Cat pile, progress and update

There are two cats in this photo.

Cheddar slowly managed to squirm his way under the sheet, little by little, until he was completely covered!

Meanwhile, we had a whole pile of cats, chillin’ on the front step.

There were also several inside cats at the storm door, sometimes sticking a leg through the window to bat at a cat outside! 😀

Yes, we’re still draining out washing machine out the door. Partly because none of us have the time to sit and supervise the machine if we put the hose into the drain pipe, just in case it starts backing up again (which it shouldn’t, but still…), but also because we’ve got enough water flowing into the septic tank and triggering the pump to drain, just from the water seeping into the north side of the old basement, and the weeping tile under the new basement, both going through the same floor drain. This area of the yard is high enough that none of the water is accumulating, so we’re not adding to the much problems, either.

It was a lovely, warm evening, so I popped out to do a bit of set up in the old kitchen garden… which promptly got catted!

I set out the line to support the netting that will go up after it’s planted. I’ve done similar with the L shaped bed, too. I had several cats very interested in the entire proceedings! Then, once I was done, Nutmeg went under the lines and tried rubbing up on practically ever one of them!

The lines will be in the way while seeding the bed, but this way I’ll be able to cover the bed right away, without giving cats a chance to walk all over it, or use it as a litter box, before it’s covered! 😀

On a completely different subject, my brother was able to update me on how things went with my mother at the ER. Based on how she described the pain, he was thinking her kidneys might be the issue, but when she talked to the doctor, she described it differently. They did do blood and urine tests, but when she described the pain as feeling like she was being stabbed in the back, on one side, the doctor sent her for Xrays right away.

The funny thing about my brother describing what happened, I actually recognized the doctor. He didn’t remember the name, but when he looked up the photo he took of my mother’s new prescription, it confirmed I was right. There have been times when I took my mother into the ER and this doctor had seen her. My mother was in good hands. 🙂

The staff was running ragged, and all the examination rooms were full, but with my mother’s pain levels, they got her in quickly. It’s a good thing I didn’t try to take her in, though, as they made them wear masks. Since I can’t, I would have been told to leave.

Long story short, my mother has a compacted disc. She actually has quite a bit of damage to her spine, but this was new damage. The doctor kept asking if she’d maybe lifted something heavy, or twisted something, but she couldn’t think of anything. Most likely, this is just new damage related to her refusal to wear her leg brace. She keeps complaining about the pain in her knees, and one knee bends inwards, but she simply will not wear the brace. My brother even tried getting her a new brace that would be more comfortable for her, but she just won’t do it. Instead, she wears those stretchy knee pads, like athletes sometimes wear. They feel snug and warm, so she thinks they help more than the brace.

There is nothing that can be done about her back, though. My brother even made a point of asking the doctor about possible surgery, just to make sure my mother heard the answer, and no. Surgery is not an option. What he did do was give her a prescription for anti-inflammatory painkillers, and before they left, she got an anti-inflammatory injection.

I haven’t called her again today. After so many hours dealing with everything, I knew she would be tired, so I’ll call her tomorrow. My poor brother was more mentally than physically exhausted. When helping my mother with her appointments, a lot of energy is spent explaining things she couldn’t understand, or asking her lots of questions to try and drag out information from her that is relevant. Or just keeping her on topic. She has a terrible habit of wasting time asking people personal information that’s none of her business, when she should be focusing on the reason she’s there. It gets very draining.

One thing my brother did try to make my mother aware of is that the pain she was feeling right then, was the sort of pain my husband feels constantly. For him, it’s actually a lot more, since he has multiple problems all in the same area, with a crumbling spine being just one thing – and not even the worst source of pain. My mother has had difficulty having any sort of empathy or understanding, because he’s “too young” to be having problems like this. He was hoping it would help her feel some sort of compassion for my husband. It probably won’t make a difference. After all, she still complains about how she’s taking “so many pills” every day, without quite understanding that she doesn’t actually have a lot of prescriptions for her age; she’s just taking some of them twice a day. So in her mind, each one of those pills is a different medication. I’ve told her how many prescriptions my husband is on – some of which are taken 3 times a day, others “as needed”, plus his injections, but it’s not about her, so she doesn’t get it. Ah, well. All we can do is try.

So my mom now needs to take these anti-inflammatory painkillers for a couple of weeks, but we have nothing about after that. I’ll have to make a regular doctor’s appointment for her – the clinic is in the same hospital, but I know I’ll be able to go in with her there. Something else to talk about when I call her, tomorrow.

We’ll figure it out.

The Re-Farmer

Ups and Downs

Today is looking like it’s going to be a gorgeous day! We finally have some sunshine and warmth, and while it’s still muddy out there, the water levels continue to go down. Even the water seeping into the old basement is somewhat better.

There was a whole crowd of cats waiting for my by the sunroom door, eager for breakfast. A lot of the ‘iccuses are hanging out. Still no sign of Chaddiccus, though – the only one of them that we could actually pet. Agnoos and Tuxedo Mask are still missing, too. Still, I saw a dozen cats in total, this morning.

It was nice enough that I brought the transplants out earlier, too.

I managed to get a slightly better picture of the developing Wonderberries.

On the down side, it looks like my mother will be going to the ER today. She’s been complaining of back pain for a while now, but it was really bad last night. My brother was planning to come out to join her in church and visit her after, but planned to take her to the hospital instead.

Oh, now that’s timing. I just got a message from him. They’re at the ER now, and she’s waiting to get her kidneys checked. From how she describes her pain, that seems the most likely cause.

We did talk about my driving her to the hospital and him meeting us there, but he decided he would do it all. Which is probably just as well. Since we are still under restrictions at the federal level, I probably wouldn’t be allowed to go in with her. Hospitals as still demanding people be masked, even though provincial restrictions are lifted, and in spite of all the evidence and data out there that shows it’s not only unnecessary, but harmful. My mother shouldn’t be wearing one, but she does, anyhow, because she’s been bullied into it. The way things are now, she would probably be sent home from the ER if she wasn’t masked and jabbed, as so many others already have been, all over the province. A lot of places responded to the provincial mandates being dropped by doubling down on the restrictions, instead.

