A morning post

It’s 9:23, according to the clock, and the cleaning elves arrive at 10, at which time I am banished to the basement.  That will be a good thing today.  There is virtually no work for school so I can begin the task of sorting the pile of papers on my desk, filing some, pitching others.  It feels good to be done with the course.  yesterday’s tutorial confirmed again that I don’t have the physical stamina to do the job any longer.  Three hours of fairly intense teaching used to be fun.  And easy.  It was fun yesterday, but far from easy.  And if I needed any further validation of my decision not to teach again, the endless emails asking the same question, a question I had answered  in class at least 20 times, would have done it. I have neither the physical strength nor the emotional patience for this job!  The exam is tonight, tomorrow and Thursday,  Michael will be here and we will mark and do all the book work regarding final grades.  Once they’re submitted and approved, I should be done, right?  Well, not quite.  Two Special Exams in January, for two of my students who have suffered concussions and will not be able to write tonight.  But after that, it will be done!  Forever!  I swear!

So  is this what getting older is all about?  Is it the gradual loss of stamina and patience, among other things like remembering your wallet when you go out in the morning?  Or is it the recognition and acceptance that those things are happening?  My current thought is that it’s more the latter and the extent to which we can recognize, accept, and thus adapt to the natural changes in our lives may well determine how success our aging process turns out to be.  God, that sounds so pedantic!!  I don’t mean to imply that I have it all figured out or that recognition, acceptance and adaptation are simple.  It’s just a perspective that seems to work for me.  At least right now.  Who knows how things will look to me after two days’ worth of marking and grade fiddling to get the magic distribution required by my department.  

I think right now, even though the elves aren’t here yet, I’m going to pause this post and do something else for a bit.  

Nap and shower done, house as decorated as it gets, Doug cooking supper, getting ready for the exam. It’s snowing, of course. I told Michael about my nightmare of the massive snowstorm hitting London today, but thankfully, the snow is light and Doug is driving me to school so I don’t really have to think about it. Shouldn’t interfere with the students’ attendance either.
So now, I will post this. No brilliant additions to this morning’s ramble, in fact no additions at all. See you back here in a day or two,

I have a cold!

So, as I approach the crunch of last review seminar, exam, marking, feeding family, being fed by family, being fed again, all interspersed with house decorating, grocery shopping, laundry, wrapping presents, and attending church for rest and revitalization, I have to get a cold.  Started last night and I thought it was allergies, but after 24 hours, it’s worse.  Sneezing, runny nose, headaches, scratchy throat, cough, the whole package.  Of course, since I am such a healthy person these days, it won’t last more than the usual 7 to 10 days, and I will be able to work through it. 

Right now, I should be at church, at my favourite service.  But I’m at home, feeling sorry for myself, blogging and getting the last of the Christmas cards out.  Tomorrow, three hours with panicky students, then home to tidy the house so that the cleaning elves can do their thing Tuesday morning.  Nap Tuesday afternoon in prep for an evening exam.  Michael is coming on Wednesday and Thursday to mark and help me submit the final grades.  Forgive me if I don’t appear here much  before Friday.  I’ll try, but

Tea for me right now, waiting for Doug to come from church.  Then bed.  So goodnight.

Love, Gail

Christmas letter done!

Got the Christmas letter done!  Some of you will have received it, but if not, you might be able to get it here:


If not, and if you’re interested, let me know.

I think I’m having an allergy attack.  I’m also really ticked off at incompetence in a place where there ought only to be the best of professionals.  I won’t say any more until I really get it checked out.  Right now, I’m off ti take an anti-histamine and then go to bed.

Good night, all.



Weight Loss Report

FYI…too tired to do much after three hours of tutorial this morning. The two pounds I gained last week have been lost again. Other than that, I’ll talk to you tomorrow.


Missed a day …

So sue me. I was tired and didn’t feel like writing. So I didn’t. Ever feel like sticking your tongue out at the world and making a rude noise? That was me yesterday. Fighting with technology because I don’t understand it is the most frustrating thing. And all in the name of putting together a Christmas letter. Maybe I’ll find another way…..

Not much to say today either. Why bother stringing words together just to see them in front of me? Why would anyone want to bother reading drivel? So I won’t waste anyone’s time.

One humbling thing today: a Christmas card and letter from an old friend whose daughter is deaf. I’ve known the girl, Jennifer, since she was 6 or 7; she’s now in her late 20s. The card was one she had made, from a stunning photograph she had taken of an owl. She is a thrice-published author and is a finalist for a major prize for fiction written by deaf or severely hearing-impaired individuals. I want to be her, but I can’t seem to do more than struggle to get these words out.

I’m going to bed. Three hours worth of smiling at students who haven’t done any prep for their exam and show up wanting to know where to start. Not really; not this class. But still, three hours of pre-exam tutorial tomorrow morning.

Love one another,

A learning experience…

WOW!  I successfully emailed a post to myself from my tablet, and it actually appeared here this morning.  Then I held an optional review class from 9 to noon.  I had 4 students come during the three hours, but I accomplished something anyway.  You can see that below.

