Cute stuff, and some productivity

Before I get into various things, I want to share some cute stuff with you, first!

Our collection of baskets that had been stored in the big fish tank ended up on top of the piano for now. The cats love to go up there, so I fully expected them to take advantage of the situation.

It wasn’t long before I found Tissue and Leyendecker among them!

Tissue is in three baskets at once! 😀

The largest baskets, with decorations on them, are the ones we use for our family Easter basket. There are some smaller ones in the collection that we found while cleaning up the house, including a basket that used to be my very own basket to take to church for blessing on Holy Saturday, along with the family basket, when I was a child!

Here is some more cuteness for you to enjoy…

This piece of foam is what was inside the new washing machine when we bought it. Our old mama cat, who moved out here with us, immediately adopted it as her favourite bed, and now Cabbages loves to join “grandma” for cuddles!

The cats also like to bite off pieces along the edges and spit them out.

Our living room carpet is continually covered in cat fur, foam from this thing, cardboard from their scratch pad, and the dirt they’re still managing to dig out of some of our plant pots! The cats leave trails of detritus, everywhere they go. 😀

Our old mama cat has been quick to adopt any new cats introduced to the house, and is STILL allowing several of the kittens – now almost adults – to try and nurse on her, including Cabbages. Cabbages has been taking a long time to socialize but, thankfully, she is getting along quite well with the other cats. Grandma and Keith are her favourites!

Cabbages and Keith will spend hours like this, all snuggled together and napping on my bed.

Cabbages has finally reached a point where we can pet her regularly, and she doesn’t immediately run off. She seems torn between not wanting those big, clumsy humans clomping about near her, and wanting those scritches and pets. She will even tolerate being picked up and held, if only briefly. That is significant progress!

In other things, we warmed up enough today that I finally switched out the memory cards on the trail cams. That micro SD card I put in the new camera this morning, which had been used only once and did not require formatting in the camera when I put it in the first time, needed to be formatted this morning. *sigh* Why would it work fine the first time, after I’d formatted it in the computer, but need to be formatted in the camera, the next time it was used? The other micro SD cards I’d bought at the same time had done the same thing. I had assumed it was because they were not as high end, but that doesn’t seem to be the problem, after all.

Ah, well. I’ll figure it out.

With the bitter cold we’ve had for the past few days, I was not expecting to find much on the cards. Especially from the new camera, which has been just dying with the colder temperatures.

I was surprised.

The older camera was shut down when I switched out the memory card. When it gets cold and the batteries can’t handle it anymore, it shuts itself off. When I turned it back on, the batteries were still at half power, so it was just from the cold. There were still a few files on the card, though, all from one day.

The new camera had files recorded on each day of the deep freeze! This camera displays the temperature, and it actually kept on recording with an internal temperature of -25C/-13F !! Previously, this camera would die before reaching -20C/-4F! It did shut itself down during the nights; the only night files we did get, had a warning displayed in large red letters, saying it was low power. This camera will actually turn itself back on again when the temperatures warm up. I am totally shocked – in a happy way – that it kept working through the deep freeze. I have no idea why it would stop working before, but is working now, at these temperatures. I’m not complaining, that’s for sure! I did still have to warm up the camera with my hands, so I could see the screen, but that would only be a real problem if I had to do it during the deep freeze, because of the frost bite risk. Since I don’t even bother switching out the cards in temperatures like that, it’s a moot point.

This afternoon, we warmed up to -14C/7F, which made me a lot more comfortable about heading out to help my mother with her grocery shopping. She didn’t need much, but took advantage of having access to her car and stocked up on other things. I gave her some of my extra Mingle Masks, hoping she would use one instead of struggling with the surgical mask she normally uses, but she wasn’t up to it. Still, she has them, and saw on me how to use them, so I hope she gives them a try. She will actually be able to breathe in those. She still would have to use the type she struggles with at the pharmacy, though, so she might not bother. Frustrating.

After helping my mother with her shopping, I went back to the grocery store to pick up a few things to tide us over until we can do our big shop, whenever that will be. I had to pick up some bigger stuff, like cat litter and cat food, so there wasn’t enough room in her car for her shopping, her walker, and my shopping, all at once. Which is fine by me. The final bill was a shocker, though. I didn’t get very much, but it cost almost $270. Considerably more than if I’d been able to go to the city to buy the same things.

Bird tracks in the snow, found when I came home. This is nowhere near the bird feeders, but those are sunflower seed shells on the snow. Which shows just how windy things go!

