Friday, December 2, 2016

Photo Friday: Experimental Fog

I've been negligent of late, carrying my camera wherever I go but reluctant to use it.

I've been pushing myself to stop at Hog's Back Falls, to finish my year-long project. With only four more weeks to shoot, it would be a shame to give up now.

But apart from that project, I have taken no photos in the last two weeks, save three.

I had an appointment on Wednesday that took me along Prince of Wales Drive, past the Experimental Farm. With the dense fog that settled over the city, looking into the fields was tantamount to looking into oblivion. Only a few, bare trees left darkened shadows in the distance.

I promised myself that on my way back from my appointment that I would make a detour, would drive the narrow farm roads to take a photo or two.

I took three but only liked two of them enough to want to process them.

One, that I wanted to share.

I took my shots, jumped back into my Focus, and continued on my way, with another brief stop at Hog's Back.

And lunch.

And gas (for the car).

I'm going to have to bring my camera out more, this weekend: Where In Ottawa returns on Monday.

Happy Friday!

Thursday, December 1, 2016

Throwback Thursday: I Am Loved

"Come snuggle with Daddy," I said, patting the sofa cushion next to me. "You know you love me."

This was said, in the voice that I used for my toddler daughter, last night, to my now 15-year-old. In response, she looked at me, head tilted to one side, right eyebrow raised, and a look on her face that said, "Okay, Dad, you've lost it."

In our newly refurnished family room, we have an oversized sofa and a leather IKEA Poang chair. The chair is mine: I claimed it when everything was moved into place. It's next to a window, where I can rest my beer glass and the remote control. DW and my girls spread themselves out across the sofa.

Only, last night, I wanted a change of venue, and so I sat on the sofa, on the end furthest from the TV. It was my old spot on the old sofa.

DW sat in my chair, and DD15 looked at the new arrangement, wondering where she was going to sit. I was in the spot that she usually claimed. I saw that she wanted to sit down, and I welcomed her over. "Snuggle wi' your da!"

She moved to the opposite end, her back to me.

"You know you love your dad," I reminded her.

I had the proof.

I keep all of the notes that my kids have left for me over the years, and it was only last week that I revisited one of my favourites. I moved it onto my phone, to keep it where I can look back, lovingly, on it.

I showed her the photo, and her face lit up. She remembered writing it, she said. It was written in 2010.

Ten minutes later, she had shifted her position on the sofa. She was snuggled next to me, her head resting, lovingly, on my shoulder.

Yup, I'm loved.

Wednesday, November 30, 2016

New Drug

At least the migraines have stopped.

I'm still on a waiting list for surgery for my foot, still have no indication of how long it will take, and my foot is still deteriorating, to a point where I'm in constant pain, where only a few minutes on my feet results in hours of aches.

Until recently, I had been on a solid regimen of Tylenol and Advil, to ease the pain and reduce swelling. But when my stomach started to become upset, I eased off the Advil—limiting myself to one every three days—and cut my consumption of Tylenol in half.

It didn't help my stomach.

Some of you may remember that almost exactly a year ago, I developed severe stomach pains and had a total lack of energy. On Christmas Day, I spent most of the afternoon in bed, resting. As the pain and fatigue continued, I sought help from my new doctor. She ordered blood tests, ultrasounds, a CT scan and MRI. Nothing out of the ordinary turned up.

This condition lasted almost three months, and threatened my vacation to Arizona and California. But at the end of February, the pain stopped and my energy levels returned. A virus, perhaps, but there was no way to tell.

Two weeks ago, the stomach pains returned and the fatigue kept me in bed for two days. Once again, I met with my doctor, and we also talked about my foot pains and my reduction of medication. I was prescribed a new drug, told to stop using ibuprofen, and to increase my Tylenol to four tablets a day.

The new drug is Vimovo. I take it half an hour before I eat, so I pop one when I awake and another when I return home, from work, although I tend to forget that one and end up taking it with my evening Tylenol, before bed.

The stomach pain has not abated. The fatigue remains. And the side effects of Vimovo has me somewhat concerned:
  • Serious allergic reactions, including skin reactions, can occur without warning and can be life-threatening.
  • Active bleeding from any source. 
  • Hypertension or worsening of existing high blood pressure.
  • An increased risk of a heart attack or stroke.
  • Inflammation of the lining of the stomach, indigestion, diarrhea, stomach ulcers, abdominal pain, and nausea.
The makers of this pain medication failed to list one other side effect: increased stress from reading the list of side effects.

Funny that my doctor should prescribe a medication that is known to cause abdominal pain when I complained of that very symptom. But on the up-side, my feet hurt less, except when I stand for a prolonged length of time (like I have, lately, on a ladder, working on our kitchen).

And my migraines have stopped.

My doctor advised me to complete the prescription, as it can take some time for the meds to get in sync with my body. So for now, I trust her.

And check my sources for bleeding.

Tuesday, November 29, 2016

Taman Negara

It's the rain that I remember the most.

It fell solidly in the evenings, filtered through in soaking amounts from the high jungle canopy, rattled the rooftop of our barrack-like living space, and fell to the ground, the wooden walkways and concrete with a resounding splat.

Our window to the outside held no glass: only a dense mesh to keep the flying insects out but allowed the wind to circulate the moist air, cooling us at night. The eaves ensured that no raid could come in to ruin our rest.

Every so often, the gentle rumble of thunder could be heard in the distance. Not close or loud enough to stir or disturb us. It was merely the base line in a soothing melody.

