoned Ed yet (on her behalf) and we would go through our usual routine:
Her: have you called Ed yet?
Me: no, I haven't. Why haven't I?
Her: because he's married?
Me: yup, you got it!
(Maybe I should check - he could be divorced now for all I know!)

I thought this guy was pretty cute - turns out he's Ed's younger brother.

They have a new lead guitarist - he was amazing!
All in all it was a good day! Kazi put me on "the list" so I didn't have to pay to get in. It was disappointing, however, that there wasn't a lineup that I could walk to the front of - what is the point of having "power" if you don't get to use it? Oh well, I got free beer and free coat check and Kazi took me by the side of the stage where I had an excellent view, they played all of their #1 hits and it was FAB!!

Monday, May 2, 2016

Money Monday

As the month is young I don't really have much to report about my budget except I'm a bit behind in my two new goals. My charitable donations are right on track with another donation to kids' cancer of $50. Where I am behind is in my Christmas gift buying/creating. I bought a gift in January and also in February and then I stalled. I need to get crocheting and carving more but it's hard this time of year as I prefer to be outside. Today being a rainy day I will get into the workshop. I brought home a good strong tree branch yesterday to use as a walking stick but it needs a little work. I hope to get that completed today but it's a gift for myself  :)

Other than that it's business as usual - I transferred $400 into savings and have divided my misc budget into 4 equal amounts to get me through May. Extra expenses this month include my truck license plate sticker and one night in an Airbnb in Dublin. I will also be checking out flyers for sales on hiking duds. I think I'm in pretty good shape there though, perhaps some socks or hiking shorts.

Lately I've mentioned "forest bathing" and how getting out into nature is good for stress and overall well being. And then I found this!

"Want to feel healthier, happier and more peaceful? Add a daily dose of nature to your routine.
Most of us spend too much time in front of screens and too little time outdoors. It’s time to fall (back) in love with nature!
This May, the David Suzuki Foundation is challenging you and people around the world to join the 30×30 Challenge by spending 30 minutes a day in nature for 30 days. Our goal is simple: to reconnect human beings with nature for the sake of their health and mental well-being.
Join us in taking the 30×30 Nature Challenge, so we can reap nature’s benefits together. See you outside!"  Found on the David Suzuki website. David Suzuki is a high profile Canadian scientist.
So I'm going to give it a try. 30 minutes is easy...everyday will be harder. Yesterday I spent about 2 hours in the forest and even though it was cool and cloudy it was very enjoyable. Here are a few photos...
Gradually the colour green is taking over.

I wonder which way to prevailing winds blow?

Looked for deer but didn't spot any. Just bunnies, a heron and crows
mobbing a hawk.

This is part of my "running trail."

So inviting!

Mallard duck

A tree sculpture!
Hope your Monday isn't TOO manic :)

Friday, April 29, 2016

Fiscal Foto Friday

Here we are - it's Friday once again. And it's time to close out April's budget now that next month's money has magically appeared in my bank account.

Retire early if you can - it's wonderful! (Most parts of it)

I didn't do a weekly accounting post of my money in April - I knew it was going to disappear quickly and it did! But I had great times with relatives, I have a new thermostat installed (thanks JIM!) My sister and I found some great thrifting treasures, I bought new towels etc for my visitors, donated $50 to cancer, bought a plant for my sister-in-law when her mother died, bought some music from iTunes, spent $ at Michaels for decor items, bought an extra set of my dishes to replace inevitable breakage (50% off), paid for a prescription and got Dougie the Dodge in for an oil change. Phew!

I'd like to think that I can rein in my spending for May but I get to spend $108 (such a great gift for my birthday!! Thank you Ontario government!!) for a new license sticker for Dougie. Last year it was $98 and the year before that $75. Those are huge increases!!

Also I booked an AirBnB room in Dublin as I'm staying one more night at the end of our trip so that comes off my May budget. Booked and paid for. I really lucked out - the room is in a Victorian home right in the area I wanted. And she doesn't charge an exorbitant "cleaning fee" that a lot of the others were charging. I'd forgotten to book anything for that night so I feel fortunate to get such a nice place. A lot of places also want you to book for a minimum of 2 nights so again, I was lucky.

One year ago in photos...the weather was MUCH nicer than today! I'm getting a bit tired of the gloomy skies!
A gorgeous red trillium. Ontario's official flower is the trillium.

I was on a hike :)

Wild leeks!
Blood root

trout lily

Gotta go - a friend and some yummy Thai food awaits me!!

