Saturday, November 29, 2008

That Time Of Year Again

Well it is that time of year again - the end of November. That means that December is just around the corner which means that Christmas will be here before you know it!! In fact it is already less than four weeks away and my guess is that the majority of you haven't even started to shop - or in some cases even think about it yet!

Our friends to the south, in the United States just had their Thanksgiving on Thursday and what is commonly known as "Black Friday" yesterday. That is the official kick off to the holiday shopping season.

For the religious among you, the first Sunday of Advent is tomorrow. Christian churches around the world begin holding special services on the first of the four Sunday's leading up to Christmas.

Even though I consider myself an agnostic, I still start the festive season about this time every year. Usually sometime between USA Thanksgiving and the first Sunday of Advent. I actually put up my decorations yesterday.

I leave them up until the day after Ukrainian Christmas. Why do I leave them up so long? Well it is a lot of work even for a small place like mine, so I'd rather leave them up and enjoy it for awhile! I have a 3' artificial tree that has 100 mini lights and over 100 mini ornaments that I have collected over the last 30 years or so. I have several other items that I place around the apartment to brighten up the place.

I don't own a camera at the moment, but this is a picture of my tree from 1999:
I've gotten a different tree since and have added some other ornaments, but you get the idea!

Some people go a bit crazy with all the decorating and such, but I keep it pretty simple. I haven't actually counted, but I would guess that somewhere between 35-45% are Looney Toons related - mostly of the Sylvester and Tweety variety. I also have lots of mini snowflakes and snowmen themed decorations.

I'm not really a big fan of garland. It looks okay on some big trees, if it is well done, but usually looks more like a messy filler than a compliment to the rest of the decorations. I'd much rather use a silver tinsel. It can be a little more time consuming putting it on but it gives great effect if done sparingly and individually.

I have a fair amount of Christmas music on mp3, but I don't go heavy duty into it like some people do. I have a few classics and a lot of pieces that are Christmasy without being religious in nature. I like the music interspersed with my regular listening.

There are a few people whom I still buy gifts for, but only a half dozen or so. Most people on my list get my homemade Christmas baking. I told you about my ornament gifts for the young ones in my November 20 post about the Christmas Craft Sale. I bought 4 1/2 gifts that day and went to St.Vital Centre earlier this week and finished the rest. I also did a bit of gift "creating" on the PC this week, but in answer to your question - YES - I am done "shopping"!!! The gifts are even wrapped and the cards are written! I don't have to face the insanity of the malls over the next few weeks. I'll still have to do grocery shopping, but I can get in and out of most grocery stores pretty early in the morning and therefore avoid the crowds.

I'm not a shopper by any stretch of the imagination! I like getting in early and getting out before the crowds hit. I hate being jostled and shoved by shoppers that look like they have only one hour to buy for twenty people! I always go in with a list of who I have to buy for and some idea of what they might like/need. Never been that crazy about gift cards. They always seemed like a bit of a cop out and unimaginative to me. I'd much rather have a "Wish List" of a few things the person would like in a given price range. At least that way you know that the gift is something that they want and won't be standing with at the returns counter after Christmas! Granted, if you know the person REALLY well you can get away with buying them something without a list. We've all seen the "perfect gift for ____" at some point. The trick is remembering that you are buying for their taste NOT yours!

Seriously, who hasn't gotten "the gift from hell" that you wouldn't be caught dead wearing/using? You really have to wonder about just how well some people know you! I've always hated the colour pink, but one year I got a neon pink night shirt! I used to have a collection of stuffed animals and one year I was given an 18" stuffed mouse that squeaked when you touched it's paws. Cute to some, but I HATE MICE! I threw it in the bottom of the closet and forgot about it until a couple of months later when I was rummaging around for something in the closet and touched something furry that squeaked!!!! I screamed, then cursed the thing! It went to a charity drive at the first opportunity and I've written lists ever since!

So why not write a wish list? You can be as specific as you want but the more vague you are the less apt you are to get what you really wanted! Just listing genres such as books or tools leaves too much error potential. If there is a specific book or tool you want then give the details! I have a friend who will only shop in one area of the city. If the gift isn't there - then you aren't getting it! She doesn't have time to run all over looking for the "perfect" gift! The more info she gets on what you want the better the chances are that you are going to get it. On occasion, I have even given her the stores sku number so she gets the right item! I give her a list of 10-15 things that I would like and can use. I know she will buy 3 or 4 of them and that way I'm still surprised but I get gifts that are right for me!

I know that isn't the way a lot of people like to do things, but it works for me and for most of the people in my life! What do I want for Christmas this year? If you really want to know, send me an email and I'll let you know what is on my "2008 Wish List"!

Closer to Christmas, I'll send a few e-cards. So except for some more Christmas baking, I'm pretty much ready for the season!


Thursday, November 27, 2008

Eddie Rabbitt

Edward Thomas Rabbitt was born to Irish immigrants on this day in 1941 in Brooklyn, New York. He was raised in East Orange, New Jersey.

In the early 1960's, he had done some recording with 20th Century Records and Columbia, but his career as a songwriter really started to take off after he moved to Nashville, Tennessee in 1968. His first major break, and one of his biggest successes as a songwriter, came a year later in 1969 when Elvis Presley recorded his song "Kentucky Rain". He also penned "Pure Love" which was a hit for Ronnie Milsap.

