It seems that Gill has been thinking about end of life planning lately. Wills, funeral arrangements and other such happiness. It also seems that her thoughts may have gotten away on her a little. Unless there’s something that only she knows, writing a will and setting money aside for a decent burial don’t mean that you’re going to die the moment you finish putting pen to paper. But it’s difficult to be too hard on her. None of us likes thinking about this stuff, and she’s hardly the first one to have her emotions take over even when we know better.
Yesterday I was feeling rather sad, realizing I’m not getting any younger, and would have to start planning for when this Earthly race is done. I honestly thought about all the fun stuff I would have to give up because of all the ways it could kill you. I also thought I’d get some weird illness doctors couldn’t figure out and would end up dying alone in some cold hospital room. But even with all of these thoughts on my mind, I could still think of a happy time in my life.
Picture this. My sister and I are children. We are spending time at our Gran (paternal grandmother’s) house. We have spent a lively morning walking through the neighborhood, visiting a store or going to my great-aunt and uncle’s farm. We have just had lunch when gran suggests we should go to the nearby park. We walk across a bridge, over a road, and down a steep path. Let me also stop to let you know that it’s the perfect summer day, temperature in the high 70’s (mid 20’s), lovely little breeze. Getting off the path we find some shady spots to ride these rocking horses, one a turtle. There was in its time, but not now a metal slide. Take a walk with me just a smidge further to find a river with plenty of room for stones to be tossed. After time it’s back over the road for some well deserved lemonade and treats.
My sister and I have long since moved from that tiny slice of heaven, and now our views generally contain concrete and moving vehicles. But when I get to a sad corner like yesterday, I think of those days filled with sunshine, stones in a river, and about how much fun there is left to be had.
What’s your go to memory or thought for when you are feeling sad?
On July 23 police were called to St. Williams, 30 kilometres southwest of Simcoe, after two Neighbourhood Watch signs posted in the community were stolen.
“The signs had been paid for by community members after several fundraising initiatives,” OPP said.
Anyone with information can call police at 1-888-310-1122.
And while we’re at it, I would really like to know more about these trees. Are they that close together or are we dealing with an extremely large person? Also, how many substances were involved in the creation of this predicament?
At 1 a.m. on July 18, police were told a person went missing at Pinery Provincial Park, near Grand Bend.
“Initial investigation revealed the person ran into the bush area and did not exit,” OPP said. Officers heard the person yelling for help. A police dog found the person stuck between two trees.
“Lambton OPP members assisted in removing the person from the two trees,” police said. They did not specify whether it was a man or a woman.
A while ago, I constructed a list of kids’ songs that weren’t totally obnoxious. I was thinking about that list, and realized this one is ruined.
Lyrics are here.
Thanks, Coronavirus! We certainly *don’t* want to teach kids to shake hands right now. That song is so beautiful, so simple, and so sadly not a good song right now, even though we need the unity in it.
On a side note, it is really hard to unlearn to offer your hand to shake. Without thinking, I have stuck it out and then yanked it back in feeling like an idiot. It’s like hearing the words “Nice to meet you” triggers an unconscious response of sticking the hand out.
For some reason I have fun writing about any dreams that I could sort of relate to this stupid pandemic. The good news is I’m having less of them. But the ones I’m having are getting weirder and weirder.
A little bit before I actually went over to the mall, I guess my mind was trying to process how the trip would go. The prediction wasn’t good. In the dream, in order to follow the physical distancing markers, I had to play the Allamaraine game, where you have to step on certain panels on the floor.
Hmmm…somehow I don’t think singing to go along with this would be such a good idea.
Anyway, I dreamed that I was trying to Allamaraine my way to Dairy Queen to get a blizzard, but I was so focused on trying to do it right that I wouldn’t notice people getting into my bubble, or how I was cutting into lines and stuff. By the time I got to Dairy Queen, I was so flustered that I didn’t even get what I came for. Somehow, I ended up with “a moose on a stick” of all things. I didn’t even notice I had gotten the wrong thing until I had gotten out of the line and it was too hard to Allamaraine my way back there. So I left, furiously trying to eat this moose on a stick before it dripped all over me and the mall floor.
I get the Allamaraine thing, but moose on a stick? The only thing I can figure is they use a moose as our mascot at work, and there had been talk about how going back to the office would work. So maybe my dream just combined the two.
