Tuesday, 30 September 2014

What Happens in the Past...

My thirteen year old granddaughter delights in hearing stories about her mother’s teenage years. Her mother doesn’t.

As the family was gathered for dinner Sunday night a few stories were told about noisy neighbours and all night partying. My brother, who is a big guy and can look intimidating, used his physical presence to get the point across to the party-goers he was telling us about.

I laughed and said he could have called the police as my neighbours had done when my then teenage daughter had a party one night I was away. I did cover my granddaughter’s ears so I didn’t let out any family secrets.

As I related the story my daughter was adamant in her denial that it ever happened. After all, she said, “You’re cognitively impaired.”

I looked at her with surprise. She was right in what she’d said, and I had to laugh. I do have memory issues related to my MS, but sorry kiddo, it pertains to working, or short term memory, not long time, old memories.

We’ve all had to adapt our way of communicating, and my children have been very supportive with my memory issues. Supportive and comfortable enough to joke about it.

As my daughter said, laughing, she wasn’t admitting to anything and was using whatever was convenient to support her position of denial. It was a fun moment, a feel good moment that let me feel part of the group when I can so often feel separate.

Monday, 29 September 2014

Grist for the Mill

I’m baaaaack! After a week when I felt like I was in a creative lull, my mind is full of ideas and I feel a renewed energy to create. Maybe it was the turkey dinner last night.

Canadian Thanksgiving is officially two weeks from today, but my family celebrated yesterday since 10 out of our group of 14 were going to be at the same place, at the same time. It makes it easier, since our family is small, to have our holiday on an ‘off’ day as the kids’ in-law families are much larger and it makes the holidays easier on everyone. None of those either/or decisions.

As I was trying to sleep last night my mind wouldn’t settle and I had to grab pen and paper to make notes. I had a lot of blog ideas and didn’t want to lose even one to morning forgetfulness.

There were so many things running through my head, old memories inspired by conversations, new stories to share, and I thought every time people get together it’s all fodder for the mill.

What a strange old saying, I thought it was worth looking into. So this morning as I was about to Google the phrase I realized I had it wrong. Not fodder for the mill, but grist for the mill. Sometimes the auto correct in my brain is on a slow delay.

Grist to the Mill

Meaning: All things are a potential source of profit or advantage.

Origin: Grist is the corn that is brought to a mill to be ground into flour. In the days where farmers took ‘grist’ to the mill the phrase would have been used literally to denote produce that was a source of profit.

Okay, so I still didn't get the phrase right, but it all means the same thing. 

There is a mill in a village west of here that has been maintained and is used as an auction house. Another old mill is used by art groups for some 'en plein air' painting sessions. I remember such a painting of my mother's, done from a photograph rather than on site. And in the west end of Toronto there is a restaurant called The Old Mill that was beautifully restored and an interesting location for dining out.

It's a beautiful fall day, the air is warm, the sun shining bright, and it makes me want to 'day trip' along country roads. You never know what treasures you might find along the way.

Sunday, 28 September 2014

On a Whirl

It’s funny how time can get away from you when you have a few unforeseen events that throw off your usual daily routines.

It’s been a rough month, a lingering cold and cough, an abscessed tooth followed by an extraction, and of course my Mallet finger (torn tendon in my little finger that means I can no longer straighten the finger). It’s been years since I’d visited the after-hours clinic and I’ve had two visits this month.

I had a lot of down time and didn’t feel up to the demands of the book and contented myself with blogging, until this last week, obviously, as I haven’t posted since the 20th. I had been home with the cold and again after the dental procedure, and then had to start a course of antibiotics, but finally I was feeling some better, though I still felt like I’d had my stuffing knocked out.

Somehow, this past week, my social calendar got very full. Dinner at my son’s, cancelled the previous week, a birthday dinner at my daughter’s for my granddaughter’s 10th birthday. Then it was an out of town lunch with an old friend. The next day I was blessed to have that same granddaughter for the day, as she was home sick from school. Some planned events and a couple unexpected ones.

So it was a surprise on Thursday, at my regular lunch with my writer friend, when she commented that she wasn’t sure I’d be up for lunch out. I was confused. This was the same friend who brought me soup and lozenges in my cold phase this month and she well understands my health situation.

But still, I asked why, and she said I’d been silent and not posted all week, so she thought I was sick again. It didn’t dawn on me at the time, because in my mind I had been blogging a lot, until I looked at the calendar and realized she was right. Not only had I not blogged since last Saturday, I forgot all about it on Wednesday, my usual day to post.

That’s what a full social schedule gets you. I was so tired by Thursday night I looked forward to a few days of nothing. Then today was our early Thanksgiving dinner, turkey with the works, compliments of my daughter. It was nice to see all the kids and my brother and his wife, and now I’m tired and ready to for bed.
I’m hoping for a week of no plans, no social events, just some peace and quiet. I am a loner at the best of times and I do love my solitude, broken up occasionally with some social time. Last week it was no solitude and too much social.

I love my friends and family dearly, we just have to stagger our get-togethers better. So Wednesday came and went and I was totally unaware I’d missed my designated post day, I’ll do better in the future, I promise, or at least I’ll give it a good try.

Here's something funny. I posted this and saw I had done a posting on the 24th. It was one I had written the week before and scheduled for a later date, because...ha, ha. ha...I thought I was posting too frequently. sometimes you can't win for losing.  

Wednesday, 24 September 2014

Cell Phone Avoidance.

My children have been encouraging me to get a cell phone. They want to push me into modern times and I’ve been reluctant. I know there might come a time when I’ll regret this lack of initiative on my part, some time when I’m stranded on the side of the road somewhere.

