Tuesday, October 29, 2019

I'm Trying Out a Manual Wheelchair!

Well, at least I'm getting started!

Yesterday they delivered a manual wheelchair for me to try out.  This one is bright blue but when I order one myself, I will order bright red. You may wonder why I'm moving from an electric chair  (which costs enormously more) to a manual chair which is a lot more work.  I'm doing this so that I can get some serious exercise, have a lighter folding wheelchair for travelling, and have a quieter chair for indoors.  Both my doctor and my physiotherapist have been recommending it.

Apparently most wheelchair users, younger than myself, start out with a manual wheelchair and may eventually end up in a power chair when their shoulders give out from pushing.  I was given an electric chair initially because I did not have the strength in my arms to push a manual wheelchair, but I have now built up enough strength to manage that.  And it's about the only way for me to get a serious cardio workout.

I plan to use it indoors over the winter and by next spring be out on the street going  up and down for that exercise. I will still be using my power chair part time and for longer trips like going downtown for coffee  and for outings with Mrs. F.G.  That being said, it will take a good deal of getting used to and building up more strength for pushing over any distance.   Yesterday it was difficult to even hold the wheelchair back while driving down the gentle slope of our driveway, and very hard to turn around and drive back up the driveway, so I've got some serious work to do.   A manual chair also makes you sit up much more straight, whereas my power chair is set so that I'm always leaning slightly backwards. The new chair is therefore a good deal more demanding on my trunk muscles.

It would be very easy for a person of my age to stay in a power chair for the rest of my life, and perhaps that's what they expected at the rehab hospital. But if I'm going to have the active life in the community that I want this is an important step for me to take.  If anything I have arrived at this point sooner than I expected and I plan to enjoy it!

Saturday, October 26, 2019

Greta Thunberg and the Activism of Youth

Greta Thunberg has been in the news recently, from her talk to the United Nations to her involvement in Canadian protests in Montreal, Edmonton and Vancouver.   The 16-year-old Swedish climate activist has been condemned by a number of people from US President Trump on down both for her message and for her age. One politician referred to her as mentally ill because of her autism.

I hesitate to post something political, but in this case she reminded me personally of the emerging environmental movement in 1969 when I was in third year at University and heavily involved.  The pollution story of the year here indicated that Lake Erie was dead, and the international joint commission came to town to hold public hearings.   I was well aware of pollution issues by that point having published an article about it while still in high school. I remember when the Cuyahoga River in Ohio burned which struck me as really absurd.   It was the years of protest over the Vietnam war, Kent State, the Santa Barbara oil spill, and the first Earth Day.  The first major environmental legislation emerged not too many years later.  I can't believe it, but next year will be the 50th anniversary of the first Earth Day.

 So I screwed up my courage and went off to the International Joint Commission hearings and gave a passionate speech  about the evils of pollution and waste. As luck would have it my testimony, the testimony of a young student,  was the presentation to be seized on by the media. By the next day my professors were congratulating me for speaking up!

 The success of early environmental cleanup efforts that emerged from those hearings left me convinced that the activism of youth is a very important catalyst for change and improvement in society. In the following years millions and millions of  dollars were spent reducing pollution in the Great Lakes, particularly by building sewage treatment plants in cities like Detroit, Cleveland and Chicago.  Over time a major effort to improve agricultural practises to reduce nutrient-laden runoff also developed.   So measuring success by action on the ground rather than by protests in the streets leaves  me thinking that Greta Thunberg's influence will probably be a very positive one, if we overrule some of the old white men who seem blind to he climate change issue!

Thursday, October 24, 2019

Lunch with the Cousins

A wonderful lunch with 4 cousins and their spouses and my sister today at the Black Birch near Orangeville.  I can't remember if we've ever had lunch like this with this group.  All too often we've only seen each other at funerals in recent decades.  One cousin even came from Halifax.  Maybe we'll do this again next year!

Wednesday, October 23, 2019

The Furry Gnome is Offline

Well my computer has contracted a virus and I can't get online, so none of my usual photos until I get this resolved.  I think this time it's beyond me, maybe even new computer time.  So the Furry Gnome is offline for an indeterminate time.  I may give you some text-only contributions in the meantime, courtesy of my ipad, which I'm using at the moment.  Don't forget me!

