Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Double D's


Dear Diary:
In 36 hours I will be at Robert Q waiting to board a van to Toronto Airport. I hope I come back alive. I did a second trial packing job today after watching several youtube videos about rolling and layering and stacking etc. It didn't seem to make any difference other than I'm more organized. However, just as I folded in the last T-shirt I realized that my pj's are way down in the stack and I'm not too impressed with that little "oops". 

My first night involves arriving at Heathrow at 8:10pm and making my way to a B&B not too far from the airport. It's pretty much just for catching up on sleep then the next day I make my way to Moreton in Marsh for my walking tour of the area. So all I need to get out of my suitcase on Night One are my jammies and my toiletries. I'm tempted to just squeeze in a pair of black tights and use them and a T-shirt as my jammies rather than dig through a carefully organized suitcase. 

Of course I never get to really settle in anywhere as I stay somewhere different every night until I get to Norwich where I stay for 3 nights and get to recover a little bit...if you count riding around the countryside on a bike "recovering!"

Yup, gonna squeeze in some black tights...or just sleep nekkid!

Monday, September 15, 2014


Just in case you didn't know...I'm hot stuff! Usually that's due to the occasional hot flash but today we have HEAT!! From the furnace!! Woohoo! (Let's not go into the fact that I'm super pissed that I have to even TURN ON the furnace in the frickin' middle of September!!)

I prayed for an easy fix and it couldn't have been any easier. Well, it could have been easier if I had just gone ahead and changed the batteries in the thermostat myself....doh!! I wondered about the batteries but since the fan worked and the furnace didn't (on the same thermostat)  I figured it had to be something else. Something big and expensive!

But...when the guy said how about a new thermostat I replied - let's try changing the batteries just in case...maybe they're too weak for the furnace but juicy enough for the fan. Who knows? Well, I gave the guy two new batteries and instantly the furnace kicked in! So now I have to pay a guy in the neighbourhood of $100 for changing two double A batteries for me. I could kick myself...in fact I think I will!

However, let's not lose sight of the fact that I HAVE HEAT!! And not the kind I generate myself :)

Dear Diary:
Oh my it's dark outside yet again. And it rained while I was out but at least the weather gods were nice enough to make it rain while I was in Walmart. Tonight Kazi, Steve and I are going to Kelsey's - I have a gift card :) And then we're going to see Phillip Seymour Hoffman's final movie "A Most Wanted Man" - that will be sad - and I have another gift card! :)

I packed my suitcase and my backpack but need to measure the backpack to see if it's ok for a carry on. Sure hope so, I'm running out of options. I checked the long range forecast and it's supposed to rain my first day of walking but not again after that for the whole trip. Obviously this is subject to change at the whim of the weather gods.

Gotta print off a map of Heathrow airport and also a map of all the bus routes as there are many free routes in the area and 2 that go right by my hotel. That should be fun:) getting from my terminal, get my suitcase, go through customs, find the bus depot, find the right bus, get on and hope for the best!! 

Little surprise in the mail today - a book called "Get by in Spanish"! Yes, I'm going to learn some rudimentary spanish as I hope to walk the Camino some time in the future and I'd like to be able to understand a wee bit of spanish. And it's supposed to be good for "mature" brains - help to keep dementia away :) 


Sunday, September 14, 2014

Birthday Blahs

It doesn't seem like too many years ago that I used to put a lot of planning into Kazi's birthdays - gifts, homemade birthday cake, parties, dinners with relatives, more gifts. Decorations, go to the fair, visit grandparents etc etc...

But now she's 24, today actually, and I haven't even seen her. Oh, we texted back and forth all afternoon but she was just too tired to move her butt and come home. Our dinner plans have been moved to tomorrow night. She and her boyfriend, Steven, went to Toronto on Friday to some big concert, stayed over, shopped Saturday morning for her gift, then drove back to London. She was in and out of the house while I was visiting with cousins in Alymer. I know because I saw the evidence in the washroom :( Then last night she went out with lots and lots of girlfriends - lots of eating and drinking and music and dancing.
Six cousins: Doug, my brother Gord, Joyce, Brian, Gordie Wayne and me.
I think my cousin Gordie Wayne (whose knee I grace) and I look like brother and sister!

So today, her actual birthday, she is laying low and getting her strength back. Ah to be young again!

