How shocking…..

Most people aren’t aware that I currently have a severe issue with my plantar fascia. What is a plantar fascia, you might ask. Good question since, until it hurts like hell, most people don’t know they have one – well, two, actually. It’s a length of connective tissue spanning the bottom of your foot and generally it is quite good-natured and behaves itself, stretching obediently as you walk. Until you do something to damage it. And then it hurts. A lot.

So somehow I managed to damage mine. My right foot. My driving foot. Not saying driving had anything to do with it, but you never know. It started bothering me about a year ago, and I just kept figuring it would heal itself if I rested it. Nope. It got worse. To the point where I couldn’t walk without limping, and even just lying in bed my foot would ache.

I hate going to the doctor and generally don’t unless there’s a valid reason. This was a valid reason. She diagnosed the problem in short order, and her plan of attack was several fold.
First she prescribed an anti-inflammatory drug. I hate taking drugs almost as much as I hate going to the doctor, but I hated the pain worse than either drugs or the doctor, so I have been on the anti-inflammatory for a couple weeks. And it’s good. Pain is controllable.
Second step was to purchase an orthotic heel thingy that goes in my shoe to support and mould the contours of the foot to allow the fascia to start to heal itself. I noticed a difference as soon as I put it in.
Third was some exercises to strengthen the muscles around the fascia to better support it and allow it to heal. I had some issues with that because she gave me a paper with drawings of exercises. I can’t do that. I need a video or someone to show me how to do them. Show me pictures and I end up falling all over my feet. So I went online and found a great website with videos of the exercises I needed to do.
And fourthly she sent me off to a physiotherapist. I went for my initial assessment and after poking, prodding, pushing, squishing, squashing, rotating, bending and twisting my foot in every imaginable direction, the nice physiotherapist told me the prognosis was good. With exercise and therapy my fascia will heal and I will be pain-free. He told me there is a new form of therapy to which he feels the fascia will respond quite well. It’s called “shock wave therapy”. He warned me that it isn’t comfortable and can cause serious discomfort, but it will help in the long run. I agreed and went for my first session today.

Of course I did my research online first, and what I read backed up what he had said. It is supposedly uncomfortable to the point of painful during treatment, causes sensitivity in the treated area for about two days after, and you should plan to take it easy for those couple days. When I went in today for the treatment, he repeated all the warnings and assured me that if I was at all uncomfortable I should speak up and we would pause. Nervously, I agreed, and we began.

Now, I don’t know what kind of pain threshold I have relative to other people, but he stopped twice to ask if I was ok, and both times I laughed and told him to keep going. At the end I actually found it quite soothing and I think if it had gone on much longer, I’d have fallen asleep! He was quite pleased that I hadn’t experienced any difficulties with the procedure, reminded me to take it easy for a couple days and sent me home.

Take it easy? Sure, I’m good with that! I did have to work this afternoon, as usual, but I have to say, tonight is the most pain free I’ve been in months! Even my stretching exercises aren’t hurting me! I don’t know what all those warnings were about – maybe I have yet to discover the truth of them – but I do know that this shock wave therapy might be the best thing for my foot! It – and I – are happy tonight! Sorry, but I have to say it – HAPPY FEET! (cue the penguins!)

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Loose Ends

I don’t generally make New Year’s Resolutions. Gave up on that too many failed resolutions ago! But like everyone else I feel the”new year, new me” impetus, and want to make some changes.  This year it’s going to be about tying up loose ends. Part of it is occasioned by the sudden death of someone I knew years ago. He was the same age as me, three kids, grandkids, healthy lifestyle, and poof, now he’s gone. Sort of makes one more aware of one’s own mortality. And all the loose ends.

So what kinds of loose ends are we talking about here? Well, right off we can talk wills. Both Stephen and I have them – as everyone should! – but they’re outdated and need to be updated. And life insurance. Stephen has it, I don’t, and I should. And what about the stuff that is STILL in my previous married name? Over the past two years I have been steadily and systematically switching everything over into my new married name, but every now and then something crops up and I think – that’s STILL not been changed??? Case in point,  the property tax bill still arrives addressed to Susan Stilwell. But in order to change that, I must change the deed and that requires a lawyer.

