Wednesday, May 28, 2014

I love a good quickie, don't you?

Especially when it's full of good things...let's see...good things...

  • the shingles on my right hand haven't improved too much visually but they don't itch hardly at all - so THAT'S an improvement right?
  • yesterday after school I fell asleep in my chair out on the patio...there was the sound of someone mowing their lawn, the birds were chirping, the sun was shining, it was idyllic really....then Kazi came to the back door and started telling me her plans for the next few days - I don't remember a damn thing she said!! I pretended to listen as I wavered between consciousness and total zonked-outness. Yes, that's a word, just ask Sonya Ann....or Sluggy...
  • today I almost fell asleep again outside (must be a side effect of shingles or something - take your pick - I have a few diseases!) but then I roused myself and got  a second wind (wind, not gas!) and got busy inside. Boxes upstairs went downstairs, bins in the dining room went into the living room, boxes in the crawl space went upstairs and various other permutations of constant movement of belongings - some are for the yard sale on Saturday, some are going east with me in a month...a MONTH!!! some are being donated and a bunch of stuff I took to the garbage bin - I feel much more organized now. Shuffle shuffle...
  • my replacement came and spent the day today! It's true - someone is actually taking my job...good luck! She's young, very sweet and quiet - they'll EAT HER ALIVE!! I wasn't going to tell her anything bad but then it all spilled out, my bad! I hope she'll be ok, perhaps her sweetness will work in her favour - I'm anything but sweet - I'm jaded, cynical, sarcastic, caustic - but not sweet :) 
  • tomorrow night is the first of a couple of retirement dinners. I don't usually go to the union dinners but I got two free tickets since I'm being booted out of the union :) Kazi is my date but she's not pleased we don't get free cocktails!! 
  • I probably won't be able to write again til Sunday as tomorrow's the dinner, Friday night I'll be pricing everything for the sale and loading it all in the back of my truck, Saturday's the sale, Saturday night is a BBQ with my brother which makes Sunday a DAY OF REST!!! PHEW!!
  • Sunday is also JUNE 1ST!!! I'm planning a dedicated nutrition/exercise month to get myself ready for riding my bike to the beach in PEI!! 
  • Oh yes, don't let me forget, I have to take whatever I need for my England trip to PEI with me as I'm leaving from Halifax. OK? I'm counting on you all!!
Are you as busy as I am?? 

Sunday, May 25, 2014

And this is why I blog...

.....because of people like y'all! I can't believe (but really I do because you folks come through for me again and again) the range and practicality and thoughtfulness of the ideas, suggestions and advice that came out of my last post. I have already put a few things into effect and will provide an update in a few days.
                     I can't see YOU, but I know you're there! And I know I can count on you!

So I need some more suggestions/advice but on a lighter note! It took me awhile but I finally found a carry-on bag that is only 20cm deep (around here the usual size is 23cm) as well as 50cm tall and 40 cm wide. These are the restrictions for travelling on Icelandair. I received the carry-on a few days ago and then yesterday received my tote bag that will carry my laptop, iPad, iPhone, camera, wallet, passport & other important papers etc.  Both purchases came from Future Shop's online store and were shipped at no cost.


 So here's my carry-on bag made by the United Colours of Benetton - no kidding eh? This was the only colour combo it wasn't sold out in but luckily I LOVE IT!!
A side view :)  I should have done the inside but too late - it is lined in the bright green!
 One of my best all-time finds!! While I love my carry-on I am in lust with my tote bag!! So well made.
So, the outside pocket, once unzipped, reveals a padded spot for an iPad, then in front of it a zipped pocket for jewelry, a place for pens and a mesh compartment for...
 and inside there is a padded spot to slide in my laptop and other essentials..
all while looking chic!!
On one side are two pockets with flaps - I'm thinking quick and easy access for iPhone and camera...
 and then another pocket on the other side for...I don't know what yet...
See the little ring symbol for jewelry, so CUTE!!

Ok, so here's where I need input. I've decided that I neither want to LOSE luggage or WAIT for luggage on the carousel. I want the convenience of carrying everything I need with me. So I'm thinking, no big suitcase. I'll carry everything I need for a 2 week walking trip in these 2 delicious bags.

