Sunday, 14. December 2008
Sat 13 Dec 2008

Leithe, Scott's aunt (sorry Leithe, this photo doesn't do you justice); Ann and her daughter Carla, our hosts; and Pat, my mother-in-law

The temperature is supposed to dip down to 40 below, tonight, with the wind chill. I have been home for an hour but will have to venture out tomorrow at noon. It's Christmas Dinner at the seniors' lodge and my two sons are Grandma's special guests.

Scott dropped off some supplies with her today and found her with her winter coat on, about to go out for a walk. He told her not to go anywhere. She seemed to think she didn't live at the lodge, so he tried to find someone to keep an eye on her and make sure she stayed in, but had no luck. Just getting over strep throat himself, he didn't feel too good about wandering around a seniors' residence and spreading his germs, so came home. I was unable to reach any of the home care aides who are there during the day, but did alert the kitchen staff, who weren't too concerned because "Your grandmother is right here in the kitchen watching us, and she doesn't have her coat on." I called when I got home and she's safe and sound tonight, in her room getting ready for bed.

The Likeminded Ladies (this is a nickname I came up with shortly after being invited to join the group of friends who meet regularly to dance naked around a bonfire and cast spells)(just kidding, but what was I supposed to tell Scott when he asked what we do together for five or six hours at a time? that we sit and talk and laugh? he'd never believe it)(but please, said he, don't tell me this; i don't want to picture my mother and my aunt that way) gathered for a potluck supper in Kelvington. Not everyone was there but a small bunch of us had a pleasant visit and a delicious meal. Then we headed out on the road, which we bumped down with tires frozen flat on the bottom. Or that's what it felt like anyway.


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Saturday, 13. December 2008
Fri 12 Dec 2008

Guess who finally had to get reading glasses. They're hard to get used to; now every time I look beyond one foot in front of my nose, everything is blurry. Complain, complain, complain.

OH MY GOD KATEANDJIM! You finally managed to post a comment!! OOF -- fell off my chair, there. Ow.
Anyway, nice to see you. Yes, I am sure my fashion sense is the envy of all the women in town. Soon they'll all be wearing ski pants and fur. Eh? Can't see it.

Scott's feeling well enough today to come upstairs and ask me pointedly whether I've been into the chocolate again, and why I always put the wire things that hold the chicken in place in the roaster in the wrong way. Well I DON'T KNOW! What is the right way? And why doesn't he tell me? Probably because he doesn't dare. I am so scary.

He's feeling improved enough to go to the other house for more firewood this afternoon and to go out tonight to start on an estimate for an addition someone wants built next summer. I don't think he should have set foot out the door so ... guess who won't be filling the hot water bottle for him tomorrow if he ends up flat on his back again, whining about how horrid he feels. With luck he's on the mend. Or else I might have to kill him.


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Friday, 12. December 2008
Thurs 11 Dec 2008

chilled, fevered, waiting for doctor

10 pm

Been on the go basically all day. Took Scott to the hospital emergency room in town right after the boys caught the schoolbus. He hadn't slept all night, had a fever and was having trouble catching his breath, and ... asked me to take him to the doctor before my eyes were even open in the morning.

I would like to brag that I did not say "I told you so" out loud, regarding my ignored advice yesterday that he forget about the god damn cattle and look after his health instead. I'd like to brag that I, wise and noble, had the self-discipline to only think it (real loud). But alas, I am both outspoken and self-righteous, the worst combination.

Got home around 11 after picking up a prescription and stopping at the post office. Did breakfast dishes and warmed up leftovers for lunch, then put a frozen chicken into the oven and mixed up a hashbrown casserole for supper before leaving for town again to do some running around before the meeting with the palliative care team. Then picked Everett up, dropped him off at home and went to Margo for supper with the group. Stopped in for a quick visit with Bruce and Shirley, then swung by Karen’s but she was in town for choir practice and decorating the hall for their carol fest on Sunday. Chatted with Dick while I filled two water jugs for cooking, and came home, only to be sent over to Golden Grain Farm to bring firewood home before we run out. The fevered boy, who can’t get warm, wasn't having that! I filled the hot water bottle for him and he toddled off back to bed.

