Thursday, May 31, 2012

Yay! All 31 Days of May Have a Post.

Yay!! I did it! The 31st day of the 2012 blogathon and I posted each and every day. Even better, I didn't have to scramble in the evening so that I would make it under the deadline.

I had no intention of being part of this blogathon. I read about it, heard about it - and didn't pay much attention to it. After all, I had enough going on, I thought. But - on the spur of the moment, the evening before it all was to start, I jumped in with both feet. And I'm glad I did.

I've enjoyed the challenge of having to commit to daily posts. I do admit though that I won't be posting every day starting tomorrow. My goal is to get back to two or three times a week, which was what my original posting pattern was when I began the blog five years ago.

What did I get out of this project? A renewed appreciation for my blog and the information it makes available for the people who visit. It made me realize how important it is to keep it up. Although I knew and understood the importance, I just couldn't bring myself to get back into it. At one point, I was even thinking of letting the blog go.

A huge thank you and shout out to Michelle Rafter for organizing the blogathon and for her helpers who made this a smooth process for so many of us.

So, that's it for today. A short and sweet post about making it through, keeping my promise to myself, and proving to myself that -  yes - I still have topics that are worth discussing.

Thanks to all those who followed me throughout the month. If you were new to the blog, I hope you'll stick around and see what else comes up. If you're my old tried-and-true friends, thanks for sticking with me!


Wednesday, May 30, 2012

The Pets We Loved

As I was wondering what to post about today, my eye fell on a cartoon I have printed out and taped to my desk wall. It has the image of St. Peter welcoming a new person to heaven- who looks to be in his 50s or 60s. Beside St. Peter is a very, very happy looking dog. The line below it says, "So, you're little Bobbie; well, Rex here has been going on and on about your for the past 50 years."

Rox, my heart dog, waiting at the window
I love that comic and I also like the Rainbow Bridge poem. I like to believe that such a place exists, where our loved animals wait for us after they've died. I want to believe it because I loved my pets so much and the loss was so profound when they left this this earth.

Animals can play such a strong role in the mental and physical health of humans. They bring comfort to people who are ill and/or who are dying. They are companion animals who help humans live a fuller life.

Pets can help lower blood pressure (as long as they're not destroying the furniture in the home!) and help ease the pain of anxiety and depression. A pet loves you for you. Not what you do, not who you are, but you.

Our Oscar, doing what he did best
For a while, I was a volunteer dog walker at the Montreal SPCA. I loved it. The dogs were so happy to get out and walk about. I got my exercise and I got to feel like I was doing something important. Some of these dogs were very sad cases, from sad backgrounds. Others were victims of circumstances beyond anyone's control. But for a few minutes, while I walked them, I could give them the love and attention that they needed and I got something back that doesn't even have a name. It was just "something."

Not everyone loves animals and pets. Some pet lovers say that this is the sign of someone that they couldn't be with. But I don't think it's so black and white. I think that as long as the person is kind and would never hurt an animal, either by doing something or not doing something, then whether they would love to have a pet isn't important. What is important is their respect for the animal's life and well being.

I live with and love someone like that. He doesn't care to have pets in the house. But when we did, he did everything that ever needed to be done to be sure that they were happy, safe, and healthy. And when the time came that they had to leave us, he mourned them as well.

Chance, a foster between Oscar and Dee
Rox was our golden retriever, my heart dog. We all loved him so much. He came to us when he was two years old - his family was "getting rid of him." What a wonderful dog he was. He left us way, way too soon, at the age of 7, from advanced stomach cancer. I still hear him, I still feel him. His soul will always be with us.

Oscar was my first greyhound. He came to us, also at two years old, straight off a racetrack in Massachusetts. He wasn't a successful racer, but he was a successful couch potato. He was so special. I wrote a book about him after he was taken from us all too early, at the age of five. Also from cancer.

Brood mom and brat, Dee
Oscar was followed by Dee. She was a nine-year-old greyhound who had been a brood mom. She had never really lived in a home. She lived with us for nine months and 17 days before she died. Not that I was counting.