CAN THAT BE DONE?? Can I live out of a carry-on and tote bag for 2 weeks? What should I take with me? When reading the reviews of the walking trip one woman was thankful she was able to do a bit of laundry at one of the accommodations. I'm also thinking that when I get to the farmhouse B&B they will probably let me do laundry. Of course I'll need to wear my hiking boots while I'm travelling along with jeans and rain jacket. SO what do I pack??? I'm not planning on wearing makeup or dressing up at all - this is me tromping and biking around the countryside and eating in pubs. How very British!!

Suggestions? Ridicule? Nah, let's just stick with suggestions....
***update - just realized I should have said when I'm going - from mid-September to the beginning of October.

Friday, May 23, 2014

Just when things were going well...

I come from a long line of "tense" people. My dad suffered from depression and anxiety and my mother was a professional "worrier". Combine those genes and you get some pretty tense kids! Five of us, to be exact.

My dad had to leave his job because of his mental illness when he was in his early 50's - he was lucky to receive a pension from where he worked but money was tight. I'm sure our budget was a constant worry for my mother. The fact that she worried for over 40 years that the maple tree next to our house was going to fall on the house during a storm, and THEN IT DID!!, solidified for her that her worries were real. At that point her Parkinsons-related dementia worsened to the nth degree.

All of us kids, me being the youngest, have been affected by this heritage but to respect their privacy I'll only talk about myself. There have been a few occasions when I've had to take anti-depressants or have found myself overwhelmed by LIFE. I had to drop out of university for one semester due to anxiety but then was readmitted during the 2nd semester. In 1993 I hurt my back and sought help through a pain psychologist. Who knew there was such a person?? It helped tremendously though I had to take pain medication for a long time. (more on that in a future post)

My work is extremely stressful, especially when I have students who are physically aggressive. It's a fine balancing act providing them with a good program while also trying to protect other vulnerable students and also keeping staff safe. Opinions on the best approach varies widely within our staff and we are also required to follow Health and Safety practises and union guidelines. Yet people still get hurt and I take that as a personal failure as it's my classroom. No, I'm not leading up to any recent incidents - things have been going fairly well this week but I internalize all incidents, dream about them, meet about them, analyze them and live with them - it's not fun and the stress finds its own ways of letting itself be known.

Physically there are many ways that stress has affected me over the years (hence my plan for early retirement) - pain in the neck, shoulders and back, migraine headaches, stupid accidents which have resulted in a pinched nerve (off for a month with that one) and of course actual physical injuries caused by aggressive acts in the classroom - 2 years ago I was put in a headlock twice over the course of one week which resulted in another month off, physical therapy, pain meds etc.

Another way stress lets itself be known is through skin disorders. Right now I have TWO because as we know TWO is twice as much fun! A few months ago I noticed a strange rash on the back of my leg: runs from my ankle up to the back of my knee and the verdict is still out on this one. Right now it's being treated as if it were psoriasis and the prediction is it will take months to go away, if ever. There is no cure for psoriasis and it can spontaneously come and go. I've seen the doctor twice about this, as recently as Tuesday. Then Tuesday evening my right hand became insanely itchy.

I was in bed and wasn't able to sleep - I rubbed in some hand lotion and spent a restless night. The red bumps didn't become visible until Wednesday. I went to school but had a tough day trying to deal with the itchiness and pain. Wed. night I slept NOT A WINK!! So Thursday off I go to see the doctor again and he confirmed what I had self-diagnosed - shingles. How did I know??? Because it's the 3rd time I've had shingles somewhere on my right arm. Since I got on the anti-viral medication before 72 hours had gone by since eruption I am hoping it goes away quickly.

Truthfully, the shingles virus never goes away. If you've had chickenpox you carry the shingles virus. It doesn't usually make an appearance until you are in your 50's and I believe women are more susceptible than men. I consider myself fortunate because my outbreaks have been relatively minor - I've never had them on my torso or head - just on my arm.

Of course it's that monster - STRESS - that causes the outbreaks, and also is a cause of psoriasis.

