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Friday, May 17, 2013

News from Loon County - May 2013

Hi again D,

For a number of reasons we haven't yet made it for a visit to your place! Aargh...where does the time go?
We will definitely try to get up there next week, perhaps Wednesday or Friday.

My mother has had a chest infection which has used up a lot of my time and resulted in a trip to the Winchester Hospital emergency room, a lot of pills and inhalers (with varying results), doctors visits, and many trips to the pharmacy. She's getting better now, but for a while I thought she was going nuts - she started getting angry and abusive, thought she was dying and didn't sleep for 3 days. It now seems like this was in reaction to taking prednisone - I think the emergency doctor could have warned us! Mind you, knowing of your struggles with that drug, I might have questioned him giving it to an 83-year old woman...but after waiting 3 hours in the hospital I had just gone to the cafeteria to get her the inevitable cup of tea and missed the 60-second consultation. Sigh. I'm not complaining, I think 3 hours wait on Mother's Day is quite good...I just wished I wasn't there!

After the first antibiotic didn't work, her own doctor gave her a stronger one, along with a admonition to come in to the surgery more often - someone with COPD (chronic obstructive pulmonary disease) should be monitored more closely. This is the first my mother appears to have heard of it. She never smoked, but my father was a chain smoker. Then it appears that the pharmacist had previously told her she wasn't using enough of one of her inhalers (should be every day) and she had been "saving it for when she's sick" which was precisely not the point of it. So, the system works, but the patient must be paying attention and perhaps interrogated to make sure they understand! After we got home, we made a daily schedule of pills, inhalers, mouthwashes, meals etc because she almost needs a smartphone app to integrate it all. Stuff that can't be with food, stuff that must be with food, stuff that interacts with dairy, stuff that can cause yeast infections and on and on. Hopefully now she's aware, we can manage better in future.  She is also on a regime of immuno-suppressants for her arthritis, so this isn't trivial.

I still think that the potential for mistakes and abuses of the medical system could be mostly fixed by proper data management thoughout. A text message to say take the red pill now sort of thing. When most people are sick they're not really capable of listening to the medical professional much less create a plan for medications...oh well. That's my "belief in Progress" talking...!

In other news, the chronic behind-with-the-house-and-gardening-chores guilt sensation has started again. I did manage to mow the lawn and hoe a few vegetable beds, and some of my seedlings are going out in hanging baskets etc. However, I have decided that I'll just grow peas, beans (3 varieties), broccoli, leeks, shallots and green onions). It didn't seem like much when I bought the seeds...those damn seed catalogues!

Work on the boat has been slow, while the weather was so cold. However, some things are coming together. I finished a new coat of varnish on the wood on the outside of the boat, and I am starting to do all the inside. This is going to take some time as there are about 15 wooden cupboards, but the results complete are wonderful! The interior has a lot of solid teak, which was not expensive back in the '70's unfortunately it was finished with teak oil, which goes all gluey over time and holds the dirt. The only good thing is that it comes off fairly easily. Some turkey did varnish about a third of the interior but did a terrible job, so that has to come off. I have been playing with incredibly expensive paint strippers and finally found one that (a) works quickly and in any temperature (b) doesn't dry up immediately and (c) will not poison me, as I need to use it inside the boat. I started with the normal expensive boating stuff ($100 a gallon) from the nice, smiling fellow at the Chandlery, but it didn't really do a good job. It claimed not to contain methyl chloride, (which is effective, but is highly toxic) but the smell of acetone was appalling. I am taking half a gallon of it to the hazardous waste dump tomorrow. I can't use it inside the boat, it's just nasty.

Anyway, so the next stop was Lee Valley, also a merry purveyor of expensive stuff for people with too much money and no sense of proportion ($30 garlic crusher, anyone?) They sell a paint stripper called Greensolv - of which I was suspicious, because of the "green" epithet. Greenwashing chemical products is big business. (But Leonard Lee says it is wonderful!) However, for $25 a litre (same price as the other) the stuff is effective, gives off few fumes and is, indeed, green in colour. I was told that I can paint it on, cover it with Saran wrap and it will get through multiple layers of paint of varnish. It does that. Even better, you don't have to scrape a jellified layer off, you can use water and a brush or rags. Hooray!

I am also repairing a coxed-four rowing shell that was run over some rocks last fall. There was a 10-foot split in the hull which is only made of two layers of glass fibre and glue.  (Luckily it wasn't one of the wooden boats, that would have to be written off with such damage.) The crew were sitting in water up to their bums by the time they got back to the dock! The cox who was driving it was white with fear - I think she thought she would be keel hauled or's been quite a process - patching it up. Fortunately I mended my own rowing shell last year so I know what to do. It has taken about 15 hours so far from a couple of us, but we're onto the final paint coats now. That is made more complex because it it our "cow boat" S-Moo-th Waters sponsored by the Dundas county dairy producers. (I think the father of one of our former members was a dairy farmer and got them to buy the paint). Anyway, it is a white hull with black Holstein-type splotches on it and causes excitement where ever we take it, so it has to be done. So it is 2 coats of white, then two coats of black on the patches - I just hope they are still visible at that point! More marine paint...! The Chandlery guys know me by name...