Even aside from that, it’s probably just as well I didn’t try to drive my mother. I was awakened quite early today with a sort of headache. The kind that feels like it’s from eye strain. The weird part was that it hurt more if my eyes were closed then when they were open, so getting back to sleep wasn’t going to happen. Driving would probably have not been a good thing for me to be doing.

With the day being so nice, we might be able to get the fire pit going to have a wiener roast, and even finally use the new cast iron Dutch oven for the first time. I hope to be able to get more garden beds prepped, too. The weather forecast is now saying heat and possible thundershowers in a couple of days, then it’s supposed to cool down again, but we should still be able to get the cool weather seeds in. The garden beds we prepped in the fall have crab grass and weeds that made their way through, so I want to get those out before we start seeding, as much as possible.

What I would really love to be able to do, though, is close my eyes for a while. :-/

The Re-Farmer

Never quite good enough, and bigger concerns

Before I get into my topic, here’s a Ginger picture for you to enjoy!

I interrupted his nap! 😀

Such a sweet baby boy he is! 🙂

Now, onto less fun stuff.

I mentioned in my last post about our garden progress, that I’d showed photos of the pea beds to my mother.

As expected, she had nothing positive to say.

When we moved out here, she had made such a big deal about us having to plant a garden and was so angry when we didn’t, and now that we are growing a garden – and a very large one, this year – she’s still angry! It doesn’t matter what I do; it’s never going to be good enough! I’ve learned to accept that, though. 😉

There were, however, other concerns.

In showing her a photo of the pea beds, she could not recognize where they were. She even asked if it was “in the yard” (meaning in the lawn to the south of the house), and there is nothing in the yard that looks even remotely like that area. She thought the poplar poles were steel, and was thoroughly perplexed by the “screen”; she used the Polish word for screen, but she meant the strings I’d put up on the one trellis for the peas to climb. It took me saying it was just twine I found in the basement, three times before she was willing to accept it. She also seemed confused about the poplar posts. I told her where I got them from, then dropped it. She was having a hard enough time understanding what I was showing her in the photos. I didn’t want to try and explain something she couldn’t see. I had even shown her where we made the bed for the tomatoes, at the chain link fence. She looked at it, but didn’t say anything. I’m not sure she recognized where it was, even though her flower bed and lilac bush were visible in the photo.

Of course, she had to make negative comments about the nice, new garden soil the peas were planted in. She tried to mock me for buying soil, only to put it on top of other soil (where else it would go?). That was when I told her that I’ve been testing the soil (still not finished doing that), and that is it low on nutrients. How could that be? She never had a problem growing things! *sigh* I had to explain – again – that nothing has been done for that soil for a very, very long time! It’s not that she doesn’t understand the concept. She just refuses to accept it.

I showed her a picture of all the cups of seeds we have in the big fish tank greenhouse. She asked about the cups, and I explained about the double cupping and – anticipating the objection I could see building up – mentioned that there are people who have been using the same cups for 10 years, and they’re still good. Then I showed her what I had in the little tank, and her only question was, no more fish? No more fish, Mom. Just plants!

From there she launched into how she should have told us, before we moved, to just sell everything (she’s upset that we have aquariums), because we could have moved right into the house as it was; it already had furniture, etc. I had to explain to her that no, the house was really unlivable. I told her about how my dad’s old bed broke, and the bed upstairs had mouse poop under the covers, and the state of the mattresses. We didn’t get past that. She was wondering how there could be mice, when there were cats, and I pointed out that the cats were outside, not in the house! Then the subject got changed.

The thing is, before we moved, she did tell us to just sell everything. And we did sell and get rid of a LOT of stuff, but this was a conversation we had many times. It was a major point of contention, because she convinced us to move out by offering to pay for the movers, but then basically tried to back out of it. I think she really believes we could have moved out with little more than the clothes on our backs, and everything would have been just fine. The odd thing was for her to bring it up as if it had never been discussed before.

We went back to talking garden stuff, and I showed her a picture of the tomato seedlings and luffa in the sun room. Then I tried to explain to her what luffa were. She cut me off in mid sentence, telling me she didn’t want to hear about it because she had never heard of them before and didn’t care.

I called her on her behaviour at that point. She tried to use her age to justify it; she could say stuff like that, because she’s older than me. I did run with the joke, but also pointed out that age is no excuse to treat people like this.

I don’t know that it sunk in.

Thankfully, I’ve reached a point in my life where she can no longer hurt me, but she can – and does – hurt others in the family, and is completely oblivious to it, so if I can get her to think about the effect her words can have on other people, I will try.

That part, at least, was pretty normal for conversations with her. I am having other concerns. Among them, she’s been complaining of dizziness and headaches. Her knees are bothering her a lot more than usual, as is her mystery pain in her side. Usually, when I come out to help her with her shopping, she takes advantage of having a driver to run other errands, but today, it was just the grocery shopping, and that was it. Yesterday, she had suggested going to the hardware store, because she wants to buy us fence posts for that section by the garden. I didn’t bring it up, because she clearly wasn’t up to doing anything beyond her grocery shopping.

It’s not just her physical health that is at issue. For the past while, in conversations with her, I’ve noticed what I can only describe as a sort of malaise. Usually, she makes quite a big deal of her aches and pains (there was a clear element of using them to get attention involved), following by loud proclamations about how she wants to live! She’s not ready to go to heaven yet! There are too many things she wants to do!

She hasn’t done that in a while. Instead, I’m having to ask her questions to find out about things like the headaches and increased pain. She’s also tried dismissing them as just being part of getting old, which is really unusual for her. Basically, I’m seeing red flags for both her physical health, her mental acuity, and her psychological state. Part of my concern is that she’s had her second jab recently. After her first one, she complained of pain in basically all her joints, nausea, etc. All reactions many other people have described having after getting the C19 jab. Now she’s got the headaches and nausea; also common reactions, but too common to associate with any specific thing. All I can say is that it’s unusual for her, and it started after she got her second jab. She’s not associating it with the shot, though. She’s convinced the nurse or whoever it was, faked giving it to her, because my mother never felt the needle. The malaise, though, had started after her first jab.