The message here?? The less stress in your life the better off you will be. Try to have a career that you love and that doesn't stress you out too badly. A small amount of stress is good for you but everyone needs to find the right balance for them. Get lots of exercise - stay positive. Obviously I didn't learn about the effects of stress until it was too late to change my career. Once I retire (in 37 days) I will devote myself to living a more, if not completely, stress-free life!! 

If you have an interest in this topic here is a great article.

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Summertime...and the living is easy...

 Well, springtime that is, but that's not a song so I'm sticking with summer :) I love my condo at this time of year - it's nothing fancy but for a brief week or two when the crabapple trees bloom it rises above the ordinary.
 I am blessed with a crabapple tree that has two trunks (is one a sucker?) that have twisted together over time - one side has pale pink blossoms while the other side...
has dark pink blossoms. I remember a little neighbour girl once riding around on her bike - she stopped briefly and said "you have a plethora of trees!" I still giggle over that one. She came back a little later with a friend and they played "wedding" on my sidewalk picking up and showering each other with handfuls of petals. Or is that a "plethora" of petals??
 The bleeding heart bush is showing up brightly against the foliage.
Once there was a tiny little spruce seedling growing in a neighbours window well. I rescued it and gave it a good home where it is indeed thriving. I love the new, tender pale green  growth.
 My most favourite of all spring flowers - Lily of the Valley. My parents had a huge amount of these growing on the shady north side of their home so each time I moved into a new apartment or house I would dig some up and transplant them.  I guess I'll be digging some of these up and taking them to PEI since I don't have access to our Norwich family home anymore.
 The little garden to the right of my front door is filling in nicely...

In the upper right hand of this photo you can sort of see my hydrangea bush - since I took this picture I have pruned it removing the dry sticks. Is it really just a couple of weeks from the last snow? I tell you once spring has sprung for sure the changes are at lightning speed. That pot of pansies on my front step did get covered with snow a couple of times but pansies are a hearty breed and have hung on bravely.

I have many more topics to write about - sometimes the ideas just flow...but due to some health issues I'm cutting this post short and will update you soon. Nothing serious...but annoying, unsightly and somewhat itchy...intrigued?? Who wouldn't be with that plethora of symptoms!!! :)

Sunday, May 18, 2014

Soup's on!!

 Who woulda thunk that I'd be busy making soup during the long weekend in May? Well me, that's who! When the temperature barely rises above 0c it's SOUP TIME!! And besides, I wanted to try out my new GREEN PAN and VITAMIX! Yes, I've been spending money like it's going out of style so let's see if the results are worth the expenditure.  Oh, that's a lovely pan that Green Pan of mine!

The bottom pan has a no-stick surface guaranteed for a ridiculous amount of time. There is also a steaming basket that fits inside the bottom pan with a handy handle and a lid that actually fits! Kazi was cooking something a couple of weeks ago and complained that there was no lid that fit on top of our big frying pan in which she was whipping up a stir-fry.

Yes sir, the state of our pots and pans was pretty sad.
Look at this lovely squash steaming away - it took less than 10 minutes to steam to the desired softness - because the steam basket is so big I was able to spread the cubed squash thinly hence cooking FAST!
With my super duper Vitamix I received 2 cookbooks and a CD Rom :) Because I had a lovely squash sitting in my pantry I decided to make the Acorn Squash Soup.

 I happened to have chicken broth on hand...
but I substituted almond milk for evaporated milk - I like to live on the edge!
A variety of spices, salt & pepper to taste and a dollop of maple syrup :) :)
Everything goes into the Vitamix...
which operated on high for 5 minutes at which time...
the soup was steaming hot - it looks delicious!
 A little sprinkle of ground flax....
 and I sat down to eat!
It was even better than it looks. I seem to remember groaning and moaning over how delicious it was:)
And...if you follow me on Facebook, (and if not WHY not?? just send me a friend request - Jane Harrison in London, Ont.) you'll know I posted a pic of the empty bowl that I did indeed lick clean! Just couldn't waste a smidgeon!

Do you know with my Vitamix I can make all sorts of things from nut butters, to hummus, to soup to sorbet? Oh yes and let's not forget the pina coladas, the margaritas and smoothies, not to mention batters, dips, dressings and sauces. Lots of good eats!

If you're in Canada enjoy your extra day off tomorrow :) looks like a nice day weather-wise. If you're not then hahahahaha you're back to work!

