Tuesday, January 17, 2017

Dark as the Grave

Hello darkness, my old friend,
I've come to talk with you again,
Because a vision softly creeping,
Left its seeds while I was sleeping,
And the vision that was planted in my brain
Still remains
Within the sound of silence

Simon & Garfunkel

I am acknowledging the "darkness" inside of us all today...as I think I read that word in almost everyone's post. More to do with the darkness of the day (dark as the grave) but also people's state of mind. 

The alarm went off...I went back to sleep. I got up and fed the cats, they were grateful, and then they went back to my bedroom and back to sleep. I don't think they realize that it's daytime. But then, how can they went the day is dark as a tomb!!

Could it be any darker? (said in a Chandler Bing voice!)

Today I made a poster in support of "The Women's March in Washington"taking place on Saturday, Jan. 21st.  I have friends marching in Washington and friends marching in Toronto. I'm sticking to the march here in London, ON as I have plans later in the day (I'm marching to the FOOD & WINE Show with friends!!) It'll be my first big day of somewhat normal activity. As long as I don't trip, fall and conk my head I should be OK. I actually did fall last year as I attempted to climb a huge snow bank in the parking lot (in the DARK!) instead of walking further down the street to the entrance of said parking lot. I'll be more careful this year. It's going to be so mild anyways that I'll be dodging puddles not snow piles.

In addition to poster-making I made a big pot of soup - it's a new recipe that I found in the London Free Press and includes sweet potatoes and chickpeas. It's quite pleasant - not dark at all! Tonight is fajita night :) - our favourite! Lots of chopping and dicing - I got a great chopping/dicing device for Christmas (oh the joys of receiving practical kitchen gadgets) which really speeds up the process and saves my sprained (?) finger (jammed it at volleyball before Christmas). It's not getting any better so went and had an x-ray done yesterday. 

So my advice is to make light of the darkness - read a funny book (I'm reading Bill Bryson's "Notes from a Small Island" which made me guffaw in the lab's waiting room yesterday. Snuggle with your pets, have a light meal (SOUP), paint a poster...or a picture, dance in the kitchen while you wait for the kettle to boil, have a nice cuppa, and remember that while it is dark as a dungeon out there we are actually getting 2, yes TWO more minutes of "light"every day now til the summer equinox! 


Friday, January 13, 2017

Couch Potato

Couch potato, that's me! My retina is still attached, that's the good news. But I am still seeing those darn floaters. Flashing lights have greatly reduced. I was reading more about the condition today and it can take months before all that activity settles down. Boo. I also read that most (not all) detached retinas follow PVD (Posterior Vitreous Detachment). However, if retina is in good shape at the time of a PVD there is only a 2-5% chance of a retinal detachment occurring. That's pretty good news. Except that it could happen within days or weeks or months.

I can't sit still for that long!!

So... a pretty boring week. But I would choose boring over surgery any day of the week, or the whole week as the case may be!

We have Hannah banana staying over tonight. Kazi has restaurant and movie gift cards so they're using some of those - not sure where they are eating or what they are seeing - I am just full of information!

I filled the day with a short walk outside, being very careful of the ice, finished watching "Zodiac" which I started yesterday and "State of Play" today on Amazon Prime video, both were good but Helen Mirren was wasted in her small role. Tonight I'll watch an episode or two of "The Fall" which has some new episodes - excellent show!

**never thought I'd be reduced to telling you about what I've been watching on TV!! 

Other than that I've been researching for my next trip to the UK, thinking about Scotland this year :) likely in September. Looking at the various long distances trails trying to figure out what part of the country I'd most like to see. Hard decisions. Lots of time :)

Well, I don't think anyone is out in my kitchen making me dinner so I'd better hop to it! See you in the funny pages :)

Wednesday, January 11, 2017


Had a bit of a stressful day yesterday. On Monday I started to see flashes of light, shadows and "spiders" out of the corner of my right eye. I'd keep turning my head to the right to follow the movement of the spiders.  Two years ago my brother had surgery for a detached retina so I was aware of the symptoms. Also, my daughter had a partially detached retina a few years ago after a fellow concert goer threw a glow stick which struck her eye. Due to the "partial" aspect and her age her retina repaired itself over time. She advised me to contact my eye doctor in the morning.

So I called and was able to get in within an hour. And what a crap day of weather we had! Lots of snow followed by snow pellets followed by freezing rain followed by rain. Oh joy! I found my eyes were more light sensitive than normal so being out in a totally white world added to my stress.

But I made it without incident (thank you Dougie the Dodge and your awesome 4-wheel drive!) After pupil enlarging eye drops and a scan and exploring my eye with a variety of intense light gadgets my eye doctor announced my right eye was going through PVD - Posterior Vitreous Detachment.  This condition can lead to retinal detachment and/or macular degeneration but so far my retina and macula are in tip top condition.

There is no treatment for PVD and it is caused by aging and being nearsighted. It will also happen to my left eye but that could happen tomorrow or in 10 years; or it could have already happened. Many people put up with the annoying symptoms without seeing a doctor. There is no pain, just lots of activity in the peripheral vision of my right eye.  Now that I know it is very common and the likelihood of my retina detaching is low it feels more like a "senior moment" than an alarming condition.