My most recent dream made me laugh really hard when I woke up. In it, I went back to the office, only to find a huddle of people near my work area. There seemed to be a problem. While the building was abandoned, a feral cat had had kittens in my area, and they were chewing on cords and we had to get them out. So in the dream, I decided that if I hid somewhere and meowed, it would convince the cat and kittens to come to me. So there I was, crouched near one of the cabinets, meowing. And because it’s a dream, it started to work. But at the end, there was one smart kitten that wouldn’t come, and I think there was one very sick kitten. Then the dream ended.
Um wow. I don’t think that will be how things go when I go back to the office whenever that is. The building hasn’t been that abandoned, and…just no. But it was a funny picture.
So that’s the sum total of my new dreams. It’s probably good that my brain has been less diverse in its ideas. But it definitely hasn’t been less creative.
When they first started talking about the COVID Alert app, I wasn’t sure what to think of it. There were two things about the descriptions I had heard that didn’t sound good. First, they called it a contact-tracing app. I had visions of this short film, all being done by this app. I had visions of it collecting all sorts of data and doing who knows what with it. I’m aware that lots of apps do this, hence the film mentioned above, but this one felt even creepier because there was the potential for health data too.
On top of that, I imagined it fueling paranoia. They described it as if all you had to do was walk by someone and if it knew they had the virus, it would yell about it.
The app uses Apple and Google’s notification API, which uses Bluetooth technology to share randomized codes with other nearby smartphones. These codes can’t identify users. Apple and Google’s API, which is the software that makes this app work, is being used in several countries, including Australia, Denmark, Germany, Italy and the U.K.
In short, Apple and Google designed the API as ‘plug-and-play.’ Health agencies can build an app that utilizes the API, which handles the trading of codes. These anonymous codes are stored on-device. When someone tests positive, they can use the unique code provided with the result to upload their stored codes. Then, other smartphones check the uploaded codes for matches. If there’s a match, it notifies the user of potential exposure to COVID-19 and provides some next steps.
It also doesn’t use your location, ask for your address, use GPS, sift through your contacts, or hoover down any other health data about you. Here’s a quick tour of the app.
The only way this app can succeed is if lots of us use it. Otherwise, it won’t have a database of codes to pull from. I never thought I would, but I’ve downloaded the app. After initial setup, I haven’t heard from it since and that’s good. Hopefully it never goes off.
It’s close to the beginning of the month, which got me thinking about something. Whenever I see the commercial for Bravecto, the dog flea and tick preventative, I feel like I’m living in opposite land. First, I’ll show you the commercial.
So the commercial says since you only have to give your dog Bravecto once every 3 months, you have less to remember. Actually, I find it has the opposite effect. I’ve mentioned this before. Since it only does fleas and ticks, there’s something else I give her for heartworm, and since the vet wants them done on different days so we’ll know if she has an adverse reaction to one of them, I end up having to remember more. I always ask myself “hmmm, what do I have to give her this month?” As the month gets ready to change over, my brain starts flagging “Is it a Bravecto month? Is it a Bravecto month?”
It makes me wonder something. There have been reports of dogs having seizures after taking Bravecto. Is this because the owner messed up the schedule and gave the next Bravecto tablet too soon? Probably not, but it does make me wonder.
Personally, I’d rather just remember to do something once a month. But maybe I’m the weirdo.
I hope this song doesn’t have a hidden meaning that I don’t understand. But from what I do understand, I felt it was appropriate for a couple of reasons: it talks about thinking of someone years down the road and how you think no one has changed, and it has so many memories tied to the summer where I learned it, a summer from long ago, and the summer when I met Myrtho.
God I feel old. 2001 has become long ago. But it has. That was 19 years ago. Back then, I was in the middle of university, and was just starting to live in a place that wasn’t a residence or my mom’s house. That summer, I went to the Summer Language Bursary Program and stayed in Jonquière for five weeks. What an adventure that was.
If you don’t know, the aim of the Summer Language Bursary Program was to give the participants lots and lots of practice speaking French. I mean, the participants *had* to speak French. If they caught someone speaking English too many times, the person got sent home! They did this not to be jerkfaces. They wanted us to not be able to cheat. The more you spoke and listened to French all the time, the more it would strengthen your skills in speaking it.