There’s a reason we try to do monthly shops in the city. We save at least several hundred dollars every month by doing that, which means we have more budget left over to buy fresh foods locally. The more we’re forced to make smaller, local shopping trips, the more gets eaten out of our budget, and the less we can get overall, either locally, or in the city.

I did splurge on one thing, though.

I bought a 240 count bag of those red plastic beer cups.

I’m on several cold climate gardening groups, which are all busily talking about starting seeds indoors right now. I’ve seen people recommend using these as pots to start seeds in. They just need to have drainage holes punched into their bottoms. While I will be starting some seeds (like onions) in Jiffy pellets, and others (like corn) in toilet paper tubes, I learned from last year, that I need something bigger to start squash in. I did transplants outdoors too soon because they had gotten too big in their starter trays, only to lose most of them to one last late frost. By starting them in something bigger, even if the weather is not cooperative and they get in the ground later, they will have enough room to keep growing in their pots.

Ideally, I would be using biodegradable pots that can be put straight into the ground, with no disruption of the roots. That’s what I will be doing with the toilet paper tubes and corn. I’ve been looking at pots like that. The Jiffy peat pots are relatively inexpensive, and come in larger count packages. I would have ordered some last night, along with the seeds and plants I got for my daughters, but they were sold out. The alternatives were “cow pots” – the same idea, but made with cow manure instead of peat. They are way too expensive, though.

So when I saw the beer cups in the store, I went for it. They are the size I need, and can be reused. With 240 of them, I have more than enough to plant everything we have that need to be started indoors, and need the extra space.

Now I just have to figure out what to put under the the drainage holes. I can think of all sorts of possibilities, but they all require buying something, and that’s just not an option right now. Even if I could find them, they are “non essential” and stores still wouldn’t be able to sell them. (Like with clothes.) Maybe I’ll find something later in the month that I’ll be allowed to buy. The first seeds need to be started the second half of March, so I have a bit of time to find, or even build, something.

One more little step of progress towards our gardening. 🙂

Tomorrow, we take the van in to the garage and hopefully find out why it’s been stalling. What we find out then will determine what we do and when, in regards to getting the monthly shopping done, and picking up the new hot water tank on warranty.

Ah, that reminds me. I asked around about how this location has been about medical mask exemptions and things like shields and Mingle Masks. It turns out they’ve gone full mask nazi, even to the point of staff following people around, harassing them and kicking them out.

That is going to be a problem. At the very least, I need to go to the customer service desk with the sticker from the hot water tank, and warranty authorization number.

I did find out another location has been safe to go to. As far as I have been told, I need to go back to where the tank was purchased, but that may mean only the franchise, not the specific store. The first tank we got was from a location in town that told me they don’t do warranties, so I had to go to this other location. The one that was recommended to me is actually a bit closer; just in a town to the north of us, that we almost never go to.

I’ll have to make some phone calls.

What a hassle even the simplest things have become.

The Re-Farmer

It’s still cold out there, and… on a more serious note

One of the first things I do in the morning, before heading outside to do my rounds, is check the weather.

This morning, at a time when I would normally be starting to head outside, it was -36C/-32.8F

Yeeeaaaaahhhhh…. No.

I waited a couple of hours before heading out, but it was still -28C/-18.4F At least there was no windchill, and the “real feel” was -25C/-13F

The wait meant I had a whole lot more cats to greet me when I came out! There were none at all, inside the cat shelter. They were all out and about.

They have quite a lot of food out, but still prefer the fresh kibble. Which they quickly abandoned, once they saw there was fresh, warm water!

One of them was eager enough to take a short cut through the snow! LOL

Once again, I skipped switching out the memory cards on the trail cams, but I did head out to the garage to double check that the vehicles were plugged in, and grab some sheets of insulation. We had used these to line the windows in the sun room last winter, when we were keeping the doors propped open so the cats could shelter in it. With the outer door fixed, and that cats having a lovely warm shelter of their own, we didn’t insulate the sun room this winter. That leaves the pieces available to use inside the fish tanks to help keep the seed trays warm.


It wasn’t a lot of extra time to do that, but even so, I could feel the cold in my lungs. Thank God I’m already a shallow breather, due to my chronic cough. In temperatures like these breathing deeply can injure the lungs.

Image source – available on t-shirts and mugs! (not an affiliate link)

There may have been no wind chill this morning, but as I glance at my weather app, I see we’ve almost reached our high of the day, at -24C/-18F – but the wind chill is now -30C/-20F!

Thankfully, tomorrow we should be back to more normal temperatures, and be warmer than -20C. Which is good, because tomorrow afternoon, I am heading out to help my mother with her errands, and have to do a bit of grocery shopping for ourselves, too.

