This Week

It’s catch up Thursday!  Just because.  Getting to the end of week two with four grandchildren who all went trooping off to catch the school bus today leaving me home alone!  So no excuses.

For some unknown reason I still cannot access Plinky from here, but I get a summary of the prompts via e-mail so I’ll just answer all their questions in one fell swoop. Going backwards chronologically, just to make my life seem ever so slightly more interesting.

Describe your favourite way to prepare Thanksgiving leftovers.  Thanksgiving here was a month ago.  If the leftovers aren’t finished up by now, you have a problem.  Best way to use them up is to make up a plate that replicates as much as possible the original meal, cover it in plastic wrap and zap it in the microwave.  When it’s no longer possible to do that, throw whatever bits and pieces are still taking up space in your fridge into a frying pan and stir fry it all in a bit of oil until it’s crispy – potatoes, vegetables, turkey, etc.  Then add zapped globs of congealed gravy.  Yum.  Finally, last but not least important by any means, dump what’s left of all that into the compost bin.  Another thanksgiving dinner disposed of successfully.

What holiday traditions does your family celebrate?  We eat a big meal, make a big mess, and then sit around texting or playing games on our phones.  I’m pretty sure there’s other stuff that happens, but those are the highlights.

What does wealth mean to you?  The first thing I think of is financial wealth, but there’s all kinds of good fortune in this world having little to do with the accumulation of money and possessions.  Good physical and mental and spiritual health.  Knowledge.  Rewarding relationships.  You really can’t put a price tag on any of those things. A whole whack of money is a nice thing to have, but it ain’t everything.

Does silence make you uncomfortable?  Only when there are noisy little kids around and the bedlam suddenly stops.  Chances are good that they’re up to something they shouldn’t be.  Best to check that out.  All silence is not golden.  Other than that, I love silence;  peace and quiet, no tv or radio, nothing to break my concentration.  Because gawd knows paying rapt attention to things is not my strong point.  The term ‘scatter-brained’ comes to mind.

What’s the best way to cure a cold?  Well if I knew the answer to that one I’d be rich, wouldn’t I?  And not likely to give up my secrets about it here.  But there are good ways to cope.  Get a flu shot.  Stay home from work so you don’t give the germs to everybody else.  Use a nasal decongestants so you can breathe and get sufficient sleep.  Use a humidifier.  Drink and eat hot steamy things.  Whine incessantly about how rotten you feel and how it’s the worst cold you’ve ever had in your whole life or that anyone has ever had in the entire universe.  That last one works well for W.

Do lazy days make you feel rested or unproductive?  Lazy days make me feel ecstatically happy.  I live for them.  When I know there’s nothing that MUST be done, I do all kinds of things simply because I feel like doing them.  And if I don’t feel like doing them, I don’t.  What luxury to have such choices.  After a lazy day I feel both rested and restored and thrilled that I’ve actually accomplished something without resenting the process.  And not the slightest bit guilty if nothing got done because lazy days are no pressure days.  I’ve spent entire days doing nothing but reading.  Is that productive?  I’ve filled my brain with words and ideas and strained my eyes all to shit so that I can’t see the dust settling around me.  Hard to beat a day like that.

What are your must see TV shows?  I don’t have any and I don’t even know what’s on the boob tube anymore.  Who knows what I’m missing out on?  What I do know is that when someone asks me if I watched something and I say no and then they start to tell me what the show was all about I generally find myself wondering why anyone would want to sit around watching that kind of crap.  I do have some ‘must have’ apps on my I-phone though.  Post Secret is fun to read;  Netflix for movies when it works;  Angry Birds of course;  Kindle linked with my actual Kindle;  You Tube;  Weather so I can see what the temperature is in Cancun;  Talking Tom (and Ben and Gina and Roby and Larry and Rex and Santa and John and Hippo and News…..) because little people love them and five minutes of playing them on grandma’s phone is a fantastic reward for good behaviour.  The latest one I can’t seem to get enough of is “Unblock Me”.  It’s a simple little puzzle game that after over four hundred games completed in the beginner level has yet to get old for me.  Huh.  One of those lazy day activities to keep my mind sharp.  Or sedated, I’m not sure which.