Sorry for gloating...

Friday, May 16, 2014

Annoying Things

Some annoyances in my life:

  • #1 annoyance in my life right now, well not right now because with my daughter's help it is now fixed but it would still be annoying me IF I hadn't taken a mental health day today and IF she didn't come home during my mental health day because usually she's gone to work by the time I get home from work, except for today...
  • run-on sentences that don't make sense...
  • confused yet?
  • now you know why I needed a mental health day!!
OK, back to #1...
Ever since I bought my nice shiny new Macbook Pro my blog has been loading EVER SO SLOWLY which has been driving me CRAZY!! I thought something was wrong with my new laptop because as my daughter got sick of me saying "my old Dell laptop loaded my blog REALLY FAST! so why doesn't it load quickly on my shiny new Macbook???

She made a few suggestions and quickly got tired of telling me IT ISN'T the COMPUTER that's slow it's the internet for some reason. Before she got tired of me completely she suggested trying another browser. Really?  Yes, the Macbook had Safari already on it so that's what I was using. It hadn't occurred to me that on the Dell I was using Internet Explorer for some things and Google Chrome for others and I didn't realize I could download those to my shiny new Macbook! 

Kazi suggested Firefox as that's what her boyfriend uses and it's fast for him. Well, I downloaded it but it was even slower where my blog was concerned. Then I tried Google Chrome and VOILA!! It loaded quickly again!! Happy dance happy dance!! So now I am in the process of downloading Google Chrome on my iPhone and iPad so we can all be in sync.  It really pays to take a mental health day once in a while. It gives you time to deal with annoyances.

Other (not annoying) stuff going on:
  • I was pricing flights from here to Halifax for my friend Jules (the activist) as she's coming to see me in PEI this summer and we had talked about a side trip to Halifax. Turns out there are NO flights east from London (on Westjet) but there are from Hamilton, just down the road a ways. I found her a relatively economical flight ($237) and she was really excited! Then I found us a gorgeous inn called Mary Queen of Scots for $50 each per night so we're staying 3 nights. Woo hoo!! Excited for TRAVEL PLANS!!  So I will drive to Halifax Airport, pick her up and off to our Inn (heritage building) we shall go! Yippee!
Mary Queen of Scots Inn

Close up of Queen Mary, poor dear, all that's left of her is her head!

  • Going to see The Budapest Hotel again tonight!!  I wanted to see it again and enough time has gone by so it will seem fresh again. About half of it I didn't hear because of the shrieks of laughter some annoying person kept emitting...oh yeah, that was me...
  • Trying to make plans with my brothers and sister-in-law to get together in June but not sure if it'll work out. My one brother is actually travelling east on his motorcycle but is leaving early June so I won't get to see him while he's travelling. He'll visit my sister who has moved to the eastern side of PEI but as I won't be leaving til July we won't intersect. That makes me sad rather than annoyed. 
  • This one IS annoying - I've had to put my furnace on today!! Waaaaaah!!! I am so NOT happy about that but it's only 4c out and the house was so COLD!! So I guess I would have saved a few cents if I'd gone to work today :( Everything balances out doesn't it?
That's it for anything annoying you today??

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

What do you stand up for?

I have a near and dear friend - her name is Julie but her friends call her Jules. We met in university about a century ago when we were both working towards a degree in Visual Arts. I lost Jules for awhile when she lived in Mexico but happily she's been back in London for a few years now.

Jules stands up for a lot of things; especially climate change & against the big GMO monster - Monsanto. She has evolved over the years into an eco-warrior/supply teacher and artist. Jules helps keep me honest and involved. It's not always easy to stand up for something and make your voice heard. Nor is it easy to put thoughts and ideas into actions. So I'm proud of Jules for speaking out and not being afraid to put herself out there.

On Saturday I joined Jules and the local chapter of  Council of Canadians as they marched in support of protecting our fragile climate. And last night Jules arranged for Tzeporah Berman to speak at our central library.

