Monday, March 12, 2007

getting personal

Well, the other day, I went to pick up a new pair of prescription sunglasses (which have been a godsend, let me tell you, especially with all the driving I've been doing in sunshine glaring off white, white snow everywhere). And guess what the nice fellow fitting the glasses said.

He wanted to ask me a "very personal question."

Well, I said ok, but my imagination was flipping out, into overdrive, wondering what on earth he was going to ask me. I was sure I was going to blush as I can seriously do! And I was ready to tell him it was none of his business, but I didn't know what the question was yet, actually...

I laughed out loud when all he asked me was: "How old are you?"

Are you kidding?? And here I thought...well, never mind what I thought!

My age? Is that all you want to know? That's easy. And I've gone through enough sh.. in my life to feel I've earned the right to proudly say I am 52 years old, so there! Besides, as they say, the alternative is most certainly not better!



Sunday afternoon conversation with oldest daughter:

"oh, I almost forgot, did you need your suitcases, Mom?" (which she had borrowed for trip to Florida in January -- see granddaughter and princesses)

"no, they are suggesting a duffle bag is easier on porters or mules or donkeys..."

"Oh! I ... I get the picture! It's that kind of trip!"

"yes, it's that kind of trip!"

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Thursday, March 08, 2007

ordering seeds

The internet is so fantastic! Without leaving home, or even writing anything, with a few clicks of the mouse, I ordered my seeds yesterday.

I chose to order most of my vegetable seeds from Agrestal Seeds. There are still some things on my list that I will probably order from Salt Spring Seeds, and I will probably get my tomato seeds from Dave Ackerman at Upper Canada Seeds. I also ordered lots more herb seeds from Richter's in Goodwood, Ontario.

It did take me a couple of hours to refine my list, but the process of ordering online is way, way too easy. Far, far too-o-o-oo tempting!

The seed orders should be arriving just as I get back from Africa. Maybe a bit late for seed starting, but I find even if we don't have frost, the weather can be quite cold and miserable in late spring and summer around here anyway and starting too early doesn't get me much further ahead in the garden. I just end up with a whole bunch of seedlings crowding every bit of bench space I have, overgrowing their pots...planted out, suffering a huge shock when we have snow in June. Believe me. It has happened. And then I'm out there laying every bedsheet I own and what have you over the vegetable beds trying to avert more frost damage!

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Suddenly, as I was chatting with a colleague at work, my right eye started to twitch. Actually, it was the lower eyelid at the outer corner. As my colleague walked away, the eyelid continued to twitch. Then, just a few seconds later, I could see something in my peripheral field of vision, something on my right lower eyelid.

I went to the bathroom to check out my eye in the mirror. There was a small soft lump filled with fluid at the outer corner of my right lower eyelid. It wasn't painful, but I could feel the pressure of it's presence, sort of sitting there, like a bug on a leaf. My eyelid continued to twitch and even as I watched the pocket of fluid continued to swell until it was about the diameter of a dime.

Good time for supper break here. Worried that my eye might attract attention, I was relieved to retreat to the staff room. In the middle of our break, eating our supper, suddenly I couldn't swallow. My throat started to spasm and I was choking and coughing. I coughed and coughed and coughed.

After what seemed like forever, I could finally breathe but I felt very very strange. My whole body felt like I'd been packed in cotton and everything looked so dark. Someone must have dimmed the lights.

As I wondered why it suddenly seemed to be so dark, the palms of my hands started to tingle. I rubbed them, but the tingling feeling persisted. I looked at the palms of my hands and they were fiery red. I had never felt anything like this before.

Even when our break was over, the palms of my hands continued to tingle, now to the point that it was unbearable, irritating, itchy. The young woman I was working with asked me how I was feeling, if I felt any better. I told her I was feeling even more strange than I had earlier. I showed her my hands. The palms were crimson, the sensation burning now. A fine red rash had spread over the back of my hands. The young woman pointed out that the red rash was on my neck and chest as well.

Finally, the penny dropped! I was having an allergic reaction! To what? I wasn't sure, but that didn't matter right now. A benadryl capsule was found. I took it.

Phew. About an hour later, I felt so much more like myself. The darkness lifted. I didn't feel strangled by cotton anymore. My hands returned to normal. But the eyelid remained puffy. The twitching disappeared, but the puffiness spread and spread.

Even the day after, ie yesterday, I looked in the mirror and hardly recognized myself. The whole area under my right eye was puffy and swollen as if I'd been in a fight.

It wasn't discoloured but looking at it I thought: "Maybe that's what I'll look like when I am really really old. That's the way my skin will sag under the eyes. Oh, it also reminds me of people who have had a stroke. If I had a stroke, maybe that's the way I'd look, one side of my face drooping like that."

Idly, I thought if I had time I'd lie down with, what is it? tea bags or cucumber slices or slices of raw potato to take the swelling down? I couldn't remember and anyhow, I was too busy all day yesterday to think about it again.

