Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Resolving 2009

I'm not a huge fan of making resolutions, because I find them very hard to remember, let alone keep. A few years ago I resolved not to make any more New Year's resolutions. At first I thought that was pretty funny. But by promising not to make any changes in my lifestyle I was cutting off my nose to spite my face. I did make a couple last year but don't remember what they were (quit smoking? Not. Save money? Not. Declutter house? Not so much).

With little fanfare, here are some sensible resolutions I may or may not keep:
  1. If I don't quit smoking I won't save over $3000 per year (plus my life). I'll at least make further attempts to read Alan Carr's Easyway to quit smoking book.

  2. I'll test my blood sugar more often. Some days I don't test at all, let alone before breakfast and 2 hours after meals.

  3. I'll take my medications when I'm supposed to. And eat when I'm supposed to. And eat WHAT I'm supposed to. Maybe that's too many at once...

  4. I will start walking 30 minutes or more a day. And do some yoga, and use the rowing machine. And continue to stay off high heels.
  5. On a related note, I'll either use my fitness club membership or cancel it.

  6. I'll do more work-related reading. I'm part of a very interesting project and I have a whole book about it. I'm on page 8 of 542.

  7. I resolve to buy only winning lottery tickets.

  8. I think I've resolved in the past to keep in touch with friends more often. I haven't done very well with that -- I'm surprised that anyone talks to me any more. But I'll try again.

  9. With the wet weather this past summer I didn't do anything with my gardens or yard (but that's an excuse, not a reason). I did get bumper crops of grapes and raspberries, so made plenty of jam and jelly for gifts and personal consumption. This year I promise to plant some vegetable and herb seeds early enough to get them hardened off and in the ground by Victoria Day. And if I do buy more perennials, I promise to plant them instead of just leaving them in their plastic pots to their fate.
  10. Well, part of the reason for planting only perennials is to have a low-maintenance garden. But I should at least do SOME maintenance, like spreading the topsoil, mulch, and compost that I bought last spring.
  11. I can't do much more than I already do with conservation, except sell the house and move to a shelter (that's not funny, though). But I can protest over-packaging by either not buying over-packaged goods or leaving the packaging with the store (unlikely!). I've registered 54 acts of green already. You can, too. I'll continue to bring my reusable shopping bags to the stores until I run out of plastic bags to put Green Bin and garbage in.
  12. I can't really resolve to watch less TV or fewer DVDs. But I should watch the shows I do like, which probably amounts to The Rick Mercer Report and This Hour Has 22 Minutes on CBC.
  13. I'll try to be kinder to my mother and my younger brother and his wife.

That's probably enough for now. I'm off to eat breakfast.

Sunday, December 28, 2008

The visit was nice, but the travelling was HELL!

I got my car dug out by 11 am on Tuesday, December 23. I should have left by 9 am in order to make it through to Mom's (625 km or 375 miles, a seven to eight hour drive the way I go; I made it once in 6.5 hours in summer). But the coolant (antifreeze) was low, and it took about two hours to find that 1) finding the right coolant for your make and model is a mystery unto itself, and 2) everyone within walking distance was out of it. I've learned that the coolant reservoir must be cold to open it up safely. (I had a hard time opening the hood at first, then I needed to use a rubber mallet to loosen the cap.) Finally I packed the car and drove to Canadian Tire and bought a jug of universal coolant (can be used in any car or light truck), and had to wait about 45 minutes with the hood open before I topped it up. It was about 2:15 pm and snowing by this time, which meant that even with ideal driving conditions I wouldn't get to Mom's until about 10 pm.

I have a cold and laryngitis and a persistent cough, and even with multiple stops for coffee by the time I reached Long Sault (just off highway 401 before Cornwall) around 8 pm I knew I wouldn't last, so I took the first exit that showed a motel sign and checked in for the night. Overnight about 4" of snow fell -- I planned on calling Mom on my cell at my first stop for coffee, but, incredibly, there were no service centres open except for those with rather long detours off the road. And the snowfall further east had been even heavier. Once into Quebec province I had to take a construction detour over very snowy roads, which added an hour to the trip, and I didn't get home until about 10:45 am on December 24, coughing the whole way. Mom and I had planned on cooking The Turkey in the morning, but she couldn't wait for me, and she had a hard time getting the thing prepared and in the oven.