It should be even warmer on Friday, when I take the van in to the garage to get checked over. I really hope he finds why it has begun to stall and have troubles when fully loaded. We were already splitting our monthly shop into a couple of trips, and if the van has problems with just a half load already, and have to make more frequent, even smaller shops, we lose all the benefits of bulk shopping. Plus, our province has kept up a lot of restrictions, loosening some but increasing others, with no change in the mask mandates. There are still a lot of places that refuse to accept medical exemptions, and going out to shop feels like going out to battle, every time. Being surrounded by faceless people is also starting to freak me out more and more. I’m even playing Pokemon Go less. The game has things you can do right from home, without having to go places, and among the thing you can do is exchange gifts with people that are on your friends list. You get to see each person’s avatar in the process, and people are putting masks on their avatars. It’s bad enough that the option is even available, but it’s like a punch to the gut, every time I see a masked avatar. Every avatar represents the person playing, and that person just turned themselves into an NPC.

It’s one thing to know, intellectually, the sort of psychological damage this sort of dehumanization causes. It’s quite another to feel it. And rather surprising, considering how little we go out anyhow. I don’t even want to imagine how wigged out I would be, if I had to be surrounded by it every day. I completely understand my friend who has self isolated for months, because being surrounded by masks triggers her PTSD!

At least I know what the cause of the discomfort is. Most people would have no idea. And why would they? All they would know is that their stress and anxiety is increasing, and there are so many things contributing to that right now. Unfortunately, that cognitive dissonance would cause all sorts of anger, even rage, towards anyone without a mask, and they wouldn’t understand why.

A bit of a rant, there, I suppose, but that lack of awareness directly affects people like myself, who can’t wear a mask. Even in places that recognize medical exemptions, it’s the other customers that become more aggressive and abusive. I have been fortunate so far. I may have been kicked out of stores that refuse to honour medical exemptions (which is illegal, but then, so are the mask mandates), but I haven’t been harassed by other customers, yet. It has, however, affected familial relationships and friendships in a negative way.

I have never enjoyed shopping to begin with. Now, it’s like walking around with the sword of Damocles hanging over my head, never knowing if it’ll drop.

The Re-Farmer

Mingling with fog

This morning was bright and sunny while I did my outside rounds, but it was fascinating to watch the fog roll in on the security camera live feed! It was like an approaching wall!

By the time my daughter and I headed out in the late morning, the highways had visibility of about a kilometer, sometimes less.

My daughter tried to get pictures for me after we left her doctor’s appointment. The camera clears it up quite a lot from what it actually was! At some points, visibility was down to maybe 200 yards. We kept driving in and out of banks of fog until we found ourselves driving in clear sunshine again – surrounded by trees thickly covered with frost!

After a quick side trip to town, we were still early enough to hit the post office before it closed. I checked tracking before we left, but my package wasn’t supposed to arrive until tomorrow, but other packages were expected – and I’m still hoping for my last little orders of seeds to come in!

No luck on the seeds, but I had a surprise along with a package for my husband.

My Mingle Masks finally came in!

Too late to use while running errands, but that’s okay. At least they’re finally in. With 10 of them, I can keep a few in my mother’s car, a few in the van, and even have some I can give my mother. Some places won’t accept them, but those are the same places that don’t recognize medical exemptions to begin with, so that won’t change for me. 😦

We shall see if I find it any easier to breathe with these compared with the shield. At the very least, I won’t have anything bumping into my shoulders are chest as I move my head around.

While at the doctor’s for my daughter, she asked me to come in with her and he took the time to ask how I was doing, too. I’ve been using the inhaler he prescribed for only 2 days, and there’s been no change (he actually seemed surprised by that). Unfortunately, using the inhaler requires first exhaling as much as possible, then inhaling powder as quickly and deeply as possible, then holding the breath for 20 seconds.

Which is a recipe to trigger my chronic cough.

I was unable to hold my breath for 20 seconds, but I did manage almost 10 before my chest exploded into a cough. 😦 My trachea still feels irritated.

I’ve got another phone appointment booked after 2 weeks of use to follow up on it. The last time an inhaler was tried on me, I didn’t last that long, but my coughing fits were much, much worse back then.

We shall see!

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.


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

Half shop, and bubble!

First up, Happy Thanksgiving to all our visitors from the US! I hope you are having a wonderful day! 🙂

Today was my day to go into the city for our monthly stock up.

I was really dreading it.