Other than a kind of tiring morning, since I had so little to do, the day so far has been kind of normal.  Some Christmas cards arrived in the mail, and there are unwrapped gifts on the coffee table.  Maybe this is what the song means ,,, “It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas” at our house.  After the house is cleaned next week, I will actually put up our few decorations.  We don’t actually have room for much of a tree, so we use two 12 inch tall ones I once bought for our two mothers.  Keeps them with us more tangibly.  The wreath is on the door and if it ever warms up enough, I’ll toss the one string of outdoor lights we own over one of our shrubs and call it done.  The biggest job remaining is the annual epistle.  We seem to have missed last year, so I need to get caught up.  Or get our friends caught up.

It does get crazy around here this week and next, and then through Christmas week.  But it’s fun crazy.  There are more tutorial sessions, routine doctors’ visits for both Doug and me, and a visit to a restorative dental surgeon to see what can be done about Doug’s crumbling tooth. Then the exam next Tuesday evening, marking Wednesday and Thursday, prep for Doug’s family Christmas on Friday, entertaining two of Doug’s brothers and their wives, and one grown up niece on Saturday. Sunday, thankfully, is a day of rest. Christmas week begins on Monday, December 23. Hopefully I can some words posted during the next few days, but I ain’t promisin’ nothin’!


Here’s the new experience. 
I’m writing this using the word processor that comes with the tablet.  It’s called Polaris and seems to be really powerful.  My hope is that I will be able to do blog posts here, then save them in my Dropbox, or copy them directly into WordPress.  Time will tell.  The important thing is that I learn to use it.  I can’t seem to find the spellchecker, but I can do that in other programs if I need to.  The neat thing is that I’m working in Word (which I hate, but which I know I can edit on my computer).  Perhaps I can actually learn to use Word too!  And no internet connection required, so this is how I can write on the ship on those long days at sea during our cruise.  Blog, travel journal, maybe even some work on a story I have been writing in my head.  I wonder if I can copy this to WordPress here??

So you see, I can learn things after all. Will wonders never cease!


Last night….
I’m trying this idea of emailing my blog entry to myself.  I just had a shower during which I managed to aggravate a hip that had been bothering me all day as well as my neck and my thumb.  Go figure!  At any rate, the pain has driven me to my refuge, my LaZBoy, and I can’t see myself sitting at my desk typing a blog entry this evening.  If it goes well, I can cut and paste it in the morning.  We shall see.
My morning began with a wonderful visit with a dear friend who has just had successful cataract surgery on both eyes.  We talked at length about the difficulties of adjusting to change, even positive change.  After years of wearing glasses, she now looks in the mirror and sees someone she finds quite strange.  She can now see distance without glasses, but for the first time, needs glasses to read.  Change.  I think, as well, she finds the aches and pains that accompany normal aging just as difficult as I.  More change.  Like others of us who are retired, she  no longer has the demands of a 9 to 5 job ( in her case, along with the demands of caring for her mother), requiring some conscious effort to fill our days.  More change.  You get the idea.  While social scientists have known for a century or more that ALL change is difficult, only the experience of both positive and negative events on a personal level can make the knowlede real for an individual.
We have two alternatives, I believe.  We either embrace change or we fight it tooth and nail.  I also believe that every change has bother positive and negative sides.  With the freedom from those 9 to 5 jobs comes the freedom to choose how we spend our time, perhaps to pursue a dream, to do things we have always wanted to do, to volunteer or learn to paint, to write poetry or the great Canadian novel, to plant a vegetable garden.  But with that freedom also comes the burden of having to choose, of no longer having the luxury of avoiding our dreams for fear we will not be able to fulfill them.  I think all change has these two dimensions, and we have to make up our minds which one will take prominence, knowing full well that the other side has not gone away.
It seems to me, in my case, I have made a decision to pay particular attention to the positive side as much as I can.  Today, the pain kind of forced my attention back to the negative, but not the way it used be.  It’s not leading me to conclude that I will need a hip replacement next month but rather that I did too much walking without my proper footwear.  
I’ve gone on far too long, but let me say one thing in summary.  As we age, the quality of our lives is determined by a bunch of things that are out of our control — our finances, our families, our health.  But I really believe that if we look for the positives and try to focus on them, we can live our lives to the fullest.  We will be able to say, with a wise friend of mine, “Life is good.  Then you die and it gets better.”  I want this life, what I have left of it, to be as good as I can make it.   Then I will be able to face death, when it comes, with no regrets, knowing by faith that it will get better.

Another oops!

Yesterday evening, after we came home from church, I wrote a paragraph or so about how I was feeling after the day. Then I couldn’t save it. It seems that sometimes my tablet doesn’t quite handle the blog, although at other times, it does just fine. Anyway, here’s an attempt to re-create that paragraph. It seems important for me to do this.