Another part of the problem is the continued restrictions. In fact, the province went and shut down churches again. Churches are not, and have never been, transmission hubs in this province (nor anywhere else, as far as I’ve been able to find; it’s always been mostly through either nursing homes and long term care centres, or other places indoors with extended contact, like family homes). All the social activities that my mother enjoyed so much are still banned. Even within her building, people are still having to sneak visits with each other, hiding from the caretakers. Her municipality – as well as ours – has never even had a single case. Being able to go to church again was pretty much the only thing my mother had left to look forward to.

I’m seeing my mother in decline, and a lot of it is directly because of our province putting everyone basically under house arrest and turning us into a police state, as if that could somehow, magically, control Schrodinger’s virus. (Thank God we don’t live in the city! It’s much worse there.) The very things that had her wanting to live have been taken away. Now, her biggest excitement is being able to go grocery shopping, and even that has started to cause her more pain.

This has got to change.

The Re-Farmer

It’s a fairyland out there!

Yesterday’s fog kept getting denser and denser before finally being blown away last night. The live feed on the security camera looked like a blizzard, but it was just fog!

Now, everything outside looks like something out of a magical fairy tale!

The spruces are the tallest trees around, and their tops always get the fuzziest! 😀

However, even lower down bushes, like this Korean lilac in the foreground, were completely covered!

My mother’s “living fence” of hawthorn is just magical. Particularly when you know that none of those tracks in there were made by human feet!

The length of our driveway was lined with sparkling white trees!

At the end of the driveway, you could really see the wind effect! All the frost crystals in these areas were distinctly directional. 😀

People who had to be out driving in this last night described dangerously slippery roads and almost zero visibility. I am glad we didn’t have to go anywhere last night!

I do need to go into town this afternoon, though. I have a new prescription to pick up.

I had my phone appointment with my doctor yesterday. Of course, there wasn’t much he could do over the phone. I described what happened that day I found myself gasping for breath while driving, but it hasn’t happened since. I’m back to my “baseline”, so he wants to take more of a wait and watch approach. If it happens again, I need to call him. We spent some time talking about just what my “baseline” is, and my chronic cough. He may be my doctor for over a year now, but with the restrictions, we haven’t been able to actually see him much, so I’m still very much a “new” patient for him. He wants me to try using an inhaler to see if that will help. It’s meant to be used once a day. He wants to follow up with me after 2 weeks of using it. He later faxed the prescription in to our pharmacy, and I got a call from them after they got it to arrange getting it filled and picked up for this afternoon. If that doesn’t help, I will be going for lung function tests.

I’ve had an inhaler tried on me before, when I first started trying to find out why I had developed this cough. It made my cough worse, so I stopped. Then we moved out of province, so this was over 17 years ago. After the move, I had a whole series of lung function tests done. They all came back normal, but again, that was a long time ago. Probably about 13 years or more. So we shall see how this goes.

My daughter had her phone appointment right after mine, but she will need to physically go in to the clinic for the things she is wanting to get checked out. We have an appointment for her on Monday afternoon, and she will likely need at least two other appointments at the clinic, for other things.

Thankfully, the weather will continue to be mild. In past winters, we stopped my husband’s appointments completely, because of the weather and road conditions. That is not as much of a concern this year, so my daughter can make all the appointments she needs. For my husband, though, if he can get away with just phone appointments, he will. The drive itself is just too painful for him.

Ah, well. It is what it is!

The Re-Farmer

Yesterday and today, with some odd stuff thrown in

I never got around to making a new post yesterday, so I’ll start with what I intended to write, yesterday!

While doing my morning rounds, I noticed the step ladder we’d left leaning against the storage building was no longer there. So I trudged my way through the snow, dug it out of where it fell and was half covered by snow, and set it aside in a better spot.

The space under this building is one of the places the cats like to go for shelter, with a well worn path in the grass from there to the yard.

The one in the snow is also well worn and…

… kind of drunk looking! 😀

There are deer tracks all over.

It looks like they found something to dig for under the snow!

This morning, while doing my rounds, I had a whole crowd of kitties following me. I thought it was 6 at first, then a 7th one popped out of the snow at me! 😀

There are three up them, watching me from under the garage door. 😀

There was some odd stuff going on yesterday.

For starters, my breathing issues have lessened… for now. I haven’t had those “gasping for breath” moments I had while driving to and from the city. It’s not gone; while I’m sitting at the computer, for example, my breath does feel slightly restricted, but I’m not suddenly gasping for air like I was earlier. Which is good, but leaves me wondering what the heck is causing it. When the clinic reopens after their lunch break (they don’t book appointments and stop answering the phone for 1 hour, every day), I’ll call about making an appointment for myself and one of my daughters.

I talked to my brother about what our van has been doing. His thoughts lean more towards something restricting air flow, rather than it being the powertrain control module, which is what my thoughts were leaning towards. He’s had critters make nests in his air filter that caused his vehicle to stall. That it’s happening when the van is loaded down makes him thing something might be blocking the exhaust.

I looked around the van yesterday, and plugged in my OBDII reader.

It wouldn’t connect to the ECU.

It hooks up to my phone app with Bluetooth, and that was working fine. I could also look at the “live” readings, with its animated gauges, so I could tell that data was being transferred. I simply could not do a scan for any error codes. It couldn’t talk to the onboard computer.

*sigh*

So I will have to call the garage, probably next week, about bringing it in for a quick look see.

Until then, we will use my mother’s car. Tomorrow I’ll be using it to take my mother out for her errands.

Which leads me to my final odd thing.

My mother got a strange call, yesterday, from a former neighbour. She and her husband used to own one of the quarter sections adjacent to one of ours. Our vandal has been using her as an example of what my mother should be doing with the farm, rather than willing it to my brother (now that she’s transferred ownership already and the farm is no longer part of the will at all, he still seems to think she should give it “back” to him, and that she’s actually given it to me… ???).

