Tag Archives: health and fitness

My go-to diet aid: food choices

This is a big chart, but these tips have helped me lose 25 pounds (with 15 left to go.)

What’s missing here is alcohol. My doc challenged me on the number of units I consume per day and i’m committed to cutting back.

THanks to DesignTaxi for pointing me to this chart.


The shovel’s in the ground.


Pick shovel

Pick shovel (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

We are undertaking our first major piece of renovation work on the house. It had needed (exterior) painting for three years or so, and the trim is in appalling condition so we’re replacing it with afaux stucco product. We’ll also add quoins to the corners of the house to give it a little presence.

We had a horrid railroad-tie-and-brick front porch/landing in which the bricks were sinking making it a trip hazard. There were also no handrails. Our contractor has dug it all up and is replacing it with flamed granite over concrete plus aluminum handrails. We’ll probably go with “Sunset Granite” and a black handrail, the design of which we haven’t settled on.

Finally, we’re going to replace our aging windows with new ones. I am seriously thinking of getting integrated blinds for our main floor windows so that we don’t need to worry about drapes. At the moment we have louvred shutters which are irritating as you can’t place furniture in front of them (or you have to leave the shutters closed.)

It feels good to be getting going on this, and we have an excellent contractor who does one job at a time, hiring help when he needs it.


In other breaking news, I’m still sick. Don’t think either the antibiotics or inhaler are doing a jot. Missed Kathleen Turner in High at the Royal Alex on Tuesday and the TSO doing The Planets tonight because of my hacking. I haven’t been able to sing with my choir for weeks. So I’m heading back to see my family doc and hope to get in on the secret, heavy-duty cough syrup. Or whatever. My lack of sleep and other nasty byproducts of uncontrollable cough have GOT to stop.

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Health update

"Coughs and Sneezes Spread Diseases - As ...

“Coughs and Sneezes Spread Diseases – As Dangerous as Poison Gas Shells”. U.S. Public Health ad on dangers of Spanish Flu epidemic during World War I. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The good news: it’s not pnemonia.

The bad news: I’m still coughing, wheezing, feverish (low-grade) and short of breath. 

My family doc changed the antibiotics I was on as I was seeing no improvement after five days, and he gave me a “Turbuhaler”, a newfangled inhaler that should reduce inflammation in my lungs.

This has been the most annoying illness ever: my trip to England was pretty much a wash-out and I’m worried about upcoming arts events where hacking coughs are discouraged. Next week we have tickets for a play and the orchestra.

It’s been three weeks now and I’m SO annoyed by this. I need to apply for a building permit for some work we’re having done on the house and I have no energy to do the drawings, fill out the forms, and stand in line at City Hall. I managed to get our taxes done, and luckily TurboTax caught some mistakes that I’m sure I made because I was delerious (well, feverish, at least).

Anyway, gotta run. Got another (unrelated) medical test to get to today. Sorry for the boring post. I’ll try to do better next time.

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Here Comes the Sun….

Little darlin’…it’s been a long cold lonely winter.

Little darlin’… it seems like years since it’s been here.

Today felt like the right day to get back to my blog. My last post was in December and I’ve been carried through the last few months on the backs of those who love me. 

Some of the things that I look forward to, cultural events, travel, singing, have been whizzing by me and I’ve only been able to partially engage. These past two weeks I have struggled with a very bad cold that started in my chest, and is ending there. My allergies have compounded the problem, but I feel like I’m coming out on top.

I am feeling the need to write more, to find creative ways to express myself, both publicly and privately. I have signed up for a webinar that introduces LifeJournal software to see if that might be a platform that I could use for my personal writing. I need to pick up knitting needles, or an embroidery needle, or set up a sewing space to get back to a quilt I’ve started. My plan is to claim a basement bedroom that is normally used for guests as a place where I can leave my work out for short periods of time.

We have some interesting things on the cultural calendar this month, and I hope to use this space to blog about them.

We’re seeing the play High starring Kathleen Turner at the Royal Alex next week. We’ve also got tickets for the TSO’s performance of Holst’s The Planets for which Michael will be joining us. His school music program does their May Lyrics concert that week as well. The following week we have another Books on Film event at TIFF featuring Graham Greene’s novel The Third Man and 1949 film starring Orson Welles.

My reading life has suffered somewhat recently, but I recently finished Alan Hollinghurst’s The Line of Beauty. My review over at Goodreads read:

I love Hollinghurst’s prose, and would have given this five stars. But I can only take so many pages of coke-fuelled gay sex and this novel went over my limit. 