It’s hard to explain to a non-believer, or even – perhaps especially – to a lapsed believer, how incredibly important the church is to my well-being. I go there on Sundays, even twice on some Sundays, because I am nourished in a way that only happens there. It is a time of revitalization, of reflection, of renewal and refreshment. It presents challenges and solutions. It enriches my soul and gives me hope and peace. It reminds of the special and unique love and joy that I find only in my relationship with Christ and with my church family. Take yesterday morning for example. I met two old friends, one who follows me here who was, as she always is, incredibly supportive. The other was in need of support, yet in the midst of her trouble, she told me how much I meant to her and her family. The giving and receiving of love — truly amazing. Then, on my way out, I encountered Merry, another friend, who is dying of lung cancer. She has beaten every estimate of life expectancy the doctors give her, but we all know the end is coming. This year, she told me, barely able to breathe, she had to give up directing the annual Christmas pageant, but there she was, measuring for some prop or other for the gala arrival of the Bethlehem baby next Sunday morning. She is a true inspiration.

We had a terrific lunch with my brother and sister-law, came home for a rest, and went back for our favourite service in the evening. More love and warmth and hope and peace and joy. More challenge and reassurance. More inspiration and hope. It was a truly awesome day!

I believe in the power of God to do so much, yet I never ask Him why He has given me so much to carry, why He just doesn’t fix it. That’s not how it works. He never promised we wouldn’t have problems; He does, however, promise to be with us as we deal with them, providing strength that we cannot muster on our own. Every time I go to church, or pray, or even think about things carefully, I realize the truth of all this. Trouble with me is that I sometimes forget it on a day-to-day basis.

Anyway, I think that’s sort of what I tried to say last night. I won’t do my blog on my tablet anymore. I’ll write it in an email to myself and then post it in the morning!

See you later today.
Love you all,

Another semi-productive day..

Saturday.  Really cold!  Coffee with my brother Art first thing is always a great way to start the day.  Then, Doug did the grocery shopping while I ran a couple of errands and came home to work on the marking scheme.  I began to think that my hand was actualy improving.  Less tingling generally, fewer digits involved (the thumb, after all, isn’t really a finger or hand); this morning just the thumb and index finger were tingling and numb.  That’s the real odditiy of the whole thing, that they are both tingling and numb (and later painful).  After a day of writing, chopping, typing, more writing, and other tasks using my hands, now all the fingers of my right hand are singing and complaining about being over-worked.  At the same time, I have a ridicuousy bad headache, lkely caused by the same activities as the problem with the hand.  I might put it down to fibromyalgia and bad posture, both of which are true, but I need to be aware that the most common causes of my headaches are the pinched nerve in my neck and the weather.  The latter, of course, I can do nothing about.  The former, I can address with some specific exercises.  So I will do that.  Perhaps.  Tomorrow.

Also tomorrow, we are off to church at 9:30, lunch with my brother and sister-in-law, home for a nap, back to church for 6:30, then home to sleep.  Perhaps to blog, but perhaps not.  At least the marking scheme is done.

Goodnight, my friends.  Look after someone tonight.




How did I do that?

Somehow, I seem to have turned Doug’s cardiac symptoms into my problem. Sure, to the extent that I love him to bits and that we share our life, it is. But re-reading yesterday’s post made me wonder who was experiencing the symptoms. I suppose it’s something we all do on occasion, but if a stranger were to read what I wrote yesterday, he might well think that the main problem was my issues not Doug’s chest pain. And before anyone tells me that my blog is a place for me to sort out issues, even if it means taking ownership of someone else’s, I know, and that is my rationale, justification, excuse…

I am so blessed by so many people and so much love. I can’t say much more than that today. Think I’ll go work on the last thing for my course, the marking scheme for the final exam. I did manage to do all the problems once (!) so I know all the formulae and things they need are there. Now I need to redo the problems to see if I get the same answers twice, write it all out the way I expect my students to do it, and then develop the marking scheme. Once that’s done, and I’ve made a copy for Michael, it’s nearly finished. Three tutorial/study/help sessions between now and the exam, various doctors to see (both of us), the exam itself, two days of marking, grade submission and it’s on to Christmas!! Except for the two girls in the class who are currently under doctor’s care for concussion. Both will be writing deferred exams later …. I know it will all be over someday soon.

Christmas is shaping up to be busy. We’ll be having Doug’s brothers and their wives (and one niece) here for lunch on December 21 (grade submission likely on the 20th!!, cleaning ladies here on the 17th thankfully). Then we go to my brother’s for our family Christmas, the only one with kids involved. Brother, sister-in-law, nephew and niece-in-law, great-niece Emma and great-nephew Adam. It’s always fun to spend this particular holiday with youngsters. Their wide-eyed innocence is so refreshing. Christmas Eve is our special time. One of us will cook (the other does New Year’s Eve unless we decide to go out), we’ll go to church for a late evening service to remind ourselves what it’s really all about. It’s an important thing for me to do, especially when I’m feeling stressed.

Off to the dining room table, which is my “school office” during the term. Thankfully, we haven’t had more than two dinner guests at once since the course started so I haven’t had to move everything. Come to think of it, only one end of the table is my office now. The other end is our endless game of Super Scrabble.

Oh yes, it’s Friday. Bad week for weight. Gained two pounds, and no Peter, it’s not just fluid retention (I wish). We ate badly most of the week, and now we bother feel the consequences. And I can feel the two pounds in my clothes and in my knees when I walk!

Blessings all,