Friday, May 31, 2019

Spring Colours

We stopped in at Home Depot after physio today, to get a few things.  My eye was caught by the bright colours of some of the annuals they have on sale.  Here's a selection.

Wednesday, May 29, 2019

Tree Trimming

Our neighbours called in a tree surgeon to trim some trees out back.  I thought they were mainly trimming this tree that is a big part of the view out our window, but they had bigger ideas in mind.

I think tree surgeons must be frustrated little kids who loved tree climbing.  Can you spot the guy high among the leaves?

But this tree was the serious business, with a large branch extending out over the neighbour's deck.  They started by throwing a cord with a weight on it up over a higher limb, which they used to pull up a safety line.  Pulling on this, he practically ran up the tree and out onto the branch.

 A closer look, with the safety rope he used to pull himself up, chainsaw hanging from his belt.

As he worked his way down the branch to a larger diameter, he tied a rope to it and his colleague lowered it down.  None of this just cutting off the whole branch and letting it fall!  Note how small the chainsaw is.

Here it goes, almost on the ground.

He adjusted himself with the safety rope and cut off the next to last piece.  Shouldering it, he directed its fall so it did no damage.

 and then he rapelled down the tree in all of 5 seconds!

And this is the little tree they started with after they were done.  Comparing this to the first photo, I think they did a good job.  Add in all interesting entertainment for the morning.

Sunday, May 26, 2019

Unexpected Results of a CPAP Mask

At the beginning of the month Mrs. F.G. suggested to my respirologist (one of 5 specialists we see regularly), that I might have sleep apnea.  I could not go in for the sleep test for obvious reasons, but they set up an overnight oxygen test for me.  Yes, I had sleep apnea and the remedy was wearing a CPAP mask at night.  To be honest my reaction was not positive.  I just thought to myself  'Oh no, what else can go wrong with this tired body!'

A week later a soft-voiced young saleslady came to visit and sell me on the benefits.  The high cost (about $1200) is mostly covered by OHIP, but we will pay 25% if we keep it.  But I get to try it out for free.  It's a small modern version, with a built-in humidifier, and it's silent overnight.  I politely agreed to try it out.  She mentioned in passing that they'd be monitoring my breathing from their office - shades of '1984'!

It turns out, I was surprised.

As we expected, I got a better, smoother sleep, and Mrs. F.G. got a better sleep because I was breathing more quietly.  I woke up more rested and breathing more quietly during the day too.  On top of that, a gurgly bothersome cough I couldn't get rid of was gone!  And the mask was more comfortable to wear than I expected too.

On top of that I was immediately more energetic and less sleepy.  I had literally been falling asleep again after breakfast, again after lunch, and again watching TV in the evening.  Even in church I would nod off, several times.  I was feeling pretty guilty, but put it down to the pain meds I'm always on, which do cause drowsiness.  But now?  I haven't fallen asleep or felt drowsy once in two weeks!

My whole level of energy has changed, for the better.  I'm more alert and focussed.  I keep up a running conversation with the girls who come in the morning to get me up instead of falling asleep on them.  And I can go all day without a nap.  If anyone wanted to take the mask away now I would demand to keep it!

Saturday, May 25, 2019

Recovery Progress

It's been just over 8 months since we came home after 7 months in the hospital.  The biggest things I have learned are that recovery continues, long after the first few months and that the work the caregiver does is far more important than anything I can do.  My caregiver is the best of course, and she puts in a lot of hours while I just sit.  I do get out to ride up and down the cul-de-sac any day that it's not raining, and we're now getting a few actually warmish days.

My physical recovery has surprised me.  I now routinely transfer using the slideboard at physio.  My balance is so much better than before, and I can reach for things I couldn't even get close to 3 months ago.  I try to lift a few weights every day, but it will take a long time to gain back the strength lost in those fateful 7 months.

The biggest progress is in arranging homecare.  From week one when we had no help to now is a huge relief.  We hired our own morning help in week two, but I still don't know how we survived those first few weeks.  By Christmas we were getting some evening help, and now we have help seven days a week, from Care Partners in the evenings (except that they seem to be unable to find anyone to help out on holiday weekends, which are very difficult), and the VON in the mornings.  My life is enriched by seven younger women, all of whom have young children, telling me their stories.  And Mrs. F.G.'s life is enriched by not having to struggle to get me up and put  me to bed   every day.  I'm still doing battle with Care Partners over weekend scheduling, but I'm making progress.

We keep astonishingly busy, not just with physio in Owen Sound twice a week, but other medical appointments and various events we get out to.  At the moment we're (Mrs.F.G. that is) very busy getting flowers and shrubs in.   It's a wonderful time of year to work outdoors.  I do get downtown to have coffee with some retired Bruce Trail buddies (6 of us), and usually ride home myself afterwards.

So in case you've been wondering, we're doing quite well.  Progress is slow but steady, and sometimes surprising.  Mrs. F.G., my caregiver, works  far too hard, but I seem to be a high maintenance patient.  At least I appreciate it.

Thursday, May 23, 2019


Four years ago last night we got the calls from distant northern Alberta, reporting that there'd been a crash and our oldest son William had died.  Will was flying his water bomber fighting a forest fire near Cold Lake in niorthern Alberta when his plane was caught in a fire tornado, and smashed to the ground.  Every May 22nd brings it back.

Will spent some of his the early years in his career up in the Arctic, flying photographers out onto the tundra to photograph wildlife like Muskox.  Along the way he saw lots of wildlife himself, and saw the northern lights, up close and personal`.