However, not all the loose ends are boring legal stuff. Let’s talk framing. Stephen and I travel a lot, and when we travel we bring home souvenirs, many of them in art form. Which need to be framed. And they pile up. And I have two finished cross stitch pieces waiting to be framed. Both are destined for Brianna, so I don’t need to worry about wall space for them at least!
And scrapbooking. Last I checked I was two years, five months behind. Not two and a half years, it’s two years and five months. There’s a difference. And it’s not because I don’t enjoy it, because I do!
And here’s a weird one – I have a bin of my dad’s old reel to reel tapes. Some of them are just music he’d recorded, but some are of him playing various instruments; some are recordings of various relatives that had been sent to my parents; and I think there’s even one of me as a little thing breathlessly singing “She’ll be coming round the mountain” as I ran in circles around the basement. I would like to have these transferred to some other format, whether digital or CD, I don’t care, I would just like to hear them again.
And I’m sure there are other loose ends that I haven’t noticed yet, but no doubt as I clear up the  ones of which I am aware, those others will become more visible. So what’s the plan of attack for cleaning up this stuff? Being a Leo, while I am a list maker, I am also a “just do it” kind of person, so rather than making a list of all the things we need to do and plotting a time line and setting small goals towards getting things done one at a time, Stephen and I have just leapt in head first.

At the beginning of Jan we took one of our prints in need of a frame to Fairview Photo Lab here in town. That’s a start, right? They did an absolutely AH-MAZE-BALLS job on it and we love love love it! The day after we picked it up, we took them the next one. We picked that one up today and are taking the next project in on Thursday to plan the frame. And we are planning to continue this until we’re all caught up and all the art is on the walls rather than in envelopes. Or in tubes, as the cross stitch is. So far, so good.

Last week I came across the land transfer documents from my house being transferred into my name solely after my divorce. That’s what reminded me that I need to get the deed changed. So rather than put it on a list to “get to”, we called the law firm, told them what I needed, and made an appointment for this morning. Lovely legal lady had all the papers drawn up ready for signing; I signed and should receive my bill for her services within a week. The next property bill should reflect the name change. Big one, done! And with that we also have begun to discuss wills and life insurance and have decided to set the goal of being completely sorted out with all that by the spring. So far, even better.

And I’ve even started working on the scrapbooking! I took several days last week and sorted through all the photos I’ve taken since – um….since….oh….wait….yeah, Christmas 2016. My bad. That’s a lot of photos. Anyhow, I sorted through, decided which ones to print – and did you know you can send your photos to Fairview Photo Lab online?? I can sit my lazy ass on my couch with my laptop and upload my photos directly to the lab and the nice folks there will happily print my photos and all I have to do is pick them up! Well, and pay for them too, but I can even do that online with my credit card! There’s no excuse for not having photos printed to scrapbook now! I’ve promised myself to take some time each week to scrapbook. I am not setting a specific goal of “one layout a week” or whatever, I’m just going to pick away at it and have fun with it and sooner or later I’ll catch up. I figure now that the kids are older and I’m not scrapping all their karate, swimming, skating, birthday parties etc, etc, etc, I should be able to catch up somewhat. Maybe. I hope. We’ll see.

And for the tapes? I wonder if the nice folks at Fairview Photo will have a suggestion for where I can get that done? They seem to be helping a lot with everything else, so it’s worth a try!

And on that note, I shall sign off now. I have some art to hang, and photos to sort…….


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Did You Know Windshield wipers Can Fly?

This morning on my way to my first stop I decided to use my time sitting at a red light to clean my windshield from the gunk thrown up by the trucks on the highway. I pushed the lever in and the wipers moved across the window and the washer fluid sprayed out all over the window, just like it’s supposed to. Then, all of a sudden, there was a CRACK sound and my drivers side wiper blade snapped off the arm, flew off to the left, bounced off the side mirror of the car sitting beside me and fell to the ground!

That’s never happened before, I thought, as I leaned to the left to look out my side window at the broken wiper lying forlornly on the road between my bus and the car beside me. There was a passenger in the car beside me, and she was leaning to her right, looking out her side window at the broken wiper lying forlornly on the road between my bus and the car. There we sat, staring at this wiper blade. Then she looked up at me. And I looked down at her. Our eyes met. I looked away and leaned forward to take a closer  look at the arm where the wiper had been attached. Then I sat back and looked down at her again.  She was still gazing at me. I shrugged my shoulders, flung my hands in the air and made a face to indicate I had no clue how that happened. And she burst out laughing. I could see her sitting there laughing and gesturing to the driver as if trying to explain what was so funny about a windshield wiper flying off a bus and bouncing off the car. I started laughing too, and the light turned green and we both drove off, having had our mornings greatly improved by a flying windshield wiper blade.

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A Christmas Surprise that was.

While browsing Facebook a couple months ago I saw that comedian Jeff Dunham would be performing in Hamilton at the end of December. What a lovely Christmas gift for Stephen, I thought, and went looking for tickets. While doing so, I started to second-guess myself, which you’d think by now I’d know not to do, and I ended up not ordering tickets. Several weeks later while talking to Stephen on the phone he told me, all excited like, that Jeff Dunham would be performing in Buffalo. Oh, that’s nice, I told him, and promptly changed the subject, even as I raced to ticketmaster online to find tickets to the Hamilton show!

