Saturday, November 28, 2020

Library Visit

Yesterday was a library visit, and Mrs. F.G. dropped me off and later picked me up.  She had suggested that I go there once a week over the winter, just to get out of the house, and I'm happy to oblige!  I'm very happy to have another thing to look forward to.  The library building is as nice as it was last week, although they're still finishing things in some corners inside.

I spent my time well, first exploring my favourite authors of mysteries to get familiar with where those books are.  There are about a dozen authors I read regularly, but for a few of them I've bought recent books during the wait for the new library to open.  Now I can explore those books at my own pace.  

Then I spent some time in the small Canadian history section, and found a good book on the history of indigenous peoples in Canada which I thought I'd like to read.  Finally I headed for the reading room and looked through a couple of magazines, just relaxing.  

I had bought Michael J. Fox's new book, No Time Like the Future, an Optimist Confronts Mortality and read it quite quickly.  Since it was brand new, I donated it to the library.  I did enjoy reading it and they appreciated the donation.

After that I went back to the Canadian history section and took that book on indigenous peoples over to one of the reading spaces and sat and read the first few pages.  It's well done.  I think I'll treat it like a reference book and try to read a little every time I'm in there.  There's something nice about just sitting and reading while you're actually in a library.  

I've been thinking I need some mental challenges over the winter, so I've been reading a bit online about indigenous peoples and about early Canadian explorers.  I've also been watching a video series by Samuel Jackson entitled Enslaved.  That's been very interesting too.  So you may find some future far-too-intellectual blog posts on these topics.

Of course, having taught university I am used to spending time in libraries, some of them pretty big ones.  My Ph.D. research on 19th century southwestern Ontario involved spending hours in the Ontario Archives in Toronto, reading old newspapers on microfilm.  I have no desire to read anything on microfilm every again!  But I did develop a deep interest in Canadian history.

So I have a new destination here in town, and it's one I can usefully visit throughout the winter months.  Three cheers!

Thursday, November 26, 2020

A Pileated Woodpecker

 Yesterday I was sitting quietly at the table when a large Pileated Woodpecker landed on a tree in the yard.  This was one of those 4 second bird visits when you hardly have time to grab your phone, let alone move to a better view.  And I only had my iphone with me.  And my view was through the screen door.  So. sorry for the low quality picture, but this was memorable, so at least this proves that it happened!

We've only seen a Pileated Woodpecker a few times, and not for many years, and I certainly didn't expect this to show up here in town.  It's like that Rough-legged Hawk that visited 3 weeks ago, one we'll remember for a long time.

I quickly called Mrs. F.G. so she got to see it too, but it flew away almost immediately.  Oh for my other camera, looking out a different window!

In other news I've just got off the phone and laptop with a nice young lady at the library in Thornbury, trying to record my presentation on waterfalls using Zoom.  But she could not get the audio feed working.  We tried everything we could think of with no luck, so we've rescheduled for next week.  Otherwise another quiet day inside.

Wednesday, November 25, 2020

The Continuing Caregiver Struggle

Currently we face a continuing very serious home care and elder care staffing shortage here in Ontario.  More than 2200 long term care residents have died during the pandemic, and that accounts for 66% of all Covid-19 deaths in the province, a horrible disaster for Ontario elders.  In Canada it's over 80%, the highest reported in the world!  Much of this can be put down to staffing problems, as well as outdated facilities that crowd residents sometimes four to a room.

The same staffing shortage is making home care programs steadily worse.  Patients on waiting lists can't get home care at all, and other patients sometimes get told no-one is available, leaving them sitting up in a wheelchair all night!  Home care is by FAR cheaper than sending people to long term care, but it still operates as a second class service.

Twice during the past week we have been left without help.  In our case my wife can get me out of or into bed, but certainly not easily.  Paralyzed and needing a mechanical lift to shift me in or out of bed, I'm not easy to deal with!  Today, because of the schedule, I wasn't out to breakfast until 10.30!  But many elders receiving home care live alone, so without help they are stuck, many of them also not able to use the bathroom.

If you trace this back, of course it goes back to government cuts and low wages.  It's hard to see a way out of this except with greater public investment.  I'm afraid that you easily feel you worked hard for 30 or 40 years, and then if you get ill and need assistance, you're just dumped on the rubbish pile.

I should be clear that the people who actually provide the home care (and I'm sure it's the same in long term care) are uniformly wonderful people who do their job well.  These PSWs (Personal Support Workers) are dedicated and committed.  But I sometimes fear that the managers above them are hired for their ability to talk a corporate line - and at the moment that line is always the staff shortage that prevents them giving the care they'd like to.

