Monday, November 30, 2009

Balancing Act

After a very long and tiring week, I promised myself some downtime today. It took the form of vegetating in front of the TV and it was a day for sports lovers, on the 'tube'. After church and a very nice lunch out with friends, it was time for the finale of the CFL football seasons. Although my team, the BC Lions were eliminated from the final just last week, my next favourite team, the Saskatchewan Roughriders represented the west in this annual classic. I have always loved Canadian Football as opposed to NFL or American Football because it is a more wide open and exciting game. Today's match was no exception. My team was the underdog and they were leading the whole game until the most dramatic play of the game, which happened to be the last play of the game. The Montreal team scored a field goal and suddenly it was over. I had a good friend over to help share what going to be a celebration of a western victory, but alas, the only joy to be had was helping ourselves to more junk food while the Grey Cup was being awarded to the 'bad guys'.
But, there was still hope because while the jubilant players were hoisting the cup, there was a hockey game just starting on the other sports channel. After my Canucks beat Edmonton handily on Saturday night (7-3) I was fully expecting a repeat performance against the San Jose Sharks. More disappointment!
The result of all this is a bit of indigestion from an improper diet, disappointment that both my teams lost, and regret that I didn't opt for a good long walk instead of the punishment of watching the underachievement of the day. Did I mention that my eyes are now square after almost 7 hours straight of TV watching? Unlike the goose in my photo, I did not have balance in my day.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Refusing to Let Go of Autumn

The bug I picked up last week has finally left me and now the only complaint I have is that I am tired, but not from fighting the flu, just from plain old work. We have been on a long nonstop streak of jobs and the end is not yet in sight. The calls still keep coming in and I am turning a lot of work away or toward friends in the business. I have several contracts for January also which means that I will have to schedule in that holiday instead of waiting until work runs dry like it sometimes does in the New Year.

December is around the corner and the busy social season is upon us. Once again we have volunteered to help in our church's big production as well as purchase tickets so we can bring guests. It means attending 5 performances and squeezing in other functions and some shopping, all revolving around long work hours to make sure things get done according to the clients schedule. Another bout of flu would not do at all. Add to this, in early December a crew is coming to our house to replace all our windows and doors. We have to be ready for them by moving furniture and taking down all the existing window treatments. One of us will have to be home while this happens. It will be a cool, breezy few days, but in the end, when we crank on the new furnace again, we will be heating our house for practically free! I will get back to you on that but so far with the new energy efficient furnace we installed last August, we are using 40% less energy to heat our house and we are not actually turning down the temperature during the day.
Why, do you say? We also installed a 24/7 programmable thermostat and we are at a loss as to how to program for our schedules which fluctuate from day to day, hour to hour. We have it programmed to turn down at night, but during the day, unless the last person out of the house turns it down manually as 'temporary setting for that time period' it just calls for heat all day. I am wanting my ancient 'low tech' thermostat back.

Friday, November 20, 2009

Flaming Sumac, Flaming Pain

I had a scratchy throat coming home from work on Wednesday. I immediately took my doses of home remedy to nip 'it' in the bud, whatever 'it' was. A very large clove of garlic, gargle with very salty water, and suck Vitamin C until my tongue was ready to fall off. By bedtime, I noticed between garlicky burps that the soreness was somewhat subsiding. Then at 3 am I awoke with a fire in my throat, a searing pain that prevented me from swallowing. Though greatly disappointed that the cures were not working, I got up to take another dose of salty gargle. It immediately felt a bit better and as I sat on the edge of the bed, ready to swing my legs up and under the cozy warm blanket, my body said, no screamed something to me. "If you think that throat was pain, how about a dose of this?" My inner thigh, just above the knee, convulsed into a cramp that took my breath away. I jumped straight up in the hope that it would stretch out and settle down, but it was a stubborn cramp and would not subside. I could only sit on the edge of the bed, moaning, and massage the rock hard lump with the heel of my palm. As it came, so it went, until I tried to lie down. I could feel the twitching and crawling feeling and then it would start again. What's with this? I take a fist full of food supplements everyday, including the horse pill sized calcium and magnesium tablets. They certainly helped with the calf muscle cramps I often got but you would think a muscle is a muscle.
So, I lay on the edge of the bed for the next half hour, afraid to crawl back under the blanket. I must say though, that I forgot completely about the sore throat.
I eventually got to sleep with only the throat pain bothering me. Today (Thursday) I did not get up for work but stayed in bed. I actually slept until 10:30, something I have not been able to do in many years. I think my body was run down and exhausted and it was getting even with me for letting it get that way. We are going to have a heart to heart talk and discuss a holiday. Meanwhile, I am getting behind in my schedule, but the throat is feeling better right now.