Apparently it is very cold out there today and getting colder, though I have to say it doesn’t seem too bad to me. I wore my mink coat and ski pants -- the height of fashion -- hee! -- but warm.

Yesterday afternoon Everett came in from feeding dogs and cats and birds, and told us how a chickadee had landed on his hand and taken seed out of it. How cool is that?! I told him, awed, “You are a very special person.” I know that of all wild birds that might be unafraid of humans, it is the chickadee that is the most fearless for its size, but still … they don't come to just anyone, do they?

Well whatever. I still think my boy is special. So there. It's a fact that birds have always liked him.


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Wednesday, 10. December 2008
Is Christmas Coming or Isn't It?

Usually the moment December rolls around, Everett drags out the Christmas tree, sets it up and decorates it. He hasn't mentioned it yet this year and I'm not sure I'll remind him. I just do not care. Yet. I like sparkly colours, but might be just as happy with the flashing lights that were hung up around the office windows last year and were never taken down. Just gotta plug them in.

This plant hanger has had a sort of ivy in it until last week, when I ruthlessly chopped it down because it has never, ever been full and healthy. Why, I don't know -- the rest of my house plants do fine, but this one was always gangly and nothing but stems that grew thick and long but the leaves would always dry up or turn red and roll up. I love ivys, but never have had any luck with them; there have been many, but not a one has ever grown thick and luscious for me. This is not the first time I've cut this particular plant right back, but it will be the last. I figure if it comes back this time, moving to the other house and changing its location vis à vis sunlight might make all the difference. If not, it is finally going out the door.

Scott spent yesterday on the couch with strep throat, drinking soups and eating sandwiches overflowing with onions and garlic to the point that the smell of him could knock me backwards from the other side of a room. Today he is not feeling much better but due to the responsibilities of raising cattle (tell me again why anyone in their right mind insists on maintaining such a business?) he has been out all day, getting them ready for market and then driving them to it. I hope this doesn't mean he ends up in worse condition than he already is in, but did not try to block the door when he was making his way toward it. One thing I have learned over the past year of being impatient to move into the house at Golden Grain Farm is that people will do exactly what they want to do and no more, no less. It's beyond my control.


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Monday, 8. December 2008
Cat House

After dropping Grandma off at the lodge last night Scott and I picked up a little insulated cat house someone had made and set on his front lawn with a sign, "For Sale, $20.00." Can't go wrong for that price, we thought. The guy must use scrap material and even so, isn't charging much for his labour.
The cats here sleep in the barn in the winter but are often sitting on our step looking for food or attention during the day, so what the hell. There are at least half a dozen of them. "Our" cat, Ralph (when he lived with her, Grandma called him Blackie but he has a distinct meow that sounds like he's saying "Ralph") is never friendly to the other cats. He's openly hostile but, even clawless and neutered, I'm told he's the boss of the barn. Maybe he'd like to have his own little castle over here. Or maybe other cats will make use of it.
Before we came indoors, I shovelled the snow off the dog house and Scott placed the new building on top of it.


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Elves, Fairies, and Little Tiny Grandmothers (any connection?)

When I went to get Grandma this afternoon there was an interesting program on the radio so I had to sit out in the van and listen to the last 10 minutes of it. Did you know that if you were to stop Icelanders on the streets and ask them if they believe in elves and fairies, one out of two would say yes? And if you asked them why, they would say it's because they know someone who has seen one? And that there is a government official in charge of road and bridge construction who will actually have the location of projects moved if there is a possibility they could inconvenience the "little people?" And that if a politician were to say he didn't believe the little people exist, that politician would fall quickly out of favour? Yes indeedy. I didn't know either.