Well, there’s another Plinky Week done;  signed, sealed, delivered.  I’m heading home in a couple of days and will hopefully be much much more appreciative of the days on which I do not have to help dress a small child in hockey equipment.  Getting everything on in the proper places and in the right order is not as easy as you might think, especially if you’ve never played the game yourself.  Nothing fell off of any of them on the ice (that I noticed or heard about anyway) so I guess I did an acceptable job.  Corey told me he wants me to live here with him forever and never go home.  A wealth of praise indeed.  I’d do it all again if just for that.

Flavor of the Month

Once again I can’t get Plinky to come up, but I know what todays prompt is via Facebook;  If you were a flavor, what would you be?  So I guess we’re revisiting our childhoods here, trying to answer a sneaky question that makes us think of words to describe ourselves and what we’re like.

I’m suffering from introspection overload, and I’m no child on normal days, so why not ask some actual children for their answers to this?  I’ve got a few of them handy as it happens, since today is a snow day and there are four grandchildren milling about willing to answer grandma’s weird questions.

Kale hardly needed to give it any thought at all.  His answer was immediately “Annoying Orange.”  Anyone who knows Kale will appreciate the very subtle humor in that.

Corey decided (with a little help from his brother) on “Kung Fu Coconut”, because he is evil and funny and a bit nutty.  Then he had second thoughts about it and made ‘annoying apple’ his final answer.

Omayja chose “Minty Ice Cream” because she is smooth and cool and sweet and delicious and everybody loves her.  All true.  You can ask her grandma.

Madison thought she might be more like “hot and spicy pizza”, so hot that she could make people cry.  Everybody knows Maddy has this side to her personality.  Then she grinned and told me she’d be a honey dip donut instead.  We would all like the donut girl to surface more often.  Especially on snow days when we’re all cooped up inside trying to be quiet so mom can rest and get better after her surgery.

We’ve made it all the way from 7 a.m. to noon!  Yay me and my flavorful crew!

Aliens on Earth

Do you think aliens have ever visited Earth?


Of course they have. I’ve seen the movies. They live among us. But only because their space ships have malfunctioned and can’t be repaired and they’re stuck here indefinitely. Otherwise they’d be long gone. Originally aliens landed here with the intent of taking control and colonizing this planet but now that they’ve seen what a complete bloody mess it’s in that idea has been shelved. There are other worlds where the inhabitants aren’t so dead set on destroying everything around them and making themselves extinct and they’ve chosen to settle in those galaxies of less insanity instead.

Although aliens have cleverly disguised themselves as ordinary human beings (and let’s face it, the choices are infinite because no one is sure what a normal human being actually is), you can recognize one by observing how they shake their heads and roll their eyes and mutter things like ‘what the hell were we thinking’ when no one is paying any attention to them. Plus their skin is a weird blue/green color and they glow in the dark.

I could also tell you all about time travel and parallel dimensions and black holes and alien abduction if you want, but maybe we shouldn’t get ourselves into a state of information overload and blow up our craniums with short circuits and an overdose of b.s. Save those brain cells for thinking up new ways to obliterate the planet. That’ll show those aliens who’s in control.

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Grape Expectations

For some reason or other I cannot log in to the Plinky site, although I can get as far as reading their dumb prompt for the day, which is “How do you save money” and if I knew the answer to that one I suppose I’d have a whole whack of the stuff stashed away somehwere.  The only way you can save it is by not spending it, and if it doesn’t get spent, it’s essentially worthless.

I’d much rather write about what’s happening right now while what little money I have is wasting away in a bank somewhere.  Today my-daughter-in law is having surgery done on her jaw.  If everything goes well (and we’re of course hoping for no problems or complications) she will be home in a couple of days.  I flew up here yesterday to help out.  I’m hoping there will be no major problems or complications with that as well.