I was offered the chance to live in the residence, or with a host family. I had been encouraged by everyone to choose to stay with a host family, and so I did. The woman who hosted me was a sweet, older lady named Myrtho. She told me she had done this host mother thing for many years, and I could tell she had experience helping us non-French-speaking lost souls through. When I met her, the first thing she did was walk up to me and wrap me up in a great big hug. I’m sure for most people, that was a very comforting gesture. No matter what language you speak, a hug is a hug. For me, who didn’t see it coming, it was jarring for a second, but I figured it out and it did melt my heart a little bit.
She did everything she could to make me feel at home. Throughout the time I was there, she told me stories about her family, her husband who had died, her friends. She introduced me to her daughter who lived nearby. She had little get-togethers on the weekends when she brought over more of her family. She knew when I had been exhausted by speaking French all day. I came home from the first day of class and she told me to have a nap before dinner. I said thanks, but I wasn’t tired. She responded with “Yes you are.” I lay down, and…where did that hour go? Yup, she was right.
There were two of us who stayed with her. We must have driven her crazy. She cooked us delicious meals every night, and we weren’t always on time. Oops.
She would talk about how she was trying to stay active so she would stay healthy. She would talk about her keeping moving and all the activities she got involved in. We had one particularly funny misunderstanding. I thought I heard her say she played hockey. I went to school the next day and told my classmates that my host mother was amazing! She’s 77, walks all over the place, does lots of exercise and she even plays hockey!
Then later on, we had an activity which was called “quille” which is 10-pin bowling. Quille sounds like key, which if you say it a certain way, could sound like hocky. “Je joue au quille” sounds really close to “Je joue au hocky” especially if you’re struggling with the accent. So she said, you’re going to “joue au quille, like I do.” Then the lights came on and I said “I thought you said you played hockey!” Did she ever have a good laugh at that. I told her I told all my friends that my host mother was a super woman! She’s 77 and she plays hockey! She laughed some more and then said “Go back to your friends and tell them you were wrong!” Then we laughed some more. That became a story she told all her friends and relatives who came to visit. “Carin told all her friends I play hockey!”
She worked so hard for us. She did my laundry because I was afraid I’d never understand her explanations of how to work her washing machine. That’s the weird part about being immersed in another language. There are words that you just don’t know until you need them, and then, how do you explain what they are, especially when you can’t point or mime what you’re trying to say? I remember some scary moments when it was dinner time and she would say what we were going to eat, and I hadn’t an earthly clue what it was. Thank goodness I wasn’t allergic to anything, and thank goodness it was all delicious.
She had a wacky sense of humour. Her daughter had a French Furby. Remember the Furby? Now imagine it speaking French. Imagine that thing making syllables at you in that Furby voice that you can only vaguely understand. This video might help.
Now imagine that being the first sound you hear as you wake up. Aaa! That’s how she chose to wake me up one day. I couldn’t stop a bit of English swearing from coming out of me, followed by a good laugh when I figured out what was going on.
That program was amazing. Everyone from Myrtho to our teachers to the other leaders to Véronique, the girl who guided me around because there was no way I could manage learning routes to, from and around school while learning French, were immensely patient and taught me a lot of things. I had a great room-mate too, Nadia, and I wish I could find her now.
You’re probably wondering why I’m being all nostalgic. Has all this time inside made me so bored that I’ve decided to shrink back into happier times? Not exactly. I lost touch with Myrtho a couple of years after the program. I remember getting a card from her, and I hope to heck I sent her one back. Then I lost her address and phone number in a computer failure and never thought I could find her again. This summer, I googled her name, and the name of some family members, and Google gave me the bad news. It appears she passed away. Not only that, but she passed away 7 years ago.
I could not believe it. Perhaps this was someone else. All those names are very common French names. Maybe this isn’t her. Then I looked at her age and remembered an awkward exchange I had with her and my parents when they were bringing my suitcase into the house. I was having to translate for my parents because they don’t speak more than a few words in French. She said something like “I am 77 years old. My husband has been dead for some time but today is his birthday.” If she was 77 back in 2001, she could totally have been 88 in 2013 when she passed away since her funeral was in January. I am almost completely certain I have found her.