My gift to her this year was paying for her teacher's college application (she didn't go) and I helped her pay for her car repairs, it does go. Exciting eh?

I'm gearing up for my trip, leaving this Thursday. Did up the laundry today and had my last big hike (10km) this morning before I leave. I'll have lots more hiking to do once I arrive in merry Olde England :) It was a bit of a muddy hike today with lots of fallen trees to crawl over and many many hills to slide up and down. Luckily I was one of the few who didn't do a face plant or a bum plant on the slippery muddy hills. We've had a LOT, I repeat a LOT of rain lately. I've never seen the Thames quite so high as it is these days. I had to spend some time cleaning the muck off my hiking boots and water proofing them. They are ready to go and so am I!!

 Isn't that idyllic?
Stonehenge? or inukshuks? You be the judge!

 Down down down to the swollen river!
 Oh yay another hill to climb up!
 Oh this is better...cross country for awhile...look!! Blue sky...bits of it anyways...
 ...going down is actually harder and more dangerous than going UP! One person falls and it's like a stack of dominoes!!
 NOT poison ivy though we had several PIAs (poison ivy alerts!)

 Just beyond the tree branches is a huge swath of beaten down and drowning tall grasses that used to be along the shore of the Thames but are now flattened by the strong currents in a flood zone.

 Our sculptural moment of the day.

Time to go and scrounge something edible out of the fridge. I'm using up leftovers and creating some unlikely combinations. Maybe I'll discover something new!

Saturday, September 13, 2014

Western Fair Photo Op

It's been a number of years since the last time I went to the Western Fair - an annual tradition when Kazi was younger which was only fitting since she was born after I spent several hours waddling around the fair 24 years ago! Last night I went with my friend, Troy, as we both wanted to see the Canadian band called "Glass Tiger" whom some of you Canadian readers remember (if you're close to my age!) Once inside the fair the atmosphere, sounds, sights and smells were sorta exciting, I have to admit :) I'm just a kid at heart, I guess. Though a lot of things have changed locations since the last time I attended and we never did find the Belgium Waffles - boo!! 

However, there were so many opportunities for photos and I took advantage:

 Who doesn't like baby chicks?
 bees however? Not quite so cuddly...
 I LOVE wandering through the display buildings full of the strange and wonderful entries in various competitions - like these dresses made from recycled materials like pop tabs and CDs.

 and then there's the fair food. A gourmet grilled cheese stuffed with bacon, tomatoes and caramelized onions helped me get over not getting my favourite Belgium Waffle. I won't list all the free samples I stuffed myself with!
I love the outdoor photos once it gets dark and ALL of the lights go on!
 This ride was in motion!
Some things never change - good old Whac-A-Mole!!
 ...and other games...which I didn't play because I just got rid of the tacky stuffed animals won over the years...
 This was new...riding over top of the whole fair...
I managed to stay away from MOST of the food booths...
 One of my favourite photos of the night!
 And then it was time for Giant GLASS TIGER!!!

Alan Frew, originally from Scotland!, still looked pretty good - of course I HAVE to say that because we are the same age!
 Guitarist Al Connelly...he's still got it going on!

During the concert the big pirate ship ride loomed over me so I had to take a shot - whoosh!

 They finally played our favourite song during the encore: "Don't forget me when I'm gone" and we had a lengthy sing-a-long :)
 Can you find the little car on the roller coaster? Does that ride look sturdy to you??
The crowds and the lights - although it was freakin' cold out the fair was well attended...
...no doubt because there were days or torrential rainfall and flooding during the past week.
 ...getting artsy fartsy :)
and again...
 ...the rides no longer tempt me like they used to. Getting off a ride dizzy and with a headache just doesn't do it for me anymore.  Yup, I'm officially getting old.
 After picking up a couple of free trees as part of a Reforest London project we headed home. Years ago I would have joined the long conga line to get Alan Frew's autograph but I preferred to get to the heat of Dougie the Dodge than to stand for hours shivering. Yes, my groupie days are long over too!

Friday, September 12, 2014

By the Numbers

I love "By the Numbers" posts, I don't know why I don't do them more often....