Thursday, November 19, 2009


Today, we discover that "1 in 6 hungry in America last year." That is the headline in the USA Today. If you believe the report, 49 million people went hungry at some point in 2008, the highest number since the government began keeping track in 1995. Meanwhile, we learn - in the same paper - that "Rising obesity will cost the USA $344 billion." That's what fat people cost the nation annually, equal to 21% of health-care spending.The two problems should cancel each other out, shouldn't they? Oddly, the states with the greatest girths are also the poorest. Mississippi is number one in fat. It's also the poorest state. Could it be that fat people are going hungry? Is this a good thing; or a bad thing?

Monday, November 16, 2009

Autumn Sports

I am a big hockey fan and after 22 games into the season, I have only had time to watch two or three games in their entirety. Saturday night was one of those occasions and it was a good one. My Vancouver Canucks dominated a good team, Colorado, and came out on top with a score of 8-2. It was a real pleasure having the evening free, watching my favourite sport, and having the win as a bonus.
I am also a big CFL football fan and I was sorry to miss the semi-final match between my BC Lions and Hamilton, this morning. At least I thought I was going to miss it. We were doing coffee duty at church this morning with our crew and I thought that the game would over by the time we got home. As it turned out, we all went out for lunch and someone in our team suggested Boston Pizza. It did not occur to me until we got there that there are about 8 big screen TVs in the restaurant and they were all playing the 'Big Game'. So as I was munching away on my personal sized pizza, I got to watch the final 5 minutes of the game. My team was ahead but let the opposition catch them in a tie right at the end of the game. It went to overtime and miracle of miracles, my team won.
For the last 20 hours I have been able to forget about work, my father, and anything else that brings stress right now and just enjoy a few little pleasures in life for a change. And the bonus here is that there is NO pain in my hip today. I am almost ready to declare myself healed and that in itself would have been good enough to make my weekend.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Blog Anniversary

Today it is two years since I decided to start my own blog (Web Log). I have not regretted one minute of my experience and indeed have found it quite useful as a creative outlet. I have been able to get a lot of things off my chest, share my passion for photography, and let my readers know a bit about me. It has helped me to be disciplined, think outside the box, and be accountable for some of my ideas. I have a stat counter application attached to my blog site and it gives me such things as numbers of unique visitors, page loads, locations of readers, and how long a reader stays on the blog. It does not tell me who the reader is. It has been interesting to say the least. I am continually bumping into folks who read my blog and sometimes I gulp and just smile. It makes me aware that I should be careful what I say because it is in the public domain. I am surprised that I have regular readers. As a blog follower myself, I have an idea what it requires to grab and hold a reader's attention. The last few months I have not been able to post everyday and I do not know what the future holds as far as time commitment on my part. Work continues to be hectic, my father and his affairs continue to take a lot of my discretionary time, but I have not run out of ideas or photos.
A great big THANK YOU to all my readers for your encouragement, if by no other means than simply logging on. I hope the best is yet to come.

