There’s a First Time for Everything!

 

It’s been a very wet and cool, even cold, spring. Last month, we had record amounts of rain with flooding around the area. We’ve had unseasonably below average temperatures barely in the teens at times.

Today, it’s raining again and barely 10C degrees with a forecast high of 14. And I did something that I’ve never done in June before: I made a fire in my cookstove to warm up the house! The wind is blowing at around 35 km/hr. keeping my Canadian flag whipping in the wind.

Christmas 003

Cookstove

 

So what better way to celebrate a cold and rainy day but to make a beef stew (recipe here). I had some grass-fed, local beef left over from Sunday’s roast and added cut-up chunks to the turnip, onion, carrots, and celery and let it simmer all afternoon. This adds to the heat from the dwindling fire in the cookstove, steaming up the windows. The smell is intoxicating. Potatoes are added about an hour before supper as well as the leftover homemade gravy.

 
Beef stew in June. Who’d of thunk!

Flag2WM

Backyard flag at the river

 

My Cancer Journey

I have skin cancer – a type called basal cell carcinoma.
I want to share my experience right from the beginning through my blog. Don’t worry, it won’t dominate this blog – there are recipes to share and other experiences to write about. Cancer does not define me. I won’t let it. It’s part of my whole life journey. It’s part of me. I own it.
One might think, whew, it’s only skin cancer….. good thing it’s not a more serious cancer. Cancer is cancer. Those mutant cells have now been identified in my body. I AM grateful that basal cell carcinoma has a very good success rate of treatment and survival rate of 95% at five years.
This kind of skin cancer is attributed to UV rays from sun exposure or tanning beds (which I’ve never used). Some scientists say that the sun’s rays were doing their damage decades ago unbeknownst to me. When I was a kid in the 1950s , we practically LIVED outside, summer and winter. Sunscreen hadn’t been invented yet and climate change wasn’t recognized. We played outside in the summer wearing as few clothes as possible with our bodies becoming browner as the summer progressed.

DaisyWM
I felt suspicious about a few spots on my face several years ago so I went to my former family Doctor. He thought they were insigificant, cosmetic spots and proceeded to do a freezing-like treatment on each one – it’s called Cryosurgery which uses liquid nitrogen to destroy the pre-cancerous cells. It didn’t help. I changed physicians to a young woman who was only 4 minutes from home – I ‘interviewed’ her and decided she was easy to communicate with, up-to-date on the latest research, and had no problem with addressing each other by our first names. Last year, I showed her my little ‘spots of concern’ on my face and asked for a dermatologist appointment to get them checked out. She suggested that first we try the freezing treatment (again). After a month, it was clear that it didn’t work (again) so a referral was made to a dermatologist. My concerns centered around one particular area on my upper lip which bled off-and-on and never healed completely. It looked almost like a roundish scar, but I had never been cut there. And it was growing in size.
Finally, my dermatologist appointment arrived after 8 months of waiting – I could have gone earlier into the city but I didn’t want to drive there as parking is a nightmare. The Doc walked in and introduced herself and her collegue, asking for my permission that he be there. She walked up to me sitting on the examining table half dressed and stated matter-of-factly “I see you have skin cancer”. Just like that. A family doctor couldn’t identify a suspicious skin anomaly? Anyone can ‘google’ my symptoms and get a probable answer. She checked me over but was focused on that one spot. She thought that it was a large basal cell carcinoma. Her and her collegue talked about various treatments and even called in the plastic surgeon from the clinic next door. They all agreed that Mohs surgery was called for: basically, at the Ottawa Hospital I will be under local anesthetic and the surgeon will scrape away layers of the cancer, testing it after each layer until no cancer remains. It’s quite successful for the treatment of this kind of cancer. The surgery will likely be in about 3 months.
While I was there, the dermatologist did a biopsy by injecting freezing into my upper lip and removing a portion of the cancer with a scalpel to send off to the lab for confirmation. I had no problem looking at the needle with freezing going in but when I saw her coming close to my face with the scalpel, I thought to myself “it’s okay to close your eyes now” hehehe. Then she proceeded to cauterize the area, which hurt because some of it had no freezing. I said that I shouldn’t be such a baby since I gave birth to seven children without as much as an aspirin for the pain.
She talked about sunscreen… calling for biopsy results in 3 weeks… the surgeon’s name… Mohs surgery… reconstruction…. and other things and I was worried that I wouldn’t remember it all. Then she handed me a sheet of paper where she kindly wrote it all down.
I’ve been thinking alot about being outside and gardening this summer and driving with the sun pouring through the window and forgetting to lather on my 60 SPF sunscreen and a whole lot of other things that never concerned me before.
Biopsy results confirmed basal cell carcinoma.
Let the journey begin

8wm

Winter – Extended Edition

 

This week we celebrated the end of winter and the arrival of spring – officially anyway.  It’s hard to believe that ‘spring has sprung’ though.  This morning at 7 a.m., my outdoor thermometer read -20C degrees and the weatherman said it was going to reach a high of -8C.  Whoopie…..not.