Weather on Christmas day was just about perfect, but I coughed for the whole hour's drive. We stopped to get some lozenges for me (my first Christmas shopping trip). They worked pretty well (the lozenges). On Boxing Day we didn't leave our small town (3500 souls) and I bought that disgusting Buckley's Cough Mixture and tissues on sale (my last Christmas shopping trip). Mom bought me lunch.

So the visit with Mom, though brief, was pleasant, and Christmas day at my brother's went well. Then on Saturday morning I took off about 8:15 am and met:
1. Freezing rain on the way into Montreal -- a number of vehicles off the road
2. Torrential downpours between Cornwall to past Kingston -- more vehicles off the road including a pickup, two semis, a minivan, and a passenger bus
3. Fog
4. Fog plus torrential downpours. Traffic slowed to under 50 kph in many stretches.

It wasn't until I reached the city of Toronto itself that the visibility cleared, and I was home by 5:45 pm -- 9.5 hours. On the plus side, I gassed up at 66.5 cents per liter on my way home.

I was glad to get home as you can imagine. And I moved my car to a parking spot right across the street from my house this morning! And my catsitter Ol did a good job -- the cats were rather pleased to see me.

Christmas vs. Diabetes

It's hard to be diabetic at Christmas. Especially if you have a sweet tooth, escalating carb cravings, and uncontrolled high blood sugar. My mom has given us an orange and a box of Smarties in our stockings for years. (She used to collect or buy little items and put them in -- and now that I'm in charge, I stuff my family's stockings; this year it was pencils, sharpeners, pens, notepads, sugar-free gum, cosmetic samples, pairs of socks and knee-high stockings, keychains, and other little items, and Mom got a little bottle of cream liqueur.) So this year I got the usual box of Smarties, an orange, a pair of knee-highs, and a bamboo spoon. Not that I'm complaining or anything. Stocking stuffers are a lot of fun! (Did I mention that both my brothers are now Type 2s?)

But please, even a box of Smarties can set off a chain reaction that has me gobbling anything with sugar or starch. It's amazing to me that my mind is screaming at me, "Slow down; no, STOP EATING THAT SHIT!!" Even if I've eaten a healthy dinner and have no appetite for veggies, I'll fill my face with pastries and other treats. It doesn't seem to be a matter of will-power. I can't have just one...

And the kicker -- I was given a box of Lowney's Chocolate Covered Cherries by a family member (I've been T2 since January 1995 and everyone knows it). I don't even like them. Did I toss them? Take the unopened box to work and share them? No, I ate them. All. By myself. Cursing myself bitterly as I shoved them in my mouth and wiped my sticky fingers on my jeans. I can't believe I've been blogging on and off on this for a year now and have made no progress; have even deteriorated. Systems analysis tells us we need data, which gives us information, which leads to knowledge and understanding, which leads to wisdom. I have the first three; it's the last two I need to work on.

But there's some good news on the horizon -- results of the low-glycemic diet for reducing HbA1c show positive results (but knowing low GI foods plus recognizing the glycemic load of foods is also important).

I've mentioned the very wise David Mendosa's website before ( He was onto low glycemic index foods for years before the supposed experts (

Monday, December 22, 2008

Down to the last minutes, again!

I'm pampering myself because I have a cold, so that meant I did NOTHING all weekend to prepare for my Christmas trip home to Mom's, including accumulated laundry and dishes and garbage. It's now Monday morning. I intend to leave in about 28 hours. And I still have that cold, which started on Friday afternoon. I haven't moved my car in over a week, and ploughs have gone by twice (twice!) now after two snowfalls, dumping about 30-40 cm (about 14 inches). So the car is snowed in, and that just adds to my list of chores. And at about 7:30 am ET it's -12 C (about 9 F). Brr.