I asked my 10 year old grandson if he wanted me to walk him and his sister to the bus this morning.  He told me that would be kinda silly.  Then while they were getting their jackets and ski pants on he decided I could do it if I wanted to, just to keep them company.  (Not like it was necessary or anything.)  But if I really wanted to….  So off we went into the pre-dawn darkness with my tiny flashlight that really did nothing more than illuminate the falling snowflakes and cast eerie blue shadows onto the long winding laneway.  We could hear coyotes howling in the distance, but other than that it was perfectly quiet.  There was time to draw some pictures on the snowy ground and then the bus lumbered up, lights flashing.   I felt like I was part of a Pleasantville or a Courier and Ives scene, saying goodbye to them, waving good morning to the bus driver, and then making my lonely walk back to the house.  The smaller kids didn’t wake up for another half hour, and then it was time to start the breakfast thing for the second time around.

Now the two little ones are outside playing in the snow.  I’ve got a plan for tonight’s meal and I’m happy to say there’s no shortage of crock pots and food in this house.  I’ll pick the older kids up at school this afternoon and then we all go to the arena for hockey.  I’m already anticipating being in bed and sound asleep around 8:30 p.m.!

Well I’m making this sound like I’m all on my own here, but my son (who left for work before any of us got up) will meet us at the arena on his way home.    If I want some time to myself all I have to do is put a movie on for them and they’re glued to it for however long it runs.  I know this is not exactly the most grandmotherly activity, but last night we drew enough pictures to last a month.

The kids have also had their Nana here for the past couple of weeks.  I asked Omayja (who likes to tell you dubious things just to see how you react) if they had lots of fun with their Nana and she said not really because “all she did was feed us grapes”.  I ventured a guess that they did a lot more than that together, but Omayja just grinned.   I shudder to think what she might say about me when I’ve gone back home!  So far I’ve been carefully avoiding giving them grapes, just to be on the safe side.

Role Models

When you are a mother, you are never really alone in your thoughts … A mother has to think twice, once for herself and once for her child.  (Sophia Loren)

My parents are both gone now, but they will remain my role models for the rest of my life. They were wonderful examples of what it means to be good people.

When I was small I emulated their behaviour because I loved them without even knowing why. Growing up under their guidance was a priceless gift that I took for granted and didn’t appreciate until I became a parent myself. When they didn’t agree on something they still loved and respected eachother enough to compromise and to work things out. They wanted basically the same things out of life for themselves and for their children and they worked hard to get them. They were kind and generous and thoughtful and brave.

They both made sacrifices for us, but they never sacrificed themselves or who they were. They did what they believed in and they did the things that made them happy as individuals and what they felt would make the world a better place. They were the best grandparents to our children that it’s possible to be They were beautiful and they were loved.

How incredibly lucky and blessed I am to have known them – how could I not want to be like them and pass these things along to the next generation? The task is huge. Falling short looms large. They taught by example, and they never stopped trying. So neither will I.

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City or Country?

Living on a farm while I was growing up certainly had it’s good points, but I can’t remember a time when I didn’t wish that I lived in a city or a town. To do anything interesting at all we had to GO someplace when it would have been so much easier to just live where interesting things were going on in the first place. Once I left the country life behind I’ve never wanted to go back to the isolation and the seclusion, or those wide open spaces or the dead silence in the middle of the night.

My dad was the only one in his family of ten who decided to farm for a living, so our house was a favourite meeting place and vacation spot for the aunts and uncles and cousins who wanted to get away from the city. They all said they envied us our rural lifestyle but I never really believed it. The barn smelled awful and the garden was enormous. There were farm animals everywhere and bugs and sheds and tractors and wild things in the forests. I felt stuck in the middle of nowhere and would have gone home with any one of my city cousins to live in a house with a sidewalk and street lights and neighbors on every side and shops within walking distance and schools with classrooms for every single grade.