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Atechtwooh (H20)

Well, get your flu shot and pack your bags as it is now possible to go to the moon because you will not get thirsty there. Yes, there is water on the moon, at least 100 litres of the liquid stuff in a crater where a deliberate crash was made to determine just this thing. Where it came from is not yet clear, so it will have to be tested before it is deemed fit for human consumption. The future flights to the moon will not have to be burdened with liquids as the only food required will be the ones where you "just add water". The future tourist will be able to have Cup 'a Soup, Mr. Noodle, Kool-Aid, and hot chocolate (providing the water is on the sunny side of the lunar surface). This proves once and for all that the moon is not made of green cheese because if it was, what would have been discovered would not be water, but milk!

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Something Fishy

The Discovery Trail in West Abbotsford circles two bodies of water that are fed by a salmon bearing stream called Fishtrap Creek. I have never seen a salmon in this area but there are those my age who used to fish here and they tell me it is true. The brick salmon then, is a true representative of the area. The two gentlemen sitting on the park bench behind the fish are also true representatives of West Abbotsford. While the salmon have been diminishing, the ethnic groups are flourishing and one would almost think they were in another country while walking through this neighbourhood.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Remembrance Day

In Flanders fields the poppies blow
Between the crosses, row on row,
That mark our place; and in the sky
The larks, still bravely singing,
flyScarce heard amid the guns below.
We are the Dead.
Short days agoWe lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,
Loved, and were loved, and now we lieIn Flanders Fields.
Take up our quarrel with the foe:
To you from failing hands we throw
The torch; be yours to hold it high.
If ye break faith with us who die
We shall not sleep, though poppies grow
In Flanders Fields.
- John McCrae

Monday, November 9, 2009

Stand by Your Man

My hat's off to my patient and long suffering Lizzy who has stuck with me through a thin part of my life. I think I can finally write about it once again because I believe this episode of my life is coming to a close.

I am talking about my year long battle with the pain in my hip. Eleven months ago the nagging ache I was experiencing became chronic. Driving was increasingly difficult and sleep was only happening on my left side. In January I began seeking help. I was encouraged by many to see a doctor and get an x-ray. I knew where this would lead and considered it a waste of time. The pain was not in the joint so would not show up on an x-ray and the solution would only be pain management.

I started with the treatments, that relieved me of 5 years of worsening neck pain about three years ago, called NST (Neurostructural integration therapy). The muscles were locked and inflamed, I thought, and had forgotten how to relax. It worked once for me so I pursued it for several months, but to no avail.

I then went to my regular chiropractor who does what I call impact manipulation together with exercise. I got temporary relief, but my pelvis, which he said was twisted, kept popping out of alignment. I then went to his partner who used a gentle form of massage together with manipulation. In the end he was baffled that my pain was actually getting worse. I asked him if he thought I should see a NUCCA (National Upper Cervical Chiropractor's Association)practitioner. He smiled and said he would not tell me what to do but he thought I would be wasting my time.

I was getting desperate and made an appointment with an acupuncturist. It was during the BC Lions training camp and I had heard that all the professional football players went to him. I had treatments there for more than a month and the pain got worse. Toward the end of his treatments, he talked me into getting a deep massage just before his acupuncture session and it would help me. His explanation and theory sounded good. I did this combo three times at $200 a pop and found that any good the massage did was nullified by the needles minutes later.

I was desperate by now. I made an appointment with my son's NUCCA specialist, with great reluctance, because I suspected I would be put onto a never never plan, going back to him forever and never getting full relief. He could find something wrong with me that would take years to fix. I was now desperate for a quick fix and was popping pain relievers like candy, just to take the edge off and so I could drive to work and back.