I think they just want me to have something to do when we all get together for “social” time. I think that means talking and they think it means texting and Twitter.

I was talking to my daughter the other night and told her I’d get a cell phone if only for the camera. There are times I’d like to take a picture, I told her, which I could do with a phone because pulling out a camera to take the picture would be frowned upon.

She looked a little surprised, wondering what kind of photos I wanted to take. I explained.

“Sometimes I see something and it would be nice to have a picture of it, to refer to later.”

She looked at me in question. I frowned back at her. “Not what you think. I mean crafts, some craft or some artsy thing I might see and want a picture of. Thank you very much.”

She laughed and nodded.

Maybe one day I’ll get that cell phone, someday in the future, though I don’t think it’s likely.

Saturday, 20 September 2014


Dreams are funny things. Do you ever wake up from a dream with a moment of confusion as to what’s real and what was the dream?
I woke up early this morning, a moment of disorientation, heart pounding, so sure there was someone hiding inside my place, out of sight. I knew that wasn’t really happening but my body’s ‘flight-or-fight’ response was in full gear.

Whatever the dream had been about is long forgotten, but the impact of it had stayed, so I wrote about it to get it out of my mind, to calm myself...after I checked out all the hiding places of course. I’m not stupid; I’ve seen those horror movies. LOL

Here’s what I wrote in the early morning hours. Maybe I’ll make a short story out of it.

She woke suddenly, unsure what had disturbed her sleep, caused her to waken. The room was dark and still, the only light the soft glow of the streetlight that filtered through the drapes at the window.

She felt uneasy, knew any further sleep would elude her now. Her eyes darted around the room, but she could see nothing amiss, yet sensed something was very wrong.

Tossing back the covers she swung her legs over and sat on the side of the bed, cringing when her bare feet touched the cold wood floor. Why is it so cold, she wondered as she stood, her arms wrapped around her body for warmth.

She tiptoed her way across the room to the doorway looming dark in front of her. The silence was eerie, too silent she thought, as if the house was holding its breath. Such fanciful thinking, the house wasn’t a living thing, it didn’t breathe, so why did she sense its indrawn breath?

She made her way down the hall, her fingers trailing along the wall to guide her through the darker dark. When she ran out of wall, she almost laughed in relief. The living room was cast in shadows from the glow of the same streetlight, a brighter beam of light radiating across the floor from the partially open drapes.

A second shaft of light appeared where there should be nothing but darkness. The solid wood door she’d locked before retiring for the night stood open, the source of the cold draft. The chills she felt running up her back were not from the cold, nor were the goose bumps on her arms.

Her eyes searched the room, looking for anything, anyone, that didn’t belong. Heart pounding, she stepped back and reached out for the wall, needing the security of that touch, the wall at her back. All those horrible horror movie scenes were running through her head, confusing her.

Should she leave the house, run into the night, away from whatever danger had entered her house uninvited? Or should she close the door, lock it up tight, and hope she didn’t find herself trapped inside? For damn sure, if she heard a noise in the basement she wasn’t going down the stairs to investigate.

Later, I wrote more.

She heard the front door slam back against the wall and jumped, her heart racing, her body rigid with fear. Someone was entering her house, no longer making any attempt to mask his movements. What to do? What to do?

Her eyes shut tight, her hands fisted at her side, she waited in the dark, hoping he wouldn’t see her if she stayed still and didn’t move.

She could hear him moving about the room, heard something drop heavy to the floor. He was moving through the room, moving in her direction?
“Hey, Babe. What are you doing up?”
She opened her eyes and looked at her husband. “Lucas, what are you doing here?”

“I live here, or at least I did before I left for that business meeting.”

“Why did you leave the door open?”

“Because I forgot this in the glove compartment and went back for it,” he said. He started to hand her the silver gift bag he held in his hand, but held it back, out of reach. “Are you all right, you’re acting strange.”

“I’m just missed you and am so glad you’re home,” she said, wrapping her arms around her husband’s waist, snuggling in to his warmth. “The house never feels right when you’re not in it.”

Friday, 19 September 2014

Autumn in Ontario

A recent blog about the cool weather we’ve had this September garnered a response from a reader in San Diego, California, where the temperature has been steadily in the nineties. It made me think about how much I love autumn, and how much I’d miss the change of seasons if I lived in the south.

Though I could do without the winter and its unpredictability, I’d have to keep a white Christmas. This got me thinking about autumn and some of my favourite fall memories.

One of my favourite was the closing weekend at my in-laws’ cottage. In Canada our Thanksgiving is in early October when the weather is still quite nice, and this weekend is historically closing weekend for summer cottages, trailers and such.

The men would work to pull the boat, and the dock, from the water. It’s risky leaving the dock in when the lake will freeze. The pressure of the ice during the winter can push the dock up onto the shore causing much damage to both.

While the men worked the women prepared the Thanksgiving feast. Roast turkey with stuffing, mashed potatoes, peas, homemade cranberry sauce, and so more I can’t remember. My grandmother-in-law was a baker and her job was to make the pumpkin pies and the butter tarts.

My responsibility was apple pies, and I had to make two because of a difference of opinion with my father-in-law. I said apple pie with cinnamon; he said nutmeg, so it was one of each. 

My brother-in-law started a tradition of having a half slice of each kind of pie. I remember the first time he asked and other voices immediately spoke up claiming the other half of each of his slices. The pies were all cut in smaller pieces after that to accommodate.

