Things I love about Autumn

It is no secret that autumn is the favourite season for most of us here at the Swamp – both human and canine. So here in no particular order is my list of things I love about autumn:

  1. It is no longer hot nor is it cold yet. The temperature is usually just right that you can wear a light jacket.
  2. It is cool enough to wear scarves and hats – my new found fashion accessories.
  3. Our bed is hard when I get into it. We have a memory foam bed that gets very soft in the summer. When we have the door open in our bedroom the bed is actually so cold it is hard. I like this feeling.
  4. The pillows are colder when I flip them over.
  5. The dogs can go out and run and not get overheated and pant for hours.
  6. We can turn off the A/C and rely on cold air from outside to sleep comfortably.
  7. Having our outside bedroom door open all night means I get to see the mountains in the morning. This makes me very happy.
  8. I can use a heating pad all night without getting over heated.
  9. I adore Thanksgiving. I love making the turkey. It is my favourite statutory holiday. It is about celebrating things that are important to us without the baggage of the holiday season.

10. I love snuggling down into the bed with all the blankets pull tight around me.

11. I love the feeling of warm socks and shoes.

12. I love looking at the hordes of birds that land on the fences and telephone wires.

13. I love the hunkering down feeling I get as we move away from light foods to more comfort foods like homemade soup.

14. I love the colours. The trees here turn such lovely, brilliant colours. Every piece of vegetation is beautiful as it dies.

15. I no longer feel oppressed by the weather.

What about all of you? What are your favourite things about the changing of the season?

Summer Weather

It is no secret that I hate summer. I can’t stand the heat and it makes me sicker than I already am. There is something that happens to those of us with autoimmune diseases that does not allow us to tolerate the heat. I can overheat in about 5 minutes. Other times, the heat makes me nauseous.

Here at the Swamp we have multiple air conditioners so, for the most part, suffering is optional. Most years, by the middle of July we are running all the air conditioners just trying to keep somewhat cool. In our bedroom we have an air conditioner, a ceiling fan and a turbo fan all going to keep us cool while we sleep. I use earplugs at night but Deb assures me that it sounds like a wind tunnel once my CPAP machine is added to the mix.

This summer, so far, has been a treat for me. We have only had 1 or 2 days that went above 25 degrees. It has been mostly overcast and rainy. It looks like it will continue for the next several days. Summer is something I have to endure, so the longer we go without the baking heat the closer to Autumn we get!

Dispatches from the Swamp – the ‘stoned edition’

  • Last Friday after I had all that awesome dental work done, I came home and went to sleep. At some point in the evening, thinking I was lucid, I decided to set up a more professional Gmail account rather than[1] So, I created a grown up account based on my name. I directed all of my personal email there and promptly forgot what I had done. Now, I had 2 Gmail accounts checking my primary personal address at Shaw. Some emails came through but many others did not. I booked flights with WestJet and didn’t get a confirmation email. Other emails I did not miss like Wordrpess’s ‘postaday 2011’ inane suggestions. Finally, on Friday, it all came back to me. I went to the new address and there were all my emails for the week. Clearly, the dental office should prohibit people from doing anything on a computer after being sedated with triazolam.
  • I have to say this: ”I am fucking sick of the monsoons already!” It has rained so hard today; I will not be surprised if the North Alouette River has gone over its banks. It is not that I am desperate for the sun to come because I am not but all this rain is too much! I know I live in a rainforest and I just need to suck it up but that would be a Herculean task for which I am not prepared!
  • Speaking of WestJet – they are an amazing company. I have a hard time flying due to obesity because of PCOS. WestJet has a program called One Person, One Fare. What this means is that if you have a disability, medical condition or you require an attendant to fly, WestJet will assess whether you qualify for an extra free seat. Your doctor needs to fill in a form and then it is assessed. I had my doctor fill out the form and fax it in. I was told that I qualified within less than 48 hours! For our upcoming flight to Calgary, we will have a seat between us. I did as much for me as for Deb. With her MS she needs to be able to stretch and move a little bit. We will also not need to stress out about whether the flight is full and if we can get a middle seat blocked between us. I can also kiss away the bruises I have suffered when we are crammed into a full row. We always fly with WestJet and we will continue to be loyal customers.
  • Zoe’s personality[2] continues to amaze me. That dog is relentless and is exceptionally good at getting what she wants all the time. Her newest thing to do is to bark and paw at me constantly while I am eating. It does not matter what I am eating she is convinced that she should eat it too. The other night I was eating kali daal, made with black lentils, and she would not stop barking and pawing, so I gave her some and she liked it. The dog is F-R-E-A-K! Dinner consists of her barking and standing on my stomach while I am yelling ‘no’ and moving her off of me. Good times Chez Shihtzustaff! The funny thing is: we wouldn’t change her for anything! She is loved, adored and treated like royalty – as all Shihtzus should be!

[1] I have been trying to use a different interface for email. While I like Gmail, I find the website interface a bit clunky and I was looking for something a little more sophisticated like Apple’s Mail program or Postbox. However, I was running into problems in that the base Gmail address was showing up as the address. I don’t like to use that, as I don’t really want people connecting me in real life to my online screen name. I especially don’t want my mother to find my blog.