Scrolling through the pictures, I found these two, from a flight he took to distant northern Quebec.  I think Quaqtaq is the only place name in the world with three`Qs``.

It took him 15 years of experience to apply for the water bomber position; it was his dream.  This is him, doing a water drop as a demonstration in Lac Labiche, Alberta.  Of course the fire approaching High Level Alberta, in which some of his friends are involved, has reminded me of all this, but it always comes flooding back easily.

Wednesday, May 22, 2019

Garden Planter Boxes

What we have been after is some large-scale garden planter boxes.  Ever since I found and admired the raised planters at Parkwood Hospital last summer, I've thought of surrounding our deck with wheelchair-height planters that I could use for tiny gardens at a height I could reach.

We went around behind the office and there they were!  Nice-looking planters almost the right size for us.  We discussed it with the two young men on duty, and arranged to get 4 boxes like this one built to slightly different dimensions (bigger).  They won't get done until next fall or winter now, after the busy nursery season, but we're fully occupied with the gardening we're already doing, so that's fine.

Farm fields are looking well-prepared now, either planted already, or ready for planting.

The cattle have been out of the barn for some time now, and I'm sure they're enjoying it.

There is a steadily increasing Mennonite population around here now, taking over many farms when they come up for sale.

We headed back through our beloved Beaver Valley which I don't see nearly as often now.

Down in the bottom of the valley is a large swamp, with plentiful Marsh Marigolds in bloom these days.

The willows are an increasingly bright shade of green.  Note the sign: "Road Closed …. by Police Order Due to Winter Road Conditions".  Did you know that if you disobey one of these signs and you have an accident, your insurance may not apply, and tow trucks won't come to rescue you?  There are a couple of stretches of road that have permanent signs like this.

Most of the landscape still looked pretty bare, but every now and then there was a sugar Maple or two coming into flower.

And after that we were down the big hill and home into Meaford.

Tuesday, May 21, 2019

Maxwell Nursery

Last week we headed out hunting for some more trees and shrubs we want.  Driving south for half an hour we headed for the Maxwell Nursery, a Mennonite nursery we've visited in the past.  It was a nice drive, if with a touch of rain, and we were successful in finding some of what we wanted.

It's a beautiful time of year for a drive in the countryside …………….. [at this point the power went off, and stayed off, so I got interrupted.] …………… This is, believe it or not, a winery and vineyard, even here in the highlands where winter is winter!  Georgian Bay has more moderating influence than you think.

The rolling open lower slopes of the escarpment, marked by farm fields, fencerows and woodlots makes for nice scenery.

One of the big rocky headlands of the escarpment is on the right, cliffs hidden behind the trees.

At Maxwell Nursery the flowers in one of the greenhouses were looking great!

We were surprised by the expansion of the operation, a small family-run business that started on the farm.  A big new shelter for some of the trees and shrubs.

We always look around at everything, and we found the tree we wanted outside, a nice clump of small White Birch at a very reasonable price.  We snapped it up on the spot.

This nursery had some more interesting woodworking than any other we've been to.  Someone here is obviously a good carpenter!  And we were delighted to find just what we've been looking for.  I'll tell you tomorrow.

In the meantime the weather this weekend was crazy, thunderstorms, torrential rain, and then a cold front bringing freezing temperatures (well, it wasn't freezing, but it felt that way).  At one point I headed out for some fresh air, got to the farthest end of the street, and it started to rain.  I got just a little wet racing home, and then it rained the rest of the afternoon and evening.  I expect many traditional May24th camping trips got cut short as people headed home to warmer, drier surroundings!

Sunday, May 19, 2019

Trees are 'Greening Up'

The valley is rapidly 'greening up' as we say, the forest slopes washed in yellow-green colours as the trees, especially the Sugar Maples first, start to wake up and unfurl their leaves.  But actually, much of that yellow-green colour is not the leaves, but the flowers.  Yes, trees have flowers (how else would they get seeds), and in most cases the flowers precede the leaves, if only briefly.

This is that magical timme in the woods (if I could get there), when the spring ephemerals bloom, all those spring wildflowers that we love.  The sun still shines through the largely leafless canopy, but the forest floor turns green.

Here's a single Sugar Maple out on the golf course, beautiful-green.

We're having an invasion of Blue Jays these days, presumably two families from two small patches of woodland nearby.  It's made for endless amusement watching out the windows.

Sorry about the format; blogger is misbehaving for me tonight.

Saturday, May 18, 2019

Animals in the Yard

Yes, even though we live in town we have a few animals in the yard in addition to all our birds.  The squirrels must feel that this is the local squirrel restaurant, though our bird feeders remain successfully squirrel-proof.  We have both grey and Red Squirrels.  Then this spring the rabbits, eastern Cottontails, move in, carving out a home for themselves under the shed.  There's also a chipmunk around, though I haven't successfully caught a photo yet.

There are surprisingly fewer Grey Squirrels than last year, and we only saw one occasionally over the winter.  Never-the-less, you can count on one or two being around every day.

The little Red Squirrel seems to be here almost all the time.  Only half the size of the Greyn Squirrels. it can easily match them in scampering up a tree.

We saw the adult rabbit last year, but it was only about two weeks ago that we saw the family.

Here are two of them creeping out from under the shed.  We've seen as many as four.  Needless to say, the Head Gardener is not pleased!

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