Thursday, November 24, 2016

GOODBYE, LADY.

There's an empty corner in the house today, 
Where a dog we once loved used to lay.
Her bed is now cold and full of her hair;
She lost so much over the last months she was almost bare.
So many nights she would grunt and moan, 
The vet told us the pain was caused by bone on bone.
The cartilage in her hip bones had worn away,
There was nothing else to do to put the pain at bay.
Within the hour our beautiful dog Lady was gone,
The vet told us it was the only thing that could be done. 

Lady was the greatest ever little puppy,
Docile, obedient, and a great little buddy.
She never had an accident in the house,
But one time she did chew up my blouse.
Sometimes we would leave her in the house alone,
And when we'd return she'd have a stuffed toy from Jake's room.

When Jake was a boy, too young for school,
We'd play hide-and-seek with her, that was cool.
She'd look away and then we'd run full-speed,
To the corners of the lot, where it was fully treed.
She'd run all around, thank goodness no one complained,
And then she'd sniff us out, happy to find us, and we'd lay on the grass, drained.
Those days were fun, too precious to try to put into words, 
It seems so long ago that they feel like they didn't occur.

Later, when Jake grew older and played with other friends,
Lady became a buddy to me, right to the very end.
In my days when I was angry and depressed,
I'd drive to the place where we both loved to de-stress.
I'd walk the trail and listen to the rush of the river's water,
She'd run through the woods, like she was running from a slaughter.
Oh, how she loved to swim, she loved the great outdoors,
And she tried so hard to catch those jerky squirrels.

The past few years the light faded from her eyes,
Cataracts caused them to turn different greys.
She was deaf and needed to be led by a leash,
If she didn't hear us, she would become confused and cease.
She could no longer make it up the stairs,
And she'd pee and poop in the house as a result of her fears.

It's so strange now, there's no one to greet us at the door,
Well, our cat comes out now and gives a meow.
We've had so many pets over the years, 
but Lady was the one who brought me to tears.

Goodbye Lady, 
Love always, 
Lisa, Jacob, and Craig



June 2002 - October 2016





Sunday, October 9, 2016

A NEW TAKE ON AN OLD SPORT

Are you bored with your current exercise routine and want to shake it up a little? Are  you getting into that "hibernation" mode, but feel you need to get off that sofa and put down that remote? Are you looking to start an exercise regime, but don' t know where to begin or what exercises or sport to choose? Maybe you are a little arthritic and you believe that exercise will make things worse, maybe you enjoy being unhealthy and unfit, or maybe you  just don't like the smell of rotting vegetation and the sight of colorful leaves falling to the ground. 

Well, let me tell you something: 

Somewhere in the 1960s a Phys Ed teacher in Helsinki saw the benefits of using ski poles when walking and introduced them to the students’ lessons. Behold, Nordic walking was born.

Nordic walking, also called urban poling, has been popular in Europe for many years. It is fairly new to North America, but is catching on fast, especially on the west coast. It’s a great form of exercise that works the entire body, mostly the upper body. It improves balance and stability, strengthens core muscles, and improves posture. It’s a great cardio workout and can be done just about anywhere. It’s a lot of fun and people of all ages can do it. Also, walking with poles helps to reduce the load on your knees, hips, and lower back, which may be helpful for people with arthritis or lower back problems.

I signed up for a class a few weeks ago and was quite excited. I love trying new ways to improve my health. I’m an avid walker/hiker, but I was looking for something to add to that routine. I got that and more.

The instructor explained that it was akin to marching in a military line. We practiced marching for a bit, just like I remember doing in Cadets. Then we marched along holding the poles for a bit. Then we started walking. I felt a little awkward in the beginning, like skiing without the skis. And I had no idea of how weak my arms and shoulders were; I was able to bring the right pole forward, but the left pole was dragging a little. I kept going and was soon correcting the mistakes I was making. The instructor was a great guy with many years’ experience in the sport. Pretty soon, I was putting downward pressure on the poles and getting that upper body workout that he was talking about. My pinky fingers got a little sore, as I was holding the handles too tight, but once again, the instructor corrected me and it felt better.