Eddie signed with Elektra records in 1974 and had a couple of Top 40 records, but didn't hit a #1 until 1976 with "Drinkin' My Baby (Off My Mind)". He also had hits with "You Don't Love Me Anymore"; "We Can't Go On Living Like This"; "Rocky Mountain Music"; "Two Dollars in the Jukebox"; "Gone Too Far"; "Pour Me Another Tequila" and "Every Which Way But Loose" (from the movie of the same name with Clint Eastwood).

The Academy of Country Music named him the "Top New Male Vocalist" in 1977 and in 1981 he was named "Best Pop Male Vocalist" at the American Music Awards.

His rising star as a Country/Pop crossover artist rose even higher in the early 1980's with hits like: "I Love a Rainy Night" (Pop #1), "Drivin' My Life Away" (Pop #5), and "Step By Step" (Pop #5). In 1982, he recorded a duet with Crystal Gayle called "You and I" which became a huge hit on both country and pop charts. He also did a #1 hit duet with Juice Newton; "Both to Each Other (Friends and Lovers)".

Some of his other chart toppers included: "Someone Could Loose A Heart Tonight"; "The Best Year Of My Life"; "On Second Thought"; "You Can't Run From Love"; "Suspicions"; "I Don't Know Where To Start"; "Hearts On Fire"; "She's Comin' Back to Say Goodbye" and "I Wanna Dance With You". His last charted song was "Hang Up The Phone" in 1991.

Eddie wrote many of his own songs - often in collaboration with fellow songwriter Even Stevens. He also had success with a cover of The Dions song "The Wanderer".

Through his career, Eddie Rabbitt had 16 #1's on the Country Music charts and eight Top 40 hits on the Pop Charts. Eddie recorded 15 studio albums and his songs also appear on at least a dozen specialty and compilation recordings. He continued to record and tour through the 1980's but did little in the early 1990's due to the illness and death of his infant son. He was active in helping to raise money and awareness for organizations that aid sick kids.

Eddie Rabbitt, died of lung cancer at age 56 on May 7, 1998.

I loved The music that Eddie Rabbitt recorded! I was lucky enough to see him perform at the Centennial Concert Hall here in Winnipeg in the mid 1980's. He gave a great performance, singing many of his hits, several lesser known songs and displaying his talents as a guitar player and all around talented performer.

I have almost all of his old vinyl albums and a couple of CD's. I've put about two dozen of my favourite Eddie Rabbitt songs on to mp3 and always crank up the volume and sing along when I hear one of his songs on the radio. For awhile in the early 1980's, I was even a member of his fan club! It is really hard to choose an all time favourite song of his, but I could probably narrow it down to these three:
- "I Love A Rainy Night" (1980)
- "I Don't Know Where To Start" (1982)
- "The Wander" (1988)

Eddie Rabbitt may be gone, but his talent and and his catalogue of recordings will be loved and enjoyed forever.


Monday, November 24, 2008

A Favourite Oven Meal

Today, I'd like to share a favourite oven meal that I've been making for years! I serve it with a small tossed salad or a steamed green veggie such as broccoli or green beans. The green salad/veggie adds nice colour to the plate. I start the oven veggies, then prepare the chicken.


4 medium russet potatoes, scrubbed and cut into about 1/2 inch cubes
1/2 cup chopped onion
1/4 cup chopped red pepper
1 teaspoon chopped garlic (bottled type)
1 teaspoon lemon pepper seasoning
1-2 Tablespoons EVOO (Extra Virgin Olive Oil)

Generously spray an 8"X8" baking dish with non-stick cooking spray. Combine all the ingredients in the pan - making sure all veggies are well coated with the EVOO. Bake in 400F oven for about 1 to 1 1/4 hour, stirring every 15 minutes or so. If the veggies are starting to stick to the sides/bottom of the pan near the end, gently scrape them up and sprinkle a little lemon juice or water (about a teaspoon or so) over the veggies - stir to coat and return to oven until they are tender. Serves 4.


Once the potatoes are in the oven you can start preparing this one:

This recipe is my spin on the "Dillicious Lemon Chicken" An easy, flavorful low-fat, low carbohydrate dish from The Looney Spoons Low Fat Cookbook. I hate dill but love garlic so I just switched out the ingredients and added basil and lemon juice. I also added more sour cream as the sauce is fantastic served on top of the oven roasted potatoes!


1 1/2 cup of low-fat or fat -free sour cream
1 Tablespoon minced fresh basil (or 1 teaspoon dried)
2 teaspoons minced garlic (bottled type) or 1 teaspoon powder
1Tablespoon lemon juice
1 teaspoon lemon pepper
1 teaspoon lemon zest
4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts (about 100g/3 1/2oz each)

Combine all, but the chicken breasts in a small bowl. Spray a medium casserole dish (8"X8" should be about right) with nonstick cooking spray. Spread 1/3 of the lemon garlic sauce over the bottom of pan. Arrange chicken breasts on top of sauce in a single layer. Pour remaining sauce over chicken. Spread evenly. Allow to marinate for about 20 minutes, then preheat oven to 400F. Bake uncovered for 30-35 minutes, until chicken is tender and no longer pink. Yield: 4 servings.



Saturday, November 22, 2008


I got this e-mail a couple of weeks ago and decided that it was too funny not to share! Hope you enjoy!!


DAMNITOL; Take 2 and the rest of the world can go to hell for up to 8 full hours.

EMPTYNESTROGEN; Suppository that eliminates melancholy and loneliness by reminding you of how awful they were as teenagers and how you couldn't wait till they moved out!

ST. MOMMA'S WORT; Plant extract that treats mom's depression by rendering preschoolers unconscious for up to two days.