The rain was constant, filling our ears but landing with a calming, persistent pattering that surrounded us like a blanket. I could fall asleep to the pattering sound of the rain, as we lay in our bed, in that national-park shelter, in that 130-million-year-old rainforest, more than 120 kilometres northeast of Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.

The morning call to prayer stirred us, but didn't disturb our slumber. We heard the song, rolled over, and let it lull us back to sleep. For just a few hours more.

During the daylight hours, the rain held back, leaving a Scotch mist, instead. Water dripped from the forest above, but we didn't mind. We climbed atop to the walkways in the canopy, sometimes catching glimpses of the rolling landscape of dense forest, the low-hanging clouds reaching down to stroke the topmost leaves. Looking down to the ground, lush foliage and every once and again, as luck would show us, the odd pygmy deer.

The monkeys were everywhere, watching us, seemingly amused by our presence. Wild birds, some in trees; others, flightless, flittered above and in the brush.

Down on the ground, we had to keep moving. Leeches were everywhere. As I stopped to photograph my surroundings, the muddy trail we took seemed to move out of focus. On closer inspection, we saw the tendril-like creatures moving around us, encircling us, looking for nourishment.

Back at the barracks, the rain fell again. As we changed out of our wet clothes, DW discovered a leech, firmly attached to her calf, partially engorged on her blood. She called for me to rush to the dining hall, to find some salt, but by the time I returned, the leech had reached its limit and its plump body had disengaged from her calf. We gathered it up and tossed it outside.

It was then, as I removed my boot, that I discovered one on my ankle, filled near to bursting. I sat, fascinated by this creature, and chose to let it continue to feed.

We all have to feed.

As darkness came, the rain returned in earnest, to repeat its cascade, to lull us yet again to sleep.

In an effort to counter the ringing in my ears, brought on by tinnitus, I've been encouraged by a specialist to set up a distraction by playing a constant audio sound. My ear condition is so bad that it can take me hours to fall asleep.

I downloaded an app, Nature Sounds, which can play an ocean, fields and forests, waterfalls, babbling brooks, campfires, and more. The one I settle on each night is aptly named "Perfect Rain."

The rain is solid but not torrential. It mimics falling through trees, bouncing off rooftops, and settling on the ground with a solid splat. The rain is constant, filling my ears but landing with a calming, persistent pattering that surrounds me like a blanket.

Every so often, the gentle rumble of thunder could be heard in the distance. Not close or loud enough to stir or disturb me. It was merely the base line in a soothing melody.

Within minutes of hearing the sound, in my darkened bedroom, under my warm blanket, my mind travelled to the other side of the planet, to  that national-park shelter, in that 130-million-year-old rainforest, more than 120 kilometres northeast of Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.

I set the timer for 40 minutes, but I don't really need than much time. In less than half that time, it seems, I'm long, fast asleep.

At least, this time, there are no leeches to worry about.

Monday, November 28, 2016


So close. We're so close.

And like a dream, where you strive to get somewhere, only to find something holding you back, like a horror film, where no matter how fast the victim runs to escape the slow-moving monster, the monster catches up, there is some unseen force working against us.

The second wall needed to be tiled. Last weekend, our friend helped us tile the important wall: the one that was to hold the range hood. That essential device was installed on Thursday and paved the way for the gas oven to be hooked up.

That happens today. As of today, our kitchen will be fully functional.

That doesn't mean finished.

This weekend, my chores were clear. Finish the tiling on the long wall, around the window over the sink. Five outlets to cut around. After that, paint the ceiling, which has been ready to go since the electrician has installed the lighting and the dry-waller has filled in all the holes. I looked at the old covering, still in the original builder's white, with the stains from applesauce after our young toddler learned what happens when you drop an open jar squarely on the floor.

The tiling took longer than expected, even after we learned, last week, that it takes longer than expected. Except, as we drew to the end of the wall, close to the back door, it became apparent that we had miscalculated the number of tiles we needed, that we had broken and wasted tiles that we could not afford to lose. One dozen tiles short.

When we learned of our shortcoming, we counted our remaining tiles, calculated the remaining outlets that needed custom cutting, and applied those tiles to the wall so that the rented wet saw could be returned. A dozen full tiles are missing from the wall. The tiling project was incomplete.

To keep the rest of the tasks on schedule, I focused on that ceiling. One four-litre can was enough to apply two coats, my calculations told me. I had worked in a paint and wallpaper store, in my late teens, knew the coverage for a flat surface.

A stippled ceiling is hard to calculate: The material that is sprayed onto that surface is porous, can soak up paint like a sponge. But a flat ceiling, I figured, would follow the same rules as a regular wall.

Many parts of this ceiling had been repaired after the electrical work had been completed. Some sections had seen water damage before our roof had been re-tiled. New plaster had been applied. Also, the paint that had originally been applied was cheap and did not provide a solid seal.

I stood on a ladder for two hours, holding the roller close, moving slowly to prevent spray. Two hours, craning my neck, arms up, shoulders strained. And it became clear, as I worked myself across the room, that this ceiling was a porous as the stippled section.

One gallon did not even provide a full coat. About 12 square feet remained uncovered, the roller tray sucked dry.


Today, I return to the tile shop to purchase more tiles. I'm getting a full box, allowing for plenty of spares. I also return to the Home Depot, to pick up another can of paint, maybe two. While the first coat was heavily absorbed, I'm hoping the areas that have already been covered have provided a barrier for the second layer. Fingers crossed.

We are so close. The grout will have to be applied on Tuesday evening, the paint sometime this week. If life isn't like a bad dream or a horror movie, we will make it to the end of the week, with an area that we can live in, where we can entertain and be proud to show.

So close. We are so close.