We walked along, going at a good pace, talking about the sport as we went along. The instructor kept checking our form and giving us good feedback. The trail we were taking was paved in some areas and bare in others. We’d have to cross a street or two on occasion, but otherwise, it was like walking in the forest, and the smell of rotting vegetation felt good in the nostrils. (I love fall.)

By the time we got back to the community center it had been a good hour, but it didn’t seem that long as we were focused on what we were doing and not so much where we were going. The instructor led us in some stretching exercises and then we were dismissed. It was an awesome workout.

When I got home, I passed out in the bed, and when I got back up, I was sore from having worked those different muscles; nothing that a hot shower wouldn’t fix. I felt tension in the neck, all across the front of the chest and in the sides and upper arms. It was great to feel that good pain.

My second class was better than the first, as I became more confident with the poles. My coordination was a lot better, and I was able to strut at a good pace. The instructor took us along a different path. It was another great workout. By the time the very cold weather comes, I’m hoping my triceps, chest, and latts will be more firm. I may even lose a few pounds as it is a very intense workout.

I encourage anyone who is looking for a different routine to get out there and find a class. I have a few classes left and will be buying my own poles after that. (I have to save a few dollars as they are a little costly.)

The poles are very lightweight. According to my instructor, the best poles are from Urban Poling. They are designed for use by anyone 4’2” to 6’2” in height. They are adjustable by turning, and then pulling the bottom part out of the top part to the length you want—the length is written on the pole. Then you turn again to tighten. There is a little booty on the bottom made of rubber, the booties point backwards when walking, and you can take these off when walking in the snow and ice, they have a carbide tip. The handles do not have straps, something to do with injury upon falling down. 



Here are a few pics of the class walking along one of the trails. These pics are of my third class, and as we were a little stronger with our strides, the instructor took us along another great trail with a steep hill. I think it was called Dead Man's Hill. (I didn't ask why...lol.) The poles really helped with the climb, but by the time I got to the top I figured out why it was called Dead Man's Hill; my heart was pumping hard by the time I got to the top, but it was frikin' awesome! 
















You can also purchase the poles at Shoppers Drug Mart Home Health Care Center. If they don't have it in stock, ask to order.

Happy Poling!





Monday, October 3, 2016

WHERE DID THE SUMMER GO?

Where did the summer go? I pondered this question. I sat and pondered until my brain hurt. I sat and pondered until my brain hurt and my ass got sore.

I thought, “How can it be October already? When did the leaves start to turn color? When did I stop wearing my flip-flops? When did I get the heater out?”

This summer seemed to whiz by faster than all the others. I guess it was because I was back to work after a long absence, and this was the first time in a long time that I had only three weeks off instead of the whole summer. But it felt good. My partner, son, and I spent a week in Veradero, Cuba, and then my son and I went to visit my mother in Newfoundland for two weeks.

It was a different kind of summer indeed. I felt that I took advantage of every precious moment of it. As soon as the temperature reached two digits, I was out tanning and soaking up the rays, not as much as I used to do, but getting my Vitamin D, nonetheless. I also spent a lot of time at the pool, swimming, and just hanging out enjoying the warmth. Since I suffer from Seasonal Affective Disorder, I decided earlier in the year that once the warm weather and blue skies came, I was definitely going to enjoy every last drop of the summer. And now, looking up at the gray sky, I am glad I got out and took advantage of every wonderful trace of light.

We had a wonderful time in Cuba. The beach along the Veradero strip was absolutely breathtaking: white, hot sand, ocean temperatures above 30 degrees every day, and the mesmerizing ebb and flow of crystal clear ocean waves. If I close my eyes, I can still hear its beautiful melody. We stayed at a small resort called Be Live Turquesa. It was okay for the money we spent. It was run down, and sleeping in the bed was like sleeping on cement. The bed linens and towels were worn and the entire room was very rustic (a polite way of saying old and rickety), and the food was terrible. I was greatly disappointed when I first saw the room, but all that was laid to rest when I saw the beach. Our routine upon waking was coffee at the restaurant, back to the room to change into swimwear, then relaxing by the pool. At noon, we would go to the snack bar for pizza then head to the beach. We swam, we played in the water, we explored up and down the beach, and we collected shells. At six, the beach would close and then we’d head back to the room to shower the day away. If there wasn’t anything appetizing at the restaurant, we’d go to the onsite shop and buy cookies, potato chips, and pop and head back to the room to find a movie on TV. We didn’t go on any excursions because we just wanted to vegetate. I’d definitely go back to that part of Cuba, but perhaps find a more decent hotel.