  • this is post #853
  • I have been home and living more gratefully in London for 30 days - PEI seems like a distant sweet dream
  • speaking of that Crofters Lane is up for sale for $10,000 more than what I originally paid for it
  • 7 - the number of days til I begin winging it across the big pond!!!
  • 6 -the number of flights I'll be on in total
  • 144 - the number of kms I'll be walking through the Cotswolds
  • +8c - the temperature in London!!
  • +19c - the temperature in the Cotswolds right now!
  • 5 - the number of times I've turned on the furnace this morning and heard nothing!! sigh....
  • 32 - the number of gigs in my new camera memory card = 1,000s of photos!!
  • 8:02am - the time I got up today...somehow I slept through my first alarm at 7:00am
  • 24 - how old my daughter will be on Sunday!
  • 20 - how old our cat is
  • 0 - the number of times I've dreamed about school since my "night before the first day of school dream"  :)
  • 1 -the number of Council of Canadians meetings I've gone to (first one last night!)
  • 2 - the number of times I've exercised in the last week - BOOOOOOOOO!!!
  • $350 - the amount of money I've spent this week on trip-related stuff & some groceries

Dear Diary: 
Went to my first meeting of the Council of Canadians last night - they are a politically active group that protest government bills that adversely affect the environment. My concerns relate to global warming and the loss of animal/bird habitats plus I'm going to join Julie in her efforts to rid London of plastic bottles of water.

Tomorrow I'm getting together with my brother, my sister-in-law and some cousins for a mini reunion in Aylmer. And then on Sunday I have a major hike - fast paced and a longer distance than usual. Today I'm thinking about going to the fair. A good old Canadian band "Glass Tiger" is playing. Several acts have been rained out this week but no rain today! 

But first I have to google "furnace won't start" to see if there's anything I can do before calling in the experts. Rats. Well, at least it's not snowing. Grrrrrrrrrr! That also means I'm going to have to clear the clutter out of the furnace room:(

Finished the book Kim gave me by Alistair MacLeod. WOW. Sometimes my brain gets stuck in the past - Kim and I have talked about that as it's a common trait in the family - we are a sentimental soppy bunch (most of us, not all). Anyway the book he gives me is about the MacDonald family who settled on Cape Breton Island back in the 1700's and their lives until the present. Talking about living in the past! My take away from this book is that remembering the past is important, an oral tradition that has been a way of connecting the many generations of a family and I shouldn't feel badly about "what was". "What was" informs the present. 

Many characters have the same name over the generations: Alexander MacDonald - there are about 10 Alexander MacDonalds over the many generations. One "live" Alexander even takes the place of an Alexander who dies. There are many messages in this book which I will go into more here. Kim knows how to pick a book that supports and helps to explain the way I am feeling. I have great brothers. And sisters. Family.

Now off to google :(

Thursday, September 11, 2014

The Wacky World of Weather

I didn't think to take any "weather" photos yesterday but then it would have been near impossible what with the constant downpour and heavy winds. 
Anyhoo, it would have looked like this!

And I was a little busy once I found that the living room was drenched because I hadn't closed the patio doors. Did I say drenched..... I think I meant soaked. I was busy wiping up floors and furniture and now have a lovely display of wet towels draped around the house. I may have to run the dryer as nothing hanging up is going to dry today. Silly me. I was sitting high and dry by my bedroom window glad I was safely indoors and thinking "boy, that wind is strong" all the while not realizing that strong westerly winds were blowing in through the patio doors. 

Oh well, it could always be worse. 

Here's what southwestern Ontario looked like all day yesterday. And today. Can I just point out however, that I am brilliant (accidentally) when it comes to "timing" - I pulled into my parking space yesterday just as a few little drops started appearing on my windshield. By the time I got myself and my packages into the house all HELL broke lose!! Dodged that one...sorta....Today it's only 13c!! Once again I am sitting by an open window and the breeze is freakin' COLD!! 

However....not quite THIS cold!! This is Alberta where winter arrived in summer! They've had over 6 inches of snow and it's still coming down and so are the tree branches. It's a mess out there and I'll take thunderstorms any day over snow.  Which is a good thing I guess since more thunderstorms are forecast and are heading eastward to all my maritime family and friends! 

Watch out!  You're welcome!

Dear Diary:
Brrrrrrrrrr! It's been a long time since I've seen the sun shine and my head is starting to feel the effects of that loss - pound, pound, pound. It's a whole +13c with more rain forecast for today but at least it's not snow like in Alberta.

