Category Archives: Retirement

Ouch!

Ouch

Nothing like talking a long walk off a short pier. Hubby dearest went out to view the stars off the dock unaware the dock was closed for repairs. The dock owners assumed everyone had been informed and since they were planning on being back to finish the repairs very early in the morning, they didn’t physically block the dock off. Also because of the repairs the lights were not working. Dick walked along looking up at the stars, and abruptly dropped about eight feet into a foot and a half of cold water over an oyster bed. Amazingly enough, he was basically unhurt except for a lot of superficial cuts and bruises.He couldn’t find his glasses in the dark and he was bleeding from his head and hands. He had about 50 small superficial head cuts. Head cuts really bleed and so by the time he got back to shore, one side of his head was covered with blood and it was running down his jacket front. He was also shaking from cold and shock. Jack was just getting ready to go to bed and so the sight of Dick walking in the door nearly gave him a heart attack. Jack called me to come.

After a warm bath and check, we decided he didn’t need to go to the hospital. By some miracle all the cuts were superficial. I cleaned one cut below his lip and found a tiny bit of oyster shell and a splinter of wood that had to be removed. The rest of the cuts were not dirty. We go to wild places a lot. Our doctor sends us to these wild places with a prescription for antibiotics which we fill before leaving and strict instructions for when to use them. We decided, given how oyster shells are notorious for causing infections, that this was one of those times. I used steri-strips to close a nasty wound that might have needed stitches on one finger. I also used steri-strips to tightly close the wound below his lip where it gaped but I left a small portion open to drain in the region where I had picked out the foreign bodies. I figured that area would need to drain and it did for a full 48 hours.

Two days later, Hubby Dearest is up and about and doing fine. He has a very nasty bruise under his armpit extending well down his arm. His knee got good banging and swelled up horribly but that knee is troublesome and arthritic anyway so we gave it the ice/anti-inflammatory treatment. The bump on his head is going down. The swelling on his lip is going away. All the assorted bumps bruises and cuts are healing very nicely with no sign of infection.

We got lucky, very lucky. The tide was not quite all the way out and the foot and a half of water probably cushioned his fall. Catching his arm on the exposed centre beam probably broke the fall into two stages, reducing the impact even if it bruised him. I keep thinking of might-have-beens. He had been out at a meeting and just returned. Our host thought he had gone back to our trailer and I thought he was still out. I probably would have gone to bed in another hour or so and not noticed he was gone until I woke up hours later. No one knew he was out on the dock, so if he had been knocked unconscious he would have drowned or died of hypothermia before we noticed. He could have broken bones or gotten cut up enough to need a surgical repair. Sharks and alligators are a rare but certainly not unheard of sight around the dock. The only permanent damage that occurred is that we discovered his almost new jeans have a great big rip in them. That’s a pretty cheap price to pay all things considered.

The people who were working on the dock were absolutely horrified. They apologized multiple times. One young man came over and got into the cold water (now higher because the tide was coming in) in the dark with a flashlight and he retrieved Dick’s glasses for him, apologizing all the time. Amazingly enough, the glasses weren’t even scratched.

All is well that ends well. I suspect the folks involved in the dock repair will never again make the mistake of assuming everyone knows and not blocking access. We certainly saw lots of caution tape and wooden barriers all over as they continue their work. The other thing we discovered is I should probably have a tetanus booster when we get back. Mine is overdue. It pays to keep that up. You never know when a oyster bed might be your landing place.

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Peaceful Days

We have settled into our Florida home. Life has been gentle and sweet. Long days of lazy beach walking, and collecting natures treasures. We were walking the beach and found endless sea pansy soft coral so we carried handfuls back to the marine lab where they will be put to good use instead of dying. Another day we watched our favourite dolphin pod driving mullet into the shore in high surf and we were overjoyed to see they have a new baby. I shouted my congratulations and was treated to a waving tail display and a happy jump and a rolling wave of one flipper in the air. Dolphins call dogs. Jack’s Lily swims out and then swims with them when they call. The dolphins like Lily, especially the younger ones and they greet her and try to get her to play but she isn’t a very good swimmer. When they get bored with her simply one dimensional stroke they swim off and she returns to shore, exhausted but full of doggy joy.