I’m part of a local, private, online group where people around our province share where it is safe to shop for people who can’t wear masks. Since our province went into “enhanced lock down,” some places have gone full gestapo. The Costco I normally go to has always been really great, but something changed. Now, masks or shields are required, or no one is allowed in. I know quite a few people who cannot wear even a face shield, at all (largely due to PTSD), and they reported some pretty awful responses from the management. Worse, people were reporting that police have started patrolling the stores and parking lots at all Costco locations. They have been approaching people in their vehicles, when there is more than one person, demanding to know if they were from the same household. One woman had an officer come back to her vehicle and ticket her, for being part of a freedom protest a couple of weeks ago. How the officer determined who she was or if she were even at that protest, she didn’t know. Inside the store, people were reporting being hassled, medical exemptions being denied, and management being downright abusive. A different Costco location than the one I usually go to, which was already known for not being a safe place, has gotten even worse.

As you can imagine, I was quite concerned. Yes, I would be wearing a shield, but even people with shields were reporting being denied entry to some stores, getting harassed by security, and so on.

Normally, a daughter comes with me, but with the “enhanced lock down”, I wasn’t sure we would both be allowed into any stores at the same time. So I went alone, just in case.

Normally, we do a drive through breakfast, then Walmart, then an international grocery store, then Costco, so that stuff that is frozen, or needs refrigeration, is in the vehicle for the shortest possible time.

Today, I skipped the drive through, and bought most of what was on my list at Walmart. I walked in with my shield, and no one batted an eye. I was the only person I saw with a shield instead of a mask, the entire time. I did get odd looks from a couple of customers, but with their faces hidden, I really couldn’t tell what their full expressions where. One old guy just stopped dead in his tracks and stared at me. ???

The last thing I got at the Walmart was a small tray of sushi for breakfast to eat in the van, then headed to the international grocery store. I was able to get the rest of what was on my list there. This place is awesome, and I probably would have been fine without even the face shield, but I didn’t want to take a chance of them getting fined $5000; something else our provincial government has started to do.

Along with what was on my list, I also found something I was quite excited about, in the Indian food aisle.

Duram wheat flour!

We’re going to be making pasta! 😀

It doesn’t take much for me to get excited. 😉

Best of all, though, I was able to skip Costco entirely.

Since neither place had flat carts, I wasn’t able to get things in the same amount we normally would. I basically did a half-shop, as far as quantities go, so we will need to make a second trip. Especially for the heavy stuff, like cat food and litter. Most of the smaller, lighter stuff, we can get locally without hurting the budget too badly. The lock down is supposed to end on Dec. 11, so we have at least enough to last until then. I don’t expect the lock down to actually end, though. From what I’m seeing, I expect things to get worse, not better. And I don’t mean the virus. I hope I’m wrong.

Once I got home, and the girls and I were putting everything away, I happened to see something odd through the semi-transparent lid of our flour container. So I opened it to check.

It’s a bubble!!

The “bread egg” I buried in there managed to expand a bubble far enough to break through the top of the flour!

Well, at least I know that yeast is still active and happy! 😀

Tonight, I’ll be fishing it out to soak overnight, to continue my Babcia’s bread experiment.

But I digress…

One thing I made sure to do as I headed out, was bring our pulse oximeter. After the issues I had before, I wanted to monitor myself. I used it before I left and I can’t say I was surprised to see my heart rate was at 112 – I was already pretty stressed! – but my oxygen was at 95%. I typically read at 97 or 98, so this is low for me. The “normal” range is 95-100%, unless a person has something like COPD or some other lung disease. Anything from 88-94% is still considered safe, but below that, it’s recommended to get medical help.

While I was shopping, every now and then I would pause and take a reading. When my levels were below 95%, I would do some breathing exercises, watch my levels go back up again, then continue. I remember one reading where my % was okay, but my heart rate had gone up to 126!

I am really glad I brought it along.

I’m really glad we had one I could bring along!

One thing all of these mask mandates and trying to wear a shield has done, is make me more aware of my own breathing. I mean, really, who even thinks about it normally, right? Well, I’ve started to notice that I’m having issues at other times. Like while I was driving home, I found myself short of breath, and opening the window a bit to get more air flow. I’ve even noticed times when I’d be sitting at my computer, then suddenly gasping for air. What the heck?

I have kept the oximeter with me since getting home, and every now and then, I’ll do a quick test.

My heart rate has gone down to about 68-70, which is good.

My oxygen has dropped down as low as 93%.

What the heck is going on?