Tuesday, October 22, 2019

Autumn Skies

Well today's skies are certainly not like this - dark grey and raining today.  But several days recently have been glorious fall days with brilliant sunshine.  These were taken over on Highway 6 on one of our trips down to Pebbles for dinner with relatives.

It's always a challenge taking pictures directly into the sun, so this picture required quite a bit of lightening to get the foreground to show up as anything more than black.

Lots of interesting clouds on that day, though it was a challenge to get a good shot that wasn't blocked by nearby trees.

This was my favourite I think, the long narrow millpond on the Rocky Saugeen with the mill in the distance - long ago converted into a beautiful home.  I can remember going past this spot all the way back into my childhood, for this was the route to my grandparents' house.

I include this shot because it was the most beautiful sky shot, even though it's blocked by the wires.  Though without those wires the whole idea of digital photography and blog writing would be impossible!


Very busy time here.  It seems we're always busy!  We're often out someplace every day of the week, and it reaches the point where a quiet day at home is a very nice luxury.  Several outings recently were fun but not picture-worthy, so you won't hear much about them here - the Rotary trivia night (where we were among a lot of losing teams), the local Garden Club meeting, a group we'd like to connect to (I was one of 3 men among about 45 women, and the speaker was great), another drive down through the valley to enjoy the fall colour (you might see a few of those photos).

And at home I'm trying to move forward to get a shower chair and a manual wheelchair as well as getting this electric one adjusted better.  All three of those require coordinating visits of a salesman or tech from two different companies with the Occupational Therapist, who is only available one day a week.  And twice this weekend they were unable to find a homecare worker for us.

So life goes on, continually improving, but always a busy challenge.

Sunday, October 20, 2019

It's Not Just Trees!

It's not just trees that turn colour.  In fact the brightest reds I have seen the past two weeks have all been shrubs.  Here's a selection.

Burning Bush, one of the brightest at this time of year.

Virginia Creeper, a very widespread wild vine hereabouts, sometimes used for urban landscaping, as almost disguising this fence.

Sumach, another of my favourites, varying from bright red to orange.

And the mystery plant, here completely hiding the fence over which it is draped.  A bit like a maple leaf, a bit like a Virginia Creeper leaf, a bit like an ivy.  And ideas?????

….So the verdict is in, this is Boston Ivy.  Thanks to Woody and Al, though why a vine native to Japan would be called 'Boston' Ivy, I don't know!

Saturday, October 19, 2019

The View Out Our Window

The view out our back window is perhaps the nicest thing about living in this house.  It gives us a 'borrowed landscape' as designers would say, the golf course.

Between sunny bright blue skies yesterday and heavy frost this morning, we got some great pictures out the window.  This is the view from where I sit to do my exercising. Earlier this morning, before the sun burned off the heavy frost Mrs. F.G. got a few great pictures to add to those from yesterday.

 We started out two weeks ago thinking this was a poor and slow year for colours.  By Thanksgiving weekend we thought the colour elsewhere was great, but still limited looking out our window.  Now we're thinking this is the peak colour of the season.  It really is a nice part of where we live!

Thursday, October 17, 2019

They Fixed It!


There's a background story to this.  Last July, wanting to go down to our local museum, I rode down the sidewalk from the main downtown corner one block to the harbour.  I only had to go one block west to get to the museum.  Straight ahead of me was a parking space on the opposite side of the street.

I road across the street only to find my way blocked by a cement curb placed to stop cars.  I looked up and down the street, and all the parking spots were blocked by curbs, all just close enough together to stop a wheelchair going through.  I had to drive down the street behind several parked cars to get to the museum.  Anyone knows that driving behind parked cars is a less than safe thing to do in a wheelchair.

So when I got home that day I called the town hall and asked for the Accessibility Coordinator.  She was on maternity leave, but I talked to her substitute and requested that they fix this situation.  I pointed out that they could easily do so by simply moving the concrete curb about six inches.  I didn't expect much action, but I remained hopeful.