Apparently, this woman recently drove past our driveway on the way to visit her sons, saw a camera, and called my mother to ask why there were cameras.

Well, first of all, that’s none of her business. Who cares if there are cameras on someone else’s property? Second, there is no way she saw either camera while casually driving by. They’re close to the gate, but not that close! Someone would have to stop and be actually looking well past the gate to find them. The new one’s camo colours aren’t as good as the basic grey of the old one, but it’s still not that easy to spot unless you know where to look.

My mother knew immediately that our vandal had talked to her and told her to call about it.

The cameras where not the only thing that came up. Apparently, everyone is laughing at us, for taking our vandal to court.

Of course, this person had no idea what was really going on. So my mother told her about the vandalism, and how he somehow feels entitled to the farm and everything on it. This person did help my parents a lot, and we were very close in the past. My parents were also very generous to him, even as his behaviour became more erratic and abusive. They owed him nothing, and considering all the things he’s helped himself to before we moved out here, he owes my mother more!

At the end of the conversation, this former neighbour said she would call our vandal and talk to him.

Well, wouldn’t you know it, my mother got a phone call from him soon after. He had the audacity to start by saying how much he loved her. She called him on the BS, and when he started ranting again, she hung up on him.

*sigh*

And things had been so quiet, here. Unfortunately, what we’ve learned is that the quieter he is, the more likely he’s coming up with nefarious plans in the background. Like filing a suit against me.

One thing these calls my mother got has confirmed for me: our vandal is busily slandering us to whoever will listen, making himself out to be the victim instead of the aggressor. Since most of the people here have known him for decades, and we’ve been here for only a few years, they probably have no reason to doubt him.

Ah, well. We just have to work with the hand we’ve been dealt.

And now that our internet is back, I’ll see if I can post this before it cuts out again!!

The Re-Farmer

Second shopping attempt and, what the heck is going on?

We are having another beautifully mild day today! Just look at this image I got off one of the trail cams.

What a gorgeous sunrise! So moody with the fog. I changed the batteries on the camera yesterday, so it’s slightly out of position from where I want the motion sensors to be focused, but that just put it in the best position to get the sun rising behind the tree.

On the down side, this was screen capped from a video, and in the video, the sun was actually flashing like a strobe light. 😀 I was able to catch a frame in between flashes. In other videos, the sun was a giant, blinding orb covering most of the frame.

The camera has since been adjusted. 😉

It was a gorgeous day for another trip to the city. In past winters, I would have appreciated the mild weather and dry roads for such a trip. It would make things more pleasant for someone who doesn’t like to shop in the first place.

Things are not normal, though, and I was dreading the idea of trying to shop at Costco, but we still needed to get bulk items in flat cart quantities.

It didn’t happen.

When I got to the Costco, the line up outside was actually longer than it was when I tried to go there on Saturday! As I messaged my family to let them know I’d arrived, the line got longer, even as I could see it moving forward.

Since I wasn’t even sure if I’d be allowed in the store with my shield, I wasn’t about to stand in line outside to find out.

I decided to go to the Walmart in the smaller city. I wouldn’t be able to get everything, as it wouldn’t all fit in a cart, but at least I know I would be able to get most of it.

So after about 2 hours of driving, I finally made it to a store.

*sigh*

On the plus side, I did get almost everything we needed. Also, it was not the least bit busy, which is what I had expected at the Costco on a Monday morning!

We’re going to run out of cat litter before the month is out, but we shouldn’t run out of either wet or dry cat food. I was even able to get the big bottles of hydrogen peroxide they were out of stock of last time, to treat the hot water tank when it gets that sulfur smell again. I got only about half the protein for the price that I would have been able to get at Costco, but I won’t be trying to shop there again this month.

So we are mostly stocked up for the month. The rest can be bought locally, though we’ll have less room in the budget than usual for that. We will manage.

At least we would be able to, if nothing breaks down.

Which brings me to the first, “what the heck is going on” topic.

There’s something wrong with the van.

In past trips, when the van was loaded down, I could feel that it was struggling with the weight. A month’s worth of cat litter and cat food for more than 25 indoor and outdoor cats adds up. Add in our own grocery items, and it becomes an issue for our vehicle. It’s get up and go just goes away! I found that loading the heaviest things in the middle of the van (we’ve taken out one of the middle seats and simply left it out), seems to help.

As I was heading home from the Walmart and was starting to leave a controlled intersection, the van just did not want to move! But move it finally did, and it even got up to speed normally.

I had intended to fill the tank at Costco, but never had a chance to, so I was going to stop at a station when I passed through the town my mother lives in. When I got there, however, something told me to just keep on going. We have jerry cans of premium gas at home for equipment we can’t use right now, so I figured I’d just use those up, rather than have it sit in the garage all winter. I just did not want to stop and get out of the van again, if I didn’t have to.

I’m glad I didn’t.

When I turned off the highway onto the gravel road, I slowed into the turn as usual, but when I tried to accelerate again, nothing happened.

The van had stalled.

It started again without issue, but when I reached the gravel road to our place and stopped at the stop sign, it stalled again. No stuttering or any kind of warning to show there was an issue.

When I stopped at the gate and then drove into the yard to unload, it was fine.

I have no idea why this has started to happen.

I had hoped we’d be able to have a winter without vehicle repair expenses for a change! I’ll have to take it in to get it looked at. Whether or not it’s something we can fix this month, or something that has to wait until next month, we shall see. Until then, thankfully, we can use my mother’s car.

Then there is the other “what the heck is going on” issue.

This is something that has actually been happening more often in general, but it was a real problem while I was driving today.

I couldn’t breathe.

I kept finding myself suddenly gasping for air.

I thought, perhaps, it was because my sinuses were a bit stuffy, but I’m a mouth breather, anyhow, so that shouldn’t be it.