I don’t feel anything is off or out of the ordinary, except possibly my sinuses. My husband suggested I might be having an allergic reaction to something. Normally, I get that in the summer, when I’m working outside. I have no idea what I’m allergic to, other than it’s something environmental. I’ve had allergy tests to try and find the source of my chronic cough, and I’m not allergic to pollen or cats or any of the other usual stuff. So I think I will try taking antihistamines for a few days and see if that changes anything. This is all so very strange.


We are now stocked for about half the month. With Christmas coming, we don’t expect to do much for special shopping. Most of us have already purchased gifts online, which I hate doing unless it’s for things we cannot buy locally. I’ll have to increase the number of times we go to the post office for the next while. 🙂

One thing I did do, since we will be starting to make pasta, is order a manual pasta machine and a pasta drying rack. They should arrive in the first week of December.

Meanwhile, my daughters let me know we were running low on yeast. At the Walmart, they were mostly out. I got a vacuum packed brick of “instant yeast”, and a small jar of traditional yeast, which is what we prefer. At the international grocery store, however, they had plenty of large jars of the traditional yeast, so I snagged one.

Between our ample stock of flour, yeast and other basic ingredients, we’ll be able to do all sorts of bread baking in the next while, if we want. 🙂

Now that this trip is done, we shouldn’t need to go anywhere, other than the post office or the dump, for quite some time! Hopefully, I’ll at least be able to help my mother with a grocery shopping trip. No visitors are allowed in her building right now, but I can pick her up outside, then bring her bags to the outside doors. The social workers at the senior’s centre have offered to get groceries for her, too, so she should be okay. In her building, they slid notes under everyone’s door, telling everyone that they had to wear masks, even in the hallways – but “graciously” allowed them to be mask free inside their own apartments. !!

How did we ever get to this point? Have we learned nothing from history?

The Re-Farmer


I am so very glad I was able to patch up the broken pump shack window yesterday!

The winds started picking up last night, and they were still blowing this morning. It may have only been a couple of degrees below freezing, but it was bitterly cold in the wind. When I came out of the house, the cats were running around, eager to be fed – then disappeared back into the cat shelter right after eating! The kibble house and heated cat shelter are working out very well for them.

I headed out to the town my mother lives in, late in the morning, to fill out an incident report about what I’d heard outside her door on Friday. I used my computer to write out a description of what happened and what I heard and printed it out first. I’ve unfortunately had to do quite a few incident reports in the past, so I knew what information was needed. My hand writing has been getting really bad, with my finger joints and wrists giving me grief, so doing it on the computer, with my ergonomic keyboard, makes it easier for me – and for whomever has to read it!

When I got there, I found the woman I’d spoke to on the phone had just left, but the woman who answered the door knew who I was and why I was there.

I found out some interesting things, in the process.

When I called about what I’d heard outside my mother’s door, they already knew about it. I thought that perhaps the woman I’d seen outside the doors, making a phone call, had already called to complain.

I was wrong.

It turns out the second person in the hallway was the woman I was talking to!

They are not allowed to say anything themselves, nor file complaints, so she was quite happy that I was able – and willing – to do it. She had even talked to my mother, just this morning, and my mother was telling her she didn’t want me to “start a war” by filing an incident report.

The incident report was made, however. It was mentioned that they didn’t file ones my mother was willing to sign, because she was the only one willing to do so, and they didn’t want to make her more of a target. It reminded me of a PIPA workshop I’d attended, where it was specifically asked if the name of the person complaining can be given to the person being complained about. The answer was no. That would be a PIPA violation. So I brought up about the names falling under PIPA, but I got the impression that this was not what they were told. I hope they take the time to confirm it, because while the authorities that complaint goes to have to know who is making the complaint, they should not be telling anyone else who they are.

The report I made is now waiting for the person I was supposed to meet with. I hope to get a call from her, later.

When I was done there, I swung by the grocery store – where I know medical exemptions are honoured! My mother had called me last night and asked me to pick up some milk for her, so when I was done there, I gave her a quick call and met her at one of the doors to her building. She passed on to me the face shields my brother had left for me.

She, however, was wearing a mask under her nose again.


I told her she needed to wear the shield, and she said she would. But then, I’m sure she told my brother she would wear the shield, too!

I’m actually looking forward to seeing how these work out. There have been times, most recently while cutting wood in the past few weeks, where I should have been wearing a dust mask. However, I have far less trouble breathing sawdust than I do with wearing a mask. Even wearing the protective glasses are an issue, because they change how my regular glasses sit on my face, making it hard to see and focus. Not something you want, when using power tools! Depending on how these fit, I might be able to use these, instead. I have seen face shields used in that way before, though I’m sure they were far more heavy duty that these, but I don’t need heavy duty for what I do.