The cottage wasn’t very big, the table lucky if it sat six, so card tables were set up for the kids. I remember the jokes with my brother-in-law (same one) who never seemed to graduate to the adult table, but preferred entertaining the next generation as he reigned over the kids table.

We’d rake leaves into huge piles that the kids would jump into, scattering them over the yard once again. And after dinner we’d take a long walk along the shore, enjoying roadside visits with neighbours we’d not see until spring.

Those were good times. The cottage was sold after my father-in-law’s passing, and the family is now scattered. But always, there are the memories.

Thursday, 18 September 2014

Toes Woes

One of the best things about spring is being able to shed the boots and heavy shoes, then with summer it’s sandal weather and bare feet. Yeah!!!!!!

But now summer is over, by the way the weather has changed if not by the actual calendar, and you know what that means. It’s been cold, and damp, and my feet are freezing.

My first step was to wear my slippers around the house. They’re a slip on with a sheepskin type lining. But soon they were not enough. Next I went to those slipper socks, the ones that are big and loose, but warm.

The nights have been cool and I refuse to put the heat on this early, seems silly when I open the windows during the day to put the heat on at night, but that’s just me. So I wear my slipper socks to bed and am quite comfortable.

The days are cooler now and I’m still wearing my crocs, the $5 pair I bought at Walmart early last spring. They are so comfortable, but now I’m faced with...dare I say it...crocs and socks? Is that as bad a fashion faux pas as socks and sandals?

I had to dig through my drawers to find my regular socks, and when I go out today I’ll still wear my crocs, black and black, so not quite so blatant. I’m just not ready for the running shoes that will seem so heavy and confining, my toes feeling claustrophobic.

Aren’t there some lyrics that go “Seasons change and so must we...” I guess it’s inevitable, spring into summer, summer into fall, and fall into winter. Socks into sandals, sandals into shoes, shoes into boots.

I guess I’ll shut up and wear the damn socks, it’s better than the alternative, an early winter and snow boots.

Mind Over Magnets?

Last year, after the move, I struggled to walk because of lower back pain. It was the reason I saw an Occupational Therapist and eventually got a walker.

I don’t use the walker all the time, definitely from the house to the car (it carries my groceries so a plus). If I have a cart to lean on in the store I use my cane to get to and from the store. My system seems to work, finally after a year my back has improved and though I’m not entirely pain free, it is at its worst only if I have to lift something or have to stand too long.

The funny thing is, I didn’t realize how much my pain had been reduced until it hit me full force this morning, once again making it difficult to walk, a struggle to stand. The memory of all that pain came back and I was discouraged.

Then I realized I wasn’t wearing my magnet bracelet. I put it on immediately and within the hour, with a bit of exercise to “walk it off” (meaning I took the garbage out) it eased and tonight I’m back to status quo.

I got curious and did some research. Magnet strength is described in terms of gauss or tesla. A tesla is the equivalent of 10,000 gauss. Magnets used for treatment have a higher magnetic strength than typical magnets i.e. refrigerator type magnets. Therapy magnets are in the range 200-10,000 gauss, a frog magnet usually 200 gauss.

Apparently magnet therapy is big business, with annual sales in the U.S. of more than $500 million annually. I can understand why, when I read the list of conditions that magnet therapy is supposed to help. Most are painful conditions like arthritis, fibromyalgia, chronic fatigue syndrome, carpel tunnel, diabetic neuropathy, migraine and even painful periods.

They even stated on WebMD that magnet therapy helps in diseases like multiple sclerosis, Parkinson’s, OCD and PTSD.

I’ve written about magnet therapy before, joked about the fact I paid $2.99 for my bracelet, and that I wear it wrong side out, as the ‘right’ side had Canadian flags on each rectangular bead. I think I might look at some better bracelets, ones made for medicinal purposes, like the athletes wear. One that is waterproof so I don’t have to take it off and risk forgetting to put it back on.

As I was reading I found that magnet therapy is used for weight loss, but not as a bracelet. Sigh. I must be wearing the pain control bracelet, and now I need the weight loss necklace.

My neighbour had a painful ankle and wrapped her magnet necklace around it and got relief. I have a friend who wears one at her lower back when driving. Another friend who wears a bracelet on each wrist as she knits a good portion of each day.

Years ago I wouldn’t have believed it, but I was young, active and basically pain free. When you get older, you’re ready to try anything that will help make your day more comfortable.

My mallet finger tends to ache, I wonder if I can get a magnet pinkie ring?


Wednesday, 17 September 2014

More From Laura Secord

As I was reading through the Laura Secord Canadian Cookbook the other day, for a recipe for my blog, I noticed it wasn’t hard to discern which were the favoured ones, I just had to look for the soiled pages.

I found this recipe for Hungarian Goulash, and decided to share, just to prove I cook more than cakes, cookies and candy.

Here’s the blurb: “Quite naturally, this recipe for Hungarian Goulash came from Saskatchewan as, prior to the October. 1956 rebellion in Hungary, the largest concentration of citizens of Hungarian descent could be found in the Qu’Appelle Valley in that province.

Cut into 1-inch cubes
2 pounds boneless stewing beef
or 1 pound each boneless stewing beef and veal
Brown well on all sides in hot fat.
Sprinkle with
5 to 6 tablespoons all-purpose flour
And brown again slightly.
Stir in
2 teaspoons salt
1 teaspoon paprika
1 teaspoon caraway seeds
Pinch of pepper
1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
1 medium onion, sliced
3 ½ cups water
Cover, and simmer for 2 hours, or until meat is tender.
Just before serving, stir in
½ cup thick dairy sour cream
Serve over cooked noodles. Makes 4 to 6 servings.