On the walk pictured below, in a heavy fog, we disturbed a large osprey who had just caught a fish. The bird flew off with the squirming fish tight in its grip. Yet another day we found a pile of slag from the clearing of a canal and it was packed full of fossils. We carried home chunks of ancient sea bed turned to rock with shells and worm tracks that day. We saw my favourite bird of all birds, the impossible, ridiculous, roseate spoonbill which is much more respectable looking in its native habitat doing its natural thing than when seen in any zoo. The winter birds who headed south before us, but whom we left in Georgia, have finally arrived and the trees are full of cardinals, robins, oriels,  blue jays, hundreds of starlings in stunning murmurations, golden and brown finches and yellow warblers and all those nondescript little brown ones I can never distinguish. They are far quieter and far more social in winter than when they are combating for mates and nesting places back in Alonsa so one can see entire folks living in peaceful close proximity.

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The dogs love the beach. Each morning a large group of dog owners meets early and walks the beach with dogs off leash. The dogs run and play and do the dog thing with abandon while we walk and chat about grandchildren, vehicles, our aches and pains, and where good sales are. The dogs roll in the stinky gunk, swim in the water and dig, endlessly dig in the sand. We moan about how they will need a bath again but none of us makes a move to interfere with their dog play. Some dogs try fishing. The fish are too smart. The crabs fight back and win. Yelp and a quick walk back and the dropped crab moves off. Some dogs, like my Trusty, prefer to just lie there and enjoy the sun and the heat in quiet dignity. Trusty watches the others with disdain and she never needs a bath. The only time I have ever seen Trusty get excited and take to the surf was when the dolphins called her, presumably to show off their new baby. She’s not as good at swimming as Lily and she gave up when the waves hit her chest. She ran up and down the beach crying, unable to fully answer their song. I wish I could hear it.

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Most people like the beach when its sunny and hot. I prefer to go to the beach when it’s cloudy and cool and a stiff breeze makes for rolling surf. On such days it’s often just us with our dogs and we can walk for kilometres without meeting another human being. These are also the days one is most likely to see the dolphins.

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There is something healing about the beach. The voice of Ulmo (if you are a Tolkien’s Silmarillion fan you will recognize that) is soothing.

As a child I had favourite song. I learned it in school. Our school day began with the Lord’s Prayer and two hymns from an English child’s hymnal.

I often hum it quietly to myself as I walk the beach listening to the waves.

“This is my Father’s world, and to my listening ears
All nature sings, and round me rings the music of the spheres.
This is my Father’s world: I rest me in the thought
Of rocks and trees, of skies and seas;
His hand the wonders wrought.”

“This is my Father’s world, the birds their carols raise,
The morning light, the lily white, declare their Maker’s praise.
This is my Father’s world: He shines in all that’s fair;
In the rustling grass I hear Him pass;
He speaks to me everywhere.”

“This is my Father’s world, dreaming, I see His face.
I open my eyes, and in glad surprise cry, “The Lord is in this place.”
This is my Father’s world, from the shining courts above,
The Beloved One, The Holy One,
Came—a pledge of deathless love.”

“This is my Father’s world, should my heart be ever sad?
The Lord is King—let the heavens ring. God reigns—let the earth be glad.
This is my Father’s world. Now closer to Heaven bound,
For dear to God is the earth we trod.
No place but is holy ground.”

“This is my Father’s world. I walk a desert lone.
In a bush ablaze to my wondering gaze God makes His glory known.
This is my Father’s world, a wanderer I may roam
Whate’er my lot, it matters not,
My heart is still at home.”

There should be something about dolphins in there. Perhaps I will have to add a verse.

How does your garden grow?

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My 50th parallel garden is growing by leaps and bounds in the usual 16 hours a day of sunlight in summer up here. I planted this from seed except where I specify otherwise. We are already enjoying the garden bounty. As I thin we munch what I thin in our salads. We shall shortly be eating our first meal with turnip greens. Turnip greens are a luxury I was introduced to in the south. We are also enjoying fresh herbs in cooking. The cat also loves fresh catnip. The catnip is growing so fast any cat in town who wishes to get stoned can join mine. (Catnip and herbs above.)