Like I thought, the first session was very pricey, almost $200, and yes, the x-rays showed that my neck was way out of line. Even I could see that on the picture. He then showed me the calcification and bone spurs on the fourth and fifth vertebrae that should not be there and were causing the grinding in my neck. He told me that the size of the spurs indicated that I had been out of alignment for about 30 years! But the crooked neck was being compensated for by one of my shoulders dropping 6 degrees. This caused a slight curve in my spine as my back tried to keep my shoulders square. My hips were tilted to keep the back straight and that caused my right leg to be one inch shorter than the left. And THAT is what was causing my pelvis to twist and THAT was causing the strain on the muscles that meet on the outside of my hip joint, right between the front and back pocket of my jeans.

In late July I began the treatments to straighten my atlas, the top bone of the spinal column. It is shaped like a saucer and its function is to keep the head straight. It was tilted 6 degrees and could not be moved all at once, but in increments. It was three steps forward and two steps back until about early October. I noticed one day that I had driven for 15 minutes and felt totally normal. I was overjoyed, but cautiously optimistic. Then, over the weeks, there were slight indications that things were improving. I cut back on the meds and knew that things were changing. I began to sleep better at night and soon I was rolling out of bed without crying out in pain.

Today, I can report that I am straight as an arrow, from top to bottom, and the inflammation in the muscles is definitely healing. On Sunday, we drove to Bellingham, the first real test for me as driving was always the indicator as to where I was with my condition. I drove there and back and suffered almost no discomfort. I am no longer on pain meds and I sleep like a baby, right through the night.

I can still feel the spot and at times there is a twinge or two, but I am miles from where I was. The underlying problem was discovered, was addressed, was treated and will now be watched closely as I will continue to go to Dr. Dan to maintain my 'straightness' but only as need arises. I have spent a horrendous amount of money getting to the bottom of this, but am relieved that I did not have to resort to Cortisone, which I am sure my Doctor would have prescribed.

Our bodies experience pain for specific reasons and there is always an underlying cause. Treating the pain is tempting as it brings relief from the debilitating quagmire that pain can become. But, I am writing this mainly to encourage anyone with chronic pain to seek solutions that address the underlying problem. Our Health Care system seems not to be set up for this tactic as it can be costly, but the long term consequences end up costing even more.

Thanks to all of my friends and family who have been praying for me, for a solution and for my ability to cope with the situation. And thanks to Lis especially. I have not been fun to be with for the last year. But things are changing.

Now, if only I could do something about this 'trick' knee of mine.

Sunday, November 8, 2009

The End of the Path

My Aunt Doris from Calgary usually calls me on my birthday in April so I was somewhat surprised to hear her voice yesterday morning when I answered an early morning call. She called to give me some sad news. Her husband, my Uncle Eric Friesen, passed away on Friday evening. He had Alzheimer's Disease but that was only a contributing factor. He had contracted pneumonia a few times in the last year and when it hit him again this fall, he could not battle it and it took his life.
Uncle Eric was my dad's younger brother in a family of eight children. He is the first of the Friesen siblings to pass away. The long standing topic of conversation in that family has been the longevity with which they are all blessed. My grandfather and his father lived to just under 100 years of age. The oldest sibling is now 95 and doing well. Uncle Eric did not choose to be the first. None of us chooses the time of our death and yet we think it fair that there is a chronological order that should be followed.
I have fond memories of my Uncle even though I would say that I did not know him well. I do know that what would have followed in the years to come, with his Alzheimer's disease, was not nearly as desirable as what happened on Friday night when he reached the end of his life's path.

Saturday, November 7, 2009

Signs of Autumn

The last few weeks have been hectic, to say the least. In my work, I have always managed to complete one project before moving on to the next. I am natured that way, as I do not like unfinished business, but I also strive to keep disruption in a customer's home to a minimum. As of a few days ago, I have 10 different jobs in various stages of completion and it is driving me crazy. Very little of this is my fault, however, I suppose I could have said "no" to some of my very long time loyal customers. Each job has a story to it but I will not go into detail. By Wednesday I will have cut that number in half and by the end of the next week I will have completed another two. This has really stressed me out as one of the jobs fell through because I could not come in time, and then the news that my dad was finally being moved to a Car Home was a mixed blessing. My sister and her husband came through and we managed to get some of my dad's things in his room and he is more or less settled in now. I took a bit of time off work yesterday to move furniture and still met the work goal for the day, thanks to Andrew's hard work. Today is catch up time for a lot of undone errands and then in the pm I will do a feature wall that should have been done two months ago. The customer is thrilled that I will finally complete her decorating project in her new Brownstone Manor Townhouse.
The jobs are backing up into January now so there will be no unemployment here for a while yet.