No dogs followed these three. I would love to have another one. But as much as I do want another dog, part of me - a small part - kind of appreciates that my husband doesn't. Because I don't know if I can lose another one. I've lost dogs and cats as a child and then these three, along with a number of guinea pigs. It just hurts so much. I know that this pain appears because we love them so much, because they give us so much joy - but sometimes, the memory of the pain makes me wonder if I could ever do that again.

Just this side of heaven is a place called Rainbow Bridge.

When an animal dies that has been especially close to someone here, that pet goes to Rainbow Bridge.
There are meadows and hills for all of our special friends so they can run and play together.
There is plenty of food, water and sunshine, and our friends are warm and comfortable.

All the animals who had been ill and old are restored to health and vigor; those who were hurt or maimed are made whole and strong again, just as we remember them in our dreams of days and times gone by.
The animals are happy and content, except for one small thing; they each miss someone very special to them, who had to be left behind.

They all run and play together, but the day comes when one suddenly stops and looks into the distance. His bright eyes are intent; His eager body quivers. Suddenly he begins to run from the group, flying over the green grass, his legs carrying him faster and faster.

You have been spotted, and when you and your special friend finally meet, you cling together in joyous reunion, never to be parted again. The happy kisses rain upon your face; your hands again caress the beloved head, and you look once more into the trusting eyes of your pet, so long gone from your life but never absent from your heart.

Then you cross Rainbow Bridge together....

Author unknown... 

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Do You Know What to Do in a Thunderstorm?

This past weekend, a young man was struck by lightning and died later in hospital. The man and his girlfriend were cycling and, according to news reports, they sought shelter under a tree when the storm passed over them.

We've all heard that you aren't supposed to be near a tree during storms, so why do so many of us do that - take shelter under one? It just seems logical to do so. It's raining, it's windy, and trees offer physical protection.

We don't see the lightning - it's not an immediate danger - so it's easy to forget about, I guess. Sadly, this ends up resulting in tragedy several times a year.

So, what should you do when you're caught in a storm and going into a safe building isn't an option?

The American National Weather Service has a webpage devoted to thunderstorm safety. Here are some of the tips if you are caught where there are no safe places to go:

Being stranded outdoors when lightning is striking nearby is a harrowing experience. Your first and only truly safe choice is to get to a safe building or vehicle. If you are campingclimbing, on a motorcycle or bicycleboatingscuba diving, or enjoying other outdoor activities and cannot get to a safe vehicle or building, follow these last resort tips. They will not prevent you from being struck by lightning, but may slightly lessen the odds.
These actions may slightly reduce your risk of being struck by lightning:
  • If camping, hiking, etc., far from a safe vehicle or building, avoid open fields, the top of a hill or a ridge top.
  • Stay away from tall, isolated trees or other tall objects. If you are in a forest, stay near a lower stand of trees.
  • If you are camping in an open area, set up camp in a valley, ravine or other low area. Remember, a tent offers NO protection from lighting.
  • Stay away from water, wet items (such as ropes) and metal objects (such as fences and poles). Water and metal are excellent conductors of electricity. The current from a lightning flash will easily travel for long distances (See Figure 2 below).

People often ask if it is safe to take refuge in a car or truck. According to the NWS, the answer is yes, depending on the vehicle:

safe vehicle is any fully enclosed metal-topped vehicle such as a hard-topped car, minivan, bus, truck, etc. While inside a safe vehicle, do not use electronic devices such as radio communications during a thunderstorm. If you drive into a thunderstorm, slow down and use extra caution. If possible, pull off the road into a safe area. Do not leave the vehicle during a thunderstorm. 
Unsafe vehicles include convertibles, golf carts, riding mowers, open cab construction equipment and boats without cabins.

And what if you are inside? Are you still in danger?

If you are in a safe building, one with wiring and plumbing, then you are generally out of danger when it comes to lightning strikes. You still need to take some precautions because you aren't 100% safe, but chances of being injured are low.

First, stay away from windows. It can be tempting to stand at a patio door and watch the lightning dance across the sky, but being by a window has a few dangers. A serious storm could dislodge items and send debris flying through the air, which could break windows. Trees could fall as well, so stay away from anything that could break.

It is also recommended that you:

  • Stay off the phone
  • Shut off (unplug if possible) computers, televisions, and other sensitive electronic equipment
  • Don't take a shower or bath

While the third directive may sound odd, the reasoning there is if your building is struck by lightning, an electric current could be sent through the metal plumbing.