[2] It always seem strange to say that dogs have ‘personalities.’

Weather Rant

Ok, I am done. I have had enough rain. The last 2 days it has been like a monsoon here in lotus land. I get that we live in a rain forest but in all seriousness this has been the winter from freaking hell. It is so bad it is threatening to eat up spring too. This weather is closer to January than it is to April. At least it is not snowing where I am.

I think it is important to remember all the people for whom shelter is a real challenge. I complain about the rain and all I have to do in it is to walk to and from my car. I have proper footwear and warm coats if I want to wear them. Lots of people are not as fortunate as many of us. Winter is not over yet and the need is high.



Dispatches from the Swamp – the ‘batten down the hatches’ edition

  • So apparently the wind is going to blow hard, very, very hard tomorrow. They are predicting 110 km/hr. Much higher than what took down the trees in Stanley Park down a couple of years ago. I worry about our trees given the big branch that blew down a couple of weeks ago.
  • I get this email from my mother. Apparently my sister is concerned because the Archie Digest subscription we got her for Christmas had not yet arrived and this was something to be concerned about. My sister, in her passive aggressive way, could not pick up the phone and call me or heaven forbid enter this century and send me an email. No, she has to bring it up to my mother. What a life-threatening problem! Omg! No Archie Digest!!!


Me and Sawyer
Velcro Chicken Boy


  • I blog usually while I am eating dinner. And this is how I do it. Now, if I thought for a minute that Sawyer was expressing his undying love and devotion to me, I would be touched. But I know he is not. He is eyeing the chicken on the other side of me and waiting for his share. It certainly makes blogging more difficult.
  • Do you all remember back in August when I was a victim of credit card fraud. The plan was they were going to send me an affidavit, I was going to sign it and send it back. After 3 weeks they were supposed to refund the charges. Well, this never happened. I started calling and leaving messages for my fraud investigator ‘Antony’ at extension 4332. Well Antony never answered his phone and he never returned any of my 5 messages. So finally I go through customer service to talk to a live person in security. I got to talk to ‘Nick’ on Monday and he assured me that the charges would be refunded immediately as they had ascertained that I had not made the purchases. He had no clue why it had taken so long for the charges to be refunded.
  • Oh how the mighty have fallen! I just saw a commercial Poise incontinence pads. Kind of brings a new meaning to Whoops!

Dispatches from the Swamp – the ‘broken tree and record’ edition

Big Tree Branch

Here is a great picture of a huge branch that broke off our big willow tree in the front. I am so thankful that no one was hurt and property was damaged when it fell. It could have seriously injured someone. While we don’t see a great deal of snow here on the Left Coast, we definitely get our fair share of storms and high winds. This branch is a tiny example of the havoc Mother Nature can dish out!

Warning, I am about to play a broken record again! I am amazed at how much better I am feeling these days. I keep saying this repeatedly because it is a huge shift for me. I have been sick with ulcerative colitis since the middle of 2005. I have watched my health deteriorate to the point of being hospitalized twice, developing rare ancillary diseases that no one can diagnose, having my immune system wiped out to sleeping 12+ hours a night in order to function.

Since the beginning of January, the amount of sleep I need is decreasing. I am still at the 9-10 hours area but I can get by easily on 8 for a day or two. My colon is functioning far better than it has in 3-4 years. I won’t go into details but suffice it to say it is far closer to normal than it been since 2005. My pain level has decreased. Walking short distances is no longer so painful an activity that I avoid it all costs. I can shop in stores, stand and wait with far less pain in my hips. I have also been able to reduce the amount of long-acting morphine I am taking by half in the evening. I also require far less pain medication for breakthrough pain. Being able to reduce the pain medication, I take on a daily basis means that I have even less fatigue and other issues. I actually have energy to engage in my day. Saturdays, for a very long time, have been my ‘crash and burn’ day where I try not to leave the house and I do nothing all day. Today, I was up by 9:30. I had breakfast, did some shopping and was home by 1 pm. This level of activity is unheard of for me since I became sick. And because of all this good stuff going on, my anxiety level has decreased significantly. Even under situations of extreme stress, I am not having anxiety attacks. What a relief. It means that my therapist and doctor were correct; my anxiety is rooted in reality – meaning that I had a right to be anxious with everything going on for me.

Now, after saying all that, there are still some realities. I am still on major medication for ulcerative colitis. I am still taking a large dose of immune suppressant medication every day. I am still immune-compromised. I must also watch what I eat. I still live in chronic pain – just less of it. There are foods that will set my ulcerative colitis off. I still can’t eat raw vegetables and I need to avoid processed food. Eating raw fruit is still also verboten. I am still craving popcorn all the time. Of everything I have had to give up because of ulcerative colitis, popcorn is the one thing I have not been able to get past. I have not had any in a long time but I really want to go to a movie with Deb and eat some. I may risk it sometime in the future. So, while I am feeling so much better, I am still not well. I still have low hemoglobin and while I have much more energy, I don’t have the energy I would if I were not sick. The upside to all of this is that I can now see living with this disease as possible. Maybe I won’t have to consent to my colon being removed. A girl can dream…

Oh, apparently I have been so busy I hardly noticed January – the month of the year I detest the most. I looked up and now we are in February! For us that means Spring starts in a few weeks while the rest of you are still buried under snow!