Dripping Icicle

Dripping Icicle

There is still about 30-40 cms of snow in many spots around the property and 4 foot drifts.  We had finally been experiencing warmer, near normal, temperatures last week after the record-breaking coldest winter ever.  The snow began melting off the roof with 2 foot long dripping icicles hanging down.  The temperature was above zero during the day and below zero degrees celsius at night – perfect for maple sap running.  So last week, I tapped my maple trees to collect the sap for making maple syrup.  Now the little brother of the Polar Vortex has come calling and the sap has stopped running and the maple sap in frozen in the bottom of my jugs hanging on the trees!
My sister Betty shared photos over a month ago of temperate Vancouver Island, British Columbia where she lives: cherry tree blossoms, crocuses blooming, lush green grass.  The seasons here in Ontario seem to becoming 2+ weeks later.  What used to happen 30 years ago at this time of year, like the ice on the river breaking up, is later now.  The cold temperatures of January and February are now the bitter, unrelenting cold temperatures of February and March.

CrocusWM
The only thing to do is embrace the sunny albiet cold days with the promise that warmer days are just ahead. Soon we’ll be living with hot, humid weather and lots of mosquitoes!
The one thing that remains the same is that we celebrate my sister Betty’s birthday on the first full day of spring.  Happy Birthday Bet!

Frostquake!

It’s been pretty cold lately. Abnormally cold. But then again, what is ‘normal’ anyway these days when it comes to weather with all the climate change going on – extreme weather in the summer with record-breaking heat and in the winter, polar vortexes every other week.

Freezing

At our house, when the temperature outdoors gets down to -30C or so, we get sudden BANGs which can shake the house. It’s a Frostquake or Cryoseism. I used to just  say it was frozen ground water expanding in the extreme cold, but now there’s a word for it. Living along the river, we have a fairly high water table. If there’s lots of rain in the fall, the ground becomes saturated, then freezes in the winter. We often heard them when skating on the frozen river.
Environment Canada meteorologist Geoff Coulson said the noise occurs when water filters into porous soil, freezes suddenly and becomes subject to shifting. “It’s like a low-grade earthquake,” he said. Yup, it shakes the house like an earthquake sometimes too.

Frost on the mudroom door

Frost on the mudroom door

I don’t like the cold anymore – it’s too………well, cold. I don’t drive to town on these really cold days – I wait for it to warm up a bit to just below freezing, every week or so. My faithful, 24 year old car with over 375,000 kms on it, doesn’t like going out in this kind of weather either. Instead I stay at home keeping the fire going in my cookstove or watching the birds or baking or making homemade dinners.  I don’t even have to go outside to get my firewood! I just walk through my unheated garage to the attached woodshed and bring it in. Oh, it’s just as cold as outside but it’s not technically outside – I still have to wear my winter coat especially if I’m splitting wood with my new electric 4 ton wood splitter that my two youngest kids got me for Christmas.

One thing good about the bitter cold outside is that I can get inside jobs accomplished. Like clearing out my cupboards of paperwork, deceased relatives dishes, clothes I never wear anymore, books/magazines I’ve read ….. you know simplifying my OWN life.

For now, I’ll keep feeding the birds beef suet and black oiled sunflower seeds and watch them eat while I wait for spring.

 

 

Bluejays on my apple tree *

Bluejays on my apple tree by Marty *

I’m Hibernating!

 

It’s cold outside. Bloody cold. For the last few days, the thermometer on my porch has recorded minus 30+ celsius (-22F) or colder at daybreak. Add a north wind to that and it feels like -40+C (-40F)! We had a few ‘warmer days’ of around -10C 14F) but now it’s gone back to frigid temperatures which has stimulated Environment Canada to issue a Windchill Warning and the local health department to issue a Frostbite Warning.

Cold
The Weather Network claims that it’s going to warm up to ‘normal’, whatever that is…… It seems that winter should be wrapping up because we’ve had snow since November. In fact, by the time winter officially began on Dec. 21st, we had half the amount of snow we normally have for THE ENTIRE WINTER. These freezing cold temperatures usually sweep through at the end of January for a few days but this year it has been long and brutal.  My two wood stoves have been burning non-stop all day long.
The last time I drove to town was on December 23, 2013 – twelve days ago! I started the car after a week and let it run just to keep the battery charged up. Later that evening, I was glad I had because we ended up ‘rescuing’ a friend of Nellie’s who took a wrong turn and ended up stuck in a snow bank at the end of a nearby dark, deserted country road in record-breaking frigid temperatures.