I’m amused that the packaging says they are to prevent “fluid splashing”. That’s one way to put it! 😀 Ironically, the one problem I foresee with wearing one of these is that, if my cough kicks in, I won’t be able to cough into my sleeve or cover my mouth as easily, with the shield in the way. I don’t want to actually cough on the shield, any more than I’d want to cough into a mask. That’s just disgusting.

Hopefully, my mother will actually wear hers, and we will both be shielded from harassment.

The Re-Farmer

Long day, good day and a new toy! Still glad it’s over. :-)

Today was our day to do our monthly shop in the city. It went well, but my goodness, it’s draining! 😀

Of course, my day started with my morning rounds and a visit with the outside kitties. 🙂

Which included an explosion of sorts!

I was right by the heated water bowl, near the entrance into the cat’s house, when an explosion of fur and fury erupted through the strips of carpet covering the entrance. It was Nicky the Nose, making a mad dash for it!

That is a big, hefty cat!

Once my rounds were done, I settled in to check the trail cam files. I saw an RCMP pick up truck going slowly past our driveway, then again in the other direction. So it looks like they at least tried to serve our vandal about the restraining order court date, and checked our place out as well. Whether or not he was home to be served, I don’t know and probably will not be notified about.

We had snow last night, so when I checked the gate this morning, I was following all sorts of tracks – cats (of course), the prints of a large canine (likely my brother’s dog visiting again. 😀 ) and very, very fresh deer tracks!

There were not, however, any tire tracks in our driveway, on the outside of the gate.

As my daughter and I headed out to the city, a couple of hours later, there were tire tracks. I could see that someone had driven into our driveway. It could be just someone using our driveway to turn around, which is not that unusual, but it should be interesting to see what shows up when I check the memory cards tomorrow.

I also checked the security camera on our garage. It is set to take an image and email it to me, whenever the motion sensor is triggered. I was very interesting to see what would show up, now that it’s in a new position.

Did I mention it snowed last night?

I had almost 200 emails, and all but a few had pictures of snowflakes! 😀

I did a bit of adjusting of the camera’s position before we headed out, and from what files were waiting for me when we got home, I think I found the sweet spot for the motion sensor.

Our trip to the city went well, but also had its interesting moments.

On our way, we stopped at the next town to get gas. This municipality is under a mask mandate. They know me pretty well by now, so when I walked in without a mask, the lady behind the counter was comfortable enough to ask me why so many people coming from up north aren’t wearing masks. I said we aren’t under a mask mandate. Of course, she pointed out that when we come to places that do, we are are supposed to be wearing them. How can I be not wearing one? So I explained to her about the medical exemption, and she was all “but what does that mean?” I explained it, and how PIPA means they can’t ask someone why someone is medically exempt (though I did mention my own chronic cough, because I really don’t care who knows about it). A customer who had started to come in at the same time as me, but turned around to get his mask, heard part of the conversation and started asking, too. We talked a bit about the different kinds of exemptions, and how a medical exemption includes invisible disabilities, like PTSD or Autism. It turns out that the employees were simply told, everyone has to wear masks, but no one told them that the mandate included exemptions. Nothing! So I gave her one of my extra exemption cards, which states exactly where in the mandate medical exemptions are, mentions PIPA’s role, and includes related phone numbers. She was really happy to have it, and I think she was really ticked off that no one explained any of this to them.

Once in the city, we go to a drive through for breakfast, then Walmart, an international foods grocery store, Costco… then, hopefully, nowhere else! 😀

While at the Walmart, my daughter bought me a new toy.

I now have an angle grinder!! Oh, I am so excited. 🙂

My daughter knows what her Mama likes! ❤


At the international foods store, just as we were finishing up at the self checkout, I had someone come to me, reminding me to wear a mask next time. I thanked her and told her I was medically exempt, and she moved on to the next self checkout. Which is why I could hear when a security guard came to her and started telling her not to bother going to people who come in without masks because “suddenly, everyone is medically exempt.”

Oh, dear.

She did not need to be given a hard time for doing her job, and that comment was just too much! For me, it’s not a big deal, but if someone that is medically exempt for something like anxiety or trauma had heard that, it would have been extremely difficult for them.

So when we were done, my daughter went ahead with our stuff while I asked to speak to a manager.