Within days or weeks, in some cases months, my brain will no longer recognize the flashes, shadows and squiggly moving lines. My vision hasn't changed and for that I am most grateful. When it happens to my left eye I will know what is happening. It is ok to read and watch TV etc but I was advised to limit my physical activity as I don't want to do anything to cause my retina to detach while my right eye goes through this transition.

What is happening is this:
Posterior vitreous detachment (PVD) is a very common eye condition. It's caused by natural changes to the vitreous gel which takes up the space inside the eye.
Although PVD causes some frustrating symptoms it doesn’t cause pain, harm the eye or cause permanent loss of vision.
Have you or a family member experienced PVD? I'd love to hear about your experience.

Saturday, January 7, 2017

Ups and Downs

I should have mentioned when I posted on January 5th that so far in 2017 I hadn't spent any money! Five No Spend days in a row! I wondered how long I could go this month without spending anything at all and well it was Jan. 5th :)
My friend Julie was back from LA and had an empty fridge so I picked up food from Hong Ping and we had a feast! Definitely a money-worthy event.

And it was all downhill from there...as I checked in my local thrift shop for a warm brown hat. There were tons of hats but nothing that suited me or went with its intended brown coat. Oh well, might as well have a wander...
I love metal decor of all sorts and I like watching pieces get weathered.
This will go out on my patio to keep DREAM company.
Now I won't just be dreaming I'll be hoping and dreaming:)

I seem to be lucky lately finding silver filagree work. These 3 flowers are displayed in a shadow box.

Remember this one? Same store. 

And also for my patio - 2 cast iron birds/candle holders - extremely heavy. 

Okay, I'm ready for summer! Too bad it's about a hundred below zero today!
Speaking of the cold... 
I managed to finish a crocheted headband for Kazi.
It looks amazing on her, me not so much.
I'm making one for Hannah too; it's almost done except for 
sizing and sewing on the buttons.

I'm also back in the workshop and have 4 carvings under way - they still look like blobs at the moment so I'll wait til I get to the polishing stage before taking any photos.

Over all I'm happy with how the week went - played volleyball 3 days and rode my stationary bike a couple of times while watching "Trapped" on Netflix. I really love Scandinavian crime shows! This one takes place in Iceland.  And I did my stretches every day (for my sad knee) and my sun salutations as soon as I get up, even though it's still dark out! The result - less pain. Who knew? Well, I guess my physiotherapist...

Thursday, January 5, 2017

Budget Template

January, 2017

December 2016!!

I couldn't do all of these changes, margin notes, additions, deletions, scribbles blah blah blah on my computer. Well, maybe I could...but I don't want to!! Paper will always be a major part of my life!

Tuesday, January 3, 2017

Another Year Another Budget

Living on pensions, as I do now means my budget is pretty much set for the year. Same amount of money in, same amount of money out. The rest goes to savings and Misc. However, a new year brings cost-of-living increases and of course the inevitable increases in monthly bills.

What goes up:


  • Teacher's Pension
  • Canada Pension Plan
  • Savings - comes out of my pensions but worth a mention. My monthly savings amount has increased due to now receiving the CPP. All of it goes into savings so what with investment interest etc I am saving roughly $1000/month. And we know what that goes to - TRAVEL (and large items like a new appliance or furniture) but mainly TRAVEL!!
What goes down:
  • GST Rebate - Prior to receiving the Canada Pension Plan I was eligible for a tax rebate which was $105 every 4 months. Now that I am receiving the CPP my income is higher therefore I may no longer be eligible for the rebate. I will receive it in January and April however. As for what I'll receive based on 2016 taxes shall remain a mystery until July 1st.
Hah, short list! 

What goes up:

Monthly bills
  • Property taxes - well, I'm assuming they'll go up, I've never known them to go down! But it usually takes a few months for City Council to figure out by what percentage they'll increase. I wait with bated breath! 
  • Condo Fees - guaranteed to go up every January. I'm sure I received notice of how much but I don't feel like going up to my office to rummage around (my filing is a trifle behind) so we'll just have to wait and see. I budgeted $290. 
  • Cell phone - will remain the same (I hope)
  • Internet - will remain the same (same hope)
  • Insurance - things are in flux with insurance - I think I have a credit coming to me in January (about $20) and then my regular payment beginning in February is $134/monthly. Kazi has her own policy now so I'm paying for Dougie the Dodge and condo insurance. That is up a little but not much. I had an at fault fender bender in 2014 so that will continue to affect my insurance for a couple more years. 
  • Union gas (heat, hot water tank & dryer) will increase a bit due to carbon taxes. I still pay the least of anyone I know averaging $30 in the summer to $80 in the winter. Yes, Kazi is always cold; you think she'd be used to it by now :)
  • London Hydro - electricity for my American friends. Continues to go up and up and up! Still reasonable though I think. I budgeted $80 as we are using an electric fire in the TV room as it is in the basement. 
  • Netflix - $9.99 no change.
  • Reliance - I rent my hot water heater. I remember when that was about $8 a month - now it is $35.00 and will likely increase at some point. The cost usually goes up once a year. 
  • Misc - covers my allowance :) and I rejig it to reflect the amount of $$ I have left after paying the above. It's usually around $150+/week. That covers meals out, clothing, wine, wine, wine...etc. household items...wine...wine....scotch...
  • Variables: gasoline & food - I have been over funding my gas budget for quite some time so have cut it back a bit ($100 monthly); food continues to be a little overfunded as well so have cut it back a trifle. ($280 monthly). Any extra left in either budget line gets carried forward to the next month.
Remains the same:
  • Debt - ZERO! I continue to have no mortgage, no loan, and no credit card debt. 
So there you have it. I'm hoping that by February changing amounts will be set for the rest of the year. There is a lot of hope in my budget! All I can say for sure is money will show up in my account once a month and I'll do my best to get rid of it. 