This morning, I'm happy to report that the skin under my eyes is back to normal, that is to say, it doesn't sag much more than is usual for a woman my age...



Everyone across the province has been struggling for nearly two weeks now with the hazardous driving conditions brought by the snow and winds. My own trips have been exhausting, much longer than usual and taut with tension.
But I can't help being distracted by the fantastic snow sculptures shaped by the rambunctious winds.

...and the squirrel wars continue...and I'm losing.

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Saturday, March 03, 2007

how do YOU say it??

Hick, of Bee-mused in the Country, who lives and writes in the Sierra Nevada Mountains, tells a funny story here that brought back wonderful memories of my own son when he was 13 & 14.

When my son was about 14, at the time this story took place, I was taking a life-drawing class that I enjoyed. And as I am wont to do, when I am enjoying something, everybody gets to enjoy my enthusiasm with me (I admit it -- I go on and on and on...!)

One day, my oldest daughter came to me and told me my son had asked her about vasectomies, what they were, what was involved. She wasn't quite sure she had explained it to him properly and thought I should help out. But, she warned me, when she had suggested that he should ask me, he had reacted with typical 14-year old boy horror: What? Ask MOM? NO WAY!!

So, never one to shy away from controversial subjects before, when raising my kids, I said to him a short time later, "D., come here. I want to show you something." I had in mind an anatomy textbook, but before I could get it out, my son was already backing away.

"No, Mom. Forget it! I don't want to see any of your drawings of nude men."

I didn't get it at first. Nude men? Well, I was going to show him an anatomy book, to show what happens when men get a vasectomy.

He started to laugh, the typical 14-year old, relieved and yet even more embarrassed, if that were possible! "I thought you were going to show me your drawings of nude men from your art class!" my son said.

But he was very reluctant to look at the anatomy book too! He suddenly already knew all about it already and didn't need to look at that either...And he was pissed off at his older sister's big mouth for telling me...

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approaching takeoff

Good grief, there are so many details to remember and I still have so many things I have to do before I'm ready to take off for Africa, that I'm fighting back panic. Shopping for my gardening stuff, seeds, etc has been pushed aside for now and that too, is bothering me. Maybe, by the middle of next week, once I have finished my calls and arrangements, I'll be able to make out my seed orders.
I know what I want to grow this summer. It's just a matter of taking the time to make out the order forms and send them off.
Meanwhile, I'm fretting that I should have more stamina and endurance, that the altitudes in the mountains might be troublesome, that I'm not doing enough training on steep hills.
I know: take a deep breath, and one step at a time...

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Friday, March 02, 2007

Toronto & winter

My adventures yesterday, started in fairly benign fashion, but I was ignoring the warnings about the coming winter storm! On my errands around Toronto yesterday, I passed by one of these lovely neighborhoods, where, as I mentioned in a previous post, I can picture myself living. The biggest advantage is that this little residential street is within walking distance to just about anything, including public transit. To someone like me, who has to do so much driving to do anything, being in walking distance sounds like paradise.

OK, so far so good. In the picture above, you cannot see the snow that had already started to fall. By three p.m., as I was leaving MEC down on King St., (I know, again!!), tons of snow had already fallen (ok, I'm exaggerating just a little there), and the traffic quickly a mess.

Skyscrapers of the financial district around Bay St. disappeared into swirling snow.

The cheezy artificial coconut palm decorating the rooftop of Hooters is an odd juxtaposition to the falling snow of a late winter storm in Toronto.

Notice, the light is green, but nobody is moving, ie, gridlock defined!

Above, the Bloor St subway is visible under the bridge over the Don River and the DVP.

It took me over 4 hours to drive the relatively short distance from the bottom of the Don Valley Parkway to the on-ramps of the 401, a trip that should take maybe 30 min. When I made fun of Toronto and snow, recently, I had completely forgotten the impact that the sheer volume of traffic makes. Interesting to think about, the impact of the congestion of vehicles.

Contrast that struggle with rush-hour traffic in bad weather with the remainder of my trip:

I had enough trouble with the snow on the relatively deserted roads from Pickering to Fenelon Falls. Visibility was pretty good, but the winds were so strong that deep, deep drifts criss-crossed the roads so that I was often in the wrong lane to avoid getting completely hung-up in a snowbank. The fastest I was ever able to go was about 60km/h. A trip that might normally take me 2 hours, took me over 3 hours.

I had considered taking the GO train in, but a strike by CN workers, the extra time involved, were factors that I took into consideration when I decided again, to take my car. Then, to top it all off, a freight train derailment yesterday morning put a severe snarl into the GO schedule on the lakeshore east route. Listening to the radio as I sat on the DVP, barely moving, I heard weird delays also occurred on the Stouffville route...GO staff blaming it on the striking CN Rail operators...Sigh.

We have along way to go to improve our transit and public transportation system so that an ordinary person like me would be motivated to use it vs my own vehicle which gives me the flexibility I want.

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