Sunday, April 22, 2012

Leaving on a jet plane

I'm heading to Edmonton tonight for the first time in almost a year. I'm going at the end of June because my niece and one of my nephews are graduating high school this year and I wanted to celebrate with them. However, my niece and her IB Art class are having an art show this month so when she invited me to come to the show there was no way I would say no. I'm proud of my niece and nephews' accomplishments and I'm honoured to hear about or be asked to participate in what they're doing.

Originally I'd thought I would be going back to Edmonton last summer but then I kind of fell apart and I wasn't emotionally strong enough to go. Thankfully, my psychologist has helped me develop tools for dealing with my emotions so that I stay out of that vortex of depression and sadness. Although I'm a little nervous, I think I'm finally ready to go back to Edmonton. Besides, going now will be good practice for when I go back in a couple of months.

To be honest, I'm more nervous about leaving Gozer than anything else. She follows me around almost everywhere and I'm worried that she will be sad when I'm gone. Ian will take her to work with him so it's not like she'll be by herself or anything... I'm more worried about how she'll react when she comes in from her evening walk and rushes downstairs to see me and come back to sit with me. I just don't want her to be sad. I know she's a dog and all, but she was already abandoned once and I don't want to evoke that feeling in her. I'm trying not to show that I'm nervous or sad about leaving her so that I don't cause the feelings I'm trying to prevent!

Overall, I'm excited about this trip and looking forward to seeing my sisters, niece and nephews, and friends. I'm not taking a laptop with me (just my mobile) so I won't be posting again until after I'm back on the evening of April 30. Wish me luck :)

Friday, April 20, 2012

Happy, playing dog

For her afternoon walk, Gozer chose a route on streets instead of going through the woods. We haven't walked over that way for quite a while so I was happy enough to go that way. It meant stopping at the vet's office (which hasn't been the same since our favourite vet tech left) but since we hadn't been there in a while, I was ok with that, too.

Because it was humid and Gozer was panting so much I decided to cut our walk a little bit short. She didn't like that at first; she actually went low to the ground and pulled with all of her might to try to get me to go in the direction she wanted but I resisted her efforts. It was a good thing, too, because she got to meet some new doggy friends.

She met two dogs at one place: a female Great Dane and a male whose breed I didn't recognize. The Great Dane batted at Gozer with her massive paw to try to get her to play but Gozer was having none of it because she was too worried about what the male was doing. At the time, he was sniffing at her and drooling on her backside. The owner said that the drooling was a sign that this dog liked Gozer. Whether or not that's true, it was kind of weird to see these droplets of drool on her bum. Gozer didn't seem to care.

A half-block away from those two dogs was a cute little male Bichon Frise who was helping his mommy garden. Gozer went up to sniff him and he ended up chasing her around the yard. After that bit of exercise, they were both tired and panting so they had a bit of a rest and Gozer had a drink. A few minutes later, Gozer started chasing the other dog around the yard and then stopping and barking at him to start running again.

My eyes were welling up with tears of joy as I watched my little furchild play properly with another dog. She was clearly so happy to be running and being a dog with this other dog. She's played a little bit with some other dogs but mostly when they invite her to play, she just looks at them. There must have been something different about this other dog that she liked because we were there for about 20 minutes. I had a hard time getting her to leave!

I hope that the next time we go by this house this dog is outside again so that Gozer can have a play.  She was sure to pee on the yard so I have no doubts that she'll find the place again. I'd love for her to find other dogs - like, say, the dogs next door - for playmates because I do love to watch her play and be a happy dog.

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Working in our yard

Looking after our property is a lot of work. There's always something to do but this year it seems like there's a lot of more intensive maintenance work to be done.

For example, I spent all of yesterday afternoon weeding the front yard. The yard isn't very big but the number of weeds there was ridiculous. I guess the soil we used when we seeded the yard had weed seeds in it because there were more weeds there of so many different varieties that I can think of no other reasonable explanation for the situation.hey don't come back

Keeping the weeds under control in the yard is a never-ending task, especially since we don't use herbicides. Even if herbicides weren't banned in Ontario (which they are), we wouldn't use them because I don't believe that they're good for the environment. I've heard that vinegar will kill weeds and there are natural sprays out there but as long as I'm capable of getting down there and pulling out the weeds, that's the way I prefer to clear them up.