P.S. I had money leftover at the end of December. Since I practise zero budgeting I'm wondering if I forgot someone's Christmas present? 
P.P.S. I kill myself! 

Saturday, December 31, 2016

2017 - Boom or Bust?

I keep a mental list in my head of posts I want to write. Today I am setting those aside as well as deleting one that was a bit of a rant. I can't even remember why I needed to rant! Or felt I needed to rant. Everything is relative isn't it?
Kilally Meadows
My house is small compared to others. But it's warm and cozy and protects me from the elements. Isn't that what it's for?  Millions of people don't have a roof over their heads.

I thought I needed new living room furniture (remember that post?) but when my daughter expressed her sentimental love for the furniture we have I cancelled the pickup. The couches may be a little outdated but they are in good shape, firm and comfortable. I often fall asleep on them. Isn't that what they're for? Refugees have no furniture.

My truck is old and rusty - but it always starts, is in good working order and has never failed to get me from Point A to Point B. Isn't that what it's for? The poor in London are hoping to get a discounted bus pass.

I have read many blog posts over the past week that relay feelings of sadness, depression, illness and injury, lost hope and feeling "stuck". It seems that 2016 was not a great year for a lot of people and 2017 is looking pretty scary, especially if you're a liberal. (That's a joke!)

What do we want for ourselves in 2017? It's pretty much a given that we want to be happy, yet our present circumstances makes that hard at times, if not all of the time. Curiously, a couple of months ago I purchased a journal for 2017 called "Create Your Own Happiness". I think I'm going to need it - I have my own issues with depression/anxiety and motivation and I worry about climate change among other things. From what I've written above I think it's clear that I don't derive happiness from things. I'm grateful I own my home, own Dougie the Dodge and own old furniture. (If I keep things long enough they become valuable antiques don't they?) And I have no debt.

What leapt out at me while reading blog posts today were all of the positive and helpful, supportive comments. We have such a good network here, I know, because I've been on the receiving end of your support during some of the worst moments of my life.

So...what's my point? Do I even have a point? Well, yes I do...we really do make our own happiness. What helps us feel happy? - each of us will have a different list and I encourage you to make one. Some of you already have.
Here's mine: ( in no particular order )

  • walking in the forest
  • witnessing the return of birds in the spring and watching the plants and wildflowers come back to life
  • photography
  • trail running, volleyball, hiking, cycling
  • yoga, meditation
  • travelling to new places and exploring them through long distance walking
  • the beach/sunshine
  • books
  • music/listening and playing the piano
  • creating: writing, carving, painting, sewing, journalling, crocheting
  • standing up for social wrongs
  • donating to worthy causes
  • cooking 
  • Luna and Lily
  • Kazi
  • Hannah
  • brothers and sisters
  • Julie and Troy and Lynnie
  • my cyber friends, especially those I have met: Annie, Michelle in NB, Kim and Marguerite in PEI, Johanna (many more I want to meet!)
  • my high school graduating class - we still meet up every year
  • cousins and niece and nephews
  • genealogy research
  • good movies
  • the poet Rumi
  • laughing/singing/dancing
  • road trips
Nothing like the antics of an alien-looking wild turkey to make you smile.

Evidence that the deer are nearby even though all I saw were their hoof prints.

I hope you'll make a happiness list and I hope that at least once a day you'll do something from your list to increase your joy. There's a lot of shit going on in the world that we can do nothing about - and that can make us feel helpless. But you can do something about what's going on in your own back yard even if it's just making a cup of tea and reading a chapter in whatever book/genre that interests you.
Today I: walked in the forest, listened to the geese flying overhead, took photos, read the newspaper, had a coffee and Bailey's ;) , cuddled with Lily, spent time with Kazi, texted a friend, stared at the watery version of the sun that was available today, texted a friend, wrote a post.  
Plan to - have a bath with my new Lush bath bomb, watch a movie, read a book, have a shot of Jameson's, and fall asleep probably before midnight!   

I'm so happy I've been able to keep this orchid plant alive and blooming!

More belly rubs coming right up Lily!

Wishing you all a very HAPPY New Year! Let's work on it together and provide support to those who need it, no judgement, no put downs. As if!