That aside, it captures the times so aptly: the British class structure; and the world of rich young men (and their hangers on) who want to DO something, like publish a glossy art magazine; the intersection of race and wealth; and what sexual sins are forgivable.

I also had a quick re-read of the Keep Toronto Reading pick Girls Fall Down prior to Sunday’s book club gathering. I’m currently at work on The Vault by Ruth Rendell. Next up will be Peter Robinson’s latest(?) called Before the Poison, a stand-alone mystery, not part of the Inspector Banks series.

Enough for today but I’ll be back soon. May is looking up!

Old Age: Quality vs. Quantity

Excellent and thought-provoking piece for all of ua with aging parents. Click on the link at the bottom to access the full article. An excerpt:

            Jimmie, my colleague, asked why I needed to yell at my father on my mother’s behalf. I explained to her that I always had to yell because my father’s hearing was so bad.

            “No, that’s not what I meant. Why do you have to say anything at all? So what if he has a cookie?”

            “His sugar level goes through the roof.”

            “So what if his sugar level goes through the roof?”

            I was honestly mystified. What was she saying?

            “He’s not going to live forever, you know. So what if his sugar level goes up?”

There, she said it. It still took a while for me to understand. She told me the joke about the old guy who went to the doctor and asked what he could do to live longer. The doc said, “Well, you can give up alcohol, smoking, and women. You may not live longer, but it will SEEM longer.”

What she was pointing out was my own bias; I assumed the best thing for my father was as much quantity of life as possible, and that I needed to use my authority with him to keep him in line to do the healthier thing.  It suddenly occurred to me that I should be thinking less about his sugar count and more about his quality of life. And, besides, what did I really have control over when it came to my parents’ lives? More important, what should I have control over? I started asking questions I didn’t like the answer to.

            Like, what was he doing all day.

A cure for the common cold? Yes, please…

I think I’m starting to crawl out from under this heavy blanket of my cold.  My sinuses are feeling much better today and I don’t have a headache, although that may be due to the migraine meds I took last night before bed.  I missed the Evelyn Glennie concert because I was just too sick to get myself there and it seems like it was a wonder.  Sigh.


This morning, a correspondent told me about a cure that she learned of in Cuba:  a handful of mint leaves, steeped in boiling water, with some honey.  I don’t have any fresh mint, but she suggested dried would also work so I’ve consumed a great mug of that and am hoping for the best. I’m off the cold meds, but may need some pain relief if the headache returns.  

Michael’s last Kiwanis event with the school orchestra was this morning, so I had to get dressed and out to transport him, his tuba, and a couple of friends to the venue.  I’m on call to pick him up sometime around noon when it’s over and then I’ll run some errands.  I’m quite behind in my to-do list but I’m simply knackered with this this cold.  I haven’t been this ill for a long time, possibly due to the mega-doses of Vitamin C that I take for something completely different (or has that been disproven?).  Z brought home fixings for dinner last night and assembled everything which was sweet.  Leftovers are available for lunch so I can take it easy. 

I”ll make a chicken pot pie with cornbread crust for dinner (a one-pot meal, and quite easy).  I’ve got nothing else on until tomorrow night when the man-child has a gig with the Jazz.fm big band at Hart House (Jazz @ Oscar’s, 9-11:30 pm). 

Feeling like another cup of tea…

In like a lion?


Crikey! It’s March already.

I’ve been felled by an evil cold…yesterday was pretty much a write-off except for urgenices like dog-walking, dropping man-child’s forgotten lunch off at school, paying bills, and cobbling together dinner. Not feeling much better today, but must get some groceries and clean the horrendously vile kitchen that Michael neglected to do last evening.

Being sick did allow me to finish off a book for the end of the Winter Reading Challenge over at Goodreads, and I finished up with 600 out of a possible 975 points.  I must say that people who make it to the full 975 points must either (1) read all day, (2) read a lot of easy books, or (3) skim/cheat.  Or maybe they just don’t do anything else.  But it’s fun and I’m looking forward to the Spring Challenge that starts today. My current reading list is here, although not all the tasks have been defined yet. I’m starting with Iris Murdoch’s The Good Apprentice (audio) and Lorna Goodison’s book of short stories By Love Possessed. I’m going to try to manage my hold list at the library to permit some time to read books that I own (and can then get rid of) as we’re getting into double-stacked bookshelves and I’d really like to clear a bunch out.  I use BookCrossing to get rid of a lot of books, and am releasing one today.

