Wednesday, February 3, 2016

Gifts from Afar

My new students arrived last weekend on either side of a snow storm. And as always, they bring a gift for the new host Mom.  I love getting (and giving) gifts; but the ones I get from my international children are always special because they are so unique. 


This beautiful scarf was given to me by Abby from China. Isn't it lovely! It reminds me of a Jewish prayer shawl, and that suits me just fine!

Like many Chinese students, Yuxin has decided to take the much easier English name of Abby (because we're so hopeless at pronouncing their beautiful names!). My Korean daughter did the same; and she told me it was an exciting yet serious chore when she sat down with her father and decided on her "Canadian" name.  






These are my gifts from Japan. Isn't this the most exquisite packaging! I'm always blown away by the beauty and detail. These are shortbread cookies with chocolate icing in the centre: strawberry white chocolate, white chocolate with dried fruit, etc. Absolutely delicious!


And then there is this gorgeous box of chocolates! Be still my heart! I've only eaten one so far -- the dark chocolate with candied ginger. And yes, the quality is wonderful.

The one out front is white/strawberry chocolate with dried strawberries; there are almond milk, white and dark chocolates and what looks to be a mocha white chocolate. 

I'll have lots of fun trying these out. But at the moment, I'm trying to curb my sweet tooth and take off those 5 lb that magically appeared over Xmas! (2.4 down so far.)


Aren't I fortunate to have these wonderful opportunities to share my life with young girls from other countries.

To say nothing of how fortunate I am to be the recipient of such beautiful gifts.




Saturday, January 30, 2016

Relief

Yes friends. Relief has been found in many ways; some of which I blush to think I didn't figure it out sooner. Mainly relief in how you treat an injury.


For years, what has worked for my back pain has been heat. I have a heating pad for my living room couch, one for my bedroom and one at work; and they have been God sends for me! However, did you know ('cause I sure missed that class!) that when your injury has flared up such as happened to me when the physiotherapist did her assessment that adding heat to the flareup is like heat upon heat as your injury is already inflamed.  So, it was no wonder I felt so bad the week after my 1st physio when I was using my heating pad. Duh! Doesn't it make sense? Why couldn't I figure that one out?

My massage therapist told me all this. Actually, she's been my biggest and best source of advice since I hurt my back. The emergency clinic doctors (like John Snow) know nothing!




I've been icing my back twice in the evening at home for 10 min intervals and I've improved so much. My back and shoulder pain are almost back to being manageable. 

Also, my physiotherapist told me to back off on all exercises for a while, and my acupuncture this week was just in one ear, the one that "responded" to the pain. 

It's a difficult lunch hour when you have to spend it sitting in a recliner with a needle sticking out of your ear and a trashy magazine and a fizzy water!

This has been a very stressful week all round: major car issues (will I have to buy a new one); sadness over students leaving (who's going to help me eat all the left over salad now, Chihiro? Will I have to throw it out?); anxiety over new ones coming (Will they eat like horses? Will they be noisy? Will they want to talk to me when I just want to veg?); not being able to watch 2 TV shows simultaneously and not having DVR privileges (Why must Agent Carter and DC Legends of Tomorrow be on at the same time?)

But as my back pain is very "vocal" at demanding my attention more than these other pressing matters, I sat up straight, breathed deeply and looked within for zen reminders. Reminders such as:

   "God loves you Sandy."
   "Your body is a temple so treat it gently and with respect."
   "You have Crave TV and Agent Carter can be found there."
"Go ahead and ignore those students." (Deep, deep, deep breath.) "They're only here short term and you've not quite earned enough selfish points for your 'Crotchity Senior' badge."


Ahhhhhhhh. That's better.




My little car limped home at 1 pm yesterday afternoon just as our latest snow storm was beginning. Annkatrin and I enjoyed an evening of SkipBo and laughter. And this morning at 7:30 am, my outside was a winter wonderland again with the promise of sunshine peeping through the trees.

Ahhhhh, a quiet morning in my chair with a delicious latte, the weekend paper and a few more deep breaths.

Life is not so bad after all when you have the luxury of warmth and comfort and a future that could bring recovery.


AND a good cup of coffee!









Sunday, January 24, 2016

Sometimes doing what's right hurts!

Yep! Sometimes doing the right thing hurts a lot. And I'm talking literally. After only 3.5 years of waiting, I finally got a call for physiotherapy for my back. (Government medicare physiotherapy.) So, I jumped at the chance. I've been unable to exercise for almost 5 years, and I'd love to be able to at least do yoga again. 

I've tried many different things to try to deal with the pain; but the only thing that's worked has been massage therapy which I pay for myself.  If I'm careful and don't shovel snow or rake leaves or tend to my garden etc, etc, my monthly maintenance makes it tolerable. Well, and let's not forget my many heating pads at home and at work.

Of course, you start any first visit to a new health practitioner with an assessment. "Does this hurt? What about here?  This may make things flare up!", she said. Oh dear! And flare up they have; I've been in such discomfort and pain ever since.

One of the things I did like about my visit was the acupuncture. I've always wanted to try it, but with the monthly expense for massage, I haven't fit it into my budget. I had a number of needles inserted into my lower back (it didn't hurt) and was then told to "lie there and rest for 15 minutes".

15 minutes of reclining on my lunch break! 
Everyone should be doing this on a regular basis!

"What do the needles do?" I asked her. Apparently they stimulate production of endorphins and open up the chi. Well, all afternoon at work, I felt liked I'd drunk a whole pot of coffee without the jitters or sleeplessness at night.

