Ten things I love about winter

  1. Never being too hot – I am built for comfort, not speed. I also have an autoimmune disease, which means I am prone to fevers and many other weird symptoms. Heat makes everything more difficult. Even staying in our relatively cool house exhausts me. In the winter, I am able to do more and I am far more comfortable.
  2. The tourists are gone – we live in farmland and with many people wanting to find ‘local’ food it means that our area is overrun with traffic and people. Once the annual ‘pumpkin patches’ are done for the year there is a marked decrease in the amount of people on our back roads and clogging up our local stores.
  3. Coats with pockets – I love having a coat with pockets! It makes it so much easier to get stuff out of your hands.
  4. Sun – I can actually enjoy the sun when we get it here on the wet coast. I love the feeling of it on my face while the air around me is cool.
  5. Heating pads – because of my autoimmune disease I have sore muscles and joints that are made better by heating pads. In the winter I can use them with abandon!
  6. Long evenings at home crocheting – I love the long evenings and spending my time crocheting. I can crochet more substantial things like afghans as they are not too hot on my lap.
  7. Warm socks and substantial shoes – Don’t get me wrong, I love wearing sandals as much as anyone. But there is something really comforting/comfortable about wearing heavy shoes and wool socks.
  8. Hats – Wearing hats in the winter serve two purposes: keeping your head dry and covering up bad hair. I have really bad hair so it is nice to be able to just cover it up on a bad day.
  9. Comfort food – I love making soups and stews and the winter is the ideal time for it. I seem to want to create the most perfect stock these days and I am succeeding!

10. Sleeping – We have a Juliette balcony off of our bedroom. In the winter we sleep with the door open. I am sure normal people would freeze to death but it just makes us sleep better. Sometimes it can be a little too cold so that you are shivering should you have to get up but it is a small price to pay!

What are some of your favourite things about the upcoming season?

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!

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 ‘cold and windy’ edition

  • I love my job but I have to say that I hate board meetings. They are getting better but still leave a lot to be desired. The only good thing is that they happen only once per month.
  • It is too freaking cold out there. I know that no one really listens to us Lower Mainlanders when we complain about the cold. personally, I don’t care. Minus 3 is damn cold here because it is so damp. The good news is that our drainage is working quite well. We still get some flooded areas in the heavy rain but it resolves quite quickly. This is a very good development. While me may live with mud for the winter, it does bode well for the spring and summer.
  • I am still amazed at how much I use my iPad. It is constantly with me. I no longer dread an hour long wait in doctor’s office anymore because I can play silly games like Ranch Rush 2. I read books on it, I read blogs, and, most importantly, I play Qrank everyday!


Dispatches from the Swamp – the ‘Winter has arrived’ edition

  • The announcement of Prince William’s engagement to Kate Middleton will no doubt set off a media frenzy. There will be wall-to-wall coverage everywhere. All we can hope for is that they set the date quickly so we are not as inundated as we might otherwise be. I guess every generation must suffer a Royal Wedding.
  • Winter has definitely arrived here on the Wet Coast. It was absolutely pouring today bordering on snow in some locations. It seems that with all the modifications to the highway it would seem that they forgot about drainage. There were several huge puddles which could have caused a lot of problems while driving.
  • We are concerned about Madison. She hurt one of her back legs the other day and is having trouble getting around. We are hoping that with pain meds and meloxicam it will heal quickly. If not, we will have to talk to the vet about alternatives. We do not want to euthanize her if her leg is going to heal. Such a conundrum for an 18-year-old dog.
  • In other news, I have developed cellulitis, again, in the scar my pyoderma gangrenosum left a couple of years ago.  I had this last year and it took a long time for it to heal. It is very painful. My stomach swells and is very painful to the touch. I just can’t win.

Drainage Work

So our drainage work is starting tomorrow. Apparently the excavation will begin at 7:30 am. I sure hope I can sleep through it. The hope is that moving water to two ponds (which will be created) will move water out of the septic field and from under the house. The drainage has been an issue since we moved into this house.

We are hoping that this will solve our perennial issues of the septic filling up with water. The last couple of years we have had to have it pumped out 2-3 times and it is mostly just full of water. Hopefully the work will get done quickly!


Ok, seriously, wtf is up? Why is it snowing in the Lower Mainland in March? Spring officially arrives here at the end of February. We were supposed to have 7 days of showers not more freaking snow. I am done, I have had enough. I would like to know where I can lodge an official complaint.

Snowfall Warning in March

I am a Canadian. I have lived in very cold places with lots of snow. I now choose to live in Metro Vancouver where generally we don’t get a lot of snow and it never lasts. This winter has been an exception. We had snow on the ground from December through to mid-February. Rain we expect. This year snow has been like your old Uncle Harold who won’t leave, ever. Now, it is March – the season of daffodils, crocuses and cherry blossoms. Are we getting these things, no. Instead we are getting yet another snowfall warning. I am done, the Arctic needs to reclaim its weather and we need our soft blanket of white and pink cherry blossoms. Can someone please get on this! Immediately!

Hello February!

I am so happy January is over. I hate January. Here, in no particular order, are the reasons I hate January:

1. January begins the long period of no statutory holidays (for most of Canada) until Good Friday. This is completely unacceptable. Now before everyone tells me there is a stat in January, I know that but it is the first day and then there is this long drought.

2. It is cold, dark and wet. This January has also been very snowy. We still have freaking snow out here from the big dump in December. Plus we got some more for good measure.

3. The days are very short. I spend far too much time driving in the dark and the rain. Anyone who battles the MaryHill Bypass every day will know what I am talking about.

4. January is one long-ass month. It seems to go on and on and on. This one was not so bad given that I was very busy but I usually spend most of January wishing the time would go by faster.

5. Our backyard is usually a swamp and our septic system reeks because there is no where for the water to go. This year has not been so bad as the swamp has been frozen.

6. The pug hates the rain. I usually spend way too much time trying to get her to pee. Thankfully, she is now sleeping with someone else and I don’t have to stand outside in the rain with her for long periods right now.

7. Another reason to hate January is that I am cold all the time. I have to layer and bundle up and that gets obnoxious. I am wearing wool socks and insulated shoes and my feet are still cold some times.

It is still winter here on the wet coast in February but hope is on the horizon. By the end of the month, the crocuses will be blooming. Then it will be March and things will start to get a little warmer and a little drier and then the cherry blossoms come…aaahh, the cherry blossoms, my favourite time of year!

The Rain Snow Removal Plan

Well, even though we have had a lot of rain and flooding it has still not washed all the snow away. In fact, out here in Maple Ridge, it barely seems to have touched it. We still have 3 and 4 foot high piles of the white stuff that is not so white anymore. Trying to get from the front door to the car is nearly impossible. And, to add insult to injury, it snowed a bit more last night! When will it end? I hate winter.