Tuesday, 16 September 2014

FedEx finals

The Tour Championship by Coca Cola finished on Sunday, and the winner, Billy Horschel, walked away with the big prize. He earned the 2500 points for winning one of the other playoff tournaments, which took him from something like 62nd to the top five going in last Thursday. With the win on the weekend, he had enough points to take the whole enchilada.

Billy went home with $1.4 million for the tournament, and $10 million for the FedEx Cup. Not bad for someone who was a relative unknown. Congrats to him, but it was a disappointing tournament in some ways.

Okay, Jim Furyk who, I believe, has not won in years, gave him a run for the money and finished second. And Rory McIlroy who looked good, had a less than stellar day and ended up third. FedEx speaking, they still walked away with millions.

Millions. Hard to imagine. I looked up some figures, just for interest sake. And because I like numbers.

Top two guys, career earnings, Tiger Woods, no surprise, at $109,612,414 and second place is Phil Mickelson at $75,298,510. Quite a difference.

Our FedEx winner had earnings of $4, 814,787, including the Tour Championship, but not the $10 million. All the talk about how this win will change his life, how much he can do for his family etc. seems a bit ludicrous, as if they were homeless and hungry living on a measly $3 plus million.

And poor Jim Furyk who doesn’t win, plays well enough to have taken third place in YTD earnings at $5,987,395. Wouldn’t we all like to be a loser like Jim.

I’ll admit when I first started watching golf a few years ago I felt bad for these guys who were out there playing, but never winning. Until I saw the money list.

Year to Date Earnings 2014 season, there are 96 players who earned more than one million.
 That’s a lot of money, and though I’ve lost some sympathy for guys who don’t win, at the same time I have to respect the players who go back again and again, trying to be a winner, for success is measured in wins. If it wasn’t, you wouldn’t hear the ongoing talk about players who have never won a major.

It’s not an easy career choice, they have to love the game, love the competition. They’re kind of like the mailmen who go on and on no matter what. You know, all that neither rain nor sleet, injuries and losses will keep them away from their dream, hoisting that winner’s trophy on Sunday.

Monday, 15 September 2014

Another Multitasking Oops

I was getting ready to go out the other day, leaning over the sink brushing my teeth. I stood and reached for my watch and a big dollop of toothpaste landed in the middle of my chest. Oops.

I immediately thought of an old friend and laughed. I worked with C.M. for almost ten years, more than fifteen years ago. It was not uncommon that I would be in a meeting with her and notice a white spot on her top, near the shoulder. I remember pointing it out to her one day and she just nodded her head and said “its toothpaste”.

“Toothpaste?” I said, and wondering how she could get toothpaste on her clothes like that, I asked.

Apparently she was big into multitasking...working wife and mother, busy morning routines to get everybody off to school and work. I found that scenario incredible, not the busy Mom, the pack’em up, move’em out kind of morning, but the walking about doing other chores while brushing your teeth.

My habit is to lean over the sink, usually on one elbow, and remain that way until the task is complete. I don’t stand up straight, I don’t move about. That plop of toothpaste on my shirt the other day was not the first time that had happened.

I’ve learned I need to be over the sink, as I admit I’m a frothing at the mouth, messy brusher. I prefer the toothpaste that drips not land on my clothes, especially if I’m dressed to go out. As it is I usually have to wipe drips off the back of my hand or the counter, in addition to rinsing out the sink.

I like these little snapshots of the past, these pleasant memories of people I once knew and am no longer in touch with. It was a feel good moment.

Sunday, 14 September 2014

Step into Autumn

Summer is nice but I absolutely love Autumn. The air has a different feel, a different smell, and even though fall is a prelude to the end of the year and winter, I have always felt it was a beginning.

The kids are back in school and all those groups and activities that break for the summer are starting up again. Some of my fall feelings are more memory that actuality, it’s my grandchildren returning to school, and I’m not much of a joiner so have no groups to go back to.

I remember when the kids were younger and the schools offered night school classes in different hobbies and interests. That was when I first took up pottery, a course I took every year so I had access to the kiln and the studio. Then there was macramé, sewing, and let’s not forget the ceramics.

Family and friends always knew what hobby I was into by the home made gifts they received. That’s a habit I still have, making things for people, but I’m pretty well limited to knit and crochet now.

Living in a small town, fall is the season for the country fall fairs. Almost every weekend there’s a fall fair being held, just a nice country drive away. Our town doesn’t do a fall fair as we have a big Waterfront Festival on the July long weekend, but most of the neighbouring towns do.
I love a drive in the country at this time of year, to see the colours change on the trees, to stop at roadside stands for the last of this year’s harvest.

I love the smell of burning leaves. Not much for physical labour I would take one day at minimum to rake leaves and watch them burn. There’s something calming, something...I don’t know what exactly, but I love to stand by that pile of leaves, tending the fire, poking at it, raking more leaves in to feed the flames, smelling that smell that’s more than smoke. Old memories, and activities lost to the young as you need permits to have an open fire etc., etc.

Never have tried one, but I like to see the Corn Mazes spread across the field, another sign of fall.

And last, I love that fall is apple picking time, as there’s nothing better than a house filled with the smell of apples baking in a pie, a cake, a tart, whatever, especially with the added taste and aroma of cinnamon.

I need to call my friend and see if she’s up for a day trip. I want to buy some apples and bake.

Saturday, 13 September 2014

Laura Secord

The Google Doodle tells us today is the 239th birthday for Laura Secord. I know she is a famous historical figure from Canadian history but I’m not familiar with the reason why.