As it settled in, I was heartbroken. I had always meant to get back in touch, but it was so intimidating, especially since my French language skills had become less strong. Then I forgot her last name and of course I had lost her address and phone number. Now, to find out that she had been gone for 7 years and I had no idea totally destroyed me.
I always say I have such fond memories of that summer, and I do. But I have forgotten the things that could help me find people and reconnect. I failed to keep in contact with Nadia, my room-mate. I can’t even remember her last name. I’m pretty sure she was from Toronto, had gone on a tree-planting expedition up north, and was interested in studying abroad. I remember how the staff weren’t sure how I’d do on an optional weekend hike, and Nadia agreed to help me. I kind of accidentally hurt Véronique’s feelings doing that, *oops*. But Nadia was endlessly patient with me, warning me about every rock and root as we went. We almost made it all the way to the top! I wish I could tell her what I’d found. But maybe she already knows. Maybe she did a better job of keeping in touch with Myrtho.
But here we are. At least, after consulting my French teacher from years gone by, I was able to write out a note of sympathy. But it all feels too little too late, and I get the feeling that despite my best efforts, this will happen again. Life really is too short.
I know this is old, but it’s an excuse to tell a silly story.
A few months ago, I heard about a ton of guinea pigs getting dumped in a park. At the time, Steve and I asked why someone would do that, and I immediately thought of the song above. I’m pretty sure guinea pigs can breed about as fast as rabbits, and sometimes people don’t know they have a female and a male until…they have many guinea pigs. I wonder if rabbits and guinea pigs were the inspiration for the Tribbles from Star Trek.
I was also surprised there was a guinea pig sanctuary. Did they create it to rescue all the unplanned guinea pigs that came into being?
Thankfully the only guinea pig experience I had was with having one guinea pig, so I never had the misfortune of suddenly having many of them. But I did figure out how much one guinea pig could chew.
A long time ago, I took a guinea pig off a friend’s hands. Her name was Bella. My friend told me what Bella loved to eat, she told me that if I was holding her, I should put her on a towel because she was a poop machine. But she never warned me that while holding her, she would nibble my hair. Maybe this was because this friend was smarter than I was, and tied her hair back when holding Bella.
Bella and I were getting along well. I loved her squeaky squealy noises she would make in the morning and whenever someone would come into the room. Cleaning her giant glass tank thing was no fun, and Steve had to help me move it so I could clean it, but whatever. I would hold her and pet her and she would sit there squeaking and cooing and making those guinea pig noises, and kind of gnawing on my hair. I would giggle and not think much of it.
Then one day, my mom asked me where I got such an atrocious haircut. I raised my eyebrows and named the hair place down the road where I’d always gone. She really wanted to march down there and give them a piece of her mind, and it took a lot of persuading to keep her from doing it.
A little while later, I suddenly took a closer look at my hair and went “holy crap, one side really is shorter than the other!” I realized with horror that that was the side that the guinea pig had been nibbling on. I was very thankful that my mom hadn’t chewed out the people at the hair place, because it wasn’t their fault, and I was going to have to now go crawling to them and hope they could fix it.
As I walked down the street, I wondered how I would explain the state I found myself in. I couldn’t think of a quick thing I could say while they stared at my hair, with one side drastically shorter than the other. When I walked into the shop, it felt like all conversation stopped. It was like I walked into an old movie scene where the guy comes into the saloon and everyone stops and stares. But this wasn’t the saloon, it was the salon and I knew the reason for the silence. All I could sputter out was “Help me!”
After I explained what happened, we had a good laugh and she straightened out the mess that was my head. I was much more careful about where I held Bella after that.
So if you find yourself thinking about guinea pigs for pets, only get one, and tie back your hair when holding them!
As always, after I’ve taken a trip, I take forever to blog about it. This one was almost a year and a half ago. But I felt like writing it down because if this garbage Coronavirus hadn’t come along, I would have likely been back there this week. Back in March of 2019, when life was normal, I visited Tansy’s raisers at the end of a conference that was in their area. It was a really great trip, filled with amazing memories, just like our first visit. These people know how to pack a trip full of adventures.
Tansy’s raisers were very sweet and came to get me at the hotel where I was staying. Tansy didn’t go nuts for them just then, probably because she was exhausted and overstimulated, but she definitely was happy. But when we got to her puppyhood home, she let it all out. She started grunting at them, just like she does to Brad. Yup, these are definitely her favourite people.