I got a good bunch of my shopping done yesterday before the rain shut everything down. I went out to MEC and found 2 good pairs of hiking pants - one was on sale and was for "short" legged people like me. Then I found 2 long-sleeved tops, both on sale :) I also purchased 3 pairs of sock liners which worn under hiking socks is supposed to absolutely prevent blisters. I seem to have a major fear of blisters probably due to the fact that I seem prone to getting them. And I bought a "platypus" which is a flat plastic container for water which takes the shape of a bottle when filled. Easy to pack. 

Then off to the Bulk Barn where I purchased cashews, almonds, dates, peanuts, hazelnuts and chocolate covered ginger. Plus a box of CLIF granola bars and a whole bunch of carrot/apple/ginger thingies (like the fruit leathers I used to buy for Kazi before the dentist told me they were the worst things for children's teeth EVER!! (I mixed all the nuts, dates and chocolate covered ginger in a huge bowl and then filled 14 sandwich sized plastic bags. This is my trail food and quite possibly my lunch. My plan is to eat the free traditional English breakfast and then use my trail food to get me through til supper. I need more ways to get "ginger" into my day (for pain relief) so I may take some ginger tea bags and hopefully I can make a tea at the B&Bs I stay at. 

After that was Shoppers Drug Mart to pick up an item for Annie and a couple of things for myself - they had little first aid kits on sale for less than $4.00!! so I bought one for my backpack.

Lastly was Walmart where I bought a long sleeved black top for $7.00 (it's all about layering!) a travel purse (strap goes cross body so that the purse part hangs safely in front) to hold my passport, boarding pass etc - don't want to be rifling through my backpack. Also bought a luggage tag, got a new watch battery as I'll be checking my watch a LOT to make sure I'm on time for the train, tube, plane etc. Also bought 2 sizes of plastic bags to hold my trail food and other items that I'll want to keep dry (daily maps) and to put things in that might break in my suitcase - hydrogen peroxide etc. 

Figured out with the help of google last night how to change the resolution on my camera so I can take more pictures but will also buy another SD card just in case. The one I have is 4g but I think I'll also get an 8g. I'm not a shopper, I'm a picture taker and my worst nightmare would be running out of space on my camera for more photos!!

All that's left to do is lay in supplies for Tisky and get the SD card for my camera. Oh, and laundry...and packing...:)

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

My Pill Poppin' Journey

Over the years I've been on various medications for various troubles - from sleeplessness to acid reflux to depression to pain control etc etc etc.  Like the ninny I was I didn't argue with the doctor when he/she would prescribe a new medication - I was just grateful to be taking something that would help (hopefully) with whatever was currently bugging me. I'd say that over the past couple of years I've become more conscious and concerned about just popping another pill in my mouth and have started to consider alternatives.

Since I knew I was going to retire in June and that I would no longer have cushy expensive benefits (my choice - yikes - but still have OHIP) I decided I was going to wean myself off of the 3 drugs I was currently taking: over the counter ibuprofin in ridiculously high amount for pain, cipralex to help with menopausal symptoms especially anxiety and amitriptyline (also known as Elavil) which is an anti-depressant but was prescribed in a non-therapeutic dose to help my lower back pain.

Fun times.

1. Ibuprofin: I have a tendency to carry my stress in my shoulders, neck and head. I also have pain in my arms and hands due to overuse of computers. I have become adept at using a mouse with either hand (I'm ambi-mouse-trous) but then I just had pain in BOTH arms and wrists instead of one! Soooo I turned to organic anti-inflammatories instead of pills - ginger and turmeric. Every day without fail I add ginger and turmeric to my diet: I add fresh pieces to my drinking water plus I keep a pot on the stove in which I boil both to make tea. They can also be added to green drinks and smoothies. I reduced the amount of ibuprofin I was taking - sometimes as much as 1600mg daily down to zip - over the course of a few weeks - this was last spring. Now I rarely take any - I only reach for a pill if I need immediate relief and I feel it's an emergency. So very rarely. Maybe once or twice in the past 4 months. And yes, the fact that my doctor put me on "OTHER PILLS" to help protect my stomach from the ibuprofin was a huge factor in all of this. I have been 99% ibuprofin-free since March or April.