I googled it and found that Laura Secord was born in 1775 and died in 1868. She was a heroine of the War of 1812, known for walking 20 miles through American-occupied territory to warn the British of an impending American attack.

It was many years before she gained any recognition, and has since had books written of her walk in 1813, had schools named after her and other such accolades of remembrance.

I don’t remember her name for anything but chocolate. In the mall close to my home growing up there was a Laura Secord Chocolate store, an eye catcher for any kid. There were glass cases filled with chocolates, and shelves of their famous black boxes with the name and a cameo representation of Laura Secord. I know I purchased many a birthday or Mother’s Day gift in that store. As of February 2010, there were more than 120 stores across the country and Laura Secord is still known as Canada’s largest and best known chocolatier.

The other reason I remember Laura Secord is my cookbook, The Laura Secord Canadian Cook Book. I’ve had this book for more than thirty years, I think, but there is no publication date in the actual book to verify. Some of my most favourite recipes come from this book.

The book was interesting to read as each recipe gives some of the history for when and where the recipe was introduced. I’m going to share the recipe for Fredericton Walnut Toffee, as it was a traditional Christmas treat in our house and a favourite of the kids.

Here’s the history blurb: This brittle toffee was traced to a cook book printed in London, England, in 1735. The book, or at least the recipe, must have been brought to this country by the English settlers; for it has become a Christmas Day favourite in the area around Fredericton, New Brunswick.

Butter a 9-inch pan thoroughly.
Spread in pan ½ cup walnut pieces
Mix together in heavy fry pan 1 1/3 cup lightly packed brown sugar
                                                1 cup butter
Cook over medium heat (keep mixture bubbling), stirring constantly for 12 minutes.
Pour toffee mixture quickly over nuts.
Sprinkle over hot toffee 3 squares semi-sweet chocolate, grated (or one chocolate bar broken in pieces)
As chocolate melts, spread until smooth. Sprinkle with chopped nuts.
Chill, and break into pieces.

Happy birthday Laura.

Final Leg of the FedEx Cup

We’re two days in, the final of four tournaments leading to the award of the FedEx Cup and the $10,000,000 prize. From this point on there will much conjecture on winning scenarios, based on the standing of each player as the tournament proceeds.

They say the ideal position was to be in the top five going in, and to win this weekend. I watched the game on television yesterday and was pleased to see the PGA has a new electronic board to display the different possibilities.

I remember watching last year as the commentator did the calculations on a white board, and saw him at times struggle to do the math, in his head, on camera, live. Would have been much easier if he were dealing with round numbers, but that’s not the way the numbers add up when earned in decreasing ratios with the players placement.


What a disappointment it would be to win this final tournament, and the points earned still leave one short of the leader. Win the tournament but lose the Cup and the big prize.

There’s a whole new crop of players that I’m not familiar with, and some of the ones I have followed for the past few years have fallen back in the pack. I wouldn’t mind if Rory McIlroy won this year, I always felt he got cheated of the prize a couple of years ago. I also like Jason Day but he’s out of the Top 5, and those in the top would have to play poorly over the next two day and Jason win for him to win it all.

There’s an old saying “What goes around, comes around” or maybe it’s “reap what you shall sow” but I have to admit feeling the peg Patrick Reed has been taken down is karma for past bad behaviour. It’s good to have confidence, but to be so egotistical as to place himself in the World’s Top 5 on the basis of his 2nd PGA win, to imply he was better than almost everyone else, was to put upon himself the burden of proof. He made the comment and then he had to defend it. Unfortunately for him he’s fallen far from the top during these final weeks of play.

One of the commentators made a statement at the time, something about it’s okay to have confidence and that kind of belief in yourself, but it was wrong for him to verbalize it and leave himself open to criticism throughout the remainder of the year. And that’s just what happened. His post win interview has been played over and over again, but maybe that’s all Patrick cared about, the notoriety.

The series of tournaments have had their funny moments that will not be forgotten, like Phil Mickelson hitting his ball, not once, but twice, off the artificial turf in the hospitality area. And yesterday there was Rory McIlroy’s ball landing in a spectator’s pocket after hitting the trees. I see a Blooper type show in the making.

When all is said and done on Sunday there’s a two week hiatus, just enough time for the excitement to build about the Ryder Cup. This tournament has a different vibe, pairings and individual games, with all points tallied for their teams representing either country (for the US players), or...continent, I guess, for the European players.
After that the golf season is basically over and done, just in time for hockey, or in my brother’s case, football and then hockey, a mixture of them both. He is his father’s son.

Friday, 12 September 2014

The Pain of Alzheimer's Disease

This past week my sister-in-law lost her mother, though in many ways they lost her years ago. Her mother had Alzheimer’s disease, and she had long since lost those aspects of her personality that made her who she was.

Alzheimer’s is a disease of the brain demonstrated by progressive signs of mental impairment. This disease takes over the mind, altering personality and character, as if exchanging the one known and loved with a total stranger. Day by day their loved one changes until there are only traces remaining of the person they once knew.

As the disease progresses, the brain is damaged  more and more, moods, attitudes, memories and other facets of personality deteriorate until the person everyone knew is gone.

In the beginning, it is usually memory problems that are recognized. Forgetting important dates, numbered things like addresses and phone numbers. Maybe the person recognizes faces, but forgets names. And maybe they go somewhere like a store and can’t remember why they were there.

These initial episodes are devastating, for the afflicted person knows something is wrong, but are unable to make sense of any of it. Forgetfulness or memory loss is usually the first sign, and the reason people seek medical assistance.