Cardinal and Bluejay

Cardinal and Bluejay

It’s really important to me to keep my bird feeders full on such cold days. The wild birds around here are accustomed to being fed and depend on it. I buy beef fat from the local butcher to put in my suet feeders because the fat is really what they need, not the ‘bird seed filler’ in commercial suet. I only use local black-oiled sunflower seeds for my bird feeders – all types of birds love it: blue jays, cardinals, mourning doves, chickadees, nuthatches, downy woodpeckers, hairy woodpeckers, goldfinches………and even the squirrels.

One consolation of enduring extrememly cold temperatures is that it means that we don’t get any snow. So when it ‘warms’ up to -7C this weekend, we’ll be getting the gift of 20+ cms (8 inches) of snow! Oh well, a white, clean-looking landscape is pretty.

map

 

 

 

 

 

Grammom vs. Oil Goliath

It’s true.  The rumours I heard about a nearby Natural Gas pipeline being converted into an oil pipeline are true – TransCanada Pipeline’s Energy East Project.  And I am horrified.   This aging pipeline passes under our Rideau River just a few kilometers downstream from my home.  Now that the shock has settled in, I’m fighting mad!  Just like a mother Grizzly Bear defending her cubs, I feel like I have to do my own little Grammom part to defend my children and grandchildren.  I won’t accept this quietly.

557347_153577044846811_734504108_n

The Energy East proposal is about converting a 50+ year old pipeline that was built to transport Natural Gas to an oil pipeline.  The purpose of this conversion is to pump over a MILLION barrels a day of thick (like pudding), toxic, Alberta tar sands bitumen oil through my area to St. John, New Brunswick.

This  pipeline discreetly passes under farmers fields and beneath the road leading to the nearest town a few kilometers up the road from me – it’s hardly noticeable!  It also passes under highway 416 unbeknownst to the thousands of vehicles that drive over it daily.  But the biggest, scariest part is that this old pipeline runs across the bottom of the Rideau River through Baxter Conservation Area, a sensitive ecosystem – which just happens to be too close for comfort to me.

Buried under Farmers' fields

Buried under Farmers’ fields

I could go on and on about the risks of this proposal.  First and foremost, is the very likely risk of a pipeline rupture creating a devastating oil spill either on land, underground, or in the precious river system.  Such a spill would kill our river (a UNESCO World Heritage Site) immediately and for future generations.  The impact of this cannot be underestimated.

It’s a nightmarish daydream to believe that this pipeline will increase our oil security.  This oil is slated for shipment to international markets at a premium price not to Canadians as the oil companies have erroneously allowed us to believe.  Canadians will end up paying more at the pumps because our oil will command more costly OPEC prices.  Shouldn’t we be trying to be more carbon neutral rather that carbon gluttonous?  Do the intelligent specimens in the corporate offices understand that their product is a major contributor to climate change?  Did the 2013 downtown Calgary flood (where their head offices are located) or the “hundred year” weather-every-ten-years, stimulate their curiosity?  Everything is out of whack and this pipeline proposal for more, more, more oil just exacerbates the world’s negative climate change condition.

pipeline

I’m sure you’ve heard of the XL pipeline proposal which was slated to go from Alberta through the United States to the Gulf of Mexico until citizens made it an election issue and the whole deal was postponed.  Around that time, Enbridge’s westward Gateway pipeline proposal received opposition from citizens, governments, and native groups in British Columbia, putting that project on hold.  So going east was the only way that TransCanada Pipeline could go now that it is backed into a corner.  Company profit is a huge motivator.

So the ordinary citizen has been motivated too.  One of my favourite sayings is from Margaret Mead:  “Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it’s the only thing that ever has.”  Groups and people like me are rallying against the oil pipeline:  Ecology Ottawa, Sustainable North Grenville, The Green Party of Canada, and Rideau River Friends Against the Oil Pipeline , to name a few.   And we’re just getting started…… There are petitions to sign, rallies to attend, protests to support, etc.