Listening to the newscasts today you would think that the world is about to end because, wait for it, gasp, it is going to SNOW!! Apparently, it is going to SNOW a lot. To listen to the news reporters if the sun comes up on Thursday, after SNOWmaggedon, it will be a miracle. Yes, really, a miracle!

The SNOW storm, the likes of which we haven’t “seen since 2008,”[1] is due to hit eastern North America on February 2, 2011.[2] Now, the last time I checked we were in the Northern hemisphere and it is still winter in February. So one is left to wonder why SNOWmaggedon is even news?  Another well-known weather fact will also come into effect tomorrow: lake effect SNOW. What this means, is that people who live near the great lakes will get more SNOW. Is any of this new? No!!!

So why is it news? Clearly the media did not bother to read my PSA posted in January about SNOW and reporting it. In fact, I would argue it has gotten worse. You see, I live on the west coast. I do not live anywhere near Eastern North America yet I have been inundated all day today with reports of SNOWmaggedon. I have heard predictions of SNOW days and rush hour mayhem, which will then turn into bedlam.

I have a theory here. I think the media are focusing so much on reporting the weather because everything else is too difficult. In a world where dictators, terror alerts and protests not to mention political ‘leaders’ who encourage violence are the order of the day, reporting about weather must seem like an easy pass. Political stalemates, on both sides of the border, along with negative political advertisements means there is even less for real journalists to report. Neither the Canadian Parliament nor the US Congress is really ‘working’ in any productive way. Given that this is not likely to change in any meaningful way for the foreseeable future, I look forward to more weather related news. I am sure we will have the hottest temperatures this summer since 2007 and a plague of locusts this summer. Get ready for LOCUSTS leave LA!!

[1] Opined one meteorologist from the US.

[2] I am wondering now if they are going to find a way to bring Groundhog Day into SNOWmaggedon.

PSA for the Media: Snow Scare #317

Ok, I know snow is a big deal. I know it makes the lattes cold and you can’t wear your flop-flips without risking frostbite (and maybe ridicule). You have to plan a little more and you may even have to clean your car off. It complicates driving a great deal for most people.  But for the love of all things holy can you all please knock of the snow scaremongering that goes on in this city.

Snow is big news here on the Left Coast. I know we live in a rainforest. Occasionally, something happens and we get colder air that causes the little raindrops to turn into white flakes. This does not mean that the world, as we know it, is about to end. It does not mean that there will be bedlam on the roads.[1]

Please, I implore you, if there is snow in the forecast, report it. Just like you would sunshine or rain or fog or whatever else it might do. Keep your thoughts of doom and gloom to yourself.

If not, I am sure Starbucks can build something to keep your latte cup warm in the winter. It will retail for $12.95 no doubt.

[1] Although, I must say, your warnings today were bad enough that lots of people didn’t drive. It made my commute home ever so much better!

Dispatches from the Swamp – the ‘crazy weather’ edition

  • I was out today and could not believe the bizarre weather. As I was leaving it was sunny. I got closer to Fort Langley and I was treated to sleet along with heavy winds. As I was heading home, it started to sleet again. The sleet quickly turned to hail over the Golden Ears Bridge, which made it quite slippery. At one point it was sleeting and it was sunny. I was used to this kind of thing from Calgary. I remember it being sunny on one side of the street and pouring on the other.
She is a cheeky little brat!
  • Staying on the weather theme – some of the dogs really hate to go out and get their feet wet. Zoe is the worst. I think it is a Shihtzu thing. I remember the Chunk who would just stop rather than get her feet wet. Zoe goes a specific route to stay on the ‘high ground’ so that she does not get wet. It is really quite funny to watch.
Zoe flaked out
Zoe doing what she does best!
The Chunk in all flaked out
  • Do you notice the similarities between Zoe and Chunky? They are quite similar.
  • One of my co-workers gave me an area rug that she wasn’t using anymore. As soon as it went down the dogs were all over it. They love having rugs and mats to lie on.  The ‘terrorist’[1] dogs immediately started to play and within an hour had the whole thing covered in stuffing from toys all over the place!
  • We have had so much rain over the last week or so that the North Allouette River was getting quite high. I was a little worried that it was going to go over its banks if there was much more rain. Our property does not usually flood when the river goes over – it just makes it difficult for us to get out to the highway.
  • In other news, this was the first time in 2 years that the septic system did not need to be pumped at Christmas. I think this is likely because of the drainage system is moving the water out to the back of the property instead of it backing up into the septic tank. We will see if we get through the whole winter without having to have it pumped. Now, if we can just figure out a way to not have it smell as bad as it does in the winter.

[1] I have nicknamed Sawyer and Sienna the ‘terrorists’ because the are terriers and they destroy everything!