Tzeporah Berman is a Canadian environmental activist - you can find out more information about her

Jules and Tzeporah

This isn't a rant about climate change, pipelines or oil spills; it's just an idea, a goal perhaps, of standing up for what we believe in, whatever that may be.  I look forward to having more time on my hands (boy do I ever!) and am curious about what my passion will be. Climate change? Perhaps. Pipelines and the ensuing environmental damage? Perhaps...

I don't pretend to have strong feelings one way or the other right now - I just want to be open to the possibilities as they present themselves. I know my cause/my passion will reveal itself to me in good time.

What do you stand up for?

Saturday, May 10, 2014


Somehow I missed celebrating my 800th post on this blog - I've had a couple other blogs over the years, one was a group blog with my brother Gord, and two friends. So - woo hoo! Let the party begin...
It's a numbers kind of day:
  • March 18, 2009 - the date of my first post on this blog - so just over 5 years ago
  • 36 school days left
  • by Sunday I'll be under 50 days left til retirement
  • I'll turn 58 in a couple of weeks
  • this is the 2nd day of riding my bike to school - I may live to regret that as thunderstorms are in the forecast this afternoon! (Update - there were a few sprinkles on my bike ride home but the heavy rain didn't start til after I got home:)
  • 7 "official weekends" left after which I'll have one Looooooooong weekend :)
  • 2 - the number of the games the Habs have to win to move to the next round of NHL playoffs - hope they can do it!
Started this post yesterday, then got busy and put it aside. Story of my life!

I'm feeling in a bit of a funk even though I should be on top of the world. I went into my list of blog followers and blocked Michael. I'm not sure if that will prevent him from being able to read my blog. If not then perhaps he will read this and take the hint.  He keeps finding ways to stay attached to me and I find it very unsettling. I've been censoring my writing thinking he might be reading. He UN-followed me a few months ago then began following me again to keep in touch.  He UN-friended me on Facebook then a while ago sent me a Friend Invitation. Which I declined. 

A couple of weeks ago he approached me with the offer of "friendship". I haven't responded to that overture but I must because these "communications" are really having an adverse effect on me. I'm trying to find joy in life again but feel this overbearing presence weighing me down. Why is he doing this?  What does he really want? 

I'm tired of not being able to say what I want when I want to say it. I mean, this is MY blog. He texted me saying someone left a comment on one of my posts calling him "cheap" and that really bothered him. Why is that MY problem?? 


That's if for now folks. From now on I will write from my heart. 

Wednesday, May 7, 2014

These Boots were made for Walking...

Hee hee Michelle guessing I spent Sunday online because of a new man in my!

I've planned my first trip!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

And I think it's perfect! This September while teachers are headed back to school I'll be headed to the Cotswolds for a walking tour.

I'm doing a self-guided tour called "Best of the Cotswolds" (don't want to spend my days on someone else's schedule. I'll be walking through the country side from village to village, pub to pub, B&B/hotel to...well you get the idea. My "hosts" arrange the accommodations for me as well as providing maps/guide books and transporting my luggage for me. I have all of the fun and none of the hassles. And my hosts are only a phone call away in case I run into problems (read: get lost!) So I'll be independent but looked after, so to speak.

The walking tour lasts 9 days, then I'll be off on the train to NORWICH for a few days, staying at another B&B. My B&B is a farm a few kms away from Norwich. They have bicycles guests can use for free so I'll be biking into Norwich as well as the surrounding villages. One of the villages is called Dickleburgh where some of my ancestors lived.

In this thatched cottage to be exact. (Chilvers, on my paternal grandmother's side) Of course the cottage is no longer standing; however the village still is and I yearn to walk the same streets as my ancestors. And the pub (The Dickleburgh Crown) has been around for hundreds of years - perhaps I can sit on the same stool as Grandpa Chilvers!!

So that is my mystery and I am just a wee bit excited!!!!

Sunday, May 4, 2014

Getting Excited - 56 Days to Go!

I have had a thrilling day. And for once I'm being serious! However, you'll have to wait a little bit before I share my news! Or you could guess...hahaha...Here's a hint - I spent many many hours on my lovely laptop today :)  That's it, that's all you get.