We are defined by our specific personal experiences. Everything we do is built on what went on before, our occupation, hobbies, interests and relationships. Imagine not being able to recall the details of your life.

Memory is the ability to retain or recall thoughts, images, ideas, and experiences...anything previously learned. It can be divided into ‘working’ memory, and the more widely known, short term and long term memory, and is too complicated a subject for me to delve into.

Memory loss is only one symptom, one of a larger picture of cognitive decline that include reasoning and calculating, the inability to learn, difficulties with language and communication.
Other common symptoms include self-neglect, spatial disorientation, and behavioural and personality changes.

Loving, and living with, someone with Alzheimer’s is a sad and painful experience, one presenting with constant challenges. As a nurse I worked with many Alzheimer patients, and their families, and saw first-hand the toll it took on the family.

Not only is it a case of living with the unknown, as the course of the disease is unpredictable, it’s living with an ‘unknown’, as the afflicted person becomes a stranger, their behaviour confusing and often very unlike their former self.

I always thought that with the loss of memory, the loss of personality, the Alzheimer patient is beyond the kind of pain the family are constantly facing. They live in the moment, no past and no future, it’s the family who remember what was, what is no more and will never be again.

For my sister-in-law, with her mother’s passing, I hope she and the family are able to find some peace. They can mourn the loss of their mother, with a sense of finality, as they’ve mourned for years the loss of her spirit and the true essence of her being.

Remember the good times, and cherish the memories.

Thursday, 11 September 2014

To My Daughter, the Minimalist

Minimal: adj of or being a minimum, constituting the least possible.

Minimalism: n type of design characterized by simplicity of form and arrangement.

According to the above definitions, a minimalist is someone who likes to keep things simple, who does not collect, and heaven forbid...would never hoard.

My daughter is one of those people. She constantly cleans out closets and cupboards, only keeps, not collects, the bare minimum of items, each having some personal meaning or purpose.

It goes without saying she is not a crafts person. I am a crafts person and I have a collection of ribbons, yarn, beads, paint, paper...need I go on.

My daughter has found my finger injury to be quite humorous, and is constantly giving me the raised pinkie, the high-tea-this-is-how-you hold-your-tea-cup gesture.

I threatened on Facebook, when I was posting about my finger mishap, that I was going to start drinking my tea from a cup and saucer, would actually start a collection and save them all...for her.

Here's a start, and in purple, her favourite colour.

Wednesday, 10 September 2014

Your Most Interesting Books

I receive regular E-mails from Writer’s Digest, the magazine, which is an excellent source for writers. I know many of the messages are to sell me something, like books or tutorials, but there are also many articles of interest.

The article about the ten most interesting books you’ve ever read made me think. Think, because titles didn’t come rushing into my mind. Maybe that’s because, for the most part, I read contemporary fiction rather than literary. There’s no Grapes of Wrath or To Kill a Mockingbird on my list. But there are some nonfiction books of note.

Here's the link to the original article.

And here’s my list, for what it’s worth. What would be on your list?

Magnificent Obsession by Lloyd Douglas. My father used to read this book once a year, and I was curious, so I had to read it for myself, and then I understood. It’s a good story about how one lives their life, decisions they make, and the outcomes.

Choices by Shad Helmstetter, who also wrote The Self-Talk Solution, both self-help books, old but still meaningful.

As I’m big on self-help I also read Self Matters by Dr. Phil. I did the work that the book wants you to do, gained an understanding and acceptance for past events, so a worthwhile read.

Many years ago, before I started writing, I was an artist. Well, I’m still an artist but it’s taken a backseat to the writing. I had a spell where I couldn’t paint, seemed to have all my creativity. The painter’s equivalent to writer’s block. A friend gave me a copy of The Artist’s Way by Julia Cameron. This book also makes you work for success. It takes you through a process that was very successful, for me at least, as I started to paint again. It’s a book you can go back and visit, and is still helpful and inspiring.

When I moved last year I had to downsize and that meant getting rid of some of my books. I can hear you book collectors shrieking. “How could you?” It wasn’t easy, but I had to consolidate 6 bookcases into 4, and leave room for some electronics. I’m sorry, but it had to be done.

So, I’m sitting here looking at my bookcases, at the books I saved, the must have books and am trying to decide which are the most important.

The Sounds of Silence, an anthology of poetry by the National Library of Poetry, includes my first published poem.

My daughter called on day and asked what I was doing, and I replied “Reading the dictionary.” She didn’t get it. I find words very interesting, words that I would use in my art work, words that might inspire a poem, just the meanings of words. So I add Webster’s Dictionary to my list.

I don’t have any one book to add to the list, but rather some favourites by my favourite authors. To round out my list.

Nora Roberts, some of my faves are Chasing Fire, The Collector, The Search, Tribute and Birthright. Alex Kava, any of the Maggie Odell series. J.D. Robb, also known as Nora Roberts, best read from the beginning of the series, which I’ve done more than once.

I save books to reread, and have read more than once many of the books on my shelf. I sometimes read according to mood, for when I need a cry, when I want something more lighthearted, or because I need inspiration to create by reading about other artists.

Books are like good friends, always there for you to support and entertain, in good times and bad.

Monday, 8 September 2014

Mallet Finger

I wrote yesterday about the injury to my little finger. I wore the splint all night and this morning, but when I took it off the finger was still bent at a right angle at the distal (farthest) joint and I thought the whole finger was swollen.

I tried to crochet, but had to take the splint off as the yarn kept getting caught. I know, what else did I expect? Working without the splint was still problematic due to pain, which is the reason I decided to seek medical attention and actually see a doctor.  I mean, if there was a simple treatment, why not have it treated, especially if it meant I didn’t have to put up with chronic pain.