On our way home, Tansy’s raisers were concerned about their new dog, the one they got after Sasha died, and how he would respond to Tansy. They were planning that if he got too aggressive or obnoxious, they would board him somewhere while we were there. I was really hoping that wouldn’t be necessary, and it wasn’t. Their new dog was a shmeency little thing, but I know those can be the worst. But after the dogs introduced themselves, he settled right down. I was so happy.
I always like to figure out what each dog’s tags sound like so I can tell them apart, but I could never hear this wee one moving around. Eventually, he decided to sleep on my lap and I figured out why. His tags were inside a little knitted pouch. It seems the metal in them had given him a ring of grey crap around his neck, so she put his tags in a pouch. Ok, mystery solved! Also darn it, the little sneak can go all stealth on me.
I was pretty confident that Tansy looked good, but there’s always that fear that someone who raised her wouldn’t agree. But they were thrilled with how good she looked. That made me happy.
I didn’t stress about her vacation home craziness. I just accepted that she might steal a tomato or two, and she might choose to sleep next to her raisers. Most of the time, she slept near me, but there was one time when she decided to sleep in the teeny new dog’s bed. There’s a picture of that, but sadly I don’t have it. If I ever get it, it’s going in here. At least this time, I was able to keep her leash and harness with me, so that helped reduce the stress.
So what did we get up to? A whole bunch, and it was so much fun. We went to a comedy show called Canuc as Fuck. I think they were worried that this one could go bad, but it didn’t. We all had a really good laugh.
Then the next night we went to a concert. It kind of felt like I was at church because the performers kept singing pieces that sounded like hymns. When the intermission hit, it was clear that this wasn’t what Tansy’s raisers found super enjoyable, so we left. I’ve never walked out in the middle of a concert before.
She took me shopping. If it weren’t for the need to cram everything into a suitcase, who knows what I might have brought home. The next day we went to a Pilates class. While I was doing it, the moves didn’t feel like hard work, but after I was done, my muscles were screaming! I don’t know how many times Steve heard me say “Aaa my core!”
Of course we had lots of walks each day: some in parks, some on crazy trails that felt like some kind of agility challenge, some in the infamous Trump golf course. The dogs were never bored. Every time we went for a walk, Tansy could hardly contain her excitement and she would start puffing madly. I swear she’s not out of shape. She’s just happy as heck.
I don’t know what it is, but both times I’ve gone to see them, at some point, I have tripped and fallen on one of the walks. I don’t know whether I’m focusing more on trying to make sure I’m staying up with them, or worrying about us making a mistake and so I do, but both times, I have fallen to the earth at least once. It’s weird because I rarely ever fall here. I can’t even remember the last time I’ve gone for a spill. Oh, there was that one time I slipped in the middle of the road, but that was the ice’s fault.
We learned so much about each other. I learned about their kids, their younger selves, their jobs and their friends. I got to meet a guy who used to puppysit the Shmans. He could hardly believe that she grew into a guide dog. I almost met another friend of hers, but she wasn’t up to it. I think she knew Tansy when Tansy was a wee puppy.
Tansy’s raisers learned a bunch about blindness, Braille, how I use a computer, and that I have a wicked good memory. They wanted me to do my presentation that I had done for the conference. I told them that it would probably be kind of techy and weird without slides, but they wanted it anyway. It grew into a great big conversation. They seemed to enjoy it.
I brought them a Google Home Mini. I wasn’t sure how it would go over. I was kind of worried that it wouldn’t understand her voice because she has a heavy accent. I also wasn’t sure how he would feel about it since I know he has strong opinions about surveillance and stuff. But I also imagined them getting it to play music or asking it what the weather was in Kitchener, so I thought it was worth a shot. If they hated it, I could take it back and give it to someone else and find something cooler for them.
I was not wrong in their possible difficulties with it, but I think they enjoyed it more than they didn’t like it. I laughed when he asked it if it was a CIA spy, and it actually had an answer for him. Of course it did. It shook him up later on, after he was talking about it being a listening device, and then we got in his car and he discovered his own phone has been listening to him this whole time. Also, she did get it to play music while she cooked, and seemed to enjoy it.