PEPTOBIMBO; Liquid silicone drink for single women. Two full cups swallowed before an evening out increases breast size, decreases intelligence, and prevents conception.

DUMBEROL; When taken with Peptobimbo, can cause dangerously low IQ, resulting in enjoyment of country music and pickup trucks.

FLIPITOR; Increases life expectancy of commuters by controlling road rage and the urge to flip off other drivers.

MENICILLIN; Potent anti-boy-otic for older women. Increases resistance to such lethal lines as, 'You make me want to be a better person. '

BUYAGRA; Injectable stimulant taken prior to shopping. Increases potency, duration, and credit limit of spending spree.

JACKASSPIRIN; Relieves headache caused by a man who can't remember your birthday, anniversary, phone number, or to lift the toilet seat

ANTI-TALKSIDENT; A spray carried in a purse or wallet to be used on anyone too eager to share their life stories with total strangers in elevators.

NAGAMENT; When administered to a boyfriend or husband, provides the same irritation level as nagging him, without opening your mouth.



Thursday, November 20, 2008

Christmas Crafts Show

Today is the beginning of the Annual Signature's Christmas Craft Show at the Winnipeg Convention Centre. This sale has been going on for years and offers a wide variety of handmade items from more than 100 Canadian artisans.

This isn't your average arts and crafts show. You'll find:
- Christmas decor large and small
- creative designs in fashion and fine jewellery
- paintings, photography and other wall art
- sculptures in wood, metal, glass, and ceramic
- clothing and accessories for all ages
- home decor items such as candles
- scented products for you and your home
- gourmet foods such as spice blends, chocolates, baked goods and flavoured nuts and popcorn's
- and more!

The show has a bit of everything! It is easy to become overwhelmed with the vast variety of products that are available, but I've been going to this annual extravaganza for so many years now, that I have it down to a science! Here are my tips for successfully navigating this event:

Make a list - what do you need to buy and who do you need to buy for? I buy Christmas ornaments for all the nieces/nephews and children in my life who are under 18 and/or still living at home. I started doing this over 30 years ago with my sister's kids and am now doing it with their children. They get a handmade ornament every year so that they have enough to decorate a small tree when they move out on their own. This is also easier to buy than trying to keep track of what they like and their sizes! The kids love it and still treasure the ornaments they got over the years! Note: If you are going to do this, you should keep a running list in your gift drawer of what type of ornaments that you bought for each child so that you don't give them the same type of ornament every year. For example: Clay snowman; 2006 - crocheted snowflake; 2007 - wooden reindeer; etc.

Bring credit cards and some cash! - most of the vendors accept some type of credit card, but not all, so bring some cash to avoid disappointment!

Go early! - It tends to get very busy in the late afternoon, evening and on weekends. The earlier you get there, the better chance you'll have to explore and find what you are looking for.

Wear comfortable shoes and check your coat! - As there are over 100 booths, there is a lot of ground to cover. The coat check saves carrying around winter wear and the nominal fee raises money for a worthy local charity.

Bring a bottle of water! - There are several food booths that offer samples of dips, sauces, cakes, confections and snack foods. You will want to cleanse your pallet so that you are ready for the next taste temptation!

Bring a pen, a high mark pen and a clip board - I always take a clipboard to put my program on. When I find a booth that has products that I think I might like to purchase, I mark the booth with a highlight pen so that I know where to come back to. If there is something you really like, many artists will hold it for you for an hour or two of you ask nicely!

Browse everything once! - I make the rounds of all the booths before I buy. You never know what you might find at the next booth or around the next corner! I then take a break and look over the list of booths that I have marked and check my wish list.

I also bring a healthy snack such as fruit with cheese and crackers. I eat this while I am looking over my list and deciding what booths I wish to purchase from. Once I've made up my mind, I go back to the selected booths and make my purchases.

This annual event has been going on for almost thirty years, In that time, I've missed only a half dozen or so. I missed a couple in the 1980's and the first few years of the 1990's after loosing so much of my sight. I started going again in the mid 90's and haven't missed since. I call ahead and the staff print a larger program guide and floor plan for me. This makes it a lot easier for me to find my way around. I love seeing familiar vendors and meeting new creative and talented artisans every year. The quality of the products is amazing and the prices range from under $5.00 well into the 100's. There is definitely something for every ones' taste and budget.

Admission is free, so all you pay is to check your coat and your bus fare or parking. So what are you waiting for? Here is the perfect opportunity to jump start (or finish!) your Holiday shopping with some unique treats and pieces for those special people in your life - and of course a little something or two for yourself!


Sunday, November 16, 2008

18 Years - Part 3

Part 1 of this can be read here
Part 2 of this can be read here

It had been a very long and painful winter both emotionally and physically. The physical pain was excruciating for months - I took close to 500 painkillers (Tylenol 3 and Tylenol extra strength) in the 3 1/2 months after I got out of hospital. I followed the restrictions to the letter as I was terrified of ending up back in the hospital and loosing more sight. It was at least a couple of months before I allowed myself to sleep on my left side. For month's, I would wake up at least a couple of times a night just to see if I could still se out of both eyes, but especially out of the left. For over a year, I kept a bag packed in case of emergency because I had gone to the hospital without any personal items. I would leave it on my bed with a list of toiletries to be added. Then It would be ready if the unthinkable happened and I was readmitted.