Travel plans are shaping up for the spring. Michael is going on a Rome-Sicily trip with his Latin teacher and a bunch of classics students over March Break so we’ve got a few things to do to get that organized, including getting his cellphone unlocked so that he can buy a SIM card over there. Z and I are heading to England in April and I need to do some work on the paper we’re writing and book some accomodation for the time we’re there after the conference. I’m thinking that, given the short amount of time we’ll have, we’ll skip London altogether and try to visit Kent, Canterbury, plus a night in Ashford hear where some of my ancestors are buried. Once again, we find ourselves travelling over the Easter weekend so we’ll need to take in to account that things may be closed.

Carry on!

Alzheimer’s poetry: My father recounts his life in oddly beautiful stanzas – Jane Macdougall

There is something hauntingly beautiful about language unmoored.

David Shackleton for National Post

Jane Macdougall, Weekend Post · Friday, Feb. 11, 2011

My father is a poet. At least, he is now. Odd, that.

He trained as an accountant. And he was the accountant’s accountant — all ledgers and columns; compliances and balances. Tidy. So at odds with family life. With life, in general.

He wore hats. Always hats: for work, for curling, for yard work, for excursions — a hat for every purpose. I realize now he was always staving off the chaos of the jungle.

Shoes were polished with religious fervour and regular devotion. Sunday morning he would set the boys to the task and, in time, they subverted the job by simply dusting off the unworn shoes. It was, I suppose, a type of catechism; but my, did it annoy the natives. I always said he was the sort of man who gave colonialism a bad name.

Shoe trees were essential.

Wooden hangers: the very backbone of his civilization.

Who vs. whom: I know the difference and I owe it to him.

Are you impressed?


Yes, what?

Yes, sir!

And rising when an elder entered the room. We owe him that, too, my brothers and sister. We are better — and worse — for his rigidities.

Archaic English usages I lay claim to, courtesy of a man who refused to let language evolve. Sophisticated would forever rely upon its foundation of sophistry, meaning to deceive, not as we think of it today, meaning to impress.

And now, he is a poet.

He owes it to the presence of beta-amyloid plaques in his brain. We know it as Alzheimer’s, dementia of cinematic proportions. Documented since Alois Alzheimer defined the disease in 1906, there is no cure, no medication, not even a conclusive diagnostic test. From diagnosis to death: on average, seven years.

Seven crazy years.

One need only to see my father now to immediately understand that something has gone dreadfully awry. It’s in his eyes. His hair. His gait. He looks confused; he is confused. The word confused is based on the Latin confundere meaning “to mingle together,” and from Middle English, meaning “to bring to ruin.”


Autopsy will reveal plaques that erected Detour and Road Closure signs in his head. Neural signals bounce around until they are abducted by dendrites hungry for instruction. The instructions, however, are misdirected. Although, misdirected doesn’t begin to describe the chaos created by mistaking the kitchen for the bathroom.

If I ever doubted that one is one’s thoughts, I don’t doubt it now.

Like a thief in the night, Alzheimer’s steals the family silver, one utensil at a time, until there isn’t enough left for a single place setting. But the thief is nefarious: He leaves the knives so that danger is ever present. The presence of madness causes madness; ask any caregiver. The caregiver gets ground down to a nub. No surprise there: What can be expected when nothing can be expected? Cancer doesn’t jettison reason; congestive heart disease doesn’t forsake judgment. Alzheimer’s does.

Information on the subject discusses the slow impoverishment of oral and written language, but it’s more profound than just communicating with others; one loses the ability to communicate with oneself.

The hallmark of Alzheimer’s is the loosening grip on memory. Dad is already forgetting who we are. But forget is too feeble a word. Already he wants to know what we are doing in his house.

His notes, with time, date and full signature faithfully listed, offer a chilling glimpse into the mind disordered by disease. Almost without exception, they are incomprehensible.

But there is something hauntingly beautiful about language unmoored; a stream of consciousness that is truly unconscious. He speaks now in a type of haiku that is often illuminating. Dead simple. Child-like. Impervious to outside understanding yet, often numinously transparent:

Go read the rest….

Heartbreakingly beautiful love letter to her father.

Adventures in sleep apnea


Apparently I snore.

Enough to keep my poor husband awake, and he has his own sleep issues to contend with.

I had my son’s orthodontist make me a device a couple of years ago but even after a couple of adjustments, it abraded the inside of my lower jaw and I simply could not wear it consistently.

My current dentist offered another solution that was half the price and has turned out to be much more tolerable.  The first night I wore it, I had a dream about eating toffee and ended up pulling it out (in my sleep) and tossing it in the trash can beside my bed, but nights two and three were fine.  My snoring was pretty much eliminated, at least such are the reports.  I’ll start using my iPhone sleep app to see if I”m getting better sleep as well, but I certainly awoke feeling quite refreshed.