The doctor knew what it was immediately. “That’s Mallet Finger,” he said.

“What?” I replied.

The official explanation: Mallet Finger is an injury to the extensor digitorum tendon at the distal interphalangeal joint that results in hyperextension of the joint. It usually occurs when a ball, while caught, hits an outstretched finger and jams it. The trauma results in a ruptured or stretched extensor tendon.

“What?” I repeated.

These injuries can be seen in baseball, basketball and volleyball. That sounds better than to say I hurt my finger trying to go to the bathroom while talking on the phone. Read yesterday’s blog for the whole story, with pictures.

Funny, but I can remember having sore fingers when I was in high school and I played basketball and volleyball. My fingers might have been painful and swollen, but still looked normal. My Dad used to call it a stoved joint. I don’t know why.

The difference between then and now, I guess, is that I stretched the tendon before, mobility remained intact, and this time I’ve torn or ruptured it and have lost the ability to straighten that joint. Here’s some old nurse type explanation, flexion is bending fingers into a fist, extension is stretching fingers out straight. So I can still curl that finger in, but I can’t straighten it past the point of injury.

I guess I’m going to have to live with a crooked finger. The treatment is to wear a splint for at least 6 weeks, constantly, to never let that joint bend, with no guarantee that the treatment will work. As the doctor said, if it was a thumb or an index finger it would be worth the effort, but for a pinkie, on my left hand, once the swelling goes down I probably won’t even notice it.

Since I’ll have this “deformity” for the rest of my life, I think I’ll have to come up with a better story for how it happened. The truth is just too bizarre.

Sunday, 7 September 2014

The Dangers of Multitasking

I had been up and was back to bed, sound asleep when the phone woke me. It was my daughter calling to ask if I needed anything from the store.

As I have not been out of the house for more than a week, suffering with a change of season cold, my shopping list was long. I decided I needed to go myself and made plans to have her pick me up.

You know how when you wake up, the first thing you have to do is go to the bathroom. That urge hit and I carried the phone into the bathroom to continue our conversation. We are family.

I thought the plus to wearing sleep pants is the lack of buttons and zippers, and figured I could manage to get my pants down with ease. I did, on the right side, but not the other because I was holding the phone, still talking.

I hunched up my left shoulder to hold the phone next to my ear and reached to pull my pants all the way down when...somehow...I caught my little finger, twisted it, bent it, whatever, and felt a sharp jab of pain.
When I looked at it the last joint of my finger was fixed at a 90 degree angle, and I couldn’t straighten it. We continued to make our plans, I continued to pee, and an hour later she picked me up.

The normal and the abnormal (left) little fingers..
I showed her my finger, still bent like a royal about to sip her tea, and we all laughed. I showed her how I could manually straighten it, but it would return back to the bent position. I could move it, with some pain, but not like I figured I’d have felt if it was broken.

Later,we were in the check-out line, laughing about my weird finger when my daughter decided maybe it was just jammed, a great medical term, and she...we...should just yank on it, another good word for the medical treatment she performed on me...in Walmart.

We laughed and laughed, because it was funny, and luckily for me, it didn’t really hurt. I said we should make our own Walmart video, or at least take a picture, so she did.

By the time we left the store my finger was starting to hurt, and to swell...stupid me for letting her pull on it. I could still straighten it, but it would bend again. And damn I need that finger when I crochet.
So I went to the ER, talked to the nurse who gave me a splint, as we agreed I must have injured the ligament or something.

So, now I’m wearing a splint, awkward as hell. Last time I looked at it, it’s still bent, still swollen with a large bump at the joint. I’ll see how it looks in the morning; I may still need some medical attention.

Right now, it aches. I feel stupid and don’t want to explain again today how I managed to hurt my finger. Somehow, I don’t think saying I did it talking on the phone will be believed.

Thursday, 4 September 2014

A Friend in Deed

I recently wrote about a joke I played on a friend of mine. She’s an avid “Dr. Who” fan and on the night of the season premier I called, at 7:58 p.m., with a supposed computer problem. The joke was on me, she didn’t have to make excuses for not talking, as she didn’t pick up.

My friend and I laughed about this, for she was home that night, getting her supper ready, and had let my call go to voice mail, only I didn’t leave a message. She found out it was me when she read my blog. Maybe she would have answered the phone if she knew it was me...probably only long enough to say if I wasn’t dying, she’d call me the next day.

I’ve been battling a cold since Sunday and am sick to death of coughing. My throat hurts, my chest burns, and my muscles ache. It was so bad yesterday I had to hold my head every time I coughed for fear it would split open with the pressure.

It’s much worse at night, in the quiet hours. As soon as I lie down flat, I cough and cough and cough. I don’t want to bother my neighbours, because no matter how well I think my building is insulated, annoying things like a cough can echo and bother everyone.

Last night I was in bed early, then up coughing, so I watched the tennis. Then I tried bed again and slept for an hour...cough, hack, hack. Up again, I played on the computer but was so tired my eyes were fuzzy. Back to bed with the pillows stacked high and my head and chest elevated, I finally got a few hours of sleep.

Today is my usual day out with my writing buddy, the Dr. Who fan. I called to cancel, but hinted if she wanted to stop by with tea and some cough drops or throat lozenges, it would be greatly appreciated.

Stop by she did, armed with our favourite soup combo from Tim’s, where we usually lunch on Thursdays, and a bag of canned soup and not one, but three varieties of cough/throat lozenges. I appreciated the company, and boy, did that soup hit the spot. I’ve been eating whatever was handy and required no cooking, and was sick of cheese, cold meat, and yogurt.