This is something that I’ve had happen to me while I’m, say, sitting at my computer. I’ve never really thought of it as an issue, though. I thought it was that whole “oh, I forgot to breathe” thing that happens when you’re really focused on something (when my husband was still working as a programmer, forgetting to breathe or blink while coding was common enough to be a running joke). However, having it happen while I’m driving is something else entirely. I seemed to be better while walking around, so I thought maybe it had something to do with being in a sitting position; pressure on the diaphragm, perhaps? But then, as I was standing and telling my daughter about it, I found myself running out of breath while I was talking.

I have no idea what’s going on.

I feel fine. There is nothing out of the ordinary. There are no other symptoms. I’ll just be going along as normal, then suddenly find myself gasping for air.

I need to make a doctor’s appointment, but with all the restrictions right now, health care for non-Covid related things are rationed almost out of existence. I’ll call the clinic anyhow, and see what they suggest. Perhaps I’ll start with a telephone appointment, first. I don’t know.

Meanwhile, we had parcels to pick up at the post office. (My husband finally got the rest of his Christmas gifts from me! LOL) I got my daughter to drive and we used my mother’s car. With the restrictions, my daughter has not been able to book the 2 hours of driving with an instructor she needs to do before she can book another road test. I don’t think they’re even doing road tests right now. She does have a license, and is a very good driver, but it’s still a learner’s license, and I have to be with her when she drives.

We’ll have to go out again, tomorrow. We still need to do a dump run, though if we use my mother’s car, we won’t be able to fit much in there and will have to make several trips. Probably on different days that they’re open, rather than multiple trips in one day. The Mingle Masks I ordered should be in tomorrow, so we have to go to the post office again. Plus, they were out of deer feed today, so I’ll be picking that up at the same time, too. I’ll have to drag my daughter around and have her drive me, just to play it safe.

What I really want to do is just stay home and be a hermit.

Ah, well. It is what it is! 🙂

The Re-Farmer

Low battery

I made it into the city today, to attempt our monthly shop.

I am definitely running low on batteries right now. I hate shopping at the best of times.

These days are not the best of times.

But before I explain that, let’s have some cuteness! How about some hugging kitties?

The cats have a habit of taking over my bed. There is always a row of them along my pillows, all mashed together. I just couldn’t resist getting a picture of Leyendecker and Keith all face-smashed together! Then there’s David, hiding his face in his paws… so cute!

Cabbages, I’m happy to say, is completely at home with the rest of the cats. Now if only she would be as comfortable with us humans! We can sometimes pet her and even pick her up, but she is not a fan of human attention, except for the occasional ear skritches.

Her siblings outside are almost more accepting of human attention!

Well, okay. Maybe not.

That doesn’t stop them from following me when I do my rounds!

One of the bigger cats (Nostrildamus, I think) burrowed these hiding places in the snow. From the gate, all I see are little ear tips above the snow, twitching in pounce mode, waiting for another cat to walk past on the driveway. 😀

I got the rounds out of the way early and didn’t even go through the trail cam files, other than to verify that the new camera had thawed out enough to start recording again. Then it was off to the city to see if I could do the monthly shopping.

My first stop was at a particular Walmart where I’ve never had problems before, but I’ve heard of some people having issues every now and then. It’s at least twice the size of the one in the smaller city I went to last month, and better stocked, so I thought it was worth a try.

It wasn’t.

Now, one of the things that had become part of the monthly shopping routine is that we would have breakfast in the city. That’s not really an option anymore, but I figured I would pick up something I could eat in the van at Walmart. I know it’s said, never go shopping while hungry, because you’ll end up buying things you shouldn’t. For me, it’s the opposite. The hungrier I get, the less I want to eat. The less I want to be around food. I’m more likely to walk away without buying anything at all. And if I let it go for too long, the sight and smell of food makes me feel physically ill. I end up having to force myself to eat at least a little bit to get back to having a normal appetite. Along with feeling physically ill by the sight of food, I also start to become … less patient, shall we say, and oddly weepy.

I had not reached that point when I arrived, but my tolerance levels were definitely on the low side.

I came in with my shield, got a cart and, while I was using the hand sanitizer before going through their barrier, the staff from the sanitation station on the inside of the barrier came over and asked if I had a mask. I told her I was medically exempt and that the shield was my compromise. That went back and forth a bit, then she looked over to a little station on the outside of the barrier and said she would get someone. There were two people at that station and one of them came over and asked if I had a mask. I said I can’t wear one. He started to say something about the shield and a mask, but I honestly couldn’t make it out though his mask. :-/ I did hear him say he would get me one and he went back to the station.

I was blocking the way, so I moved over to where he was and told him, I can’t wear a mask. I have a medical exemption. The shield is the best I can do. He ended up handing me a paper ear loop mask and told me to just hang on to it in case the inspectors give me a hard time. Great. Whatever. I turn to the barrier, and there’s a woman on the other side – another customer – who’d been watching me and she started waving a mask still in it’s packaging at me. As best as I could make out, I think she was saying she just bought a mask and… she wanted me to take it? But she just watched me being given a mask just like what she was holding… and I was wearing a shield… so… ???

At that point, I just couldn’t handle it. I’d already put up with hassles from the staff who seemed to think that a person who can’t wear a mask and is wearing a shield instead, should be wearing both. I didn’t need to be hassled by customers, before I even fully entered the store. I turned around and left.

Once back in the van, I messaged my husband and, by the time I finished, I was in a better frame of mind.

The next stop on my list was an international grocery chain that I knew would be okay. And it was. I was able to go in, do my shopping, and no one batted an eye at my shield instead of a mask.

This is the place where I like to pick up our fresh produce in non-Costco sized quantities, as well as stuff in their international aisles that we just don’t find anywhere else. This place is awesome. Best of all, they still have their hot take out food section open, so I was able to get some Chinese food to eat in the van. By then, it was almost noon, and I was reaching the “so hungry I want to throw up” stage.

This is not the place where we pick up the cat food and litter, though, and we were pretty much out of both. Normally, I would have picked up part of that at the Walmart, with the rest at Costco.

I decided to try the Costco. Which is half way across the city from where I was.

When I got there, the parking lot was full, and there was a line all down the side of the building.

It was warmer today, but not that warm.