This evening we tackled the giant silver grass. Since we lost some of the privacy we got from the trees because we had to take out some of our trees because they were either dead or too close together, we figured that we'd put some of this giant silver grass along the fence. To do that, we had to split up the giant silver grass that we had. We got all but one section closest to the fence pulled out of the ground; we'll need to divide those pieces up into smaller pieces for re-planting.

This is one strong plant! There's a geotextile about four or six inches below ground and  the roots of this plant have either gone right through this textile or pushed it and twisted it around. The roots go down about eight or ten inches below ground; since it grows up to about ten feet tall, I guess deep, gnarled roots make sense.

I don't like that geotextile. There are different kinds that decompose at different rates and what they used on the planting bed up the hill on that side of the property was the stuff that never breaks down. The giant silver grass could punch through that textile but tree roots can't, so what we had on that one hill (where we're lacking privacy) was a four-inch deep block of roots and decomposing mulch. There was no soil there, let alone nutrients for all of those trees. No wonder the evergreens were dying: not only were the trees planted too close together, there was no way they could get nutrients. This kind of geotextile belongs in flower beds to prevent weeds, not where trees are going to be planted.

We ended up taking the stumps out and getting as much of that textile out as we could. In doing so, we were able to turn and mix the soil and add new soil in to give some nutrients to the area. We also pulled out a ton of roots from the stumps and maybe some roots from the remaining trees. I read somewhere that trees do better if they're roots are cut periodically so hopefully trimming them back a bit will be good for those trees.

With those trees gone there was a whole lot of empty space in addition to a lack of privacy. To fill things in for now, we ended up splitting up our ginormous hostas and filling much of that bed with them. Hopefully once we move the grass over to those areas they'll look good and everything will thrive.

There's still more work to be done: we have to split up the grass and plant it and we haven't even touched the other side of the property or the flower beds. I have to say that I do love working with my hands, whether I'm weeding or working with the soil. Given the size of our yard, that's a really good thing!

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Scannng time

It's scanning season again. I had a neck-to-pelvis CT scan yesterday and the bone scan today. I'm not at all worried about these scans because my markers are so low but having annual scans gives me peace of mind. My first oncologist only wanted to schedule scans for me when I had symptoms. I find that approach very stressful because it means that I have to watch the symptoms carefully and decide whether or not the symptoms warrant a scan.

Having an annual scan means that if I did have new symptoms, my oncologist and I have the option of determining whether or not I think I want to have a scan before my regularly scheduled scan. There's something about knowing that a scan will be coming up that relaxes me and allows me to not freak out at every new twinge or ache - knowing that the symptoms will be scanned in the future means that I don't have to think about those symptoms now if there's no reason to worry. If there's something to the symptoms, then that will be picked up in the future scans.

If I didn't have a scan in my future then I need to spend time thinking about whether it's worth doing the scan now. I'd almost certainly build up the importance of the symptom and I'd convince myself that I need the scan RIGHT NOW.

So, even though I'm quite certain that nothing will show up in the scans, I'm happy to have them.

Speaking of oncologists, the cancer center has me listed as a patient of this new, substitute oncologist. I don't know if I was properly transferred or if I'm her patient because I'll be having a third appointment with her on Friday, May 4 to get the scan results. I liked my previous oncologist - the second one - a lot, and certainly much more than my first oncologist, and while I do like this third oncologist, I wish that there had been a process of some kind to transfer me from one oncologist to the other. I feel like I'm neither here nor there and I don't like that. Since the center considers me the third oncologist's patient, I'll talk to her about getting some clarification when I see her for my scan results.

Friday, April 13, 2012

Another friend gone.. and some thoughts

I went to a memorial visitation yesterday evening for a friend of mine who was in the Book Club. She had had leukemia and it had relapsed several times; this latest time was much more severe and the hurried treatments couldn't do enough.

She was a wonderful woman with a quirky sense of humour about everything. She never complained, even when things were at their worst. She had the sweetest, softest English accent which came across as so prim and proper - and she was anything but! She was not afraid to put people in their place or to speak her mind. At the same time, she so much just roll off of her back. I'd be all annoyed about something that I'd read and she would somehow acknowledge my point, and kind of laugh it off. But she never made me feel like I was wrong and I never felt like she was putting me down. She had such a gentle way about her. I miss her terribly.

At last night's visitation I saw some of the people, including the leader, from the Book Club. There had been a session earlier this year and I'd promised to go but I never did. I just couldn't do it but I couldn't figure out why. Last night it was clear: I've felt that the most established people in the group somehow didn't approve of me seeing a psychologist.