So, thanks Carol, for being there when I needed some assistance and friendly conversation.

Now I think I’m in need of a nap, but if I start coughing I don’t need to fret, I have another friend close at hand, Fisherman’s Friend, for the relief of sore throats, nasal congestion, and coughs due to colds.

Wednesday, 3 September 2014

Pithy Paragraphs

I love to read, and reread, and the books I’ve accumulated on my bookcase I’ve read over and over again. When I’m looking for something to read, but have nothing new that seems to interest me, I reread a book I have on hand, one I chose to suit my mood.

Sometimes, I’m feeling sad, and let a sad story partner my mood, hoping when the book is done, with a happy ending of course, my mood will be brighter.

When I was painting more, I always enjoyed a story about artists, no matter the medium. It never fails to get me back in a creative frame of mind.

I recently picked up a couple of books by a favourite author, and struggled to get to the end. I couldn’t understand this. I have a number of books on my shelf by this author, and yet here I was reading some of her newer work and I was pushing myself to complete it.

Then I picked up a James Patterson novel and read it start to finish, as I have other of his books, and suddenly realized one of the differences between these two writers. Paragraph length.

James Patterson writes with short paragraphs and very short chapters. I find this easier to read, and as I’ve had some visual issues, I like that I can always find my place, and can track across the lines with ease. 

I looked at the other author’s book and noticed the paragraphs were long, often only two to a page, and I would lose my way, often skipping to the end of the paragraph.

When I write, I write as I like to read. With short paragraphs, and I try for uniform chapter length, though as the action increases at the end of a murder story, my chapters get shorter.

I found the following writing tip on Pinterest, specifically Brian’s Writing Tip # 12, titled “Make More Paragraphs” and I realized why my reading choices had changed...eye-crossing, unbroken text.

This is just one of a number of writing tips written by Brian Wasko, founder of WriteAtHome.com.

Tuesday, 2 September 2014

Potted Plants, Dead and Dying

When I moved in this place last June the garden along the outside wall was wild and unruly. Because I did something to my back during the move, I let it go, but kept it on my To-Do List for another time.

I’m not much of a gardener, can only name the obvious plants, so I need to keep it simple. I found it very annoying last summer when my friend and my son and his wife would look at the garden and rhyme off all the varieties of plants growing there. I knew there were Tiger Lilies, a favourite of mine, and once the bush bloomed I knew I had a peony. Oh, and I know what Hosta looks like. The rest I was pretty clueless about.

This spring my son dug the garden out, took all the plants home, and left me one Hosta. So it didn’t get lonely he brought in three more from his garden, and I was set. I like an art garden, with statuary and lots of green, more than I like flowers. I have wrought iron trellises, an obelisk, and a gazing ball. Oh yeah, and a ceramic bird sitting on a chair.

When I want colour I do it in pots, and set them by my door. I have two stands, wrought iron, made to hold potted plants. I set them by my door, and for awhile the plants thrive. That ‘awhile’ being right after they come from the store.

I suppose it would be different if I had the kind of porch or deck that offered some privacy, a spot to enjoy a morning coffee, or my ideal, a place to sit where I could write or read. I don’t have a spot like that, where tending plants would be a pleasure because I could sit and enjoy their beauty.

I have potted plants to make the entry look nice. But I only really look at them as I come and go, and I’m very much a homebody. The problem is, pots have to be watered, where plants in the ground can survive with little tending.

I learned years ago that the potted plants you buy can’t survive the summer without being fed. The soil they’re potted in doesn’t have enough real soil and nutrients to last the season.
The thing is, I’m not out every day, in fact on hot days I never stick my head out the door. So, on hot days, when I don’t see the pots to remember, my pots don’t get watered. It’s that ‘out of sight...out of mind’ kind of thing. They must be hardy, because they’ve survived rotating times of drought, with times of flood.
I’ve pulled them back from the brink a couple of time, by deadheading and most likely overwatering, and giving them some extra feedings. But, right now, they look a bit rough. Leaves all brown and curling, shrivelled up blooms, and they’re awfully leggy. Petunias gone wild.

I’m glad I got them through to September, and with the cooler weather these plants will be reaching their expiry date. Maybe it’s time to change seasons in my garden. Out with the petunias and in with the mums.
Works for me.

I never did put the potted plants on the tree stump, leftover from when they cut the tree down this spring. I waited because I was told they were going to get rid of the stump, but guess what, they were wrong. Found this picture, I wonder where I can find a bucket like that?

Monday, 1 September 2014

Boys Will Be Boys

My son and his family were away camping this week, and for a few days, were joined in the woods by my daughter and her family. Four adults, seven kids and two dogs, lots of fun, sun and fresh air.

There wasn’t anything to do there but hike, swim, fish and enjoy Mother Nature.

I bet the house felt a little confining when my daughter arrived home on Saturday. Still a little bit of that out in the wild feeling making the kids...wild. That must be why my six year old grandson attempted to jump down the short flight of stairs (5 steps in a backsplit house) from the main level to the family room.

He got full points for the jump, for clearing the stairs, but lost out on the landing.

He must have landed hard on the one foot, and yesterday he complained of pain and was unable to fully weight bear. The result of such folly was a mother/son bonding session in the local Emergency department. It was determined he had bruised the foot, and fortunately there was no fracture.

Good thing for him hockey camp is over and it was still 2 days until the start of school.

Boys will be boys, and then they grow up to be...bigger boys.