Welcome to my blog

If you enjoy finding a lot of different outlets for your creativity, then we may just be kindred spirits.
This blog is an outlet for my interest in miniatures, crochet, plastic canvas, and many other various arts and crafts.

I also love walking, taking digital photos, and most recently, have rediscovered an old love...bike riding! I purchased an amazing new bike, a comfy Townie by Electra this summer, and have been having a grand time exploring the area as though for the first time. It's like being a kid again!

If you enjoy any of these things too, pour a cup of coffee and tea, sit down, and join me.

Take care!

Tuesday, October 18, 2016

Met With the Surgeon

This is going to be a more personal blog, with no arts or crafts, so feel free to skip it if you like.

About 2 years ago now I started looking into the possibility of getting gastric bypass Roux n Y surgery.  For 2 years I've fluctuated between thinking I need it and not wanting it, to wanting it desperately to hating the idea.  Back and forth, back and forth.

 I have never had surgery since my tonsils were removed when I was about 3 or 4 years old, and I can remember my time in the hospital back then, believe it or not.  The surgery was OK...I just remember being asked if I could count to 10, and to prove it, I counted and was out by the time I reached 5.  I woke up with a sore throat and was treated with lots of juice and popsicles. 

I remember my Mom was terrified to leave me overnight and asked one of the older girls in the children's ward to look after me.  I remember the play room and the awful wooden potties; we were expected to just pee out in the open, right in the playroom, in front of the other kids, and I cried so hard the nurse yelled at me and phoned my Mom. My Mom couldn't calm me down so they had to take me to the real toilet and were not pleased, lol.

So fast forward almost 50 years (I'm 52), and I am coming closer toward the surgery I've been so iffy about.  Part of the problem was that I was afraid to get excited about it because I was sure I had too many problems to get approval.  I have severe, chronic asthma, and several anxiety disorders.  In the past, I've suffered from acute clinical depression and used to be under the care of a psychiatrist and psychologist.  I was no longer seeing my psychologist; I'd graduated out of therapy, lol, and my psychiatrist was retiring.  He was actually the one who supported my getting the surgery when I asked him about it.  He said I'd feel better mentally; would have increased self esteem, and reduced depression.  He said many of his patients have had it and all have done so much better, not only physically, but mentally as well.  But because I live in the North, by the time I got to the part where I needed a psych clearance, my psychiatrist was on his literal last day in the office.  He had already sent in the forms but they'd not recieved them, so he had to do it all over again. But then that was OK; one hurdle over with.

The next main problem was my asthma specialist up and disappeared for almost a whole year.  Nobody knew where he was but rumors abounded.  One nurse told me he'd been arrested for drinking and driving and had left town altogether; others said he was ill, others said he'd taken a leave of absence. It took so long to get someone that Sudbury (the clinic doing my pre-op stuff) said I'd have to get all new blood work and go to orientation in Sudbury again if I didn't get an OK soon.  Luckily, my Doctor was able to get me in to see a visiting asthma specialist, but this guy didn't want to believe I had asthma so made me go in 3 times to meet with him and gave me tests to trigger my asthma, to prove I had asthma.  Then he called me in and said, "I have bad news.  You have asthma." I said, "No freaking kidding.  I know I have asthma; I've had it all my life."  By the time he sent in his OK, it was too late and I had to get all of the blood work done again, and go for the orientation in Sudbury again as well.  So I did that. Then my blood work came back and my Vitamin D levels were so low that they couldn't go forward until they came up significantly.  It took 8 months.  I was ready to quit, believing so many things were going wrong that it must mean I should't get surgery.  Plus, twice my car refused to start on days when I had to drive to orientations or meetings.  Luckily I'm not superstitious.

So, last week I "met" with the surgeon at Sault Area Hospital, via telehealth (sort of like Skype).
He seemed OK.  His name is Dr. Lindsay and he works at St. Joseph's health clinic in Toronto.
He asked me questions, I asked him questions, and in the end he OK'd me for surgery.  So that was the last hoop.  I'm just waiting for Natalie, his secretary, to call me, 2 weeks or so from now, he said.  He said I'd likely get the surgery in January 2017, but will have to come to Toronto in December to meet the team and get my optifast, which is a high protein drink that I'll have to drink in order to shrink my liver before surgery. Most people have to take it for about 2-4 weeks, which means I may be on it over Christmas, which sucks. I wish I could get the surgery before Christmas so I'd have my new pouch to help me through the holidays (I'll feel too ill to want to eat anything after surgery).  Before surgery I'll have to rely on willpower alone, and that's not good.  I'll do it; of course I will, but it will be so much harder because I'm living at home and my Mom will bake cookies every day for 2 weeks straight.  I'll have to put vicks vapo rub in my nose so I can't smell them. Christmas dinner won't bother me; it's the cookies and cinnamon rolls that will drive me mad.