2. Cipralex:  Okay, this one was easy, I cannot tell a lie. I just stopped cold turkey. Back in April.

3. Amitriptyline: The story with this one is long and eventful, but not in a good way. I've been on this horrible drug (though at one time I thought it was miraculous!!) for close to 20 years!!! When Kazi was 3 I injured my back at work by trying to move a full 100 cup coffee maker from the back of a table to the front of the table. Gradually over the course of the day the pain steadily increased. To make a long story short I lived with chronic pain for years. I did physio of course, took the pain meds, went to the chiropractor frequently etc but nothing helped. (Let me just say here that I am very grateful my doctors never put me on any of those narcotic pain killers like oxycontin or percocet!! which are terribly addictive!!) 

At one doctor's visit my doctor said he'd read that amitriptyline in small doses helps about 3% of people with lower back pain would I like to give it a try. It HELPED; it was GLORIOUS! The RELIEF was incredible! The problem was that whenever I would stop taking it for a couple of days the pain came roaring back. Fast forward about 17 years to this past spring and I decided I would wean myself off once and for all. The ginger and turmeric were wonder foods and I was passionate about being pill-free and relying on foods and natural herbal remedies instead.

I did my research online about withdrawing from this drug but I didn't do ENOUGH research!! And my doctor was of no help whatsoever. Here's a clue for you - after having some MAJOR withdrawal symptoms I found an article that said withdrawing from amitriptyline is HARDER than withdrawing from heroin. I tried cutting my dose too quickly and had to admit defeat and up my dose once again. I started at 50mg and immediately cut to 25mg. Way too big of a drop. But I managed that ok and thought I really knew what I was doing. I didn't.

After a week or two on 25mg I just stopped taking any!!! Whoa - I kept a journal and let me tell you it was horrific. Full-blown allergy symptoms, nausea, dizziness, my head was a total fog, I couldn't think and I felt suicidal and anxious beyond belief. That's when I did more research and found the article mentioning heroin. So I went back on the 25mg pills and have been really slowly reducing my amount. I'm close to being finished now but it's taken several months.

Right now I'm cutting 10mg pills in half and taking one half every 3rd day. It's been a long journey and quite a brutal learning experience. Amitriptyline is NOT a cold turkey kind of drug. My doctor should have known more about it and advised me but basically it was all my research and all my decisions all the way through. I'm going to continue with 5mg every 3 days til after my trip and then I'll move to every 4 days, every 5 days and that's it. FINITO!!

Here's a link for more info on withdrawing from Amitriptyline. 

Dear Diary:
Getting a wee bit sick and tired of this cloudy weather. Blah..... Found out yesterday that my "hosts" will only move 1 suitcase daily from 1 B&B to the next B&B so am having to revise my plan. I was thinking 2 small suitcases instead of 1 large one. Which was a revision on the idea I could manage with just 1 carry-on. I just can't fit all that I need in one carry-on as I need to pack a backpack, extra shoes, water-proof pants, walking poles etc. So my plan now is that I will take one small suitcase which will be checked and will pack my backpack and use as my carry-on. Then the backpack will go with me on my hikes and my "hosts" will move my small suitcase daily. There's NO WAY I'm going to navigate trains and tubes with a huge suitcase. I think this will work out. Will do a trial packing today and what's what.

Today is a shopping day - I will get out (rain or not) and buy the last few things that I need. Just got a message that tonight's hike is cancelled due to the weather :( My daily exercise has suffered the past few days "due to weather".

Another family get together on Saturday with mega cousins again. Hope the weather improves by then!

Heard from the lawyer's office yesterday - they are mailing out cheques - one to discharge the mortgage and the rest coming to me - YAY!! There is such relief in being able to close the book on that sad chapter of my life. I only want to look forward not backward.

Tally ho!