My life had been turned completely upside down and there was no going back. I had to find new paths and directions for almost every aspect of my life. The emotional effects were almost overwhelming as I slowly came to terms with what I had lost in sight, freedom and independence. The sight I once had, is gone froever. I have found other ways to have my freedom and independence, but some of the emotional scars will never completely disappear.

I went from almost 40% corrected sight in my good eye, to just under 10% after surgery. I've lost more to glaucoma in the past few years and the corneas are in poor shape, so there are days that things get really blurry. I often see shadow images in my left eye which is very similar to double vision. I can tell which is real, but it is disorienting. I often see comet like trails with lights. My eyes are very light sensitive. The bright sun, fluorescent lights and even the new LED and compact lights all bother my eyes, At this point there are no procedures or surgeries that can be done to improve my vision. I see my ophthalmologist three or four times a year. I take my eye drops and make full use of the visual aids that I have.

For years, I played the "What if..," game. What if I hadn't gone on rides at the Ex? What if my old eye specialist had told us I was at risk? What if I had gone to the hospital sooner? It took me years to stop beating myself up over those questions. Through a lot of soul searching and therapy, I finally realized that given what I knew at the time, I had made the only decisions that I could have. I had to stop second guessing myself and accept the consequences and realities of the situation.

There is still a very real possibility that I may eventually loose what is left of my sight. I hope that never happens, but I have to be realistic and know that it can happen. I try not to focus on that, but it can be hard to ignore when you have to be so constantly aware of what you already can't see. I try to focus on the things I can see - the beauty of a sunrise/sunset, autumn leaves, rainbows, street lights and landmarks that help me get around. Most of all, seeing the people I love.

I hope you never find yourself in my position. I hope that you get your eyes tested on a regular basis. There are eye diseases, such as glaucoma, that are silent blinders - there are no visible symptems. By the time it is diagnosed, it may be too late. I hope that if you notice even a slight change in your vision that you don't hesitate to get it checked. Don't ever wait. Sight is a precious gift and you can't afford to waste any of it!


Saturday, November 15, 2008

18 Years - Part 2

You can read Part 1 of this post here.

I was admitted to the surgical ward for eye care at the Health Sciences Centre late that afternoon. The only empty bed was in a private room. That was fine with me, as I really didn't want to be around a bunch of inquisitive and well meaning strangers. I was so mentally and physically exhausted that I really wanted my privacy. I didn't have a phone in the room, but I rented a TV and when J brought my stuff a couple days later, he brought my small electric radio that I had to plug in across the room!

I hadn't eaten anything since the night before, so J helped me navigate my dinner tray. He then helped me find a pay phone so I could call mom and dad. I was trying so hard to be strong. Mom was really upset and even dad was choked up. I almost lost it, but didn't want to frighten them more.

J also helped me call Nick so he could call the other blind friends we had. We wrote a list of things that I would need while I was in the hospital, and I also gave him a couple of other people I needed him to contact. I wanted my neighbour JK to check my mail and another neighbour KD to come and take care of "painting" my Christmas cakes with cherry brandy once a week. I was trying so hard to stay calm and organize the things that needed to be done, that I didn't really allow myself to fall apart. If I did that I may not regain any control.

The next few days were a blur visually and emotionally. KD came to see me and so did some of my family.

Two of my blind friends, C and KJ came on Monday afternoon. They knew what it was like to go blind and knew I was holding on to my emotions by a thread. They convinced me to talk and let go - that they would be there to hold me and support me. They would be there to help me adjust to whatever sight I had left. I finally let go and admitted how terrified I was.The three of us sat on my hospital bed and cried together.

From the day I was admitted, the restrictions were strict;
-No lifting more than 5 pounds.
-No bending below the waist.
-No stairs.
-Sleep only on right side or stomach.
-Never leave the hospital room unless someone sighted is walking with me. (luckily there was a bathroom in my private room so I could at least do that by myself!)

The surgery to reattach my retina was on Wednesday, November 21, 1990. It would be several months before we knew just how much sight I might recover. I slept a lot those first few days. Once the anaesthetic and freezing wore off, I was given pain killers as needed, The pain was excruciating! Never mind how painful a cough or a sneeze could be! The slightest jarring or sudden movement sent waves of shooting pain through my eye. Even blinking hurt!

The Saturday after my surgery, my blind friends brought me Chinese food, chocolate cheesecake, a talking clock and a portable pocket radio! Over the next few weeks and months, they would be my strongest support and teachers as I learned to navigate my new world. They were my rock, my shoulder and my sounding board. They listened and understood when no one else could or would. They knew what I was going through.

After almost three weeks in the hospital, the doctor finally released me on Monday, December 3, 1990. I really couldn't see more than very blurry shadows, but I had my list of restrictions and I was going home to my own bed! My mom and my brother picked me up. We did a major grocery shop, had a bunch of prescriptions filled and ordered a 7.5 cu. ft. deep freezer to be delivered in a day or two. Mom stayed with me for the first week, She cooked a lot of meals for me and made up TV dinners for the freezer. She also helped me finish the Christmas baking. When she left, I had home care to clean once a week. My neighbour JK helped with grocery shopping and KD helped with reading and writing over the next few weeks.

I could move freely around the apartment building as long as I used the ramp or elevator instead of the stairs, but couldn't go outside by myself. I felt like a prisoner. I couldn't go anywhere or do anything. I had to have someone else do cleaning, laundry and any lifting. I got a volunteer through the CNIB to help with grocery shopping, reading mail and any other things I may have needed help with. He was there 2-3 hours/week. My neighbours helped out in between.

