Tuesday, April 13, 2021

I'm Rusting Away!

In the past few weeks, I've basically been told I'm getting old three times by three different doctors. 

First I saw a dermatologist about a spot on my face and while I was there I showed her some other spots that have arrived in recent years. She reassured me that they were just something that came with age.  I'm not sure that made me feel any better but at least I knew the blemishes were nothing to worry about.

Then I called my eye doctor for my annual check-up and when I was told they were currently booking appointments in July I mentioned a problem that had just come up a couple of weeks ago and asked if it might be related to my cataracts. I have an appointment with the eye specialist about those before July. The receptionist kindly said she would pull my file and consult the doctor who phoned me back a little while later to ask more questions. She said it may be related to cataracts or it might just be a thing that happens to older people. If she gets an opening sooner than July she will have me come in so she can evaluate the situation.

Then today I had a little phone consultation with my general practitioner. I have been having trouble with a shoulder for a while now and it was long past time for it to heal on its own. He listened to me explain the problem, asked a few more questions, and then told me he thought it was one of two things, but the underlying theme seemed to be degeneration due to age.  At least he didn't come right out and tell me I was just getting old and to get used to it.  He prescribed pills to try to help me sleep through the night and if that doesn't work, I can go for physiotherapy. In the meantime, now that I've heard what the conditions may be I can look them up online and find the exercises there.  At least I'm not too old to do that!

Tuesday, March 16, 2021

A New Ketchup Label for Heinz

 The Heinz company anonymously asked people worldwide to draw ketchup. What most people drew was a bottle of Heinz ketchup. Then Kraft Heinz Canada decided to make a contest out of it with everyone openly knowing that Heinz was the sponsor. They promised to supply a bottle of ketchup to the winners with a personalized label made from their own drawing. This sounded like fun to me.

The instructions were not detailed in any way. They just said to draw ketchup and told us how to post the results.  Well, I had a ketchup bottle in the fridge and had drawn a hamburger for Inktober, so I decided to add a little ketchup to the burger and redraw it beside my bottle. Unfortunately, I started with the burger and ran out of room at the top of the page so my bottle got a little squished. I sent it in anyway.

My little painting was quite popular on my social media channels. Apparently, Heinz liked it too as I became one of the 250 lucky people to be honoured with a bottle of ketchup bearing my own personally drawn label. 

 At first, I thought they had sent me the wrong bottle as they had removed the burger from my painting. They just needed the label I drew to put on my bottle. Then I recognized my screwy lettering and knew it was mine after all.  Removing the burger also meant that the measurement of the bottle contents disappeared because only part of it was visible. Or maybe they would have removed it anyway as the bottle I drew contained much more than the bottle they sent me.

My bottle arrived this week in its own special Draw Ketchup box with my name and town printed right under the bottle in the box. This is a keepsake for sure. The question remains, do I use the ketchup and just save the bottle, or do I keep the whole thing intact?  What would you do?

Tuesday, February 9, 2021

It's Time to Revamp the Postal System

Our postal system is broken.  I suppose you could blame that on Covid-19 as a lot more people are ordering things online and the Post Office has failed to keep up with the demand.  But come on, already. They have had almost an entire year to get their act together.

Parcels now routinely take an entire month to get here, and then we have to wait in line out in the Canadian winter weather, to fetch them because our tiny Post Office only has room for two people in the office at one time.  The main problem is not here though.  For the third time now, I have tracked a parcel that almost gets here and then goes on an adventure to somewhere else.  

My most recent shipment was sent from Stratford and then got stalled at Mississauga due to the Covid-19 outbreak there.  Then somehow it went to Lanark by mistake. It made it back to within 12 miles of me yesterday. I went to the Post Office today thinking it might actually be there.  But no.  For some unknown reason, it is now in Ottawa again.  It usually takes two days to get out of there so I may get it by the end of this week if it doesn't go traveling again.  

Traveling parcels seem to be a thing this past year.  One went by here on the highway twice without stopping while I watched the tracking notices.  It was little, like the current one, and I thought it had just dropped between the others and been forgotten when other things were dropped off. Another package got as far as Ottawa twice but then went to both Winnipeg and Montreal before it got to me. What I'm being told is there is a shortage of shipping containers, so things get stalled. I figure things get so busy in Ottawa they don't even have room to take them off the truck and just send them on to some other location to deal with. That's highly inefficient!

The system is overloaded and cannot handle the traffic as it stands. When workers are sick matters get even worse. It's time the government realized that this pandemic will not end soon and that many people will now continue to buy online even once it's over. The Post Office seems to have done nothing to prepare for the ongoing work overload.  