Oh, something I will share is the amazing deal I made yesterday on! Not sure if there is an equivalent in the U.S.?? Anyhoo I ordered my dining room area rug a few months ago from and was impressed with their service. It arrived 2 days after I ordered it! Their prices are reasonable, their selection HUGE and there are always lots of things on sale. The gorgeous rug I purchased was only $120 (6'x8') and delivery is free anywhere in Canada. I see that coming in very handy in P.E.I.

On to my deals...I noticed a few days ago that has partnered with aeroplan and until May 16 they are offering 15 aeroplan miles for every dollar spent! So I decided this was a good time to order a few things I've had my eye on so I did, I went for it! Carla - I'm finally buying that Vitamix I've always wanted! And also a picnic table that folds up into a suitcase (a large-ish suitcase), an inside grill for those frequent windy PEI days, a few more kitchen items, some solar lights for on top of posts, and a water pic. (been wanting one of those for a long time!)

AND I am now the proud owner of enough aeroplan miles to fly home from Charlottetown, PEI!! Pretty good deal eh? And I'm not even finished yet! I used my President's Choice master card and thus earned another big bunch of points I can use for free groceries!! She shoots...she SCORES!

Did lots of cooking today - made a yummy smelling cauliflower soup and did lots of juicing. I have some cooked shrimp for salads and some chicken defrosting. I'll bake that tomorrow. And I got my laundry all caught up - just need to put the sheets back on my bed. I'm still sticking with the flannel - it's just not warm enough to make the switch to cotton yet. But warm weather is in the forecast for the coming week so the bike will get some action! Tomorrow the day starts at a chilly 2c so I may wait til Tuesday to ride my book to school. YAY!!

On to the pile of stuff I brought home from school. Now that everyone knows I'm retiring the cleanup has revved into high gear. I've made some serious inroads but have a long ways to go still.  I'm surprised (though I shouldn't be) of how much stuff I've brought in from home over the years...I tell ya, teaching is not a's a lifestyle! 

 An overview of what I brought home on Friday...
The light in the fridge at school burned out so I bought a package which contained 2 bulbs, may as well keep an extra on hand at home...
a photo of my favourite guy - Todd!! We're planning a retirement party and he is at the top of my list of invites - he graduated 3 years ago and not a day goes by that I don't think of him and miss him :)
Dust masks - not sure why I had these at school but there must have been a reason lol! They will come in handy when I start to carve wood again and/or refinish furniture.
These are great for painting trim!
Two document pouches...
Packing tape dispenser, yes I'll definitely put this to good use!
Index cards for my future office...
 Another bunch of CD's and even a cassette!
Empty notebooks - I won't run out of paper any time soon!

That's all she wrote today folks! I'm off to exercise and have some soup. And a little old Tiskybella is telling me she's hungry too! Happy Sunday! (Why do the weekends go so quickly???)

Thursday, May 1, 2014


59 days to go!

Things are rolling right along in the countdown to retirement.  I spent some time after school yesterday cleaning out my office. I'm going to attack one shelf at a time in order to make space for the new tenant and clear out old materials. I'm enjoying the process finding hidden treasures that I had forgotten about.
 I found a large folder full of notes from students, one from Kazi and several from staff - I thought I would photograph them so I can "keep" them forever :)

 A  nice stack of memories!
 I found some CDs with student photos from over the years - glad I kept them!
 some CD sleeves...
 a flash drive I never got around to using - no excuse not to back up my photos now!
 I ADORE CLIPBOARDS! Must be a teacher thing, I don't know. I use one every single day at school and I can think of many uses for it once I retire...
A nice package of folders...
 and a "desk free" hanging organizer with case -  I think this will help me keep all of my genealogy materials organized...
 I always kept a few lighters at school for lighting candles on the dozens of birthday cakes I've made over the years. I found several so thought I could bring one home..
 Have I ever told you that Staples is one of my favourite stores?? Love these jazzy binder clips..
 and these colourful ones...
Two locks that strangely still have keys intact! You can't imagine how many locks I've gone through over the years. Instead of combination locks I provide my students with key locks. That way they can be independent using their lockers. However, many times the key gets locked inside the locker :( so that means snipping the lock off and replacing it with a new one.

That's it for today - tomorrow is Friday and you know what that means - IT'S FUN DAY!! I rented a movie, we're making popcorn and our Best Buddies are coming to visit us.

I think I might miss Fridays...