I had a visual assessment through the CNIB at the end of January, 1991. I got a pair of very powerful reading glasses, a monocular to see distance, a talking watch, a talking clock and of course a white cane. The restrictions were gradually reduced and finally lifted completely in late March of 1991. My blind friends helped me learn to do many things in new ways

continued tomorrow...


Friday, November 14, 2008

18 Years - Part 1

In June of 1990, I went to the Red River Exhibition for the first time in at least 10 years. The Ex, as it is more commonly known around here is the annual fair and midway that has been a part of this area for many years. I went on several midway rides and enjoyed the sights and sounds of the midway and exhibits.

By late September, I was starting to notice some changes in my vision. Things weren't quite as clear and there were little black spots sometimes. I hadn't had my eyes checked for a couple of years, so in early October, I phoned the office of the optometrist that I used to see when I lived in the country and asked them to recommend someone here in the city. I booked an appointment and saw a Dr. on October 18. He found some minor changes, but thought he should book an appointment with a specialist because of the spots, The appointment was scheduled for Thursday, November 15, 1990.

Over the next couple of weeks, things slowly got worse, but I kept going as I wanted to get my Christmas baking started and get errands and stuff done before winter set in. It was getting harder to see things clearly, but because I had an appointment scheduled, it never occurred to me that I should go see someone sooner.

Friday, November 2, I spent the evening with my very good friend J. We ate, had a couple drinks, listened to music and talked for hours. I remember telling him that I thought I was slowly going blind. He held me as I cried and shared my fears. I told him how scared I was and that even though I had friends who were blind and visually impaired, that I couldn't imagine how I could cope with loosing my sight. It never really occurred to either of us to go to the doctor sooner - or if it did we never said it.

Over the next week, the spots were slowly getting bigger and were floating around. There were pockets of blurry areas in my left eye - which was also my good eye.

I have no idea how I managed to get around that week and get everything done that I managed to, but I think it was sheer will and familiarity with my routes that kept me moving. I was counting the days to the specialist.

By the 10th, there was a tiny yellow patch in the lower corner of my left eye. Over the next 3 days, that yellow patch slowly expanded. It was like someone had placed a piece of yellow cellophane over a corner of the eye and was gradually stretching it across my entire eye. The spots and waves of blurriness were also bigger.

I was terrified.

My mom had rubella (German measles) during the first trimester of her pregnancy with me. That was a couple of years before the connection was made between rubella and birth defects. I was born with cataracts in both eyes. They were removed by a specialist before I was 2 years old. I continued to see that specialist until I was about 18 or so. He had told my parents that there was nothing that could be done for my sight other than corrective lenses, I assumed this new specialist that I was to see was going to tell me the same thing. I didn't want to face what I thought was the inevitable, so I avoided going sooner than I had to.

By the morning of the 14th, more than half the eye was covered by the wavy yellow cellophane. I called the Doctor's office and was told to come in at noon. I arranged for a cab to take me and then I tried to call J.

He was in meetings out of the office all morning and couldn't be reached, I'd never met the woman who was covering his calls but she heard the fear in my voice and tried to calm me down. She promised to get word to J as soon as she could and that he would meet me at the hospital where the Doctor's office was.

When I got to the hospital, I had the cab driver take me to the info counter where one of the staff called an attendant to take me to the Dr.'s office. I was so panicked by this time that I couldn't relax. I finally was able to reach J by phone and he promised he was on his way. The Dr. was just starting to explain what had happened to my eye and what he was going to do to try and help me, when J arrived. I really wasn't thinking or processing anything to clearly at that point but J helped calm me down and I heard at least part of what the Dr. said.

My retina had detached and the doctor would do surgery to try and reattach it. There was no real guarantee that it would work, but he gave me about a 50/50 chance of getting at least part of my sight back over the next few months IF I followed all of his orders and restrictions.

I asked what could have caused the detachment. Apparently with my eye history, I was at high risk for retinal detachment. The way that cataract surgery was done in the 1950's and 1960's was rather primitive and one of the long term side effects was the risk of a detached retina. It could be caused by any number of things, such as; physical sports, hard falls, or jarring movements. I asked if that included amusement park rides and he said yes - that was most likely what started the detachment. Because my vision was so limited, it took me longer to realize there was a real problem. He was surprised that I had never been told to avoid those type of activities. My parents and I later learned (through his former nurse) that my former specialist hadn't told us of the risk, as I wasn't athletic and he didn't want to frighten us!

continued tomorrow...


Tuesday, November 11, 2008

An Open Letter - Part 2

Dear Mr. Right (continued);

I don't need to be wined and dined, or even have a busy social calendar. I can find things to do and amuse myself. It is just that it would be nice to share more of that time with someone who has some similar interests. I don't expect us to share all the same interests - that would be a little much - but I'll respect your interests if you respect mine - deal?

In many ways, I'm not a traditionalist, but I am a bit of a romantic. I don't want or expect to be showered with gifts. I prefer the simple things, like hugs, a neck/back rub, a loving note written from your heart or just enjoying quiet times together. I can be very sentimental.

I love music! My taste is very eclectic. If you can't carry a tune, that is okay but please don't try to serenade me then, okay? No bagpipes either! It may seem strange, but I've never really learned to dance. I can sing and play a bit of guitar, but seem to have two left feet for anything more than a very basic slow dance - can't even waltz. If you are so inclined, you can try and teach me a few basic moves!

Being single isn't so bad, but it can also get very lonely. I like having my own space and privacy, but I miss the companionship and affection. The human touch of an embrace or a kiss. To hold someone in your arms and know that they love you completely and unconditionally.