If you visit the website of the Canadian Association of Retired Persons (CARP), the top headline you'll see is "Fire the Minister!", complete with a petition to fire the Minister of Long Term Care here in Ontario.  Sign the petition and maybe we'll send a sharper message to the politicians!

Tuesday, November 24, 2020


It's not surprising that at this stage in November we're getting a light snowfall.  What's surprising is the forecast, for 10°C on Thursday!  Meanwhile today was a physio day and I expect to be a little sore tomorrow after a whole group of new exercises.

We woke to this light snowfall, not much but enough to turn things white.

It had actually started the late afternoon before, a very light drift of snow but it continued all night.  It came across the golf course like a wall of white, convincing me that a bank of fog was approaching.  Then suddenly it was gone, living a dusting of white flakes over everything.

Mrs. F.G.'s ornaments had white caps.

And I noticed later little frozen drops of water, telling me that the temperature dropped suddenly.  Rain had turned to freezing rain at some point overnight, during a quick transition to snow.

I love this view of all the big horizontal branches to the east, but it's hard to get a picture of because of the angle.

On the other hand looking out the kitchen window provides quite a different view.

For a few brief moments we had a flutter of birds out back as several Goldfinch and Chickadees visited.  The Chickadees are here every day, but we've had very few Goldfinch visitors this year.

Saturday, November 21, 2020

The New Library is Open!

Meaford's new library finally opened yesterday after an extra 3 week delay!  I was down there shortly after lunch, and it was a wonderful building.  Much of the focus has been on creating an entirely accessible library, and it was.  This is going to be a common destination downtown for me.

The building is a striking renovation of the former grocery store, with the addition of a LOT of windows.  It does contrast with the historic buildings of the rest of downtown, but to me it looks great.

Inside it is bright and open, with lots of space, and even a lower check-out desk for children (and wheelchair users).

There was a huge fund-raising campaign; this is the main donor recognition wall.  Some of the rooms are named after the really big donors.

This is one of two large meeting rooms.  There are also several smaller rooms, all set up with audio-visual equipment.

The stacks are wide open and not too tall.  The only disadvantage for me now is that the bottom shelf is awkward to use.  I did find two books and sign them out.

There's a nice children's section where I thought these wavy shelves were really neat!
I was very impressed, and look forward to spending more time here in the future.

Thursday, November 19, 2020


Yesterday after physio we picked up sandwiches at Tim's and drove down to the bay to have lunch.  It was a dull grey day, but the first icicles that we've seen this season had formed on the trees, after the cold night and some wave action splashing up on the trees.  There will likely be much more over the winter.

We had woken to a dusting of snow, evidence of the cold night.

It certainly was a grey day on the bay with no waves today.

When we arrived on the shore to eat lunch we found these icicles.

They're really just getting started, but undoubtedly they'll come and go, and grow, over the winter.  These ones are looking dirty from washing off bits of loose bark.

There are 3 more icicled trees, but they're all beyond the barrier closing off the beach area.

This looks pretty typical for November days here to me.  But today is up to 10°C, and tomorrow may hit 13, so the ice will be all gone.  I may even get out for a short ride this afternoon!

Tuesday, November 17, 2020

Enjoying the Patio

Just a week ago we were outside sitting in the sun and enjoying the patio during our days of balmy November weather.  It was actually warm!  But a week has passed and it seems a whole season has turned now!  A glazing of that white stuff fell last night.

The new garden is all in place, mostly not showing above ground yet, but protected for the winter, and the yard is entirely put to bed.

Our heron/ostrich/crane has been moved out to a more public spot (but it blew over in the wind Sunday night and is now back to a more sheltered spot).

There even one tiny touch of colour in the leaves of the Coral Bells.

Our Celtic fish sculpture is leaning safely against a tree for the winter while its usual base is used for a bird feeder.

Between the patio and the deck there will be lots of room for me to roam around next summer.

And my ramps are working well.  I don't know if I shared with you the final improvement to the ramp leading up into the house.  Even though the boards were only one inch+ thick, it was an awkward bump getting onto in.  Our carpenter suggested this solution and it works great, so both ramps are now smooth to use.

Mrs. F.G. has added a few colourful balls to the planters so there's a bit of a Christmas look outside the window.

But this is the view today - at -1°C!  I guess that was my last day on the patio until next spring.