I found a place to pull over long enough to send an update to my family, letting them know I was going to go to the Walmart in the smaller city I’d gone to last month. They might not have as much inventory, but I knew I would at least be allowed to shop and not get hassled.

So it was, again. I had no issues at all I did get some odd looks from costumers, and at one point, while I was loading the cart with bags of cat food alongside the litter boxes, a couple of ladies in the same aisle were looking at me and whispering at each other. I could make out just enough to know they’d said something about the shield. I was going to be a while, so I shoved my cart into a corner and waited next to it, and they rushed past me. I kept running into them as I continued shopping, and every time we crossed paths, they would give me looks over their shoulders.

*sigh*

By the time I was at the cash desk, however, I was having a really hard time with shortness of breath. I hope those Mingle Masks I ordered come in soon; I’ve been told they don’t create that problem. I started chatting with the cashier and made a point of saying how much I appreciated that I don’t get any hassle there, and mentioned what happened at the other Walmart. Even with her mask, I could see how startled she was. Then she told me about her mother, who basically hasn’t left the house in 8 months. Her mother has PTSD and can’t wear a mask. They were going to try a shield, but haven’t been able to find one (they used to be available at that Walmart, but it looks like a lot of places have simply stopped carrying shields). I ended up telling her about the Mingle Mask and recommending it, based on the experiences of others.

I gotta say, I was really glad to get outside, where I could take the shield off an finally breathe again. I was so disoriented by the end of it, I almost walked away without paying!

By the time I got home, I was too drained for anything else. I must have looked it. As the girls were unloading the van, my older daughter took one look at me, and asked if I was up to going to the dump, or leaving it for later.

We left it for later. It was only open for another hour, and I would have needed more than that to recover enough for another trip out!

We’ll have to make another trip to get the rest; I got most of what we needed, but not necessarily in the quantities we need for the month.

I did splurge when I spotted a few things that I grabbed while I could.

One of them was this soil test kit. We had looked for one last year, and they were completely out of stock all summer. I couldn’t find them anywhere! This has enough to do 40 tests, so we will be able to use it on different areas as we decide on where to plant. It tests the pH, which I already have a meter for that just needs to be stuck into the soil, but it also tests for nitrogen, phosphorus and potassium. That will be useful information.

The other toy I got was a battery tester.

With the trail cams each using 8 batteries, and those batteries draining much faster in the winter, we have a LOT of batteries accumulating. The dump has a special shed to drop off things like batteries, so we don’t put them in the garbage. Plus, while some batteries may not have enough juice for the trail cams, that doesn’t mean they are actually dead.


The first batch of batteries I’d tested were the frozen one’s I’d switched out of the new trail cam.

They still had full power!

Then I went though the old batteries boxes.

This first batch is all of the batteries that are not usable. Some of which I didn’t even test, since they’d started leaking!!

And yeah, that’s an old DSLR camera battery in there.

Some of the batteries in there were ones that we found while we were cleaning the place up after moving here. I have no idea how old they might be.

The next batch are the batteries that are still usable.

All the batteries in here were either in the green zone, or the very small, yellow “low battery” zone.

All 276 of them.

They may not be usable in the trail cams, but we can use them for other things. Like the battery operated string lights we have in the hallway in place of night lights. We used to use night lights all over the place, but this house doesn’t have many outlets, and there are none at all in the hallway. We rather like being able to see well enough to not trip over cats in the dark, while also not having to turn on the hall light and blinding ourselves at night.

Aside from these, there were some AAA and D cells that had full charge, too.

That little meter has already paid for itself, many times over.

As for me, I’m looking forward to Sunday actually being a day of rest. After today, I need to recharge my own batteries!

The Re-Farmer

A Pretty Surprise Gift

Yesterday, I made a quick trip out to deliver some turkey dinner to my mother. She tried to tell me I didn’t need to, but when I mentioned potatoes and gravy, she couldn’t hide how excited she was. 😀

It was just a quick stop, as she met me at the side door of her building, but she had a surprise for me, as well. It seems lots of people have been giving her sweet food gifts – far more than she can (or should!) eat. While the tin of shortbread cookies I gave her will keep well (I told her to have them with tea, when her lonely neighbour sneaks over for a visit), but some needs to be eaten more quickly.

So she gave me a bag with a box of chocolates someone had given her to take home. It wasn’t until then that I saw that these were a type I’d never seen before!

The writing on the package was in Polish!

Thankfully, the pictures that showed what the different chocolates were, had both Polish and English, though some of the translations still didn’t tell us what they were. At least, I hope not. I’ve never heard of avocado as a chocolate filling before…

I’m willing to try it, though!

My daughter picked up two 5 pound boxes of “ugly” chocolate from Purdy’s this year, so we won’t to into this box until those are done. 😀

I got a call from my sister this morning, letting me know that my mother wasn’t feeling well, so I called my mother to check on her. She was feeling pain in her bones, having trouble moving, but also stomach discomfort. So far, we’re not looking to take her to the hospital or anything; something she does not want to do again. She must have been feeling better by the time I called, though, because she began to lecture me on my gravy in the dinner I brought for her. Last year, she complained that I included “so much” bacon, which clearly meant we eat massive amounts of bacon, all the time (I’d included, at most, 2 slices from what I put on top of the turkey before roasting it). So I skipped the bacon completely this time. Now she’s complaining that the gravy is white instead of brown, and that I should have browned the flour first, but clearly I didn’t and just wanted to do things the “easy” way, and so on. I told her it was done exactly the same way as I did it last year, and turkey gravy is a white gravy. Because it’s turkey. But no. Gravy is supposed to be brown. It tastes better when it’s brown. Then she talked about how she learned to brown the flour in a pan, first, from her mother and describing how she did it. I told her I knew how to do it, because I’d learned how from watching her when I was a child. I just don’t do it. She sounded surprised by that. She always sounds so surprised that I know how to cook – even as I give her meals that I’ve cooked!

So… I figure she can’t be feeling too ill if she has that much energy to complain about the colour of the gravy that came with the Christmas dinner I brought for her.