We celebrated Grandma's 92nd birthday (why I'd been thinking it was the 93rd, I don't know) with a roast chicken supper followed by ice cream with chocolate cake that Everett made yesterday and iced in a fancy green last night. Scott and I drove Grandma back to the lodge (a moose ran for a ways in the ditch alongside the van; Scott saw it, but I didn't notice; it was dark and "Are they friendly spirits, Bullwinkle?" as Scott likes to say to me) after a short tour of the Christmas lights in town. There are a lot and they're looking good; I was impressed.

Again when we stepped into the hallway after entering Grandma's building, she wondered why we were there. "You've lived here for the past two-and-a-half years," I reminded her— three times in response to further queries, before we got to her door.
Once we were in, with her coat hung up and her birthday gifts put away, she walked us to the door as she always does, but not before she was hugged and greeted by a number of the other residents who were in the sitting area outside her door, where some of them play cards every night and others watch. No wonder she is happy there.


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Saturday, 6. December 2008
Christmas Season Begins

Amy Ann and Samantha sit with Mrs Hiscock, who works with all three of these kids in Emil's special needs class

He wouldn't dance with any of them last night, though they all worked on him. Nope. He just wanted to walk around and listen to the music. I'm told that once supper was over, he didn't sit down all night.

Scott and I scouted to find the least busy of the four restaurants in town, and sat ourselves down for a quiet meal, both cursing the Christmas music already playing over loudspeakers. There should be a law— Christmas music permitted in public places one week before, one week after— and that's it. If only we ran the world.

It was too early to drag Emil away from his party when we'd finished eating — Scott had pork chops and I had spring rolls — so this was a perfect opportunity to visit Grandma.

I reminded her that her birthday is on Sunday. "How old am I?" she wondered, and when I told her she'll be 93, she said "Oh! I thought I was still in my eighties."

When I suggested we'd either bring a cake in to her or she could come to our place, she decided she'd like to visit here for the afternoon. So I'll be baking a cake today — she likes all kinds, she said, so had no special request.

We sat with her for about two hours, she and Scott looking through the Margo history book and me reading The James Gang, about the ladies' ball team Karen played on for many years, coached by her father-in-law, Jim. They swear they all avoided playing one certain position because anyone who did ended up pregnant (Jim joked that one husband actually paid to have his wife placed there, and single players were not permitted in that position), and that Karen, who was the catcher, could throw the ball so hard it would knock the ball glove right off your hand.

Finally it was time for Grandma to get ready for bed. When we went to the town hall for Emil he wasn't prepared to leave, naturally. But Scott's teenage niece was, so we brought her home with us and her dad (who runs the recycling station in partnership with the sheltered workshop) brought Emil home later. Emil says he had fun and a year is sure a long time to wait till the next party.


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Friday, 5. December 2008
Yippee, it's Friday

Baby Ben's home from the hospital and Joan is blogging.

Tonight is Emil's Christmas party with the sheltered workshop in town. They have a supper and dance; this is the third year he has attended and he is excited. He has been quizzing me all week, trying to pin me down about what time I'd be dropping him off— making sure he'll be on time.

Scott and I will probably take ourselves out for a meal while he's there. I'm feeling pretty much myself again, though still taking antihistamines and not very energetic.

Went with Scott to Karen's last night. He had some work to do in her basement bathroom for a half-hour or so, and while waiting for him to finish I helped her clip a throw-quilt she has made for a friend whose house burned down recently.

All we hear on the news or call-in radio these days is talk about the coalition's intention to take down the federal Conservative government. What surprises me most is how much we Canadians Do Not Know about how Parliament works, and how uneducated we are about what is really going on, how easily we get fired up by scaremongering— particularly the misleading remarks made by people who think they know what they are talking about but obviously don't, or who have something to gain by getting the public to believe there is something improper going on here.