Thursday, April 28, 2016

This, That and the Other Thing

Today was a day of getting things done around the house. It's cold and gloomy outside and I just didn't feel like walking/running in the woods. Brrrrrrrrr! Yes, I'm doing some trail running. I've only fallen once! And it didn't hurt too bad! Damn tree root!

Among my other trail injuries is a Harry Potter lightning bolt shaped scratch on my forehead from pushing into a thicket to get some a--hole's empty water bottle. I HATE litterers! As soon as Kazi saw it she asked (sensitively-HAH!) "how'd ya get the Harry Potter forehead?" I also have another scrape and bruise on my forehead from bending over to clean out the kittys' litter boxes and I whacked my head on the laundry tub!

So I have to stay home til I get healed up - I'm not allowed out in public!

So here's what I accomplished today (so far...):

  • made oat scones
  • made granola
I think I should be called Oaty McOatface!! Hahahahahaha! Click HERE if you're not sure of my reference :)

I think I hit my head too hard!

Carrying on...

  • I finished my first infinity scarf - now that summer's on its way..... 

  •  the cats got into a hissy fit over the cat beds so I had to separate them. For some reason they both prefer the FIRST bed I bought and neither wants to use the other two for Pete's sake! So Lily "volunteered" to use one of the newer beds and of course I had to take cute pet photos :)


Luna- the big fat balloona!
Maybe it's because Luna needs two!!

  • a piece of paint got chipped off my LOVE decor item so I mixed up some green and blue acrylic paints and touched it up!  

  • I worked on  couple other things in the workshop - the piece below fell and got chipped so I had to smooth that out plus I'm flattening the top (it was rounded) so that it can hold a beautiful rock once it's polished. 

  •  I worked on another small piece and have the final shape figured out - it's going to be a shadow box carving. (I didn't feel like polishing today.

  •  I went around the entire house to find the perfect spot for this little art piece below - it's one of my Talize $1.99 finds when my seester and I went thrifting - I haven't shown you ANY of the great stuff I got - that's another post I guess. I hope I can remember what I bought! I fell in love with this - the frame is great and the silver/silver-plated/steel??? work is so intricate and far eastern-ish. 

 Here's a closer look:
Isn't it great?
The photo below shows its new home.

So that's my day - it was pretty productive. Oh, and I also read for awhile. See, I get a lot done when I don't go outside!

Did you have a productive day? Any new injuries lately? 
Now for a beer!


Tuesday, April 26, 2016

Adult Children re Sluggy's Post

Here, read Sluggy's post first before you read mine (if you haven't already). 

No I'm not going to lecture Sluggy on what she and her husband should or shouldn't do with regard to their adult children. I'm just going to add to her story some stories of my own family members.

PROS of having your adult child move back in with you:
  • this happened to my oldest brother once. His son and new wife moved in for 6 months with the understanding that they would contribute to utilities and food and save the rest of their income for a down payment on a house. Fortunately they had a firm plan with a set time limit and at the end of the 6 months they did indeed buy a home with a solid down payment.
  • they can help look after a parent or grandparent with health issues. My other brother did this with great sacrifice in his own life/career). My father, at this point in his illness (cancer plus psychological problems - depression and anxiety), was very difficult to live with - I don't know if I could have done it.
CONS of having your adult child move back in with you:
  • it can really put the parent's relationship on shaky ground if they don't agree absolutely to a set of rules. And if the adult child is disrespectful, has financial problems and not a great attitude it can turn out horribly!! Saw this in my family too.
  • the front door (or back!) becomes a revolving door - child comes home, leaves, comes home again and on it goes totally disrupting the parent's lives. They leave their junk behind but do not dare to throw anything out! Food that is needed gets eaten up, utility bills increase, they borrow money that they never pay back. They don't do the things they said they would do in order to get back on their feet. Ka-ching!

Sunday's lunch in the forest
 My situation is different (but quite common these days) in that my 25 year old daughter has never left home in the first place! She is trying to pay off her student loans and pays all of her other bills like cell phone and contributes by buying her own food and wine etc. She has never asked me for money. More and more young adults these days are staying at home. In my day we were out the door as soon as possible while our parents called out "don't let the door hit you on the way out!"

But Kazi is struggling. She just lost the job she had for 7 months in the medical office. The doctor decided he wasn't busy enough to warrant having a 2nd person at the desk. She is down to one job currently which is a part-time bar tending gig. One thing I can say in her favour is that she is never without a job for long - she has had one interview already and another this Friday.