The rowing club is starting the Learn-to-Row course again next week, two evenings a week for 4 weeks. It is one of our most reliable fund-raising opportunities we get nearly $1500 from it and if we are lucky we get new members to join next year. We almost always have to turn people away. Strangely the club membership is always around 25-30 people, each year a few come and a few go.

We have built a new concrete foundation for the rowing dock and extended it so we can get more boats alongside and this year we have the brand new coxed four which we hope will win us some regattas. I'm not bothered myself, but there are a lot of people who are really driven to compete. I just want that "Participant" ribbon and the ability to keep on rowing.

The writers' group I mentioned last time is still going strong. Subjects have been "Music", "Pet Peeves" and "Morning Meditation". This latter topic was suggested by one of our number who is, shall we say, a believer in the invisible fairy government that runs things ineffibly in mysterious ways or something like that. She also has a huge and very obvious ego whilst presenting a prim and proper demeanour - the usual church-going annoyance. Our host, had been to the emergency room at Winchester hospital for a badly infected foot. Because he is a paraplegic he has no sensation, it can get very serious. The lady in question insisted that he should be wearing magnetic insoles in his shoes (that are purely decorative) and that this "therapy" would fix him right up. I, of course, rose to the bait and announced loudly that this advice was bogus and magnets were woo etc. Fortunately our host changed the subject before we came to blows!

"Morning Meditation" provoked some impressive free-association streams of consciousness. Apparently we are all seething masses of fury and resentment; mostly at cats.

I got to choose the next topic for writing, and I decided on Dandelions. As the subject came up in conversation between the Weed Slackers and the Lawn Fascists during the meeting, I thought Dandelions might prove an interesting subject. I had briefly considered "War", "Peace", "Religion", "Gun Control" or "Syria" or another such subject of trivial import. However it is obvious that people all feel strongly on one side of the Lawn Order issue and that the rest of you are irresponsible and Just Don't Get It™. Be warned, we are all nice and friendly now, even prepared to take tea together. At the end of the next session we will probably be unable to tolerate being under the same roof...

However, I was shocked to then receive an email from the Morning Meditations person trying to shut me up, saying that "even one doubter" might cause the gentleman to shy away from her idea. He is well-educated and, I am sure, reluctant to be the subject of unwanted and patronizing advice. Needless to say the email exchange after this, was, very interesting. I am not going to be told to shut up by anyone I know to be wrong. Crikey, magnets! In your shoes! To heal you! If you believe!

It's funny about these pseudo-scientific things. People never talk about the dose, or the possibility that if the therapy is indeed active, that it may also be harmful. I mean, what happens if you wear your magnetic insoles upside-down? There is like the movement a few years ago when a bunch of people got anxiety attacks about living near power lines, or Our Children in School! Under Hydro Towers! Now it seem to be wind farms. No-one yet seems to recognize the Menace of Magnets in Our Shoes. I am probably being churlish but I think these people deserve ruthless mockery. Although there was a British psych-doctor on the radio who made me feel a bit unkind, when he said that although wind farms (or insert your unreasoning fear here) were not actually harmful in themselves, they are harmful to people who have convinced themselves that they are being harmed. He called it the nocebo effect, contrary to the placebo effect, I guess. He also said that people who have these beliefs, hold them very sincerely but almost inevitably drop them only to pick up another anxiety and that they can experience many very unpleasant physical symptoms. People are insanely complicated, or perhaps complicatedly insane, or even simply insane. Perhaps us sane people should be locked up in protective custody!

Many of the writers' group including the host, are members of a local choir 35-strong. Don and I took my mother, her 97 year-old neighbour and a friend to their end of season concert. It was pretty good, in one of the local churches with decent acoustics. The 97 year-old lady is a famous personality. She herself sang in this choir up to the age of 92. She was a music teacher in Montreal many years ago and was in a choir with Oscar Peterson when he was young! Then she married a church minister and went to live in Nova Scotia. Her daughters (both in their 70's) took away her car last year - she was a menace to society, having mini-strokes that rendered her temporarily blind etc. Now she terrorizes the village with an electric scooter. My mother is very impatient with her, I think because she is so independent. It is unfortunate, but my mother is so selfish that she doesn't seem to feel that she could help Muriel, with shopping, going to the library or going to appointments etc. Sigh, old people, behaving badly. Anyway, enough compaints about my family!

How are you? I see that you will have visitors this coming weekend, so perhaps we'll come up next week. We'll give you a call.


Sue & Don.

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