*sigh*

Well, we shall see how she feels as the day goes on.

Meanwhile, she was kind enough to give us these beautiful chocolates from Poland that she didn’t want. Which I don’t mind at all! 🙂

The Re-Farmer

Well, that didn’t work out

Today was the day I was to finally face our vandal in court, in regards to the restraining order I’ve filed against him.

Nothing came of it.

The court date was cancelled.

I didn’t know that, of course, so I did my rounds early and made the drive out. We’ve had some snow last night, making the roads unpleasant, to that took a bit longer than expected. I’m glad I left as early as I did, but was wishing I’d left even earlier as I got stuck behind slow moving traffic!

I’d say my first warning that things were off was when I walked into the building, and there were no security guards in the lobby at the doors. In fact, aside from one person I saw going to the court office, the place was a ghost town!

I went down the hall to where the courtroom was, only to discover there were two of them, and nothing to tell me which was going to be used. Among all the Covid signs for distancing and sanitizing (oddly, nothing about masks, though we are under a mandate) I found some giving instructions to wait in the hall until one’s particular case was called, but that was it.

As I sat and waited, another group of people came down the hall, asking each other which court room they needed to go to. They eventually sat and waited, too. I didn’t pay much attention to them until I heard one of them coming back down the hall, saying “there’s no court!” They all left at that point, but it wasn’t 10:00 yet (the time court was scheduled for), so I waited until it was past 10, then headed for the lobby.

I could see into the court office, where someone was being served, and another person was waiting in the lobby, so I went back and forth between the two for a while.

Perhaps 20 minutes had passed by then. The longest time I’ve worn the face shield, and I was starting to struggle to breathe.

Short of breath

This really surprised me, and I tried to ignore it for a while, just lifting the shield a bit to breathe from under it every now and then, but it kept getting worse.

(image source)

Eventually, it was my turn to go into the court office, and I asked about what was going on.

All court dates have been rescheduled to Dec. 18.

Well; I guess I should say court sessions will restart then, because there is no way weeks worth of court appointments will happen on one day. I’m going to have to call them to find out what the rescheduled date will be.

While our province has been under “code red” lockdown for about a week now, this morning “enhanced restrictions” kicked in. I’m guessing that’s why court was cancelled, though no reason for it was given.

As we talked, she had to step away to double check for some of the questions, and I was increasingly struggling to breathe. Once I got answers about the court date, I asked about my options in regards to serving our vandal my defense papers for the suit he’s brought against me. I’d checked the tracking number last night, and it hadn’t been picked up yet. What do I do if he refuses to accept it? She had to get someone else to answer me, because she didn’t know, and that person was on the phone. So I sat and waited about a minute.

By the time she got to me, I was so short of breath, I could hardly speak. I quickly got my answer (if he refused it, the post office would return it it me, and I’d have to serve him in person), I rushed outside and tore the mask off.

I could not believe how much trouble I was having! My breathing wasn’t obstructed at all, yet I was struggling!

I walked the block to the van and ended up sitting there for maybe 10 minutes, with the window cracked open, because I was too dizzy to safely drive.

Why was I having to much trouble??? All I could think was that, as I was sitting with the shield on, I spent much of the time looking down at my phone. The shield was right against my chest while my head was down, which probably prevented proper air flow.

Since I was in this city, I had some shopping to do, I stopped at the small Walmart that was on my way home. I figured I would have no issues, since I would be upright and walking around.

I will say that, while everyone around me was wearing masks, I had zero issues from anyone about wearing a shield. No hassles at all.

With the “enhanced lock down”, all sorts of aisles of “non essentials” were blocked, displayed wrapped up in plastic, and other displays had signs saying “not for sale”.

I was able to get the cat litter and bird seed I needed, then went through the groceries. I had a hard time finding some things, so it took a while.

By the time I was heading for the cash desk, I was struggling again, light headed and using the cart to stay upright. There was no line, though the cashiers had customers, so I didn’t have long to wait before I was guided to one that was almost done. I was so out of it, I walked right past the “stand here” line on the floor until another staff member let me know. I think the first staff member saw I was having a hard time, and let me know I could go to a different cashier, where the customer was faster at paying. I got my stuff paid for, rushed outside and removed the shield as soon as I could.

Promptly breathing a lung full of cigarette smoke, from a group of people smoking nearby.

*sigh*

It still wasn’t as bad as trying to breathe with the shield.

I got to the van and spent some time outside, bagging my stuff (I don’t bother bringing bags in, since I can bag things better myself at the van). It was enough time that I was able to recover.

I am totally blown away by how much trouble I had. This was not at all expected.

As I’m finishing this up, I still need to head out to pick up my husband’s prescription refills. From the pharmacy that will no longer let me in, even with a shield.

And now I know even a shield is a problem for me, at least after a while.

This is so ridiculous.

The Re-Farmer

A new day

Today dawned a beautifully sunny, bitterly cold day. It doesn’t take much for the wind chill to bring a -12C (10F) morning to -22C (-7F)! It was good to get outside, though, where a whole crowd of furry adorableness was out waiting for me.

I didn’t post yesterday, other than the critter of the day photo, and I’m still debating where I should write about it at all. I generally try to focus on the things we do and find around the property, but this blog is also about our transition to life out here, and the things we deal with. Obviously, there are things I’ll never write about in a public blog, even anonymously, but I do try to cover what I can, as openly as possible. The good and the bad.

Yesterday was both.

Yesterday is also the first time it brought me to tears.

Believe me. It takes a lot to get me to that point.

The first tears were tears of … how do I even describe it? Humiliation? Frustration, to be sure. Emotional pain. Even a sense of betrayal.

My husband needed a prescription refill. The pharmacy was closed on Remembrance Day, so he ended up calling it in on the first day of our province locking things down again. They’re also pushing the mask mandates even harder, despite all evidence showing that it’s not actually accomplishing anything. Pretty much everyone is complying, but the test positivity numbers continue to go up, as we work our way through flu season.