All along, for 2 years I've been saying I"d prefer to have the surgery in spring, summer, or fall; anything but winter, because I'm terrified to drive in Toronto and especially in winter, but I've decided to fly instead.  I should be able to get the money back, plus 100 dollars toward my lodging.
Although winter isn't ideal, it means I'll have lost a good amount of weight by summer, which means bike riding will be fantastic next spring and summer.  It was great this year, but if I go more than 10 km I really feel it for the next few days, and can barely move when I get home. 

I plan on swimming, once I'm able to get in the water again after surgery.  I enjoyed bike riding so much I may buy a contraption that will let me ride my bike in the house over the winter; that would be cool, especially if I can look at bike related movies on my tablet while I ride.

So, that's where I am right now.  I'm scared but excited and happy, at times more happy than scared, which is good.  I've been watching loads of Youtubers who've gone through the processs, and signed up for obsityhelp.com, for support.  I even met a few ladies in town who've had the surgery, plus 2 of my friends have had it.  I won't have any home support, but then again, I never have had home support from my parents or family.  Both of the aunts who used to support me, Shirley and Cobie, have passed on, and my parents will not be happy with my having surgery, nor will they be sympathetic afterward.  So my supports will be my friends and strangers I don't even know.  That's OK.  I only mention it because so many of the videos say people can't do this without support, but that is not fair to people who don't have supportive families.  We can't help that we were born into families that like to scream and yell and don't like to give support.  It may be harder to do without support, but everything in my life that requires support is harder to do, so I'm used to it.  I think I'll be fine.  Thanks for listening.

Thursday, September 29, 2016

Bike Ride 22 with Albert

Last week I went on my longest bike ride yet, and my first bike ride with a friend.  Albert and I have been friends since we were in our early twenties, and have known each other since we were kids.  He's been saying he'd like to go bike riding with me for a while, and last week we finally managed to go.

We had a blast!

 Here we are, just starting out.  That's Albert and his cool yellow truck, along with my bike, above.  We parked at the Station Mall and headed out along the waterfront portion of the Hub Trail,.
 We stopped to get photos with the bear carvings. One of the bears lost his fishing rod; so sad. It kind of looks like he tossed it way high up in the air in an attempt to reel in that huge fish, lol.
 This is the view from behind the BushPlane Museum.

 Al and I goofed around, posing with the moose statue.  This is between an office building and the old hospital buildings, along the hub trail.

 We got off the non road portion of bike trail on Queen St. and jumped on the road portion of the trail, a new bike path, for a few blocks, until the intersection of Queen and Pine, right across the street from the only house I ever owned.  I miss my house but it was nice to be in the old neighborhood again.  While we were waiting for the light to turn so we could cross, Al spotted a cell phone on the road.  He picked up and and we checked it out when we arrived at Belleview Park.
 Albert, posing with his own phone and the found phone.  We phoned people on the contact list and discovered the phone's owner and his friends have really awful luck.  The phone owner was recovering from a car accident and had no car to drive, according to the first friend we contacted, who told us that he also couldn't drive because he had also been in an accident and had broken his back.  We contacted a woman on the list and she also couldn't come to get the phone because she was on crutches from falling down the stairs.  We made arrangements to drop the phone off at the Station Mall at the information kiosk so that the owner could retrieve it at his convenience.  Later on, after we had ridden back to the mall, Al ran in to drop off the phone and was told the owner had already been by only a few minutes before.  He'd gone off and said he would be back later.  Al left the phone there for him.
We had fun riding around topsail Island.  I used to walk my dogs here all the time.

 Albert has great balance and is like a mountain goat.  You can't really see in this photo, but he was standing on a slimey rock in the water.  My ankles are weak so I didn't walk past the big rocks to get to the little beach area (you can't see it, but there were tons of big rocks on my side of the photo).
 When we came to another little beach area, this one free of trees and rocks, Al decided to test the tires on his mountain bike to see if it would be OK on loose gravel.  As you can see by the tire tracks, he barely avoided going into the water, and he only avoided it because he jumped off.  He did get his feet wet but was otherwise OK.  He has big, thick, stubby tires that have great traction.  My bike is OK on grass and packed dirt but not on sand or loose gravel so I stayed up on the path.
 The photo above was taken from Topsail Island. It shows my old Alma mater, Algoma University.
 Albert wanted to go into  the greenhouse.  I love the flowers and everything but usually avoid the greenhouse due to the excessive heat (we had a scorching hot summer and there was no way I was going to add to my misery), but it was a cooler day so I went inside.  I took tons of photos of all of the pretty flowers, plants, and fishpond, but only chose my favorites for this blog:
Bird of Paradise


 I thought the pineapple and banana were cool, and the bird of paradise flower was stunning.

 We had locked our bikes on an anchor, and when we went back Al sat down and posed as though he was having a snooze. 
 He wanted me to do the same thing, but I was worried about spiders, lol, so opted to stand behind the anchor instead.