Since then I’ve lived in high rise apartments and basement suites and town houses. There have been cities of all sizes and hamlets of no size at all, and a couple of growing towns, but a home in the country has never been on my list of places I’d like to live. The farm was forever a wonderful place to visit, but getting back to the city has never made me sad.

Where I live now I can walk to a movie theatre and a shopping mall and a coffee shop and a convenience store. There are schools and playgrounds all around us. We have neighbors who say hello and mail delivery to our door and an incredible recycling system with weekly pick up. I am lulled to sleep by the sounds of traffic and the wail of sirens and the distant whistling of the trains. I have a backyard and a big tree and a couple of bushes and some flowerbeds, and that’s about all the agriculture I can stand.

I like neon signs and pavement and big city buses and good restaurants. I like pizza delivery and high speed internet and supermarkets. I love that it’s a 10 minute drive to work and that there is easy access to excellent health care and that the UPS guy hands me packages at my front door.

I’m a country girl who left it all behind with no regrets. Now if we could just make it SUMMER in the city all year round, that would be sweet.

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Sweet Dreams

It’s such a bummer when I don’t have time to write.  Or when I’m just too tired to think.  Or when Plinky fails to inspire me and I can’t even remember what enthusiasm is.  Funny thing though, that’s when I usually sit down to compose a ‘just now’ blog, simply for the fun of seeing what wild and wonderful things my befuddled brain might see fit to reveal to the world.

Okay, first thing is – my brain is NORMAL.  I am not making this up, but have it on good authority.  I got a call from my doctor’s office this morning, and I can’t think of any good reason they might have to deceive me on this.  “We have the results of your scan and everything came back normal” the nurse said.  She sounded completely sincere.  Obviously the MRI people did not have to diliberate over my brain scan for two whole weeks after all.  In fact I think they may have taken one look at it and chucked it across the room so they could get on with the much more interesting abnormal ones.

But it’s apparent to me that those MRI’s don’t tell you everything.  Because even though my brain appears to be unexceptional and your typical garden variety gray matter, it doesn’t necessarily follow that it allows me to do only ordinary common run of the mill things. Unfortunately.  Yesterday I got annoyed with the length of my hair and took the clippers to it.  It isn’t the first time I’ve done this, but it IS the first time I’ve ended up with an ALMOST bald spot on the back of my head.  I suppose I could say they had to shave it for the MRI if anyone freaks out about it.

Second thing is – my boring answers to the latest boring plinky prompts.  Feel free to skip over this if you find yourself nodding off.  Here we go.  In descending order.

What are the top five websites you’d hate to live without?  Facebook, Netflix, WordPress, Google, Amazon, Wikipedia, YouTube,, my on-line banking sites and WestJet.  And yes, I know that’s ten.  So sue me.

Do you usually remember your dreams?  I remember some details for about five minutes and then promptly forget them.  What I do remember for much longer is how they made me feel.  Frightened, happy, sad, confused.  Once I woke up with a strong urge to choke W. because of whatever stupid thing he did in my dream that made me furious.  Sometimes I wake up laughing, sometimes I’m on the verge of tears.  I guess I have rather emotional nights once in awhile.  And that’s where the confusion comes in, when it takes some time to sort out the dream from the reality.

Have you started making plans for the upcoming holiday season?  Ummmm….sort of.  But my plans are at the mercy of other people who get to make their plans first.  So I’m waiting.  No worries, though.  I’m flexible, and pretty fast at whipping up plans at the last minute.

Do we still need daylight saving time?  Well OF COURSE we do.  If we didn’t still need it, we wouldn’t still have it.  Honestly.  What else do you know of that everyone gets to hate with a passion in the spring and love dearly in the fall?  Being ridiculously early or pathetically late for appointments is the only fun some people have to look forward to all year.  I’d hate to deprive them of that.  Plus, changing the time forward and backward at regular intervals is a good way of making one face the fact that there are entirely too damned many clocks in ones house.