The group leader last night told me that she'd wished that the group could have helped me, after which another person told us how a psychologist had said that he "chose his own messed-up family." When the group leader said something about never knowing what those psychologists are going to say and they're theories are always they're going to say or believe with all of their theories, I figured it out. For whatever reason, these two people, at least, don't believe that psychologists are useful.

I suspect also that they don't see why I need to see someone else - that they don't understand the depth of my issues. I base this conclusion on them saying things about how I needed to just start from now and to put all of my past behind me. I wish it were so simple - really, if it was that simple, wouldn't I have done it? Why on earth would I spend all this time, effort, and money going to see someone?

Maybe these people resent that they couldn't help me, or that I'm not fully buying into the theories of reincarnation or divine energy or the Secret. I believe that these theories are interesting and they have some possibilities but I'm not convinced that they're any more true than any other religious beliefs.  Even if I'm reading more into their statements than they intended, the overt comments they made last night are things they usually say to or around me.

After I realized all of this, I understood that I didn't want to go to the Book Club because I feel uncomfortable around those comments. Of course it doesn't help that I don't completely believe the teachings of the books we study; if I did, I might be able to overlook those feelings of discomfort.

Now that I've thought all this through, I think it would be a good idea to tell the group leader about how I'm feeling. I think it's important that she know how I'm interpreting her comments so that I can understand her perspective. Even if she doesn't change what she says, knowing where she's coming from will help me to deal with the way I interpret those comments.

I used to love going to Book Club and I want to love going there again... even though it won't be the same without my friend. I'll miss you, Niki.

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Movie: The Bothersome Man

I just finished watching one of the more interesting and unusual movies I've ever seen: The Bothersome Man (Den brysomme mannen) on Netflix. It's a subtitled Norwegian film about a man who steps in front of a train only to find himself in a city he doesn't know with an assigned job and furnished apartment. Everyone else seems content and soulessly happy but he doesn't feel the way they do. He tries to leave only to find no way out... until he meets up with someone who has found a crack in the wall through which they can hear music.

While the majority of people are be content living in a bland world without highs and lows or smells or tastes, for some that would be a special kind of hell. This hell is exactly what our protagonist faces: a life without bright colours, sunshine, the taste of hot chocolate, the sound of children playing, or music. If any colours or blood or music should sully the landscape or sidewalk, a team of men dressed in grey jumpsuits is there to clean it all up and smooth it over so that it's as if there never was anything other than bland.

This is a dystopian film that shows one possible outcome for our society if diversity in all areas weren't encouraged. If we were all the same and loved the same things, our world would be that grey hell portrayed in the movie.

This movie is Norwegian with subtitles although there really isn't much dialogue and the pace is slower than I'm used to it being. Once I was able to settle into the pace and really watching the film to absorb all the imagery, the pace didn't bother me at all. There are three bloody (and maybe a bit gory) segments in the film but they're integral to the story and aren't at all gratuitous. This is one film that I highly recommend, especially if you're a fan of dystopian films like I am.

Monday, April 09, 2012

Lovely Easter weekend

We spent most of this past Easter weekend at Ian's parent's house eating yummy hot cross buns and other food. Ian's dad stole my dog, as usual, but that was ok because I like visiting with them. My dog's transfer of allegiance to Ian's dad is a small price to pay for getting to hang out there.

Ian's going away early tomorrow morning but for some reason I thought he was going away this morning. Not that I minded having him home the extra day! Today was a holiday at his work so it was kind of strange to have him here today; now my days are all off. It might be Monday but it feels like Sunday to me.

While Ian is away I'll be responsible for taking care of Her Highness. I'm unaccustomed to walking her more than once or twice a day and now I'll have to walk her three times a day. The actual walking isn't so bad; it's the getting up early to give her her morning walk. I've been getting up around 9:30am or so - earlier than I used to get up - but I'll need to be up about a half-hour or an hour earlier for that walk. I shouldn't complain because Ian will have to take care of her while I'm in Edmonton at the end of the month - and I'll be gone longer than he will this time.

The object of all of this planning, our little dog, has lately fancied herself a goat. Yesterday and today she's taken up grazing at long grass. She isn't gulping it down and I don't think she's trying to make herself sick; I think she genuinely likes the taste of grass. Perhaps it reminds her of the taste of the bunny poo she loves so much. I don't think that her eating grass is a good thing so I'll have to put a stop to it.