I made sure to say I had no problems with being told about the mandate, that the staff member who approached me was doing her job; I told her I’m medically exempt, and that was it. He was nodding along as I spoke. Then I told him about the security guard going to her, and what I heard him saying to her. As soon as I repeated “suddenly, everyone’s medically exempt”, even with his mask on, I could see his face cringing! We spoke for a while, and he was very glad I’d told him about it, thanking me for doing so. I really stressed I understood what is required of them to meet the conditions of the mandate, and the staff member who approached me didn’t need to be hassled for doing her job, but also, there are a lot of reasons people can’t wear masks, so that comment by the security guard was not right. He said he would talk to the security guard about it, and agreed with me that it came down to training. He also added, it’s not their job to be the mandate police! 😀 It was a very pleasant and positive conversation.

Costco went smoothly, except for a couple of things. One being a customer. We had our flat cart pretty heavily loaded, making it hard to steer, when there was a bit of a bottle neck around a woman who stopped her cart to look at some produce. Behind her was an older woman with a walker. I pulled back a bit, smiled and indicated that she could go around first. No, she told me. She didn’t want to go near me, because I wasn’t wearing a mask. :-/ So I just went ahead and pushed my flat cart forward – which meant I had to walk past her, anyhow! She ended up moving around the other side. As I passed, I told her I was at more risk from her than the other way around, but I don’t know that she heard me. Ah, well.

We were nearly done when I had a staff member approach me, asking about a mask. I told her I was medically exempt and she asked if I had a card or a letter from a doctor. I said it wasn’t a requirement, but she said they had a policy that people without masks had to have a card from a doctor. Now, I know doctors have been told not to write exemption letters, but she kept saying “card”. So I dug out one of my exemption cards and asked if that was what she meant. She said yes, and told me to keep it handy; there was a health inspector in the building, and she didn’t want me to get fined!

I never saw the health inspector but, as we were leaving, I made a point of telling the woman checking our receipt as we left, how much I appreciated them not giving me grief about the mandate, and how awesome they were at this location. I know people who have tried going to other locations and have gotten a lot of hassle, and this place never has. I wanted to make sure to say thank you and make a positive comment about it.

As smoothly as things went overall, these trips are really draining at the best of times. We were both pretty exhausted by the time we got home!

As we unloaded, I took the cat kibble for the outside cats to the sun room and refilled the bin. On cutting open a bag, I had Creamsicle actually sticking his head in and starting to eat! It was like he was starving! LOL After emptying the one bag into the bin, both he and Potato Beetle climbed right in to eat. I scooped some to top up the containers in the kibble house, but they didn’t leave the bin, even as I emptied another big into it. 😀 I finally had to drag them out and over to the kibble house, just so I could close the bin and put it away.

Junk Pile was hanging out, too, and she has been willing to come closer to us, even if we still can’t touch her.

Which is why I could see, she’s starting to look very round. !!!

I really hope I’m wrong, but she might be pregnant again! This is a very bad time of year for it. 😦 We’ll know soon enough, I guess.


We are now well stocked for the month, and I am so glad to be done with it.

The Re-Farmer

Almost to plan

Well, most of what I intended to get done today, happened. Plus, some unplanned stuff got done. 🙂

There was quite the crowd around for breakfast – and not all of them are in this photo! Most of them came out of the cat shelter, which was quite gratifying to see.

They were hungry enough that the little kittens allowed me to pet them while they were eating, including the calico. I was also able to finally confirm that both orange tabbies are male. That leaves the two bigger kittens (behind the food bowls in the photo) that we don’t know the gender of, yet. We’re really hoping they are males, because we have had zero progress in getting those ones more socialized. At least with the little calico, there is some hope we’ll be able to get her inside before she goes into heat.

The water bowls were all frozen this morning, so I brought out some warm water for them. The cats really appreciated that! I’ll have to get that heated water bowl set up soon.

While doing my rounds, I remembered to try and get a photo under my mother’s car. It took quite a few tries!

The last time I drove it, I noticed something was loose underneath. I only saw it because of how I happened to be parked in an otherwise empty parking lot, as I walked to the car from a store. From a distance, I could see something hanging down near the front passenger tire, but once at the car, I had to look through the tire rim at just the right angle to be able to spot it.

When it was time to go to my mother’s to help her with errands, I left early so I could stop at the garage near her place. It is just a plastic shield, and it looks like a bolt probably vibrated off. Who knows when that happened, but it had to be recently, since I picked it up from the garage not that long ago. I have no way to get under there myself, but it’s such a small job, I didn’t even need to make an appointment to get it worked on. I was told to just give a call in the morning, then come on over. I will do that as soon as I can, so I don’t have to make my mother clamber up into our van anymore!