However, it is this instability that makes her afraid of moving out. She's saving as much as she can in case she needs some retraining. Yes, she has a degree in french but she graduated almost 4 years ago so she would have to brush up on her skills in a big way.
The view behind me.
I am finding it very hard. I watch as her self confidence erodes a bit more with each job loss. I bite my tongue and don't offer advice because I know she doesn't want to hear it. I try to stay upbeat as I know she is taking anti-anxiety medication and I don't want to increase her anxiety. It's a really sucky situation as I know she's not happy living with her mother.
The view in front of me.
Financially it's not a problem for me as, like I said before, she has never asked for a loan. I did have a repair done on her car but she paid me  back in full. I live frugally, probably too frugal for her liking but tough luck! It was by living frugally that I now enjoy a comfortable retirement. I'm trying to continue with my retirement plans though I do feel some guilt for jetting off to Ireland for 3 weeks. Though I shouldn't.

Right now she has a free roof over her head, free wifi, an excellent cat sitter :) electricity, laundry (she does her own) and some heat (she thinks I keep the thermostat set too low), again I say "tough luck". (In my own head...not out loud lol!) Well sometimes out loud - when my brother  was staying with us after his eye operation she complained to him it was always cold in here so I said "she who pays the bill gets to set the thermometer!" I try to use a little humour now and then but she is so sensitive that I usually end up hurting her feelings.

That is the hardest part for me. The number of topics which can hurt her feelings is seemingly endless and I don't really know what to do other than to not speak. I don't think I'm that hard to get along with as so far she is the only one to complain.

Case in point (today):
Me: so I guess your team didn't make it through to the next round? (she was rooting for the Chicago Black Hawks NHL team)
Her: why did you have to bring that up? (Meaning I'm only allowed to say HAPPY things)

It has come to the point where I don't want to speak for fear of hurting her feelings.
My lunch spot - thank you to whoever who provided this chair!
She just needs to get away from me and live her own life. Living with her mother at almost 26 years of age is tough for her as well as me. I try to joke around but it usually falls flat. (I'm a glass half full type of person whereas she is a glass half empty).

ADVICE? or just plain commiseration welcomed. Is it any wonder why I spend so much time in the woods? The forest is great for stress. It's called forest bathing and you can read all about it here...."forest bathing"! 

Monday, April 25, 2016

Another Visitor - OMG

No photos of our latest visitor , unfortunately. My darling daughter and her fella from Jersey parted ways at Christmas - the 9-10 hour drive being too much of an obstacle to overcome. Now she has a new fella who lives in Detroit, only a 2 hour drive. Much more doable - we'll see how it goes. He visited London this weekend and I walked the fine line between giving them their privacy and getting to know him. So far so good - he seems really nice.

I spent more time in the woods as Saturday was the annual Thames River cleanup day. I could have filled my 4 garbage bags about 10 times over so I bought an extra box to keep in the truck so I can continue  "unjunking" my favourite spot to trail walk/run. Here's a few pics from the last couple of days...
Bloodroot Day One

Bloodroot Day TWO!

May apple
My favourite colour - GREEN!!

Skunk Cabbage - not a pretty name but I think it's beautiful at this stage!

The garbage I collect plus a mouldy old comforter and some plastic sheeting - ready for pickup!

We relaxed for the rest of the day - Lily caught a few rays!

While Luna enjoyed her little bed :)
It's a lot cooler today but at least there are no tornadoes heading our way! Take care those of you in Tornado Alley!

Thursday, April 21, 2016

Bike Bum

There is nothing I like better than riding my bike. With the wonderful weather we've been having lately I've taken to the trails and the streets with sheer joy...except for one thing...
the pain of "bicycle bum"...

Whoever thought that one of the largest parts of our body, the bum, would be comfortable on such a small seat??? I am suffering today like you wouldn't believe.

Or, more specifically, my "sits bones" are suffering today.
The most common causes of sore sits bones are: a saddle that is too soft (imagine that!), prolonged sitting in the saddle, and saddle height that is too high.  So maybe putting the memory foam saddle cover on the bike seat was the wrong thing to do??

Perhaps I should wear one of these?

Or, even better...

...a LAWNCHAIR seat!! Hee, hee, hee, no, seriously!!

I find if I keep sitting back further on the saddle then the pain is relieved - it's just that I'm forever moving forward on the saddle for some reason. I'll have to check and see if I can change the slant of the saddle to keep me from sliding forward...if not, then...

...I might just have to try a western saddle! Yes, I can actually get one of these from Amazon!! What doesn't Amazon sell??

Any other avid cyclists out there??