Thursday, November 5, 2009


Now you see her.
Now you don't.

I got 'the call' from the hospital yesterday, the call we have been waiting for. It has been nearly 6 weeks since the health authorities told us it would be about two weeks before they would find a place for my dad in a care facility. He has been so very patient and I am proud of him. Today at 10:30 am he will be moved to the Menno Home where he will have a private room with its own bathroom and room for a bit of furniture and a TV. I am hoping he will be thrilled to not only be out of the hospital, but to be settled into a place where he can get used to a new routine and a place where the boredom is only as bad as he makes it. He will be well cared for there as the Menno home has a very good reputation. He will get three square meals and opportunity for socialising and making new friends. It was what we were praying for and there is a great sense of gratitude and relief right now.

Monday, November 2, 2009

The Short List

Things I am absolutely tired of hearing about.
1. H1N1 and vaccinations
2. 2010 winter Olympics
3. An imminent federal election
4. The economic recovery
5. Twitter
6. iPods
7. Michael Jackson's "This is it"
8. Metro Vancouver's transit woes
9. Homeless shelters
10. Global warming

I am sure you have your own list.

Traffic Woes

Here is a photo of MaClure Rd. west of Clearbrook Rd. It is without a doubt one of the most efficient as well as beautiful east/west connector roads in Abbotsford. This little stretch has been closed for more than a month now while newer and larger water pipes are being laid beneath its surface. The busy traffic has been re-routed to Old Yale Rd. and it has been a nightmare. The extra traffic on already busy Old Yale has made it difficult to get to my Dad's place which is across Old Yale from where I live.
Today, they started closing east bound MaClure between Clearbrook and Tretheway Streets and that leaves our little sub-division in a bit of a bind. There will be no easy way in or out of our neighbourhood. The school traffic alone, with two large schools at the top of our street, will be impossible. There are mornings when we simply cannot get out of our driveway for minutes on end, and that is when all these main thoroughfares are open. What will happen tomorrow morning is any one's guess.
Now, to my point. As you can see, there is not a lot of action as the only machine on the construction site sits idle. It seems not to matter to the 'powers that be' that the whole west end of Abbotsford is being greatly inconvenienced.

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Chocolate Overdose

Tonight was Halloween and as usual, we had many children, some of them quite large, actually, come to our door wanting all my chocolate. I am a chocoholic and as a result, try not to have it in the house too often as I tend to binge. There was a rather large tub of the stuff by the front door, handy to throw into the sacks of the little goblins, princesses, and spider men. Who would notice if a few were missing?
"That was a big group of kids and did they ever use up a lot of chocolate", I would say in defense, as the pile grew smaller by the minute.
After sampling every one at least twice, I settled in to the final three and began to sort through the bin, separating the really good ones from the others. Handing out the inferior ones to the kids would leave me the choice pieces at the end of the evening, if only 'they' would stop coming in droves.
In the end, I need not have concerned myself as my daughter brought a huge box of even better ones that she wanted to get rid of.
It is a good thing that I did not keep track of how much chocolate I actually ate tonight. It would be embarrassing as well as being downright unhealthy. (They were not all dark chocolate, in fact, none of them were)
I tried to look up the word "restraint" as I battled my addiction, but unfortunately, my dictionary was lost somewhere under a massive pile of chocolate wrappers. I will try to do better next year. Maybe.