Here is a bit of information about the way federal government in Canada works, and its historical precedent, for anyone interested in actual facts:

History Wire


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Wednesday, 3. December 2008
Emails from Joan

Good evening from Children's Hospital in Vancouver.
Dec.2 update:
Ben started on his new drug last night and they are slowly weaning him from the other nasty one. He is tolerating it well and I think I can already notice a slight bit more strength in him...he has held up his head a bit more, and for a couple of seconds, he bore some weight on his legs (and that is just in one day with a lesser dose). Could I be imagining it?
He saw the opthamologist today and they could find NO evidence of any sort of eye disease so that is good news. We are to continue patching his eyes and as his brain continues to myelinate(insulate) his eyes should improve. His vision is fine (does not need glasses) but it is the interpretation of what he is seeing that we do not know for sure, and it will likely vary from day to day for now.
He will not be having another MRI while he is here, as they tell us that until he is two, there will be no significant changes and it is a lot to put him through (anaesthesia) so we will wait until after his second birthday.
They did some bloodwork and he is a little trooper... no complaining or fussing. He is eating a ton (butter chicken for supper tonight) and is smiley smiley smiley. They want to monitor him on this new drug until at least Thurs/Friday so I do not know yet how we are getting home or when, but Gary will be back tomorrow to visit for a bit. It can get a little lonely here even with all of these people around! I miss little Jordanabanana, and just want to get home, but also want these seizures controlled so I guess this is the best place to be. Should go and get myself some supper (little bugger ate it all!) Ciao.

Dec 3 email
Sure I do not mind if you post my emails.
I even slept in this morning at the hostel... getting used to the hard bed. Ben is nice and happy this morning and the doctors are happy with his reaction to the new drug so far. It sounds like we will get out Friday morning for sure, if not tomorrow.
I watched "The Patriot" last night on his little TV but it is pretty noisy in the room as there are two other toddlers who are in much pain from surgury, etc, so again we feel pretty lucky that Ben isn't experiencing any pain. But, on the other hand, these little guys are sitting up and walking and saying "mama" so I have to say that I am green with envy over that.
Oh well. He is still the cutest of the bunch!
I do have a book..."Love in the time of Cholera" (Oprah's pick) and so far it is okay... not great yet, and I bought a crossword book. There is a lounge to watch TV and, of course, a computer, so it is actually really set up great for parents. Can't complain at all. Will write tonight.
Love,
Joan and Ben


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Monday, 1. December 2008
Monday 1 Dec 2008

This is the inner sanctum where this afternoon I waited for the doctor to come and tell me what I already knew: that my body has had an allergic reaction to something I ate or something in my environment. I still think it was Neilson's Slowpokes, which were delicious but not worth the swelling and itching and redness and blisters. He did ask me if I'm stressed about anything, and although I know you can be stressed and not realize it, I don't think I am. When Mom was diagnosed with kidney cancer— now that was stress.

We stopped at Bruce and Shirley's on the way home from Karen's the other night, and he was looking pretty good. It is prostate cancer that he has and it has spread into his hipbones. "I'm hooped," he said, but surely that isn't the case. The only treatment they are giving him is a shot every three months that is supposed to kill the cancer cells. So it's not good news, but it's not the worst news either. It hasn't spread to his vital organs and is a very slow-growing cancer; lots of people either beat it or can live with it for a long time. Fingers crossed.

Doggie update: Enough donations (thank you, you know who you are) have come in for the little dog's eye surgery, medications and even spaying, if all the pledges are honoured. Once he gets through that, he'll need a home. I'll pass on any more news that Karen gives me.

And now, it's time to come up with something for supper. Antihistamines make me lazy. I mean, lazier than usual. I don't feel like standing at the kitchen counter. So I won't, or not for long. I made a cabbage dish the other day and am going to turn the leftovers into soup and make some biscuits to go with it. That'll have to do, or someone else can make free in the kitchen, it's all the same to me.

No word from Joan yet about how Ben is doing. I left a message on Gary's cellphone just now so maybe she'll call me when she gets a chance.


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