My son and I had a few hours to get off the plane from Cuba and then catch the plane going to Newfoundland, where we stayed for less than two weeks. It was all I was able to take off work, but it was enough to see the relatives. Well, I tried to see most of the relatives. I was quite surprised that I was able to see my younger brother, Clint. I hadn’t seen him in five years. Then we both got a surprise when our brother, Phonse, came to visit—he lives in New Brunswick, and hardly ever visits Newfoundland anymore. We didn’t get much time together, but the time we did have was priceless. It was quite surreal. There was one great time on the beach, roasting wieners and marshmallows, and everybody just catching up. It was odd that I was one of the oldest ones in the bunch, because usually our aunts and uncles would be there, but here we were being the aunts and uncles. Here we were, lighting the fire, and passing the torch. Ours is a different generation though. Thirty years ago, when my aunts and uncles would be on the beach with a  roaring fire, they’d all have a beer in the hand and the kids would be running around like in the book, Lord of the Flies. All I could think of on that day was how we were drinking Coke and Pepsi instead of Molson and Blue Lite. We are Generation X, we spent our young adult lives partying, and now we are helicopter parents, watching over our children, making sure they are on the path to success, always staying close, paving the way, trying to set a good example for our Millennial children.

















Yes, it was quite a summer, but now here I am looking at the gray sky and wondering if it will be a long winter or not. No matter, if I start to feel depressed, all I have to do is look at all the beautiful pictures I took this summer. They will always warm my heart and put a smile on my face, regardless of the color of the sky.


Sunday, July 24, 2016

DAY TRIP TO TORONTO ISLANDS

There is a little spot just south of the CN Tower where people can go to enjoy a great day swimming, sailing, sun-bathing, eating and drinking, and just enjoying nature. The sound of the sea (Lake Ontario feels like a sea) will echo in your ears, the hot sand will tickle your toes, and you can actually hear birds sing because there is very little traffic. Everyone will enjoy the day at Toronto Islands because it is such a great place to visit. I just can't believe that it took me so long to go. We left our house around 8:30 am and took the subway to Toronto's Union Station. A short walk from Union station got us to the ferry, which is only a few minutes ride. We walked around the outside part of the island, stopping once for lunch and then again on Hanlan's Beach to rest. By the time we got to the east side to catch the ferry back to Toronto it was 6 pm. What a beautiful day it was; the morning clouds cleared up by afternoon. I encourage anyone living in the area to take a day trip over there, it will leave you refreshed and renewed. 



The subway is the fastest and easiest way to get to Toronto. And these days, Toronto, is a hellish place for parking due to all the construction. 

Just waiting for the subway train, enjoying our first Tim's of the day.

Quite a few people await the ferry to the island. 

We take the ferry to Ward's Island, on the west side, since we plan to walk around the entire area.


We hope those clouds go away.

Great view of the city.


Just a few minutes on the ferry and then we are on the beach.

We stroll through a small community and check out the wildlife.

What's this? 

Interesting artwork.

Some people like sailing and boating.

Quaint cottages.


Some people like water sports.

Lunch at The Rectory Cafe. 


What are these people doing?




The CN Tower looms over the island every step of the way. Here, we are at the halfway point.




Some people like to hang out on the beach.

Some people like to burn their meat. 

Some people like to do Tai Chi.

Some people like to hang out on the nude beach.

Just like in the Caribbean. 

This is us getting burned on the nude beach.

Not everyone is as comfortable in their birthday suits.

The island airport.

Back in Toronto, time for a hot dog before heading home. What a day!




(A special thanks goes out to Ms. Kim Cattrall who inspired me to visit the island. Love Sensitive Skin!)