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The tomato plants were purchased ones. This is actually my second set. The May long weekend blizzard killed my first set. They have gone from just starting to bloom to having fruit.

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The cucumbers started from seed three weeks ago are doing very well. I am looking forward to fresh cucumbers and pickles and relishes.

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I put in two roots of horse radish. They have both come up now. I’m not sure if there will be enough root for my to use int he fall but I have located an abandoned garden with horse radish growing wild and crazy everywhere and I will take some from there if I need to.

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Potato plants took forever to appear from seed potatoes but are finally growing. We LOVE fresh potatoes from the garden, especially those little wee ones.

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The beans are just about to bloom. You can also see radishes and lettuce into the next row.

SAM_5619 Spinach. Love it raw. Hubby loves it raw and cooked.

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Baby carrots. Nothing beats a fresh carrot from the garden washed off under the hose in summer sun.

SAM_5623Garlic from seed garlic each plant one clove from the bunch of seed garlic. We are big garlic eaters and I want fresh garlic for my pickles..

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This is an experiment. It is plants for spaghetti squash started from seed. Will it beat the frost and produce something edible? We will see.

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Zuchinni started from plants about six weeks old. We have fried zucchini almost every morning with our eggs so I am looking forward to being able to pick and cook my own. My only regret is I could not  find plants with yellow zucchini, common in the south, here in the north. Yellow zucchini has a nuttier milder taste. Maybe next year I can start my own from seed.

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Chives from purchased plants.

SAM_5627 This was a volunteer I guessed was a squash. It is beginning to look suspiciously like a sunflower.SAM_5621

I put in one row of corn. It’s kind of silly to put corn in a small garden because they need so much room and give back so little but if we are lucky we can have one or two meals of our own fresh corn. You can see baby beets and turnips beside the corn. Most we will eat as greens as I thin. I few I will find other uses for.

The Garden is Up!

This morning I went out to inspect the garden and cheek to see if I will need to replant anything. I was delighted to discover that there is stuff coming up in every row but one. SAM_5590

Here is my row of kale surrounded by weeds. (I will get to that shortly.) I don’t like kale but my kids asked me to plant kale so I did. At the end of the row on the left you can see my two zuchinni plants have taken very nicely.

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A pleasant surprise is all my seed garlic has sprouted. I’ve never had a lot of luck with garlic. Maybe this is the year.

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Beans are one my favourite seedlings. One day you have nothing at all and a few days later you have a row of little plants that actually look like something. Plus they produce enough you can actually get sick of eating them fresh from the garden.

The tomatoes plants I replanted have all taken and are growing like crazy. One of my horse radish roots and one potato have leaves above ground. I expect the rest shortly. Some of the rows look thin and I only have two sets of cucumber plants. If those don’t fill in soon I’ll replant with more but it’s too soon to give up. For fun, I put in sunflowers at the end of each row. I have never actually gotten any sunflowers to eat from the plants but they are so pretty and the birds love them. I plant them for the joy they give me. One thing I have not seen yet is anything from my row of corn. But I only planted the corn because hubby dearest asked me and you can’t get a lot of corn out of a little wee garden. If we get one meal I’ll be surprised, assuming of course the birds didn’t eat all the seed.

The northern garden is a strange thing. We have these incredibly long days in summer with the sun up by 4:30am and sunset not coming until after 10:00pm. Heat during the day and cool at night and usually lots of rain. The result is the garden leaps up so quickly you could almost measure the hourly progress with a ruler. So now the race is on to get the produce grown and in before the frosts of late August. This summer I can’t afford it, with all the expenses of the house, but next spring I hope to have the row garden converted to at least a few above ground box garden containers and have a green house. We’ll see. We gardeners always like to dream big for next year.

New Kitchen Light

SAM_5580 This is the old ceiling light. As you can see it not only is ugly but it doesn’t give enough light. SAM_5579 I changed the light with Dick’s help and then he carefully and meticulously cleaned each of the thick glass panels.The long narrow clear glass above the blue is cut like a prism. SAM_5581 Our new light with two new bright LED lights that give off 400lm each and use only 7 watts. Cost $40 from the Renuzit Habitat for Humanity Store (plus $5 for each bulb) and two hours of our time. Lovely! Next job the ceiling fan for the living room area.