Tickets ordered, perfect for a Christmas gift, since the show was scheduled for the 29th, I blissfully returned to regularly scheduled life. Until about a week later when Stephen started making noises about going away for the holidays.
Um…gulp…uh oh…… He had suddenly realized Sean and I would be off for the entire week after New Years and thought maybe we should romp off somewhere warm.
Um….gulp….uh oh…… How to stop this without telling him? The more noise he made about a holiday holiday, I had to say something.
“So long as we’re home for the 29th.” I stated unequivocally.
“What? Why?” he asked.
“I can’t tell you but we have to be home for the 29th.”
“Don’t do this to me,” he warned.
“I’m sorry, but we have to be home for the 29th. That’s all I can tell you, so please don’t ask me anything further or you’ll spoil Christmas.” That did it. No one wants to be accused of spoiling Christmas. I could almost hear him snap his mouth shut at the other end of the phone, followed by a sigh as he abandoned all hope of a warm, sunny getaway.
“Ok, so you’ve got tickets to a concert,” he rationalized. “Fine, I won’t ask.”

Just like that, bullet dodged.

Until his last day of work before Christmas, when he was texting with the other driver with whom he shares his truck. This other gentleman was expressing his disinterest in working during the week between Christmas and New Years, in part because he was going to a concert in Niagara Falls on the 29th. Stephen texted back and asked him not to say who they were going to see because his wife had tickets to something that same night and it was to be a surprise, so he’d rather not spoil the surprise, just in case it was for the same concert. The other driver laughed and said, maybe I’ll see you there! Whew! Bullet dodged yet again.

So on Christmas morning Stephen was pleasantly surprised with his tickets to Jeff Dunham, and on the 29th we traipsed off to First Ontario Place in Hamilton, formerly Copps Colisseum. The show was fabulous! We enjoyed every single minute of it, laughing so hard at times tears were pouring down our faces. Dunham put on a great show, with all our favourite characters, and a new one he was trying out – a terrified, jittery mouse named Bob who is an assistant to President Trump. My only complaint would have been the seating. You’d think they could make the seats just a wee bit larger, so you weren’t squashed in like sardines. I swear there’s more leg room on an airplane than there is in First Ontario Place! And considering it’s primarily a hockey arena, which is usually colder than most venues, you’d think they’d have taken into account that people wear coats…which take up room….not comfortable, not comfortable at all. Many of the people around us hugged their coats on their laps the entire time. A bit of a disappointment that was, but the show itself was superb and well worth the considerable effort of keeping the secret!

Next up – we have tickets to Santana in Windsor in mid-March. I have to confess, I am more of a pop/country fan, so when Stephen said he wanted to go to this concert, my reaction was a simple – “Who?????” Yeah, never heard of this performer in my life, not too sure about this, but what the heck, it’s a night out with Stephen, so it’ll be fun.

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Of Trees and Ants

I have owned this house since the spring of 1990. Shortly after I bought it, my friend Heather gave me a twig from a pussy willow tree which she had rooted. Not knowing quite what to do with it, or quite what I wanted to do with my backyard at the time, I dug a hole and stuck the twig in, rationalizing that it would probably die anyway.

Over the following years I learned a few things:
1. I am not a gardener. I kill most plants. With the exception, it seems, of pussy willows.
2. Pussy willow is a tree, not a bush. I always thought it was a little bushy thing. Nope.
3. Not only is a pussy willow a tree, it grows into a LARGE tree. As in a 30 foot large tree.
4. Pussy willow trees attract bugs. Lots of bugs.

All of these things aside, I loved that tree. It was mine; I had given it life. I watched it grow and thrive over the years. I hung garden decorations from its branches. I sat beneath its shade and watched the kids swim and play in the yard. Sometimes as I sat under it, a branch stirred by a breeze would gently tap me on the head. When I was upset I would go and talk to my tree and somehow I always seemed to derive comfort from it. When I had my backyard professionally landscaped back in 2013 I told the landscaper that the only things sacred in the yard were the pool and the pussy willow tree. Everything else was expendable. And accordingly, he worked around my tree. Stephen and I twined white Christmas lights through its branches for summer lighting. I always felt guilty when I had to trim parts of the tree, like I was hurting a friend.

Last summer we noticed that a large section on one side of the tree was full of dead branches. This worried me but I figured my tree would be fine. In the fall we went out to set up our Christmas lights and I noticed my tree seemed to be oddly leaning to one side. We’d had a severe wind storm a few days earlier, and it seemed major damage had been done to the tree, to the point that some of the branches were actually lying on top of the fence. In fact, the entire tree was leaning sideways.