What would I want you to be? Well, I would hope that you are an intelligent, open minded, optimistic, fun loving, funny, witty, compassionate, and caring man who is secure enough in himself to allow me to see the tender and sensitive soul within. I would hope that you are loving, affectionate and passionate.

I would like to know everything about you. What were you like as a kid? Parents, siblings and your own children (assuming you have kids)? Your likes/dislikes, tastes in food/movies/TV/books, interests, hobbies, loves, losses, joys, sorrows, missteps, triumphs and just the everyday things that make you laugh, smile, think or shake your head! What are your hopes, dreams, fantasies and fears? In other words who are you and what makes you tick?

I know that I would not tolerate a smoker (am allergic to nicotine). Would also not be willing to deal with untreated/ongoing alcoholism, drug or gambling addictions, Also wouldn't put up with any type of abuse or adultery. I expect you to take care of yourself - eat healthy, regular exercise and be willing to admit that you may need help if there are negative issues/aspects in your life.

I hope that the life you are living is filled with love, health, happiness and peace.

So, you see that it isn't that I have not thought about you or dreamt of having you in every aspect of my life. I've thought of you more than I care to admit.

I've wondered what it would be like to drift off to sleep with you beside me. I've imagined waking in the middle of the night and listening to you breathe as you sleep (I assume it was your snoring that woke me!). I want to know what it is like to wake up with you beside me.

I know that love can come at any age. I know women who have married for the first time in their 40's, 50's and 60's. Like I said yesterday, my guess is that we have already crossed paths - but for whatever reason, we weren't ready or supposed to be together - at least not yet.

I've learned to never say never.

I hope that someday, I get to know who you are and what it is like to share your life and feel your embrace. I hope you know that I loved you even though we weren't together. You will always have a very special place in my heart.

Your Ms. Right


Monday, November 10, 2008

An Open Letter - Part 1

Dear Mr. Right;

I'm not sure if we have already met or not, but my instincts tell me that our paths have probably already crossed at some point.

I'm sorry if I was not what you were expecting or hoping for. My packaging isn't exactly attractive, but if you are willing to take the time to get to know me, you will see that there is an intelligent, open minded, compassionate and loving person on the inside. I've tried wearing make-up to make myself more "presentable" but the truth is that make-up made me feel even more self conscious of my appearance and that I was "hiding" who I really am. If I am to be truly accepted and loved, then you must see me as I really am from day one. I know that may be a lot to ask, but if you are my soul mate, then you will understand.

If you have been reading this blog, you already know a lot about me - including the fact that on numerous occasions, I've made references to believing that I am to be alone and single in this life. It's true, I have said that. The fact that I am 50 and single says a lot. I've never come close to a long term relationship and I accepted a long time ago that I'd probably never marry.

It isn't that I never wanted you in my life or in my heart. I did - I do - but if I allow myself to keep searching or hoping to find you, then I may be tempted to settle for a Mr. Okay instead of you. I know that sounds silly, but I've seen so many others searching desperately for that one person and end up with Mr. Right Now because they are just so tired of being alone and meeting Mr. Wrong's.

I've always believed that you are out there somewhere and that when the time is right we would at the very least meet each other.

There are definitely times that I do wish you were here. It would be wonderful to be able to talk with you and share our lives.

We could share the days' adventures and embrace our nights. The possibilities are endless! We could go for walks, watch movies, play cribbage or backgammon or other games. We can discuss social issues, politics and countless other topics. I'm not a big sports person but I'd love to go mini golfing, 10 pin bowling or canoeing - haven't done any of those in years! Assuming that you drive and can afford the gas, we could go for drives and take trips to all kinds of places, If you like to travel, there are lots of places I'd love to explore. We could cross a lot of things off of "My Bucket List"! I'd also love to just enjoy the quiet times together - the contentment in knowing that even in silence you are with the one you love.

I hope you have a really good sense of humour - you will definitely need it around me. I have a wickedly warped and slightly twisted funny bone. My humour has gotten me through a lot - It would be really hard not to be able to share the funny side of me with you. I love being able to laugh with someone and seeing the lighter side of things.

Do you cook? At least one of my friends married a man who couldn't even boil water! What a disaster! I love a man who can cook and also clean up after himself. A man who actually cooks even the simplest of meals for his love is very sexy! I really enjoy baking and cooking, but sometimes, it is just really refreshing to have someone else prepare the food without going out or getting take out/delivery.

(to be continued...)


Friday, November 7, 2008

Blizzard of 1986

It started raining yesterday morning. It turned to ice pellets and sleet as the day wore on. Travel is not recommended in Southern Manitoba. By 7:00 last night, the precipitation had turned to snow - the first snow of the season. We aren't expecting a lot of snow before this storm passes by later today - maybe 15-20cm (6-8inches), but the initial layer of rain and ice will make things miserable for awhile. I'm really glad that I don't have to go anywhere for a few days! This first storm of the season also comes on the anniversary of another Manitoba blizzard....

7 November 1986, Winnipeg, Manitoba: Early major snowstorm dumps 30 cm (12 inches) on the city. Winds gust to 90 km/hr (56 mph) creating whiteout conditions.

1986 November 7 and 8 - Winter Blizzard - Length 11 hoursTemperature (Max/Min) -6 degrees c/-12 degrees c, 21 degrees f/10degreesf Amount of Snowfall 35.2 cm, 13.9 in.Wind Speed 70 km, 44 mph.