The Country Vet Visit – Warning RANT.

Sky rocketing veterinarian fees are a personal bugaboo of mine. When I first got my dog Trusty ten years ago we had a long time vet of many years who would do a checkup give shots and send us home with heart worm medication for about $120. When he retired a bright eyed new graduate came in and bought up his practice. I was given no warning or “heads up” about the new guy. He just walked in, announced the older guy had retired and he started examining my dog. This kind of bugged me but what can you do in such a situation? The new guy then announced we had to do a blood test to ensure that the heart worm medication had worked because if we gave heart worm medication to an infected animal it could be dangerous. He also wanted to test for lyme disease and some other stuff. He also ordered a fecal smear to check for worms. He then checked the dog’s teeth and told me she had tarter and he gave me a tube of fancy toothpaste and a brush and told me about his special food for dogs that was so much better than anything else out there.

We left and I went to pay. Imagine my stunned surprise to discover that the bill was over $400! $14 for the lyme disease blood test, $17 for the heart worm test, plus a $25 technician fee for each test and a fee for the blood draw. The tooth paste was $16 and the brush $6. The fecal smear $29 and so  it went, one charge after another. Not only that, but the charge for the rabies vaccine was more than double what the previous vet charged last year! I protested.

After I returned the tooth brush and tooth paste and protested the tech fees (come on, I did this kind of test myself as a biochemist and it’s a kit a kid in grade school could do and certainly not worth $25 of tech time) I got the bill down to $295 and that with a lot of grumbling and complaining from the new guy about the cost of veterinarian school and maintaining a practice. I left feeling like I had been cheated and I did not go back.

I wish I could say I found a great vet. I didn’t. For the next few years I had a different vet each check up and every single one of them would give me one price on the telephone call to check and then hit me with multiple additional fees for additional tests that were in my opinion of questionable value. I even walked out of one office after the guy told me the heart worm blood test (at $49) had to be done or he would not prescribe me any more heart worm meds even though I had specifically asked about skipping the test and the fee before walking in. He threatened to charge me the no show fee for walking out and called me a “bad doggie Mom”. Screw him!

I hate the term “Doggie Mom.” They are dogs, not my babies. I keep dogs for their company and for the job I require of them which is barking a warning and protecting me from strangers. I expect and demand a certain minimum level of good behaviour and I enforce that expectation. They get dog obedience training, puppy classes for socialization. They get decent food, not the corn crap from the cheap shelf, my affection and good health care at need but they are not my children! They rank somewhere below children and above my truck in my life. I simply don’t care to be a “doggie Mom” for good or bad. I absolutely detest a vet visit that feels like I’m taking my child to the paediatrician. In a world where children starve to death and die for lack of clean water, there is something positively grotesque about such a vet visit. I agree with the Pope that we spend too much on our pets.

The whole teeth cleaning thing is another huge money maker for the city vet. I foolishly agreed to let my cat have his teeth cleaned. Sure $200 for the teeth cleaning that this vet quoted me was reasonable. Imagine my surprise to find there was the $110 fee for an IV in case Klinger had complications, $130 fee for blood work up to make sure his kidneys and liver could handle the anesthetic (you’ve got to be kidding me!) and the warning that if the job turned out to be more than a simple cleaning there “might” (translate to will absolutely certainly) be additional charges. I absolutely insisted we skip the IV and blood work. I got the bad cat mommy lecture but they did go ahead anyway.

I arrived to find they had extracted a tooth (another $110) and they sent me home telling me he would be fine without extra pain meds (which I would have happily paid for). The poor cat was in agony by midnight and everything was closed except for the downtown emergency clinic. I called them but they would not let me drive over and just purchase some pain meds. They insisted Klinger had to be brought in and given a full check up ($80 for the late night visit fee, $40 for the emergency clinic charge, $40 for the vet check) and then and only then could he get pain meds. What a racket! I decided another drive and vet visit would likely be more traumatic than the pain Klinger was already in. Don’t tell me these vets care about animals before money because they certainly don’t. No pain relief for the cat unless Cat Mommy first pays hundreds of dollars extra up front.