Now, as attached to the tree as I was, I am also a realist. If the tree came down in a storm it would take out a large section of our fence, and possibly tear up parts of the driveway as the roots ripped up. As much as it broke my heart, I knew we had no choice but to have the tree removed. And so Stephen called the tree guys and a date was set.

About a week before the tree was to go, I went out back alone to say my goodbye to my tree. I was crying, because I am an overly emotional person, and I put both hands on the tree and said out loud, “I’m sorry. I’m so sorry.” And some of you will think I’m nuts, and some of you will totally understand, but I swear I heard the tree say simply, “It’s time.” And as I stood there I understood what my tree was saying. It had come to the end of its lifespan, and it knew this, and was saying goodbye by comforting me as it had always done.

And then one Friday morning I came home from work and the tree was gone. Sawdust and an empty space were all that remained. Well, not quite all. Stephen had them leave the stump, thinking we can use it as a base for a fountain or a statue of some sort. And he also had them cut out a biscuit of the trunk for me to keep. And that was when I realized just what my tree had meant by, “It’s time.” For the trunk was riddled with holes. Virtually the entire center of the trunk was missing, with just some blackened bits of wood remaining. My tree had been dying. The tree guy told Stephen that we took it down just in time. He said another storm would’ve brought it down, and our estimates of the damage to fence and driveway would have been accurate. I admired the biscuit, agreed that we did the right thing, and left the round piece of wood on the kitchen counter to dry.

And that’s where it gets interesting…..

We came back to the kitchen several hours later to find a black ant wandering around on the counter, and two more on top of the piece of wood. Assuming – correctly – that they had come out of the wood, Stephen placed it in the sink, weighed it down and submerged it in water. We left it for a few hours and returned to find twenty – yes, twenty, we counted! – black ants either drowned or swimming in the water! And Sean killed one that was roaming across the kitchen floor. Stephen drained the sink and ran more water. Next morning there were more ants in the water. He took the piece of wood and sealed it in a Ziploc bag, thinking to suffocate any ants remaining. Every day there would be several ants crawling around in the bag, only to meet their demise by squishing. How many ants could there possibly be in this one little piece of wood???? I started to get worried that keeping the wet wood in the sealed plastic bag would cause mildew or rot, so I came up with a creative way to let it dry while containing any further ants. I placed a bowl upside down in the sink and set the wood on top, then ran water to just beneath the wood. The wood could dry and any ants that were yet to emerge couldn’t escape into my kitchen. And it worked. Over the next few days we kept getting more ants out of it, until finally one morning I discovered a much larger, much uglier, winged ant floating in the water. Yup, we got a queen. Stephen made me send  him a photo because he said he’d never actually seen a queen ant before. That seemed to be the end of the ants, though there was just one more appearing two days later. I joked that he was the teenaged ant, who slept in and missed the party!

In total there were 35 ants, including one queen and one late teenager, in that piece of wood. That was just a small piece from the tree. Imagine how many more ants there would have been in the rest of the trunk? No wonder my tree knew it was time.

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Holiday Warmth

As I pulled up to my first stop this morning, I was a bit concerned to see a lady who lives across the street from the stop walking back towards her house. I wondered if perhaps the children had been misbehaving to the point where the neighbour felt it necessary to intervene. Surely not, as they’re good kids, and there were two moms also at the stop already.

I stopped, opened the door and the kids got in. Little L held up both hands, proudly proclaiming, “Look Sue, I gots new mittens!”
“I see!” I replied. “And where did you get those from?”
“The lady,” he answered.
I looked at the moms for clarification. They confirmed that yes, indeed, the nice lady from across the street had been watching them all year playing while waiting for the bus, and had knitted stripy mittens for each of the children at the stop.

I was stunned. What a lovely and thoughtful thing to do! The kids were thrilled beyond belief and showed off their new mittens to everyone who got on for the remainder of the route, and the moms were all touched by this generous action. That, my friends, is what the season is all about – selflessly thinking of others. Holiday warmth to everyone out there, and best wishes for a wonderful season.

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I Did It.

I went shopping with Brianna on Wednesday. This in itself is not unusual; we do this periodically. After shopping we picked Sean up at school and went out for lunch. At lunch we were chatting about various topics and Sean mentioned a discussion they’d been having in class about a specific article. The article dealt with a deaf, lesbian couple who wanted to have a child via artificial insemination. They were determined they wanted a deaf child, so were requesting a deaf sperm donor. Sean’s class was discussing the ethics of this choice.

Brianna was quite intrigued, and I made a couple of comments, but then sat back to finish my lunch. And while I was sitting there, listening to my kids discuss logically back and forth the various issues, concerns and problems raised by this article, it suddenly hit me.

I did it.

I succeeded in raising two well-adjusted, independent thinking, logical and compassionate young adults.

Go me.

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