 As we were riding on the path that leads from Belleview Park back to the marina, Al decided to run up the hill for the photo, above.
 He also decided to pose on the rocks near the pond.  We had a lot of laughs because the first rock he tried to climb was too big.
 When we got back to the truck, after Al dropped off the cell phone at the mall, we debated ending the ride or continuing on to the locks and Whitefish Island.  I suggested we head to the locks, which was only a 10 minute ride from the truck, and then decide if we felt up to riding on the Island.  I knew Al would be OK on the paths because he has those great mountain bike tires, but it was only his second ride of the season and I didn't want him to overdo it and then hate riding.  I needn't have worried, as he was fine.   I was the one who had trouble.  He wisely ate an apple before we headed out, but even though I had granola bars, and he gave me an apple, I didn't feel like eating.  Big, huge mistake.
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 By the time we had biked out to this first stop on Whitefish Island, Al was fine.  I was dizzy,  exhausted, and seeing weird flashes of light in my vision.  I ate one bite of my granola bar and it helped a bit, but I was feeling too nauseated to eat any more.  I needed gatorade, I think.
 There are several of these wooden shelters along the river, and we stopped at them all, thank God.  I felt OK when we were sitting but as soon as we started riding again, I felt ready to pass out and had those weird flashes of light in my vision. I also had a major migraine.
 Al and our bikes at one of the rest stops.
 We stayed at the last rest shelter until the sun started to set, and I realized we'd have to get moving if we wanted to get off the Island before it got dark.  There are no lights on the Island.

As we were heading out, we ran into an enormous Asian family that was lost and looking for a way off the Island. I gave them directions to the bridges, and then waited at the second bridge to show them the right path that would lead them back to the final bridge off the Island.  It still wasn't dark so we decided to go the other way, to see the beaver pond before we left the Island.
There I am, in the photo above (Albert's photo), pointing out the beavers to Albert.  In the photo below, you can see the beavers because I zoomed in on them.  In real life, without zoom, they were just two little blobs on the water, lol.
 I love watching the beavers, and am always amazed that they eat the lily pads, using both hands to stuff them in, lol.
 We stayed on this wooden walkway by the beaver pond until the sun had almost fully set.  The photo above is Albert and his bike, below is me, and mine.

 While we watched the sun set, Al decided he'd like to see what lily pads feel like.  This photo above is Al laughing because I told him a couple was watching us, and they must be wondering what he was doing.
Sunset on Whitefish Island

 We left for our bike ride at noon, stopped for lunch, and headed out on our bikes at 1:30, and got back to the truck at 8 PM.  We stopped a lot on the way, and rode almost 19 km in total.  The photos above and below show us at the end of our ride, once it had gotten dark.
I was thrilled that I hadn't passed out, lol.

 I couldn't fit the entire ride on one map, lol, so I broke it down into A (the ride from the mall to Belleview Park and back), and B (the ride from the mall to Whitefish Island and back). Ride A was 13.41 km, and ride B was 5.44 km, for a total of 18.85 km; woohoo!

Sunday, September 18, 2016

Bike Packing Supplies: Panniers, Mess Kit, and Headlamp

A package came in  from China today; woohoo!  I am so excited.
 I opened it up and discovered my Panniers!  I was surprised they could lay so flat; I'd imagined they'd come in a big square boxy package.

The material is nice and sturdy, water resistant but not water proof. I  ordered some waterproof covers for them but they aren't in yet.
 There are three parts to the pannier, a top part, and two side parts.

 The two side parts are connected, and the thin black strip down the middle sits on top of the rear pannier rack on my bike. The top part of the pannier can be clipped onto the top of the side parts.

 I stuffed one of the bags to see how much it would expand, and was happy to see it should hold quite a bit.

 I stuffed the top part as well.  It would hold my laptop nicely, as well as other items.
 A few weeks ago I purchased this Coleman mess kit at the Walmart for under 20 dollars; I think it was 12 bucks.

 The pots and pans are extremely small and would be great for a boy scout or girl guide.  They will also work for backpacking or bikepacking.  There's just enough room to boil water for an instant coffee or tea, to heat up a bit of soup or stew, or to MAYBE make some instant noodles, lol.  The little frying pan would be big enough for a few scrambled eggs, or one hamburger patty.  It's a great little lightweight starter set but if I end up enjoying bikepacking, I'll get bigger, nonstick set.

 I also picked up a headlamp for my bike, for riding at night. It would also be nice to use while bikepacking.  I had hoped to do an overnight bike ride this fall, and I may still, but if I do I will be staying at a motel, not a camp ground. The spiders are freaking enormous this year, and i hate spiders, lol.  I'd still like to try biking with a tent, but that will have to wait until next summer, at the start of summer, when the spiders are still small, lol.  I'd also have to buy a tent first; I have no idea where mine is; I haven't seen it in over 10 years so it may have gotten lost in a move somewhere along the way.