This is one of two pictures I'm framing for my mother's present. It's a cover from Canadian Homes and Gardens magazine (now defunct), dated 1930. She asked for vintage ad posters with a country theme, of which there do not seem to be any except within the pages of old magazines! Anyways, the two covers are lovely and the see-through frames will work pretty well, and you can see the ads on the inside covers. I just have to put them together still...
Christmas Day Update: Mom liked the pictures!
So what do I get from postponing all my chores? I guess calling them chores is a clue. I do this every year. The last few years, for example, I have started thinking about considering getting a cat sitter for my brood of four in the weeks before Christmas so I can get someone before they're all booked. I didn't ask anyone until Saturday afternoon (December 20). But the second person I asked is available and lives only three doors away. That's actually better than last year.
Christmas makes me tired. I don't feel much like socializing and my health seems to bounce around a lot before the days start getting longer again. I feel as though there are a lot of demands on my physical and emotional energy that I'm not prepared to provide. And I'm cynical about the fact that I start getting Christmas catalogues in August.
But my to-do list is years old and miles long. Along with craft projects, small repairs, and books to read, I haven't done any ironing all year; my dining room table is covered with stuff that should go into the computer/guest room, which needs to be organized. But before I tackle that room it should really have a new ceiling put up (that's the room where the roof leaked).
My list of things to do and bring home with me (besides the usual gifts and clothes) includes things I've offered and that people have asked for. The car will be bulging at the seams. Now I've just added minutes to my cell phone so I can call Mom on the trip to tell her how it's going, and I can't find the charger. It's in here somewhere; I know it is here somewhere...
1o:oo am update: I found the cell phone charger. It was just sitting there under a pile of books.

Saturday, December 20, 2008

First Toronto Snowfall

This shot was taken about 4:30 ET from my living room. By the time I went out to shovel the sidewalks and a path to the street it was still blowing and cold, but the snowfall was essentially over. It took about a half hour to clear the accumulation (and drifting) of about 15 cm. Today is sunny and "brisk" (-12C), but tomorrow we expect to get hit again.

While I was watching, a snowplough went down the street. I figured he'd got lost off his usual route and he thought, while he was there, he might as well clear. (We don't usually get our street cleared at all, and we're right off a major intersection.)

Should I bring my bicycle in at some point??

Monday, December 8, 2008

Our latest fund-raising results

This is a bit of good news at a time when all about us are losing theirs, including all our company holiday party subsidies and events (and no new cellphones or BlackBerrys, etc.).

Payroll pledges to the United Way, our company's beneficiary, are down by about fifty percent this year, possibly in retaliation...

Last Christmas we thought we did pretty well when we raised $504 for the Toronto City Mission to provide a Christmas for two families by selling raffle tickets for donated prizes, but we kept it mostly in the department.This year we pulled out all the stops. A kids' breakfast program at a community centre here in Toronto is the beneficiary.

We've planned four raffles -- Thanksgiving, Christmas, Valentine's Day, and Easter. Our first raffle raised $1000. For the holiday raffle, we had prizes like 4g and 8g iPods, a Playstation 3, a pair of Leafs tickets in the Red section at the ACC, and several $100 gift certificates for places like Best Buy and the Rosewater Supper Club.

We had a lot of people buying chances. We tweaked the theme a bit by giving one ticket per pound of food donated to the Daily Bread Food Bank, and by accepting three non-winning Thxgv raffle tickets for one holiday raffle ticket.We decorated an empty office (with a nice blank brick wall) with a tree and a large-screen monitor (about three feet across) that showed a lovely fire burning in a brick fireplace.

We got help to set up a webcam and server and distributed a link by e-mail so people across the company could watch the draw live (well, with a ten-second delay). Apparently the quality was pretty good, but the fireplace just showed flare.Our holiday raffle, for which prizes were distributed today, raised $2010, and about 120 lbs of food (73 pounds of which was contributed by ONE person, who ended up winning four prizes and who immediately gave back two of them to the draw).