What is the most delicious meal you can get for under ten bucks?  I like the Swiss Chalet Festive Special, and if it’s more than ten bucks, it’s still worth it.  Chicken, stuffing, cranberries, roll, choice of side and Lindor Chocolate Truffles.  Christmas dinner that somebody else makes.  You cannot beat that for delicious.

Describe your most memorable Hallowe’en.  I started to write an answer to this one and it was going quite well in the build-up to the memorable part..  However, the ‘trick’ we played was something only a twelve year old could appreciate.  And no matter how hard I tried I could not make it any less dull than it was all those years ago when all was said and done.  But I remember it fondly anyway simply because I got away with it and lied like a trooper when confronted.  So why confess after all these years?  It’s one of those secrets that is worth much more for keeping it than for giving it away.

In other breaking news, W leaves for Ontario tomorrow for a week, spending Remembrance Day with his vetran father, and visiting his mom and brother, and whatever else he sees fit to get up to off on his own. On Sunday I’m flying up to the frozen north  to help out with the grandchildren while my daughter-in-law comes down here for surgery on her jaw.  I can spare a week – wish it could be longer, because her recovery time is much longer than that.  Still waiting for more news on my brother but things seem to be progressing well at the moment for him.

We don’t have any snow here yet although some is forecast for Sunday.  Huh.  I suppose when I start talking about the weather it’s time to stop talking altogether.  So goodnight, sweet dreams.  Think twice before you choke your significant other.  In his dreams he may have been trying to do something nice for you, you never know.

Night of the MRI

Because of my recurring bewildering problems with regulating my thyroid, my doctor decided a couple of months ago to investigate my pituitary gland function and tonight I went to the U of A Hospital for an MRI.  When the hospital phoned with the details of my appointment they referred to it as a brain scan.

Right now everything is fine, thyroid readings are normal, I have shed some pounds and I feel good.  When things start to go haywire it’s such a gradual process that it takes me a long time to notice it and then it takes awhile to get things back to normal with a different dosage or more tests, or whatever the doctor thinks we should try next.  My results will be normal for 6 or 9 months and then suddenly they’re not and I realize I’m feeling run down and tired and grouchy and bordering on miserable and there are more trips to the lab and back to the doctor and more pills and it’s like being on a roller coaster ride in slow motion.

The MRI may not have been necessary at all because at the moment everything is functioning normally.   (I sincerely hope they don’t find anything wrong).  But the doctor said I might as well have it anyway since it was already booked and it takes such a long time to get in if it had to be booked again.

I suppose there’s some wonderful rhyme or reason as to why these things are done at night after the daytime reception desk people have all gone home.  I’m just glad it hasn’t started to snow yet and that we did the typical ‘old person’ thing and left home a whole hour before we had to actually be there.  Good thing, because neither of us really had a clue where we were going although I printed a floor plan of level one of the hospital and it looked simple enough on paper.  We parked near emergency and went in that entrance, only to find a big sign that says you (the general public) can no longer get to the rest of the hospital from there.  The security guy took pity on us I guess, because he pointed us down a hallway to double doors that we could get through by pushing the wheel chair access button.  From there we were to turn right, turn left, turn right and turn left again….and of course once you’ve done that you’re in the middle of the maze somewhere following signs and arrows and bothering random people for more directions.  We made it to MRI reception with about five minutes to spare.

Then there’s the forms to fill out and the clothes to shed and the hospital gown to don.  They told me to leave my socks and shoes on and had me walk down a long corridor to the examination room, back ties and flaps and all.  This is probably how they add a bit of humor to their otherwise dull shifts.  One of the nurses told me I could keep the outfit if I wanted to, but I decided it’s not really me.  Then I had to put headphones on and lie on my back on a table with my head in a three sided box, a helmet contraption was fitted over top of all that, and then something was stuffed in between that and my shoulders to keep everything from moving around.  Then they handed me a black rubber emergency ball to squeeze if I started to panic or if anything went wrong.  And of course that immediately made me feel all panicky and weird.  Then the table went up and backwards and moved me head first into a tight white cylinder and a symphony of sounds began.  One was like a fast heartbeat that didn’t stop, even though  it sometimes faded a bit into the background.  It was somehow very reasuring to hear that, like a constant drumming that didn’t falter.  There were alternating high and low sounds in a strange rythmic pattern, and humming and vibrations and every so often the voice of one of the nurses saying things that I couldn’t exactly understand.  Maybe just letting me know they were still out there.  The next thing I must do is get my hearing checked again,  because it’s getting worse and I’m getting increasingly slower at guessing what’s been said.

