compulsive behaviour embraced.

another relocated blog…

When I am at work there is frequently this little voice in the back of my head saying “If I were at home right now I could…” and then when I have an extra day off, because I’m not used to having free time I find myself cleaning.. just cleaning. and that’s boring. Why is it that I am never happy where I am doing what I am doing? So this morning I thought – ok, I’ll clean the kitchen, finish the laundry, change from my giant messy purse to my little efficient purse, sweep the living room (hardwood is not all it’s cracked up to be I tell you..)… and damnit I’m cleaning again. So I marched myself out to my rock garden – looks good but a few small weeds creeping in.. so I get down on my hands and knees and pull the little weeds out. there are also some stray long grasses around the rocks so I move the rocks and dig up the grasses.. and damnit! Now I’m cleaning outside!

I get up and relocate to the garden swing. I sit swinging slowly and looking about.. raspberries are looking ripe. go in the house and get a plastic container. Go back out and pick raspberries.. beautiful red raspberries, smelling wonderful in the sunshine. I realize that the canes are getting overgrown – some of the third year canes are not fruit bearing this year so perhaps I should trim those back.. go get my hand pruners and gardening gloves. Clip the old canes at the base, throw them out onto the grass. when I’ve worked my way through I go back, haul the canes to the compost pile… pick up the container of raspberries – and it hits me : Damnit! I’m cleaning up the raspberry garden!! what the hell is wrong with me? why is everything I do tidying? It doesn’t seem to get me anywhere – the house is NEVER clean… what the hell! what has happened to my life???

So back to the porch I go. Maybe I need to reflect on things. I sit on the top step looking at my rock garden. Notice that the solar light isn’t straight. Get up to fix it… look at the solar lights in the other gardens.. they need to be adjusted as well.. Damnit! I”m tidying up the solar lights now!!!

Finally i go out to the barn. Lucy the donkey greets me – she’s always on the lookout for a carrot or an apple. this time I recognize the behaviour before it even starts. With a resigned sigh I grab the donkey’s shedding blade and a lead and tie her up to the fence. No point in trying to stop myself: I begin tidying up the donkey.

Animals – why…

Another blog moved over from my facebook page from April 2010.  

well, this morning Cinder was still waddling about with an obviously full load of kittens inside. No excitement during the night so I’m glad I didn’t go crawling around the garage at midnight trying to see if there were babies… but tonight I haven’t seen her at all. Mind you, there is a freaking blizzard out there and if she has any sense (and I’m not sure she does) she’ll be cozied up somewhere kittens or not. I think about how harsh life is on a farm and how many animal babies we’ve had in our house warming them up from the winter.. there was one goat kid that we warmed in the oven to keep it’s body temperature up. I put a towel in our largest roasting pan and stuck the kid in the pan and into the oven with the door open. It didn’t help that Don kept strolling by making useful comments like “Best get used to it kid!” or “Throw some garlic and onions in!”. How crude. How could you even consider that when you look into the babies big dark eyes?