The same vet that treated Klinger also told me Trusty, my English Bull Terrier, needed her teeth cleaned as well. I bought a tarter cleaning device and did it myself with a follow up of some big bones and some chewie things. This is why you need to train your dogs, so you can get the dog to stand still for a tooth cleaning and you don’t need to pay hundreds of dollars to rip off artists to get rid of tarter. I have paid less to get a dentist to take care of my own teeth!

A rural vet came to Alonsa last Saturday to do a rabies vaccine/parking lot visit. Oh, what a refreshing change that was! He pulled up in his car and about 100 people showed up with cats and dogs for rabies shots. His assistant asked a few questions. “Any health concerns? What shots does the animal need? How much does the animal weigh? How old is the animal? Do you want deworming? The vet had an assembly line going. Quick check of the dog, prepare the needles, stick stick, assistant passed out medication, next pet. Now THIS felt like a proper vet visit. Mostly he was pressured for time because he had to stop in to check a horse he had treated the night before and he’d had an emergency surgery in the morning and it kind of set his schedule off.

I asked about heart worm medication since I do think that is important, especially since we travel in the south in regions where heart worm is endemic. Oh wonderful news! He gives the six month shot. The six month shot is something I heard about in the USA where our friends rave about it. So cheap and easy compared to the once a month chew tab we were using. (The last city vet said that six month shot wasn’t as good protection and so he insisted on the more expensive monthly chewie treat.) The rural vet asked the weight of the dogs. I told him. He quoted me two prices for the heart worm six month shot. I told him the cat needed rabies and the other shots because even though he is in indoor cat, we travel and I need it at the border. (They have asked on three crossings.) No problem. He quoted me the price too, GST and PST included. The dogs were good for their shots.

I have insisted that a previous city vet give me a vet certificate that is good for more than one year since the rabies shot he gave my dogs was good for THREE years. (I’ll bet that city vet doesn’t leave the box out where people like me can actually read the fine print when he turns his back ever again. That cost him two years of unnecessary vaccinations and since it was right there on the box he couldn’t argue his way out of a three year date on the certificate.) There is simply no need to vaccinate every single year except to fill city vet coffers and pay for vet school and pay rent on the fancy clinic with fine upholstery and gorgeous wall paintings and little paw prints on the linoleum and the “play area” for the waiting doggie parents and their doggie children, and the coffee machine, and the memento photo of Doggy Mommy and Doggy child with the vet’s logo on the whole wall behind you to put in your Doggie Mommy scrap book. I declined to get my “free” photo. Honestly, I have better things to do. (I wish I was kidding. I’m not. The only good thing about that stupid picture was it was “free”, though of course the colour printer was paid for by all the other stuff done to my dog and my pocket book that didn’t need doing.) The real vet, the country vet, overworked and struggling to keep up a schedule, just couldn’t be bothered with all that crap and I admire him for it.

The best part of this parking lot clinic, was once he was done, the amount I wrote on my cheque was EXACTLY, I mean to the penny, the same as the amount he first quoted me. For the first time in eight years I did not get have a vet hit me with any hidden additional charges. The total cost $180 for preventative health care for two dogs and one cat. I might even let this guy call me “Doggy Mommy” except I suspect it wouldn’t even occur to him to say that. We were done in ten minutes and he was on to the next dog. I did not get a huge curly-cued wall certificate of vaccination printed on a background that showed the vet’s office on creamy parchment (suitable for framing) to present to the border guard. I got a little hand written note on a half size page of stationary with date, time and signature, under a plain letterhead with his name and address. This country vet doesn’t even have a logo! Since he processed about 120 dogs and cats in that parking lot I suspect he actually made more money than the doggy paediatrician, sneaky extra fees for doggy mommy not withstanding.