I was able to help my mother with several errands, and even get a bit of a visit. I was happy to see the mask exemption card I’d taped to her door was still there. Her municipality has a mask mandate right now, so we did get asked a couple of times if we had masks. Since I was with her, I was able to tell them we had medical exemptions, and there was no problem. Interestingly, while at the pharmacist’s counter, where they didn’t even bat and eye over our lack of masks, my mother did fish out a surgical mask from her pocket and put it on, saying she didn’t want any trouble – except no one was giving her trouble! I just cringed, because she has no ability to put one on properly. She only kept it on for maybe a minute, probably less. She didn’t even try to put it on when we got to the grocery store. I’ve helped my mother shop often enough, and the staff knows her well enough, that they talked to me about the masks, not her. It all worked out well. It was a real relief for me, given how much she struggles to breathe with a mask on. She still has a hard time understanding mask exemptions, and I could see she was concerned about being given a hard time, but the staff at all the places we went to were awesome. I did give her an exemption card to carry, but I have no idea what she did with that!

Once my mother was all set, I headed home and was expecting to hang the replacement door for the sun room back up. I wasn’t able to get another set of hands to hold it for me, so I instead worked on some cutting I needed to do. I had found a board in one of the sheds that I cut to length to make a couple of shelves in the entry. The pieces now just need some sanding and painting.

Then I started on cutting pieces that will be the frame for a cat kibble house. 😀

I’d made a rough and flexible plan for it. For the frame, I am using the pieces of wood from the frames I’ve been using to mark out garden beds. I also had a couple of extra long pieces we never used when we built the goat catcher.

I ended up changing the dimensions a bit, based on the wood I had available. All the pieces had one end slightly more damaged than the other, so I worked around that when making my measurements and cuts.

The short end pieces from the dismantled frames will be the upright pieces for the cat kibble house. The back pieces are 3 feet long, while I decided to make the front pieces 3 1/2 feet, instead of the 4 feet I was originally thinking of doing. The longer side pieces of the dismantled frames will be the length of the kibble house. I actually measured the group of kibble bowls and decided to make it 6 feet long, instead of the 5 feet I was originally thinking of. I then used the cut off pieces from those to cut cross pieces that will be the depth of the kibble house. They weren’t long enough to do the 2 1/2 feet I’d originally considered making it, so I cut them 2 feet long, instead.

I cut 4 of them, though I only need two, just in case I need extra.

The only pieces I haven’t cut yet will be the support for the roof. I will decide on the length of those later. I want a considerable overhang on the front of the roof. It can’t extend too far, though, because then it will be in the way when trying to reach the kibble bowls inside.

As for the roof itself, I’ve been finding sections of plywood in the barn and sheds that I should be able to salvage. Once I decide on how long of an overhang I want, I’ll have the dimensions I need to hunt out a piece that will fit.

The kibble house will also have a floor and three walls. For that, I plan to use wood salvaged from the junk pile. The pieces are pretty inconsistent in size, but it doesn’t have to be perfect. It just needs to be enough to keep the bulk of the wind and snow out. The roof will be the most important part.

As you can imagine, the noise of cutting the pieces spooked the cats quite a bit. Some of them, however, were spooked into the cat shelter. As I was putting things away, I looked to see that the indicator light for the timer was on. I could also see a little calico kitten, curled up under the heater! I am so glad the little kittens are using it. They are the ones I’m most concerned about for the winter!

Unfortunately, other critters have discovered the shelter.

Stinky came by as I was cleaning up! I had unhooked the hose, though it was too cold and stiff to put away, so I screwed it back on and used it to spray the skunk away. Long before the cats were willing to check out their new shelter, I could tell from the smell that Sir Stinks Alot had already visited. Nicky the Nose – the only one of the big toms that still visits regularly – has been seen coming out of it, too. We’re trying to discourage him from visiting, because he has been attacking our own male cats. Especially Creamsicle. 😦 If he’s in there, chances are he will chase away some of our own cats.

He’s also the daddy of way too many kittens!

I have come to the conclusion that Nicky the Nose is deaf, or at least mostly deaf. There have been a few times I’ve come towards him, even talking as I walked, while he was facing away, with no reaction. It isn’t until he turns his head and sees me that he reacts and runs off.

Tomorrow, barring some unexpected change in plan, I will continue to work on the cat kibble house, and hopefully be able to snag a daughter to help hang the sun room’s replacement door.

It’s starting to get pretty chilly out there, and there’s still plenty we need to get done before the real cold hits!

The Re-Farmer