November 10th, 1986: Winnipeg dug out from beneath 35.8 cm of snow left by a monster 32-hour storm that dumped 30 to 50 cm of the white stuff and created 2 m drifts in southern Manitoba and northwestern Ontario. In Winnipeg, officials pulled buses and snowplows off the roads and closed the airport. Residents used snowmobiles to navigate main arteries.

On Friday, November 7, 1986 at 9:45AM, I caught a Grey Goose bus out to the country to visit my parents for the weekend. My mom picked me up at the depot a little before 11:00 and we drove to Winkler and Morden to have lunch and shop. We went about our day as we always did - talking, browsing for bargains and eating.

We started heading home about 3:30 or so. It was just starting to snow very lightly. The further north we went the more the snow falling and the visibility was getting low. We were about 5 miles from home when we turned on the car radio and heard that we were under a "Blizzard Warning"! The forecast had been predicting snow and the possibility of a blizzard as we were on the edge of an Alberta clipper. Alberta clipper's are notorious for creating havoc with our winter weather. Mom and I looked at each other and said "Good job we're almost home - dad will be getting worried!" Sure enough, first thing dad said was "Where the hell have you two been? Didn't you hear there's a blizzard?" We reassured him we were fine and home safe.

It snowed all night and part of Saturday. The wind was howling and whipping the snow around pretty hard. It was Sunday before the weather started to clear. Our back door faces south, as does the patio door in the living room. Both doors had snow drifts blown in almost to the top! My brother - who has a home on the same property - had to come down to shovel us out. He and dad got out the front end loader for the tractor as well as the snowblower and spent hours, clearing out the driveways to his home and my parents as well as the lane. They also had to shovel snow off the roof as it was so heavy they were worried about damage. The municipality had some of the main roads cleared by Monday, but the province was not recommending any travel until mid week unless it was an emergency.

I don't remember if we lost electricity, but if we did it was only a few hours. I had planned on going back to Winnipeg on Sunday afternoon or Monday morning at the latest. So much for that idea! We spent the time telling jokes/stories, playing games, reading, listening to the radio and watching TV. Mom and I did some baking. Dad and I played cribbage. Once the lane was clear, I also went down to my brothers house to visit with his wife and my two little nieces.

I finally took the bus back to Winnipeg on Wednesday, November 12 in the afternoon. The trip was normally about 1 1/4 hours from depot to depot. It took over two hours! I had ridden with that driver many times over the last couple of years, so we talked a lot about prairie winters and this storm in particular on the way home. The highways were actually pretty good, but once we crossed the Perimeter Highway and hit city streets... well that was another story!

The city was just starting to get back on it's feet. The streets were a mess and buses were running very slow, late and full!. They were also getting stuck on a regular basis. A normal 5 minute walk from the depot to my bus stop took at least 15 minutes as I also had a big heavy suitcase with me. When a Wolseley bus finally came, it was packed with standing room only! I was going to wait for the next bus, but the driver said I should come suitcase and all as I may be waiting 30-40 minutes for another one and it would also be full. It was Arlington before I could sit down and that was only a couple of stops from my street. I lived in an attic apartment about half a block from the bus stop at Wolseley and Ruby. Ruby had one narrow plow path down the center of the street and what amounted to a mule path on what used to be the sidewalk. It took me ten minutes to get home!

The entire trip from my parents farm to my apartment would be just under two hours in good weather but this one was 3 hours and 15 minutes! I was so glad to be home! It was the end of the week before most streets were plowed properly and into the following week before all back lanes and sidewalks were cleared.

I've never been a huge fan of winter travel. Growing up on the prairies, you see more than the average snowstorms and their aftermath. I've been storm-stayed and been in vehicles that have gotten stuck more than I care to remember! For some reason, winter storms often hit while I was travelling! Even my friendly Grey Goose driver used to joke that he had to double check the weather reports if he saw me at the depot! He wasn't sure if it was safe to travel with me!

Well, I don't do much traveling outside of the city anymore, and I've learned to keep a full pantry. That doesn't mean that I WANT a big snowfall or a blizzard, but I'm ready!

Only 5 months or so till spring...


Tuesday, November 4, 2008


"Squirreling - to store or hide (money, valuables, etc.), usually for the future (often followed by away): I've squirreled away a few dollars for an emergency." -

Every fall I do my squirrel imitation. I purposely stock up on as much non perishables and items with a shelf life of at least 6 months.

You see, here on the Canadian prairies, you never know what the weather may bring. You may have nice weather or a nasty blizzard and/or ridiculously cold wind chills that make you want to curl up and hibernate till spring. If the weather cooperates and the city keeps the streets and especially the sidewalks plowed, then getting out to do a little grocery shopping isn't too bad. However, Mother Nature doesn't always play nice and the city's plowing budget isn't what it used to be.

It's challenging enough trying to get around in the best of weather, let alone carrying a full backpack and/or a couple of bags of groceries when you are legally blind and navigating snowbanks at intersections and mule path like trails that pass for sidewalks while dressed in multiple layers of clothing that is sort of keeping you warm even though you can barely move.

Sounds like fun, doesn't it? Yup! We aren't called "Winterpeg" for nothing!

No, I don't enjoy winter that much, which is why I started "squirrelling" many years ago. In all honesty, I "squirrel" to some extent all year round as I am always on the look out for sales and great deals on the items I normally buy, but I go into overdrive every September and October! It's not that I horde food and other staples, it's just that I'd rather have it and not need it than need it and not have it - then have to pay full price and haul it home through the snow!