I wondered if maybe I was being a grumpy and cheap old woman. Then CBC did a marketplace special on veterinarian rip offs in small animal practice in the cities and confirmed all my suspicions.

http://www.cbc.ca/news/many-veterinary-bills-include-inappropriate-costs-1.1876019

Recently, one of these crooked city vets made a mistake of ripping off a member of the provincial legislature and now the government of Manitoba is introducing legislation to make it illegal for them to slap people with those heavily padded “surprise”, “surprise” bills that a used car salesman would be ashamed of.

http://globalnews.ca/news/2007592/manitoba-government-plans-to-legislation-to-govern-veterinarian-fees/

Now somewhere out there is a really smart new grad from medical school. He (or she) will open a “no frills” clinic in the city where doggy moms and doggy dads need not apply. He (or she) can tell people what will be charged when they make an appointment and add not one extra test or fee. People will pay only what they expect to pay. He (or she) will not have ten staff (including two to prepare the heavily padded bill), “free” wall logos with pictures, paw print linoleum, coffee, doggy play area, and attendant in the cute little nurse’s scrubs with the puppies and kitties print to escort the proud parents from the beautifully decorated waiting room into the “treatment centre”. I predict the no frills city vet will make a fortune with bulk processing from those us who are decidedly NOT pet parents.

My Present

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Well there it is. This lovely antique rocker was a silly splurge. $80 from the Mennonite Central Committee thrift store in Portage and I am in love with it. It fits like whoever made it was built the same way I am. I like to think it was carved with love and affection for a special woman. Maybe babies were rocked in it and knitting for grandchildren  was completed in front of a fire in winter. We really didn’t need to buy it since we are $3000 over budget now, but hubby dearest absolutely insisted I deserve it and how could I argue with such a wise man?

What a week it has been! We have spent the entire week running and shopping. I hate shopping. I do enjoy a good bargain. We went to the local Habitat for Humanity centre because I am cheap. I also like recycling and repurposing more than retail, partly because it satisfies the cheap in me and partly for the earth. We found to lights for the kitchen and living room/work area because the lighting is very poor there in our house. One is a lovely Tiffany style stained glass with double the wattage of our current light ($40) and the other is a ceiling fan still in the box ($65) for the living space. I love ceiling fans because the slow turning is soothing and the movement of air gets rid of hot spots in summer and cold spots in winter. While we were there we also found shelving, a second doorknob for the front door with a set of keys, and assortment of odds and ends at less than half of retail for resolving various small issues. We also picked up the heavy duty 70 pint, can be set to autodrain to the sump pit, dehumidifier ($235 on sale from the Sears Clearance catalogue). We have a small one for the trailer but it can’t even begin to keep up in our basement and we still need it for the trailer anyway. I got more curtain rods, storage containers, shelf organizers for the kitchen, electrical stuff, tape, tools, ect.

I had a box of stuff left at one son’s house of assorted knick knacks of no value except sentimental that I could not bear to part with when we downsized and had no place for in the trailer. The box is now in the truck waiting for the trip home. I also reclaimed a small corner china cabinet that once belonged to my grandmother that my daughter got, and then sold to me a few years ago when she moved to Israel and then agreed to store for me when she moved back and I downsized. The knick knacks can go in there and it can take up one empty corner of my new home. We picked up a painting we had in storage, currently riding on the trailer futon still wrapped. (See the rocking chair picture.)

Yesterday, we rounded out the shopping with a trip to some garden centres. I now have all the plants I need for my garden and seeds, a rake, a hoe, some small tools, and fertilizer and tomato cages. I also bought three flats of annuals for my flower bed and a raspberry bush. Hubby dearest has some plans of his own for the mess the sump pump makes in the yard and we got supplies for those. I closed off the garden sales with an on line purchase of a horseradish root which I simply could find anywhere else.

I also got a visit in with all the grandkids except for the baby who is sick and could land me in hospital again with pneumonia with his baby cold. I got a special big hug from our eldest on a five minute fly by between stores that was heart warming. Spontaneous displays of affection when startled are really the very best. Today is a pause day with nothing special before we head back to Alonsa and home with all our treasures. I plan on sunning a lot and maybe taking a bike ride around the lake. On the way out, we will stop and get two new tires for the trailer and go by Superstore to stock up on a lot of food because we don’t intend to be back in the city until August long weekend.

My trailer is still home but how I miss my little house! It will be good to have the trailer home parked in the stick house home’s drive again. And then back to work. So much to do! Strange how in retirement you end up busier than while working.