Personally, I’ve signed the petitions and plan to attend rallies and local ‘open houses’ hosted by TransCanada Pipeline or Sustainable North Grenville / Ecology Ottawa.  In addition, I am making a large 4×8 sign to hang on a tree at my river’s edge which simply says “Stop the Oil Pipeline” inside a large red ‘stop circle’.  Thousands and thousands of people use the river during the summer boating season and the winter snowmobiling season.  Many of them might not be unaware of the impending disruption to their peaceful lives with this disastrous pipeline proposal.  It’s my duty to bring it to their attention.  I’ve written my local municipal counsellor to ask him where HE stands on this pipeline proposal…………let’s just say he’s not getting MY vote next election!   I plan to write to my provincial and federal elected officials as well and let them know that I will put my next vote where it counts:  against the Energy East oil pipeline.

Sunrise

A Revolutionary Moment

A thought provoking piece:

> World War One, we are told, began with the shooting of an Archduke. Within four years, eight million men were dead. It was a clash of empires, fought over coalfields and colonies, there was no good side, despite what the chaplains on both sides said. The men and boys from a hundred thousand villages were poured into the grinder because they were available, the surplus harvest of empire.
The Second World War arose from the injustice of the first. Poverty and shame drove people to Fascism. This time the whole planet was a battlefield. 40 million died.
The Cold War that followed hung in the balance through thirty years of nuclear threat, which we carefully and gradually stepped back from. We are learning.
The Third World War will not be fought with guns. It’s the battle for the earth, not its ownership this time, but its existence. Who would have thought that of all the shortages our profligate living would lead to, it would be the very coolness and calmness of our planet’s skies.

the storm
Today unprecedented storms, droughts, fires, floods and famines, have begun to stalk the earth. Both the Russian, and American wheat crops have failed in two consecutive years. (The Arab Spring was driven not by democracy but by hunger – food prices worldwide have doubled, and the poor are the ones who take the brunt). Farmers are right now walking off West Australian wheat farms through endless drought. There is a single cause to all of this; atmospheric carbon is now higher than for millions of years. We have passed the safe point of 350 ppm, at which temperature growth can be contained, and are headed for 400 and beyond – there isn’t an upper limit. The result is that the radiative cooling power of the atmosphere is being lost.
It’s called “greenhouse” for a reason. Shut the doors on a greenhouse, let it broil in the sun, and you will know what that means.
Every season brings its dangers now; the TV news is like a disaster movie. And fortunately, finally, people are starting to wake up.

Garden-BlackEyedSusan
A conflict of massive proportions has already begun. Fossil fuel industries are the most powerful industries in the world, and they aren’t going to be stopped by legislation or negotiation, at least, not in time. So we need a new, different kind of war.
The Third World War will be fought not with guns, but with people putting their finances, their energies, their arguments, their boycotts, and probably their bodies in the way of the coal trains and ships and the mines that feed them. It will be a war of the little against the big. Big Coal, Big Oil, Big Food, and Big Media. All have grown fat while we fed at their table. Not realizing the cost of our holidays in Bali, our kid’s school trips to Paris, our commutes to football matches interstate or jobs two thousand miles from home. Our tank-like cars and air-conditioned McMansions broiling in the sun. Our agriculture that is nothing more than oil turned into fertilizer turned into food.
Its such a revolutionary moment. Everything that anyone cares about – animals, wilderness, farming, refugees, peace, safety, freedom from terrorism, health, culture, heritage, but most of all – our children’s and their children’s ability to eat, breathe, support themselves, and not die in chaos, depends on this one single cause.

Oct6
If you are reading this and aged under forty, you may see billions of needless deaths in your lifetime, including perhaps your own. Because of the inescapable reality of this, almost beyond our cognitive powers to absorb, we have to stop the carbon madness.
There has to be a transition, considered, phased, and rational, but above all planetary and radically fast. We have to execute a 180 degree turn in how we run the world’s machine.
My generation has seen and created change. We’ve stopped wars, we’ve faced down corporations and won. We’ve gotten rid of bad politicians and consigned the two party duopoly to the garbage bin of history. Like many of my activist friends I am old, and feel the freedom of not overly caring about my own comfort. Future generations becomes more and more the center of our concerns.

Hummingbird
I believe that nonviolence is essential, that gentle means must always be used first, and second and third. But gentle means can also be powerful, and absolute. We would not stand by and let murder happen without stepping in. That’s exactly what is happening when coal ships sail from our shores on their journey to creating famine, fire and flood. I don’t know what to do. But I am starting to ask around.
The Third World War will be for the earth, and I know whose side I am on.
World War 3 is Nigh
Or has it already begun? <

 
Re-blogged with permission from Adbusters May 28, 2013 ‘World War 3 is Nigh’ by Steve Biddulph, Adjunct Professor of Counselling at Cairnmillar Institute, Melbourne, Australia and author of Raising Girls, Raising Boys, and The New Manhood, among others. He lives in the Tamar Valley. This is an excerpt from his article in the Tasmanian Times.

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