Andy reminded me that I was not without an insensitive streak – he says that one time at a petting zoo I kept picking up a lamb and pointing out the tastiest cuts… and that I apparently tried to smuggle it out and take it home for dinner. I have no recollection of this – I’m sure he must be mistaken. He was with me the night we brought Squiggy home..the piglet that was supposed to be a pot bellied pig, yet grew to be absolutely huge. We picked him up at a local farm and put him in a cardboard box, the kind that fruit comes in from BC. I was putting him into the backseat when the farmer we got him from said “lady, I don’t recommend that -the box isn’t water proof and pig smell is real hard to get out of the upohlstery.” Andy and I considered for a moment. It seemed cruel to put this wee animal in the trunk, but I didn’t relish the idea of having manure on my seat. The pig solved the problem by promptly emptying it’s bladder… the resulting aroma was enough to eliminate the back seat as a possibility. So we put the pig in it’s box in the trunk, then Andy got in the back seat and opened the pass through from the back seat to the trunk so we could see the piggy. It was barely a 10 minute drive home, but in that 10 minutes Squiggy managed to break out of his box and start running laps around the trunk. Andy was beside himself – thought this was the funniest thing ever – but apparently Squiggy hadn’t emptied ALL of his insides and promptly a new and familiar pig smell was reeking through the car. We got home in record time and as the car was rolling to a stop we both leaped out. Don ambled over from the garage “what’s happening?” he asked. He didn’t know about the pig. Without saying anything I popped the trunk release and went to the back and fished the hot and panicked pig out of the trunk. “oh.” he said. “it’s a pig”. At this point there might have been a long silence while we all digested the truth of this but frankly the pig was screaming it’s head off.. apparently it wasn’t happy about me holding it up in a strange yard in front of strange people after a strange ride in the trunk. Don reached over and said some thing that might have been “it’s ok little guy” but I never got to double check that. As he reached for the pig, the pig had apparently reached his own limit and he chomped Don right on the hand. Making my exit as quickly as possible and throwing apologies over my shoulder as I went, “I’m sorry he bit you, he’s upset – he’s had a difficult evening” I took Squiggy into the barn to get him settled into his new home. He loved the pile of fresh clean straw and was quite enthusiastic about his food, but he also was intrigued by the grunting coming from the next pen. We had, at this time, another pig named Cyrano – he was a wild boar and a rather nasty one at that. He was almost at slaughter weight so wouldn’t be around for much longer, but Squiggy didn’t know that. Hearing a familiar ‘language’ he was captivated – who knows what sultry lures the wild boar was enticing him with? But I knew immediately that if I wasn’t careful, Squigward would end up wild boar food.


The next day, we took squiggy out for a walk in our yard. Have you ever seen the movie Crazy Farm with Chevy chase and his Irish Setter? The one that shows up from time to time running in the distance? Well that was squiggy. The pig took off and we couldn’t catch him. Andy tried valiantly to catch the wee thing but ended up running himself ragged so Finally we just sat on the porch and watched.. from time to time we’d hear his little squeal and the pig would zip by, north to south… then a few minutes later he’d zip by again, east to west… then south to north.. then west to east. Eventually we lost sight of him completely and I figured our squiggy was gone. Later I went to check one more time in the barn and that’s when I heard some happy little grunts coming from the chicken pen… yep. he had climbed in through the chicken door and was chatting with the chickens. I opened the coop door and he strolled out and right into his pen like nothing had ever happened.


That evening Andy and I went in to feed Squiggy and see how he was doing and before you could say ‘holy cow!’ he zipped out of his pen and squeezed through the boards into the wild boar pen. Panic ensued. Andy started yelling at me to get the pig out but the wild boar was not an animal I wanted to tangle with. We watched in horror as Squiggy went from happy ‘how do you do?’ pig to “oh my god he’s going to eat me!’ pig. They raced around the pen and squiggy, by dint of his diminuative size, managed to keep well out of the boars way. The boar, however, was bound and determined to catch that pig and was slowly corralling Squiggy into the corner. Just as it seemed all was lost, Squiggy made a mad dive for the same hole he got into the pen through and popped out into the entry way. He was so freaked out he just let us pick him up and didn’t squeal even once. We put him back in his pen and I can honestly say he did not go near that boar again.


Well, it’s time for bed. I was just looking out the window into the storm and could see the warm glow of the heat lamps we leave on in the barns for the chickens. it seemed cozy enough..but I am glad I’m warm inside in my home. I hope that where ever animals are – coyotes, skunks, deer, rabbits – that they are tucked in somewhere out of the cold…


Cats and Heart Burn…

This is a post from my Facebook Blog that i posted in april of 2010… just thought i’d move all my blogs to one place  🙂

ok, so whoever decided that it should be called heart burn missed by a mile. ‘chest burn’, or ‘killer death discomfort of the upper body burn’ or ‘please shoot me now burn’ – any of those are way more appropriate! I had a cup of vanilla tea before bed (about 9:45) and let me tell you, the searing pain is just waaaay more exciting than the term ‘heart burn’ describes. So I’m here, on facebook, while everyone else in the whole world is sleeping…


My barn cat Cinder is getting ready to have kittens. She was mooning around outside tonight and then dashing (ok, waddling) back to her ‘secret’ nest in the garage only to come out a few minutes later to see if we missed her. I followed her back to her ‘secret’ nest and moved an old rocking chair so I could sit there with her. She would sit comfortably panting and staring at me but if I got up to leave she would come waddling and meowing after me. So I sat for a while to keep her company.. no one should have to give birth alone. At about 9:00 I finally had to go in as it was bed time and sitting in a creepy dark garage after dark, shining a flashlight on a cat that seemed to be in labour while spiders and things crawling around me was less pleasant than you might think. But still no kittens had arrived. I felt her belly and watched her and she didn’t appear to be in any difficulty…I’ll let you know tomorrow what happened. despite my heartburn, I’m not ready to go crawling around the dark old garage looking for kittens at 12:45 in the morning. I’m still having fantasies about sleeping… actually sleeping without ‘upper middle chest death burn’. sigh.