Speaking of her bad behaviour, she made a mistake and jumped up on the couch while she was excited. Sigh. I did say that if she started behaving badly in other ways, I'd have to stop her from going up on the bed. Ian caught her there today and made her get off the bed right away. He was very angry and didn't speak to her for about half an hour. I don't think she noticed or cared as much as a person would have. Hopefully over this week I'll be able to break her of the "sleeping on the bed" habit.

Thursday, April 05, 2012

Can a furparent be too lenient?

Apparently I'm much too permissive of a furmom. On our walk the day before yesterday, Gozer took me to one of the pet stores. She sometimes gets treats at the pet stores so she likes to go there. The walk to that store is also really nice because it's on a path through and around a natural area.

While we were in the store I noticed that there was a yellow version of the same squeaky toy that she loves. I knew she already had two other of these squeaky toys - Squeaky and Hedgey - but she seemed to really like this yellow one so I bought it for her. It's called Ducky and she does love it. These squeaky toys don't have normal squeakers: their squeakers sound like a cross between a kazoo and a goose quack. I think she actually likes the fact that they're so much louder and more annoying than anything else she has.

Ian wasn't impressed because Gozer already has more than a few other toys and I'm spoiling her by buying her more. Just because she likes them, he says, doesn't mean that I have to buy them for her. Well, yes, that's true... but I like that she likes them and I want to give her things that she likes. I don't buy her stuff every time we go to the store, but I figure it doesn't hurt to buy her some things sometimes.

Of greater concern to Ian is Gozer's latest habit of spending part of the time sleeping on the bed while I'm having a bath. She used to only ever sleep on my bathrobe (which I'd fold up nicely for her) on the floor. Lately she's started sleeping there and then going up onto our bed after a while. The problem is that she isn't allowed on the furniture, including the bed.

Yesterday I made that behaviour worse. After my bath I was very, very tired so I decided to take a nap. Gozer was already on the bed and I pulled over an afghan and fell asleep. I half-woke up later to switch positions and Gozer came and snuggled up with me. Having a nap with Gozer on the bed (where she'd already been sleeping) was a clear violation of the rule that she's not allowed up on the furniture.

I totally agree that Gozer needs to stay off of the couch and there's no way that Gozer is going to sleep in the bed at night. I have much less of a problem with her napping on the bed with me - ok, I love the idea of snuggling with my dog when I have a nap - and I don't much mind her sleeping on the bed only when I have a bath. It's possible that bending the rules this way will lead her to think that she can bend the rules in other ways. If so, then I'm more than happy to crack down on her behaviour... but until then, I'm ok with letting it go. Convincing Ian that it's ok is a much tougher problem.

Tuesday, April 03, 2012

Learning about myself

It might have been obvious by my last post that I've been struggling with sadness lately. I guess it's depression but it felt more like a vortex that I was being sucked into and that no matter what I did, I couldn't break free from it. These feelings were centered around my birthday, which was this past Saturday, and tied to stuff that happened for my birthday last year.

Last year one of my sisters set some boundaries and that set off some of my deeply-held beliefs about myself, namely that I'm not deserving of people's attention or time. Because all that happened around my birthday last year, when this birthday rolled around I experienced all of that perceived rejection all over again. Intellectually and rationally I know that everyone has a perfect right to set boundaries, that those boundaries have nothing to do with my personally and aren't a rejection of me, and that I am worthy and loved. My emotions didn't agree and there's no reasoning with emotions. Believe me, I tried.

I saw my psychologist yesterday and we worked through some of this during that appointment. It seems that there's part of me that is quick to say things like, "see? you don't even deserve attention on your birthday." Nevermind that the thing it was reacting to wasn't at all about me: it twisted the event to make it about me and to "show" me what it thought I needed to see and understand.

Yeah, I know all of this sounds kind of crazy because there's no rational reason for me to have those deep-seated thoughts and feelings about myself. Clearly it goes back to my childhood and the beliefs I formed about myself then based on the things my parents did. Both of my parents had their own issues and weren't exactly loving, caring, and supportive. I know that not everyone who had parents like mine end up forming such negative impressions about themselves so I don't know why I did... but I did.

At this point, I'm tired of the part of me that believes all those negative things. My psychologist is helping me identify, understand, and deal with that part of me. In time I hope that she'll be able to help me silence that part of me permanently so that I can fully enjoy my life (and my future birthdays!). It's going to take some time and I doubt it'll be easy to get to that point, but I have hopes that we'll get there because we have made so much progress already.