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Lady of Leisure

 Somehow I don't think "lady of leisure" describes me very well. I'm always up to something. And this past Saturday that "something" was the basement.
I noticed the large TRASH BIN was back and I found out it's going to be there for the month of September as students and families move in and out. Brilliant! I wasn't planning on starting the basement quite yet but can't look a trash bin in the mouth! (Is that how the saying goes??)
About 12 years ago me, myself and I laid laminate flooring down in the basement. You didn't know I was so handy did you? It was a March break project - I cut some instructions out of a magazine, found some half price flooring and literally "got busy"!! The basement is home to our TV/exercise room, a furnace/work room, a laundry room and two storage areas and a reading nook.
I think I did a pretty good job overall. I also did the trim and baseboards and since I didn't know how to mitre the corners I used corner pieces for the baseboard but it looked nice I thought.
 BUT ever since the hot water tank broke down a couple years ago flooding the basement with an inch of water I worried that there might be mould under the laminate and underlay.
 So I've been waiting for the right moment to get started on this lovely project and what with the free bin to throw the flooring in I thought to myself - "THE TIME IS NOW!"
My tool of choice...plus I used a flat head screwdriver and a hammer and my amazing strength!
 The hardest part was finding a place to start. Once one board is removed it all starts to come up.
I had two shag area rugs I decided to toss too - they date back to when Kazi was in Gr. 11 and we had an exchange student from France stay with us for two weeks so they are 6-7 years old. I suppose that's not terribly old but I'm in a "out with the old, in with the new" kind of mood.
I ripped through the underlay thinking I was going to see black mould but all there was was the bare concrete floor. No mould behind the baseboards either. I'm very relieved.  Now could somebody put the laminate back in place please??
 Hah, just kidding, sort of...

You know vacuuming the underlay is a tricky business - the vacuum wanted to suck it all up so I switched to the vacuum brushy attachment and that worked better.
 Isn't the TV/exercise room lovely now? Such a nice floor. I haven't a clue what to put down there - suggestions?

 My old cat likes it better - she doesn't slip around on the underlay as much as she did on the laminate.
 The reading area is done....
and vacuumed.

It took many many trips up and down the basement stairs with arm loads of flooring and baseboards - I pulled Dougie the Dodge right up to my front door and loaded him up, then drove over to the bin and unloaded. A neighbour came over and helped me unload the first and largest load - thank you Clint!
 There's all my crap - it's going to get hauled away for FREE!! 
And Dougie, once again you came through big time! Who needs a man when they have Dougie the Dodge to help!?!  I mean look at him - isn't he lovely? He just sits there waiting patiently and quietly until I need him. The strong and silent type! Of course my back is feeling it and my right wrist is suffering from repetitive strain but those things won't last.

And so, the decision of what to put down for flooring in the basement will be scheduled for AFTER my trip - it's ok for now.

Dear Diary:
HAHAHAHA day off to a great start! Warmer this morning - +17c whereas yesterday morning it was freezing! No sunshine to speak of yet. The neighbour guy with all the dogs was outside laughing maniacally earlier - not sure why...other than he's weird! Yesterday did not go exactly as planned but then my days rarely do. I had it all sorted that I would get details of my trip figured out and then go for a bike ride to loosen up my stiff muscles but it took the whole freakin' day to find and print things like the London TUBE map and my train trip reference numbers for the 3 train trips I booked etc etc etc...not that I'm complaining Diary (yes, I am) but it was a long day sitting in front of the computer. Thanks to my friend Annie for booking another train trip for me as I didn't know which station I'd be leaving from after I visit her. Well, at least I know what an "Oyster" card is now:)

The detail that took the longest to sort out was how to get from the Norwich train station to my B&B which is in a small village a few miles away. I finally found a local bus line that goes "close" to where I'm staying so then I'll either walk the rest of the way (not far) or call a taxi (I found a phone number for one). 

Note to self: next trip will be much simpler - no zigzagging all over the damn place requiring multiple planes, trains, buses, tubes and taxis!!!

Today I am going to read all the pre-trip info that was sent to me by the "walking tour" people and make my final "to do" and "to buy" lists. Everything is pretty much paid for except my meals. Breakfast is included at all of my B&B's and I'm going to see if I can nab a few extra items from breakfast to eat for lunch - worth a shot. Then I only have to pay for dinner. I'm told everything is expensive over there. 

Then, if there is any time left I'll get out for a bike ride, oh, and if it isn't raining! At least I have leftovers for dinner so no planning required there. Last night's dinner of salmon, cauliflower and green onions was superb! Green onions just make everything taste better and mixing them with steamed cauliflower was to die for. But here I still am :) 
PS - finished "A Fatal Winter" - only 1 left in the series :(