Our cats are pretty interesting creatures – each has it’s own distinct personality. Gizmo is the old uncle – affable, cuddly and always ready to listen to your problems. Gets along with both dogs and has a sort of a cosmopolitan air despite living in the country. Giz asks to go out every evening and does a thorough inspection of the whole farm. It seems no matter where you go, Gizmo is there watching you calmly from under a bush or beside the fence. He’s never in a hurry (well, sometimes will zoom into the house at the end of the day) and always retains his dignity. In the evening when Don and I go for a walk, he is always about 5 feet behind us. If we stop to look at him, he flops over on his side in the gravel or grass and gives us a ‘are you silly humans about ready to call it a day?’ look. If we continue on our walk he patiently gets up and walks along behind us. I often wonder what the neighbours must think of this… inevitably we have Sadie, our Jack Russell terrier along as well and sometimes she and Giz walk together. It must look like we are setting out on the first leg of The Incredible Journey 😉


Our other cat – Minnie – is exactly that: extremely small. At 2 and a half years, she still looks like a 10 month old kitten. She is ‘special’ in that it took her 2 years to realize that there were humans in the house. well, she knew there were humans but wasn’t sure how to react to that fact. have you ever been to a dinner party where someone has committed some sort of minor faux pas and there is suddenly this silence… this awkward ‘oh my goodness… now what do we do?’ kind of tension in the air and the people try to get past the awkwardness by doing little things – perhaps suddenly chatting about the weather or laughing inanely about nothing? Well, that’s minnie. She has this look about her that makes you believe she JUST this second realized you were still in the room and she is not exactly sure how she should be acting. If you call her name she does nothing. If you pick her up she looks right through you. If you pet her or cuddle her she kind of goes limp and ‘thinks of england’. It’s the wierdest darn thing. I told Don I thought she was Autistic.

Yet when Gizmo comes in the house she greets him with animated Meows and will curl up with him and lick his face and hug him with her long spider monkey like front legs as if to say ‘I can’t believe you left me alone with them again!’. Maybe she’s racist and has a thing against humans? Sometimes she will come to Don when he calls her but that’s usually in the morning before he feeds them. Once he’s fulfilled his purpose in life (feeding the cats) he ceases to exist like the rest of us. He insists that she’s getting better and that she’s starting to come around… I think that after 2 and half years, he needs to accept that the little cat is a snob.


Our fourth cat – Kovoo – (I’m not sure if that’s spelled right: she’s named after the hockey player) is a tank. she is a normal sized cat but has thick thick fur that makes her look like a giant kleenex box with a cats face, tail and legs. She’s the most self sufficient of all the cats. She hunts mice like a pro and can be found prowling through the long grass at the edges of the garden. She frequently leaves little ‘presents’ on the front lawn much to my dismay. It makes mowing the grass an adventure at times; nothing like a decomposing mole run through the lawn tractor to really keep things interesting. Kovoo likes us humans in the way that most humans likes thier own pets: we are fun to have around, but largely life is centered on other things. She will come when you call her, will let you pick her up for a while but inevitably she wiggles to be let down and off she goes again on the hunt. I think of all the cats I respect Kovoo the most. She doesn’t lose her dignity by following us around nor does she pretend we aren’t there – she knows we have our place in life and tolerates us benevolently 🙂


1:00 and the heart burn is almost gone… thank god. Sleep, glorious sleep is before me. I’m going to be really tired in the morning but what the heck.. it’s only work, right? I’m sure I can sleep at my desk. If only I were a cat I could curl up on my ‘in’ box and snooze in the light slanting in from the blinds…


Where the rubber hits the road… and is flattened…

photo (1)

but i'm sure it doesn't
this is what it should look like

First let me just say that I have nothing but respect and awe for them members of my soaping group who queued up to take on the pointillism challenge put to us by our soap teacher,  and were successful.  The challenge was to choose a picture we liked and recreate this picture in soap using a method called pointillism which Cathy (our teacher) demonstrated via video on YouTube.  She did it effortlessly and with a grace and talent that I know now I will never, ever have.