My husband forgot to ask the pharmacy about my medical exemption. I’ve never had a problem there before. I’ve always used the sanitizer, kept my distance, but have never worn a mask, and they have never said a thing about it. However, after what happened while in a pharmacy with my mother, I figured I should ask first.

Maybe I shouldn’t have. Would it have been any different, if I just came in, as usual?

I called the pharmacy and asked if they would still honour my medical exemption. I did add that I now have a shield.

At first, the pharmacist I spoke to said yes, of course. He even joked that I might have to wrestle my way in, but added that I just needed to explain to whomever was at the door. That was a relief.

I got a call back less than a minute later.

The pharmacist had just been told that no, even with a shield, I could not come in.

This really threw me. I didn’t really get a chance to respond, as he was already offering delivery, which we can’t do because we don’t have a credit card, and debit Visa is not an alternative they can do. He said they could bring the prescription to me in the parking lot and asked if I were paying by cash. I told him by debit. It turned out they did have a wireless debit machine, so I could pay in the parking lot. I told him I had other things I needed to get, so I was transferred so floor staff. Thankfully, I already had made a list. Usually, I just go by memory.

By the time the staff member finished getting what was on my list, I was was in tears. I did make a point of telling her I had a problem with having to do this, how humiliating it was, and yeah, she could certainly hear I was crying by then.

Here’s the thing. If they offered this as a service, which I knew they already did, for anyone who chose it, that is simply good customer service. The problem is that, for someone like myself, who cannot wear a mask, there is no choice. We are simply banned. There’s a whole list of things that we can still do. Masking is the last thing recommended, and only in specific situations, and the mandates have several exemptions. Yet, outside of websites and pdfs, it’s the other way around. Masks have become the end all-be all, and if anyone has a problem with them, they become pariahs. Even as the mandates allow for medical exemptions, people insist that there is no medical reason to not wear a mask, or that it’s just for a short time, so wear it anyway. I know people who are wheelchair users that can walk short distances. It would be like telling them that, since they can walk at least a little bit, they have to leave their wheelchairs outside. Or worse, that if they can walk at all, they shouldn’t be allowed to use a wheelchair. Or they should just stay home. It’s the exact same sort of discrimination.

Anyhow.

The other place I needed to go to was the grocery store, so I pulled myself together and phoned them, too.

Will they still honour my medical exemption? I do have a shield I can wear.

Of course, was the response. Everyone does!

I told the woman I was talking to that the pharmacy would not let me in, even with a shield. She was stunned, but went to double check, just in case. She came back to assure me that I would have no problem.

I was crying again as I thanked her, this time in gratitude.

When I got to town, my first stop was the pharmacy. I called from the parking lot to let them know I was there, and two people came out with my stuff. I recognized the manager was one of them, simply because he was male and not a pharmacist; all the other staff are female. Most of the pharmacists are, too. There was a cashier with him, and I think I recognized her by her hair. They put my stuff in the van, behind my seat, for me. The manager commented that this was the first time their wireless debit machine had ever been used. The cashier was there to be trained on it.

Oh, the irony.

Because my purchase was over $100, tap wouldn’t work, so he had to hand me the machine. The cashier had the till receipt, so after they got the printout from the handheld machine, she put them together and handed me both.

I came into physical contact with both of them in the process. I would have had less physical contact with anyone, had I gone into the store.

That done, I decided to fill my tank before going into the grocery store. Normally, I go in to pay, and usually pick up some cheap energy drinks for the cooler in the van in the process.

I paid at the pump, instead.

I’ve never had a problem there before, either. At least not from the staff. I just didn’t have the energy to find out if things had changed.

At the grocery store, nothing had changed. I did wear the shield. It keeps hitting my chest and shoulders as I move around and, having put it on in the van, the wind almost blew it off as I walked to the store. It was when I coughed that the sense of irony hit me again. My chronic cough is what wearing a mask exacerbates. Usually, I cough into my sleeve or shoulder, never my hand but with the shield on, I coughed into my hand before I even realized what I was doing. :-/

As I was finishing up with my groceries, I made a point of telling the cashier how much I appreciated that they honoured medical exemptions. Like the woman I spoke to on the phone, she sounded surprised that anyone wouldn’t. I told her about the pharmacy, that the hardware store next door had kicked me out the previous week, and of the pharmacy in my mother’s town kicking me out. She could hardly believe it. The mandate has exemptions, and everyone is supposed to honour them. She was so surprised by the places I’d mentioned.

By the time I got home, I was pretty drained. It didn’t help when I was on my personal Facebook page. A friend of mine, who works at the gas station where I paid at the pump instead of going in, had posted about people not wearing masks. She talked about people being a**holes about it and giving her a hard time, and if that were the only point, I would have been completely in agreement with her. Staff are supposed to tell people about the mandate, and shouldn’t be hassled for it. Instead, she started attacking people for not wearing masks, and making digs about people buying cigarettes but not being willing to wear a mask for 5 minutes. When I tried to point out medical exemptions can include all sorts of things, it basically came down to, if she had to wear a mask, everyone else should, too. The next thing I knew, I was the subject of an onslaught of personal attacks. I actually had to get off the computer soon after and haven’t been back to Facebook since, but it was bad enough that a mutual friend messaged me privately, telling me how sorry she was to see me being bullied so badly. I’m loathe to log on again, but she did try to defend me, which means she was probably targeted, too, so I would want to come to her defense.

*sigh*

I have long been against the covering of faces in general (other than the obvious exceptions, like protecting your face from the weather), whether it be protestors wearing masks, or burkas or whatever. One of the biggest reasons is psychological. Hiding our faces dehumanizes us, even if only subconsciously. It creates a mental, as well as physical, barrier between people. And when we no longer see others as people, even the most gentle of people can become quite cruel, and believe themselves completely justified for it. With so many people hidden behind masks now, my observations have been verified, over and over, and the psychological damage is even worse than I’d originally believed.

How can we ever heal from this? Especially with so many people trying to convince everyone that masking should become permanent, so we should all just get used to it?

The “cure” is becoming so much worse than the disease.

The Re-Farmer