Do you know anyone who has been hit by lightning? My youngest son had a close call one summer; he was about 15 at the time, I think. He was out on a sailboat on what had been a beautiful day. There were no signs of storms to come when, out of the blue, a thunderstorm rolled over them before they had time to get to shore.

According to my son, there were lightening strikes that hit the water not far from the sailboat. He didn't know what to do and - thankfully - the storm rolled away as quickly as it had come in. Sailing isn't one of his favourite past times now.

Monday, May 28, 2012

Wordle Day - A Blogathon 2012 theme

Today is Wordle day for people who are participating in Blogathon 2012. The most word I thought were most common aren't what the wordle program thought. Interesting.

If you would like to make your own wordle, go to

Here is my wordle for the blogathon:

Sunday, May 27, 2012

Sunday Relaxing - Be Sure to Take that Relaxing Day

So, today is another Sunday. They do come around every seven days. :-)  Today will truly be a resting day for me because I've been quite busy over the past week. Rest is important for anyone, but it's particularly so for someone with fibromyalgia.

I heard about a chocolate festival taking place in Bromont, Quebec this weekend. It's about 90 minutes away or so. I did want to go, but I have to listen to common sense. If I go, I'm sure I'll cross over that line from very tired to fatigued. While being very tired is manageable, being fatigued isn't. So, I'll spend my day relaxing with my new sewing machine, reading, and taking it easy.

I wish I had a hammock. When I was in Mexico a year ago, my favourite activity was "hammocking." Just lying in a hammock and dozing, relaxing, listening to the sounds around me. The ultimate in relaxation, in my book.

It used to be that spending a day doing nothing was considered slothful, a sin. After all, idle hands and all that. But it's been found that true resting, taking time for yourself to be self-indulgent (within reason of course) is good for you. Relaxing helps you refocus, bring your thoughts back to where they can flow and be their own.

Relaxing doesn't mean that you have to nap or sit around doing nothing. Relaxing is what makes you happy, feel re-energized. This could mean playing physical games, going to the park and playing with your children, going for bike rides - anything that is not stressful for you.

I'm not Jewish, but I admire those of the faith who observe the Sabbath. By having a day when they do not do anything considered to be work, by staying away from electronics and the hub-hub of the modern world, they are left with time to pray, reflect, think, spend time with family. They know that they can - and will - do this every week. There has got to be something good for you there. With our 24/7 life, constant connections, many of us don't allow for that real down time.

My busy but fun couple of days

On Friday, I had the privilege of attending a day-long quilting workshop and we learned how to machine-piece a Mariner's Compass. This pattern is considered to be - and is - a difficult piece to make. It's a pattern that is often seen in prize-winning quilts and the onlookers may be heard to say, "wow, I'd love to try making a Mariner's Compass, but it's too hard."

The method I learned was a machine-pieced pattern and I learned it's not really that difficult, it's picky. You need to be very precise to get it right, but once you do get that precision, it works. Aren't so many of things in life like that? We rush through them and get so-so results, but if we take the time to think them through and do them properly, they work out in a much more satisfactory way. The wonderful instructor was Sheila Wintle.

The workshop I attended yesterday was on machine quilting. I don't like to machine quilt. I've been a hard-line hand quilter since I began quilting over 20 years ago. I've learned how to MQ and I have done it for baby quilts, placemats, and so on, but I don't enjoy the process. So, I decided I have the opportunity to learn from one of the best (Wendy Butler Berns), now was the chance. If I learned how to do it properly, maybe I would enjoy it a bit more.

What I learned was, as I said about rushing things - I was rushing things with the machine quilting. My results didn't make me happy before because I was rushing through it. I was equating machine quilting with speed quilting. It doesn't really work like that! So, although I am far from proficient now, at least I have a better idea of what to do and how to do it, and where I was making my worst mistakes.

So, this is why I need my down time today. As much fun as the workshops were, as well as taking tours around the wonderful quilt exhibit, it was tiring.

Relaxing is good. It's not a luxury. It's a must. I hope that everyone gets that chance to relax, if only a few moments, this weekend.