This is my story:

I ruminated on the pointillism challenge for quite a few days before I decided that I would attempt to do this. I saw the amazing creations that others were producing and felt that I should try to do something equally as beautiful and creative and, I admit, I felt some pressure to compete as I am one of a handful of Canadians in this group: I really wanted to ‘put us on the map’ so to speak.  So I thought, and I searched and then I found this lovely picture by Mandy Burand that I thought was a lovely blend of abstract art in the style of the Group of Seven.  Excellent!  I studied the picture, looked at the colour ‘zones’ and was fairly certain I could recreate this beautiful picture in the medium of soap.  Wonderful.  I had a brief vision of me sending a bar of soap to Mandy and imagining how impressed she would be to see her painting recreated in a bar of soap!  Wow!  How awesome!

So I began.

First I chose my colours: I would need six, I decided: Pink, orange, yellow, purple, blue and black.  I rummaged through my supplies. I had all these colours but they were neon…hmmmm… well, this could be my ‘interpretation’ of Mandy’s lovely pastel pink, yellow, orange and purple.  The blue was vibrant and the black, well that’s just black.  Good.  So I got out all my supplies, measured my oils and lye and mixed my dyes.  I don’t usually use commercial dyes – I prefer using natural colourants – but had used these two years ago when I started soaping and figured I’d just use them up. After consulting with my Soaping101 cohorts, I mixed up the dye with some almond oil, but to make things just a little faster I decided to mix the dye in the squirt bottles rather than in individual cups as I had seen others do.

I hear the collective groan of many experience soapers.  This was, as it turned out, a monumentally bad idea. First of all, I mixed the dyes in the late afternoon then stopped to have supper.   I popped them in the bottles, mixed them with a little blender thingy I have and set them aside.   When I came back I ignored my dyes and proceeded to mix my oils, lye and fragrance oil to a thin trace. That’s when I realized I’d made mistake number two.  My oils and lye were mixed in an ice cream pail… without a handle.  So how in the name of all things holy did I think I would be able to pour the mixture into the bottles while holding the funnel steady? Luckily I have the world’s most accommodating 16 year old son who, at my screamed request, popped a pair of rubber gloves on and held on to the bottles and funnel for me.  We carefully filled all the squirt bottles and that’s when I realized why my first mistake was, indeed, a mistake.  As you have probably deduced, the powdered dye had all settled to the bottom of the squirt bottle.  Yeah.  Have you ever tried to mix dye in a tall narrow bottle while the mixture is single mindedly trying to turn itself into soap?  Suddenly I was panicking. I grabbed my wee blender again and whirred each of the bottles.  The pink, yellow and orange cooperated beautifully… the black, purple and blue – or should I say grey, grey and dark grey – didn’t cooperate quite as well.  With much shaking and stirring and swearing I eventually got some sort of ‘mixing’ to happen, but they were not quite the clean vibrant colours I had imagined.  Oh well, I was committed by this point so onward and upwards!

Despite soap batter being slopped all over my work top, I lined up the bottles, got my mold and eyeballed my picture.   I grabbed the ‘blue’ and put my first few squirts of soap into the mold… it kind of came out like thick frosting.  Oh crap.  I had to work faster… so I went in to high gear squirting, changing colours, squirting, eyeballing… and that’s when I realized mistake number 3.