It’s cute to watch them try and use technology. They really want to, but they don’t know what it all means. The first night I was there, they went to get me the wifi password which was written on the bottom of the router, but they jostled the modem and made cables come out. So the “phone” hole “was the same size as the “DSL” hole”, so he put the DSL cord in the phone jack and aaaa! The internet is broken! So the guy started rifling through a drawer of old modems, and trying to figure out what he had to change. I kept insisting it’s something simple. Meanwhile his wife was begging him to “Fix it!” In desperation he said “There’s a guy with an AT and T van! I’ll go get him!” Before I could tell him to stop, he was out the door in hot pursuit of Mr. AT and T.
While he was gone, I opened up my phone’s browser and read the message that the DSL connection was gone. When he dejectedly came back in saying he couldn’t find him, I asked him what the name of the hole was that he put the cord in. “Phone,” he said. I asked if there was another hole that looked the same, and if so, what was its name. “DSL,” he said. I said “Let’s slide the cord into the DSL hole and see what happens.” Of course it worked. “I fixed it!” He yelled triumphantly. I’m really glad he didn’t catch Mr. AT and T!
Movies sure have changed a lot, and because of use of less verbal cues, described video is becoming more and more necessary. We watched two very different movies, and both had very highly-visual parts. They often had to read to me, which was hard for them because it would move so fast. I even asked if there was a video description option, but they couldn’t find it. The first was a movie called Searching, which was about this kid having a double life that was discovered through chat messages. I wasn’t surprised that that was visual because it was all chat messages and emails and internet searches and stuff. But the second movie, Operation Finale, was just as bad! People really and truly are speaking less and less, and it’s getting harder and harder to draw information just from regulare conversation.
It still makes me sad that at the end of the trip, the damn airport made me get stressy and snappy and they had to see that. The poor woman was desperately trying to help me, but the airport had removed the ability for someone to escort another passenger to their gate if they needed assistance. Since we didn’t plan on needing airport assistance, we didn’t request any, and 15 other people also needed assistance. This made her panic, and try really hard to speak for me, which put me on edge because I don’t want to be spoken for. The more she got in their face, the less they seemed to want to help, and I finally had to tell her that she may have had the best intentions, but her attempts to help were making things worse. I think that hurt, and that made me feel like the biggest jerk on the planet. I think I smoothed that over, but it makes me sad that we had to part in a less than pleasant way. Airports bring out the snarl in me.
I am so sad that two attempts to get to see them this year have been thwarted by this stupid virus. I don’t know if Tansy will get to see them one final time, but at least we had two good trips.
So there’s been a bunch of confusion about this new one-time COVID-19-related payment of $600 that you get if you have the Disability Tax Credit here in Canada. People are running around wondering if they need to apply for something special to get the payment. If you already have the Disability Tax credit, no, you don’t.
Now, let’s do the longer version. Like I said, if you know you have a Disability Tax Credit Certificate filed, and it’s all good, then you just wait for the payment. That link says it will come in the fall. The fun comes if you have any doubt about whether you have a valid Disability Tax Credit Certificate on file. Depending on whatever they determine when you first filled it out, you sometimes have to renew the certificate. Mine just keeps rolling over since my eyes aren’t going to spontaneously heal no matter how many people try to pray for me. Whatever the case is, the status is tied to your account. So, if someone does your taxes, you can go ask them to let you know if you have one of these, or if you have access to all the features of CRA My Account, you can go check for yourself. After you log in, go to credits and benefits, and you will find a heading for Disability Tax Credit, whether you have a certificate and a link to view it if you have one.
If by some unfortunate set of circumstances, you are eligible for the Disability Tax credit and don’t have the certificate, you still can get it before it’s too late. They say you have until September 25 to get it and be able to get this one-time payment. What you need to do is get a T2201 form and you and your doctor fill it out. I don’t even remember doing this, probably because my folks were smart and did this when I was 18, and at the time, I was 18 and a clueless stupidhead about things like this. But that’s how it works. You should probably move quickly because I think I read somewhere that it takes up to 8 weeks for them to process the T2201 forms…and you barely have that before the window closes. So go, go, go!
To those who need to get their Disability Tax Credit stuff together, good luck. To the rest of us, you can relax now. The payment will come.
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