Obviously, I can't buy EVERYTHING in advance. I still have to buy produce, dairy and an occasional loaf of bread - but I can stock up on toiletries, paper products, canned goods, poultry/meat/fish, dry pastas/rice and most baking supplies.

I don't buy a lot of prepared foods, but I keep a well stocked pantry with things like dry pastas, rice, pasta sauces, soups, canned meats, beans, pineapple, peanut butter, condiments. spices and all the baking supplies I may need. My freezer is full of poultry/meat/fish, vegetables, juice concentrate, home made baking and individual servings of home made meals.

For the last several years, my sister and I have been doing my annual fall "squirrelling" run for all the bulky and heavy things. We make a day of it. We do a little general shopping, have lunch somewhere and then powershop. We stop at "Morden's" to get all my bulk chocolate for my Christmas baking extravaganza. We stop at a bulk food place to pick up some spices and baking supplies.

Our main stop, though, is at Costco. where she has a membership. This year, we both had lengthy lists, so we each had one of those oversized carts. I usually let her "drive" the cart as I'm always scared of running into a display or another customer, but I had to do my own "driving" this time. I think I only ran into her once and only got hung up on a couple of corners - so I actually did pretty good!

You have to know your basic grocery prices when you are at places like Costco - not everything is a deal. Some things are just too large for me to use on my own or only a few cents different from places like Superstore. I keep a "running list" of items that I need on a regular basis. I also check prices at other retailers on a regular basis and especially around late October when we do our annual shop. Inevitably, not everything on my list is in stock or a good price, but it is always a worthwhile trip.

It is also a huge relief to get this shopping done - especially if we manage to do it before the snow flies and the weather gets too cold. Getting all that precious stock in her van is pretty easy, but getting it up to my apartment can be a bit tricky - unless of course we are lucky enough to find a shopping cart near the front of my building when we get home. In past years, I've even brought a shopping cart up into my apartment a day or two ahead just in case. I didn't see one this year, but fate was smiling on us last week, as there was one sitting in front of the building when we pulled up late last Monday afternoon.

Finding room for all of those supplies can also be a challenge in my 500 sq. ft. apartment, but I do it! There are still a few things that I'd like to stock up on before the snow arrives, but the major stuff is out of the way and that is HUGE! Like I said, I'll still have to buy fresh produce, dairy and some bread - but if weather or health prevents me, then I can hibernate!

I'm still not looking forward to winter, but at least I am more or less ready!


Sunday, November 2, 2008

Fall Back!

So did you remember to move all your clocks back one hour before you went to bed last night? If you didn't, then you are an hour early for whatever you were supposed to be doing right now. Just think, you could have had an extra hour of sleep!

Back in the old days, when I was a kid, setting the clocks back in the fall or ahead in the spring was a pretty simple thing. There was usually a clock in the kitchen, living room and an alarm clock in mom and dad's bedroom. It only took a couple of minutes to reset them and any watches.

My how times have changed! There are clocks on almost everything and they are all programed completely differently!! Unless you have a very good memory or get really lucky just playing with the controls, odds are you will have to pull out the manual for at least one of them - that's assuming that you still have the manual and can actually find it!

It absolutely amazes me how many clocks that we all accumulate without even trying. Most of my clocks are small and are for a specific item/purpose. There are clocks on; the stove, microwave, TV, 2 VCR's, 2 phones, answering machine, 2 clock radios, mini system, talking clock, 3 wall clocks and 2 settings to adjust on my talking watch. There are also clocks on the computer and the digital cable box - but they are done automatically. My mp3 player will adjust when I recharge it or plug it into the computer next time.

If you are counting, that is 17 that I have to adjust and 3 that will self adjust. 20 clocks for a legally blind woman living in a 500 sq. foot apartment! I know it is ridiculous, but it is true. I bet some of you have even more!

The clocks on the appliances and electronics are all pretty common these days. I only use those clocks when I'm using that particular item, but I still want a reasonably accurate time.

I have two clock radios on my bookcase headboard in my bedroom. One at either end. That way I can see either clock when I wake up in the middle of the night. It is also so much fun watching those numbers go by as I lay there on any of those restless nights of insomnia that are so common to women of a certain age/stage of life!

I only wear my watch when I am out of the building, so I rely more on the large wall clocks for a quick check of the time. I also use the computer clock a lot.

You'd almost think I'm obsessed with time. I'm not, but I am one of those people who absolutely hates being late. I consider punctuality a respectful courtesy to the people who come in and out of our lives.

Some people are just geared to run late and that annoys the heck out of me. One guy I knew, always ran about 15-20 minutes late so I finally ended up telling him that we were meeting about 15 minutes earlier than I wanted to meet him so that he would show up more or less on time. He did catch on after a while and it became a running joke as to whether we were using his clock or mine.

Sure there are certain situations that you can't help running a bit late such as during bad weather, transportation problems or traffic tie ups, but you can also plan ahead for most of those situations by checking the weather reports the day before, get your vehicle tuned regularly, take an earlier bus and check the daily traffic reports. There is also this unique invention called a phone that you can actually call and let someone know that you are running late!

So, do yourself - and those around you - a favour, Take a close look around your home, vehicle and office. Are ALL of the clocks reset to the correct time? If they aren't, take the time to find the manual and reset them before you get even further behind and really annoy people like me.

Thank you!

BTW, while you are at it, please check and replace the batteries in your smoke detectors and carbon monoxide detectors. You never know when they might just save your life or someone you love!