But I am in pain. And praying that this new cure doesn't take away the degree of comfort that I've gained. I've another 2 appointments this week, so let's see how they go. If nothing else, I'll have 2 more rest periods!









Sunday, January 17, 2016

What? More Snow?

Not my car, but a perfect example of
what my car looked like.
After Wednesday's snow, I was looking forward to yesterday's rain. Sure, it would start out as freezing rain -- my car was coated in it Saturday morning when I tried to venture out for milk and eggs and turned back -- but the forecast assured me that it would warm up later. So, I expected all that ice to melt. Well, wouldn't that cut my clean-up time in half!

Of course, that didn't happen. The so-called rain became snow --- and snow and snow and snow.  But I was happy enough being storm bound: I had my Saturday crossword puzzle, 3 more past seasons of Dr Who to watch, a clean house and a delicious lunch already prepared:  pork and black bean chilli, crusty chabatta bread and a few slivers of stinky, aged cheddar. 


Slipper socks I want but
don't own yet.
I had the beginning of a headache and tummy ache.  And as there's a similar flu going round, I got even more comfortable. I put on my flannel jammies, my wooly polka-dotted socks and got under the fleece on the couch.

I tried to nap, but sleep eluded me. I was in this sort of semi conscious place for over an hour.




Then it hit me! 
An urge so immediate and intense and persistent ...




 So, I baked a cake; a chocolate layer cake. (And I never bake layer cakes, so this was obviously an urge that needed to be met!)

As it was baking, I called long distance to get my mom's recipe for Mystery Icing -- light and fluffy and not sweet, made with cooled custard which is added little by little to creamed butter and sugar.

I spread the first layer with softened apricot jam and then the Mystery icing (which was made with coconut custard) and topped with toasted coconut.


Yum yum! It was so delicious! No, no, no! It IS delicious. Despite all our best efforts, there are still a few slices left.

I don't know about the rest of the winter world, but when Nova Scotians expect a snow storm, they stock up on potato chips

 ..... or as we like to call them STORM CHIPS.


We had a storm cake!




Wednesday, January 13, 2016

Snow Day

This is our first major snowstorm this season. And it certainly wasn't a bad one, not a lot of snow; but enough to take out power and shut things down.

This is how it looked at 6:30 am this morning. So peaceful and quiet. The tree limbs are laden with perfect, white snow.

My power came back on at 8:30 am, so the house is beginning to warm up again. (Electric heat.) I'm snuggled here at the computer with my robe and slippers; but I'm venturing downstairs soon for hot tea and buttery toast with Peach Belini jam -- a Xmas market item -- and some good, old cheddar. Yum!




My friend was right about last weekend's de-construction of the Xmas tree: I do love the "new" look.  And I now have a very clean, tidy house ... upstairs. (Can I stress upstairs? Don't look in the basement rec room!). Well, there are still these guys who visited the manger & decided to stick around.  

So today can be a relaxing snow day full of reading and lounging and perhaps some of this as well:

Homemade soup and steamed red bean buns. I always have these in my winter freezer because they're a perfect snow day food -- warm and gooey and nutritious.








Coloring! I got 2 books for Xmas. And when I went shopping, I searched everywhere for a good set of colored pencils; but they were all sold out everywhere! Then I thought "I'll have to gather together the girls' old pencils and make do". THIS is the result of gathering together! They aren't the best quality (therefore, difficult to sharpen without losing the coloring tip), but I think they'll last me for a while, huh?


I'm not sure when my man will come to shovel; this year's guy is not as reliable as the previous. But until he does, I'm happily ensconced inside with food and toys. 

Happy snow day!














Saturday, January 9, 2016

This is my beautiful Xmas tree. Today I am finally dismantling it and packing it away.  But I can't believe how sad I am about it! 

Perhaps it's because it has been my constant companion. My students are upstairs most of the time; my girls were only home for 3 days of Xmas; the rest of the time, it was me and this beauty ..... and the occasional bottle of wine.

I love this particular Xmas tree, and all day while taking the decorations and deciding which ones to pack away and which ones will go into the yard sale box, I've been filled with sadness. You know, I would keep this tree up indefinitely if I could. But it is time to say goodbye. And I will enjoy the new, refreshed living room.




I've made up my mind to downsize again. I did that almost 10 years ago, from a full sized old house to this smaller duplex. However, I've filled it to the rafters again with my love of yard sales, thrifting and bargains. (Don't we become attached to stuff.) 

And now I find that when I think about my future, I'm not going to be able to afford to continue to live here; property taxes are so high. So, although I'm not absolutely sure what my next BIG move will be (a few ideas in the works), I have decided to make a BIG move of some kind. 

The next 6 months of my life will be full of organizing, purging and packing away in boxes in anticipation of becoming smaller. As I go through things, they'll get packed in boxes and stored in the back of the basement. I'm thinking that if I live without as much stuff around me, I will learn to embrace the simplicity. 

But although this is exciting as well as necessary, it's also kind-of sad. I find myself walking around the house, looking at items and saying "No. You can go." I find myself thinking "This is the last time I will ......... in this house." I have loved/do love this house. Sigh!

But I'll also love my next home.  Home is soooooooo much more than 4 walls and a roof, right! "Home is where the heart is". Home is family and a place that gives you a feeling of security and cosiness and calm. I can do that in a tent, for goodness sake! 


So, as I dream of cleanliness and organization and small, affordable, easy to care for homes, I wrap each little bauble from the tree carefully and with love. And I bid a fond farewell to my lovely, still-green, bushy, proud, once-fragrant, sacrificial fir, I shed a few tears.



"Goodbye my friend.  You will be missed".