It was a rather relaxing fifteen minutes all cocooned in a snug white tube.  And then it was over and I had to go back down the catwalk, get dressed and go.  Results in two weeks.

Well it wasn’t THAT simple, because now we had to find our way back out of the maze.  We gave up pretty quickly and just headed for the nearest exit and walked around the building until we miraculously found the right parking lot.  Thank God W has some sense of direction.

Yesterday my brother had a very serious operation in a hospital in Ontario, three provinces away.  Everything went well they said – but that was hours and hours ago and I haven’t heard anything else.  Hospitals are scary and wonderful places with all kinds of different degrees of astonishing and miraculous and frightening things going on all at once everywhere you look.   I hope he is resting and calm and in good spirits and not suffering too much pain.  I hope he knows how many people love him and wish him well and want him to be around for a long long time.  His hospital stay makes my brief visit seem like nothing at all.

I wonder what my brain looks like.  You know, compared to a perfectly normal one.  I suppose, as with everything we’re waiting to know,  time will tell.

In a Former Life

To be a truly ‘religious’ or spiritual person I think it is necessary to explore and study and try to understand as many belief systems as our little brains can handle. The more we open our minds to all the possibilities, the better able we are to see that there is no such thing as an exclusive set of beliefs. It becomes more and more difficult to say “I am this” or “I am that” or this is the only truth there is, this way is completely right and that way is completely wrong. Everything overlaps. All religions have the same basic premise, but there are an infinite number of twists and revisions and spins put on things until each one of them comes up with their own little book of rules.

I like the idea of a soul or a spirit in an endless cycle of death and rebirth. Plants die in the fall and come back to life in the spring. Adult animals die and their young take their place with the same instincts and talents for survival. We like to think we’re above all that and more important, maybe because we are able to put all our crazy ideas down on paper and convince other people of their brilliance.

I like the idea that the immortal soul is held prisoner by the body until it completes its spiral of ascent and is finally set free. I don’t think it’s too much of a stretch to think that we get as many chances at this as we need to finally get it right, whatever ‘right’ might be.

I like the Taoist teachings that tell us “Birth is not a beginning; death is not an end. There is existence without limitation; there is continuity without a starting-point. Existence without limitation is Space. Continuity without a starting point is Time. There is birth, there is death, there is issuing forth, there is entering in.”

I respect the things that people believe in, as long as those beliefs give them comfort and peace, and as long as they don’t try to force me to agree with them.

And yes, I do know that the question was “what other person or animal could you have been in a former life?” Have some patience, I’m getting to that. I’d love to say I was Joan of Arc or Cleopatra or Florence Nightingale, but if that were true I haven’t learned much or been able to transfer many of their good traits into my present life.

So I’m thinking I was probably a house cat. I am lazy and self-indulgent and like to sleep a lot. When I was young I was cute and playful. I have been known to hiss and spit when I get angry or frightened or just for the hell of it. I don’t like dogs, but I can tolerate them if I have to. I like to sit completely still and stare off into space. I pretend to be aloof and untouchable. I take affection for granted and being pandered to is my absolute favourite thing ever. It must have been a good life because I appear to be trying very hard to replicate it all in this one. Perhaps in my next life I’ll be a houseplant, with even less responsibilities, and merely have to sit around looking good.

The results of a quiz I took to see what historical figure I might have been in a past life came up as 100% in favour of Mary Wollstonecraft, Anglo-Irish feminist, intellectual and writer. There is only a ten percent chance that I was Alexander the Great.

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