But lo and behold yesterday we were driving by and they had fixed it!  They removed the concrete curb entirely and replaced it with the two bright yellow bollards you see in the photo - wide enough apart to easily get a wheelchair through, but certainly enough to stop a care rolling across the sidewalk and into the drink!

I can now access the harbourside sidewalk.  Victory!

Wednesday, October 16, 2019

Pumpkins and Giant Veggies

Vail's had a great pumpkin display besides their apple sales.  I suppose their giant pumpkin may draw people off the highway, and once they stop they are highly likely to buy some apples.  October is the heart of the apple picking and sales season after all, and it ends with a bang on Hallowe'en.

Yes, it really is a giant pumpkin, and you can go right inside too.  Too bad it isn't wheelchair accessible; I woulda been right in there!
And the pumpkins were uniformly big, bright and beautiful.  I was impressed with their quality control.

White pumpkins too; they're for ghosts if you don't want goblins!

And I was surprised to find a few giant veggies.

I asked about them, and learned that they are grown by a farmer in distant northern Ontario who knows the Vails.  He enters them in the famous Port Elgin Pumpkinfest, and afterwards puts them on display here.  The one on the left is the marrow, and on the right is the bushel gourd.  His giant pumpkin has already gone to be 'deseeded' - the seeds are worth a lot!  And he goes home with multiple bags of apples for all his friends.

And inside that giant pumpkin?  A range of little ghosts and goblins waiting to scare your little ones!


With this post I've hit 2000!  And I can't begin to tell you how much it's meant to me.  It's won me friends all over the world out there, that's you my readers.  It's got me taking my camera everywhere to record our adventures, and to look for adventures to go on.  In so doing it's given Mrs. F.G. and I ever more things to do together.  It gives me something to think about and do most days of the week.  Over the past year it's contributed enormously to my mental and emotional health.  So thank all you wonderful readers for sticking with me.

Tuesday, October 15, 2019

Apples, Squash and Pumpkins

It's not just the coloured leaves that mark fall, it's also apples, squash and pumpkins around here.  The Meaford/Clarksburg area is Ontario's premier apple growing area because of its unique combination of soil and micro-climate characteristics.  It's all an old glacial beach from Lake Algonquin providing well-drained soil, and the cool waters of Georgian Bay delay spring blossom time until after the risk of frost is over.

So we would never think of just buying our apples in a grocery store, and we don't just buy 'apples' either, we buy Galas, Honey Crisps, Russets and other varieties that we enjoy, at one of several local orchards.

The Vail family were among the first white settlers in the area, first settling at Vail's Point, now subsumed by the tank range.  But today they grow 300 acres of apples, using a team of 35 Jamaican farm workers, most of whom return year after year.  One of our friends works for a few weeks every year at the orchard.

These are Honey Crisp 'seconds', a much more reasonable price and just as good.  This was what we bought this time.  Honey Crisp are the most expensive apple these days, at up to $75.00 a bushel!

I think these were Galas.  Seconds are usually just a little smaller, which I prefer anyway.

They've also got lots of squash.  These big apple boxes look full, but actually there's a board just about 6" down, so they're really just piled on top.

More squash and small pumpkins for making pie - for those who prefer to make it from absolute scratch!

 Lots of big pumpkins too for Hallowe'en.  More of those tomorrow.  Hope you had a happy and peaceful Thanksgiving; we did.

Monday, October 14, 2019

Fall Colours Take Many Forms

Saturday we drove further south, up over the Niagara Escarpment and into the Grey Highlands, where the weather tends to be a little colder.  Earlier frosts, more snow, and a different plant hardiness zone.  And quite obviously the fall colour was further along than it is looking out our windows here near the shore of Georgian Bay!

Sometimes it's an entire roadside, sometimes orange/gold, and sometimes more red.

Often it's an individual tree, usually a Sugar Maple.

And often it's a distant woodlot that the human eye can pick out, but the camera has trouble capturing.

Sometimes a shaft of sunlight that parts the grey clouds helps.

Or a dominant feature of the landscape like Old Baldy.  All of them make this short period one of the most beautiful of the year.  It just amazes me that nature can come up with such vibrant but ephemeral beauty.