The reason I started this by saying I take my hats off to the soapers who succeeded at the pointillism challenge, is that obviously they are much smarter than I am.  You see, my mind could not make the leap from looking at the horizontal picture and then translating that to a perpendicular medium.   So instead of creating a soap that, when I sliced it, would be a mini reproduction of the painting I had chosen, I was making the painting in my soap mold the same way you would draw the painting on a piece of paper.  I panicked some more.  I stopped thought about it again, then changed my approach… wait! Wait! No that was still wrong! So I moved on to my next colour, oh dear. I’m sure the pink and the purple didn’t touch! What am I doing!!!  And that’s when it happened.  That is when the picture I was using changed from Mandy Burdan to Jackson Pollack.  I squirted and squirted – staring goggle-eyed at the picture, desperately willing my brain to snap into action and get the colours and order correct. But no. my brain was off listening to the hockey game in the back ground and glancing over its shoulder every once in a while saying ‘hey, don’t blame me – I don’t have a clue what you are doing’.   Eventually it was over.  I stared at the soap in the mold, wondered what the heck I’d just made.  It smells good – maple FO – but… I don’t know, I just don’t know.  So I will post a picture tomorrow evening when I have cut my soap but honestly, I have no idea what I just made…

So I met my Surgeon

Well, after being completely paralyzed knowing I had to have heart surgery but not knowing when or who the Dr was (ok, I knew his name but nothing else – didn’t have a face or personality to attach to it) and waiting, waiting, waiting for the phone to ring, the phone did not ring. Instead I received a letter in the mail telling me that I had an appointment on March 7 at 1:00, directions to the hospital and a paper I was to complete indicating which medications i was currently on and how often i was taking them.


This only ramped up the anxiety. the letter I received did not say ‘we care a lot about what’s happening with you right now and we are really looking forward to meeting you and helping you on your Heart health Journey. No. it just said ‘here’s the appointment, here’s where to park, bring this info. see you then. Oddly this made my anxiety blossom into a full flower of panic. I didn’t know these people. i didn’t know the doctor – what if they hated me? what if they looked at me and said ‘oh no, you are too fat for heart surgery!”

I could barely sleep the night of the appointment. I saw the clock every hour – watching, worrying and waiting. It was pretty awful. When i got up that next morning I made a list of things I had to do and the time that I would have to start each thing and when I’d need to have each thing completed so I would know if I was getting behind. The list looked like this: 9:00 eat breakfast. 9:30 take meds 9:45 shower 10:00 put on make up 10:20 make sure all paperwork is in purse, gather keys and iPhone and make sure they are with purse. 10:00 to 11:00 relax with a cup of herbal tea. 11:00 dress. 11:15 when don gets home get in car and go.

My husband was leaving work early to drive me to the Dr’s appointment. Initially I could not understand why he wouldn’t take the day off and spend the morning home with me… then I remembered who I am. when I am anxious, it is far far better that I be left alone to focus on my anxiety and god help the person who ‘interferes’. now this interfering can be simply moving about the house and talking – when I’m anxious this is almost more than I can bear. So knowing me as he does and loving me as he does he knew that staying as far away from me as possible until it was time to leave was the best way to help me not have a full blown melt down.

we drove in to the city – the drive was uneventful – and pulled into the parking garage. we had plenty of time but my anxiety when up with each level that did no have a parking space for us. finally, practically on the roof, we found a spot, parked and entered the hospital. one of the problems my condition brings with it is shortness of breath and when combined with my anxiety that afternoon i was not in good shape. we managed to keep moving and get me to the appointment, but i all but collapsed into the chair by the time we got there. within seconds of making ourselves known to the receptionist, the nurse called my name and my husband and i entered the clinic. The nurse performed the usual weight, height, blood pressure routine and then escorted us into the surgeons office. up until this point everything had been pretty, well, clinical. not too many smiles or cheery faces. then entered Dr Maitland. he was lovely! he was slightly older than i was, was affable, had a British accent and immediately changed my whole day. he asked me some questions about my general health and wellness then proceeded to tell my husband and i what he would be doing to my heart. without being scary or intimidating in any way he told us he would be shaving away bits of my heart tissue which would enlarge the heart chamber and allow blood to flow through more easily. this, we were all hoping, would be the thing that makes my life better. he let us ask many questions, he told us exactly what % of patients get through this surgery without any complications (98% -yay!) and how in that remaining 2% there were 7 other things that could go wrong – including death. death is of course the one we want to avoid at all costs. in any event, we finished up with both my husband and i feeling way, way better. the last thing that Dr Maitland said to me was “the next time i see you i’ll be in my pajamas!’. i hope he is as cheerful and positive on surgery day as he was in the office. i feel about 100% better now 🙂