Locally there is a little truck that in less busy times sometimes actually tried to deliver the odd parcel. These days when that really would help the situation downtown, that's not happening. And since there is always a need for someone at the counter now, dealing with people shipping or picking up parcels, that must slow down the sorting behind the scenes too. 

It's time for Canada Post to hire more workers, buy more shipping containers and perhaps enlarge their shipping and receiving areas. Right now, the old American Pony Express system seems more efficient.

Sunday, January 31, 2021

Five Star Reviews

 As most of my friends on social media know, I frequently do reviews on new products supplied to me by the manufacturers or through agencies such as Topbox, Shopper Army or Chickadvisor.   I always give my honest opinion.  While I have been introduced to many products that I have happily continued to purchase there have been others that I didn't like for one reason or another and said so in my reviews.

I also so surveys, not just for the mad money it brings in (I have collected $90 this month) but also because I am rather opinionated (cough, cough) and like having an outlet for that.  I have noticed one question has been popping up frequently in recent months about reviews.  They ask if I trust the reviews posted on Amazon or Walmart, etc.  Well, of course I do because I am one of the reviewers.  I always figured if I was provided with a product and told that a negative review would not affect my chance at getting others to test then anyone who bothers to review something they didn't get for free would also be truthful.  So yes  I trust the reviews but always read several because personal tastes and options vary.

The items I receive for free are often posted on my Instagram page.  This week I got a message on Instagram offering me more free stuff if I gave 5 Star reviews on Amazon. 

What? They want me to jeopardize my integrity?  No way!  I looked into this further and found that small companies and knock-off artists wanted good ratings to help boost their sales. I want no part of that.  I will continue to give my honest opinion in my reviews but now I will be suspicious of any actual 5 Star ratings.  Personally, I seldom go higher than 4 Stars as I believe there is almost always room for improvement. Now I will be very wary of 5 Star reviews!

Saturday, January 9, 2021

Good Food From Leftover Scraps

These days, with more and more people being at home and maybe not wanting to venture out to the grocery store, there is a lot more home cooking going on.  People are learning to bake, make their own bread and soups, and finding out that cooking can actually be fun.  I have been at home for almost 47 years and have always cooked the family meals anyway, but I still tend to use recipes for most of what I cook.

A few years ago a lady at the Drop-In Centre I like to hang out at came up with the idea of making Stone Soup once a month. I had never heard of stone soup before so she explained it to us all.  It seems a traveler came to a village where he found the people unwilling to share their food. He filled his pot with water and a stone and set it on the fire. When asked what he was doing he told the people that he was making stone soup and that it was really good. He said he would share it with them but it needed something extra before it would be ready. Each villager contributed a little something to the pot and in the end, the whole village was able to enjoy a delicious soup without denting their precious food supplies.

I have made many soups over the years but I had never heard of this, and I always used a recipe.  The soups we had at the Drop-In Center were marvelous and never the same. Suddenly I was feeling much braver. Throw stuff in a pot and eat.  What a concept! 

I have an Instant Pot. To cook anything in there you have to add liquid first. Juices off the meats fall into the liquid and make such marvelous juices and I began saving them in the freezer.  Now I combine a couple and maybe add some bouillon or store-bought broth to it to make more, and throw in whatever happens to be in my fridge....leftover corn, bits of meat, maybe some cooked pasta or rice...it doesn't matter.  The combinations are endless and I doubt that I could ever duplicate anything. I do remember that the juices from a country chicken dinner and those from barbequed flavoured spare ribs together were totally amazing.  Who knew?  And just like the villagers, I feel that I'm getting a good, hardy meal (a few actually) out of free bits that might otherwise have ended up in the garbage or down the drain.  

A bit of homemade bread just adds to the enjoyment.

Or, since we are using leftovers from the fridge, how about some potato buns?  Enjoy.


Friday, November 20, 2020

The Covid Grinch

Today the Prime Minister of Canada said that a normal Christmas is off the table. I had already decided that and informed my family a couple of weeks ago.

Normally by now, I would have already been to my first Christmas house party. I'd have a lot of my baking done, and would even have received my first Christmas card. Soon we would have a major Christmas event in our village with people coming from far and wide to take part. None of that is happening this year. Exchanging presents with my family is also off the table.

Pandemics change the way the world works.  People are working from home, shopping more often online, wearing masks when they venture out, and keeping their distance from those they meet. Shopping for gifts is much more difficult this year. Normally I wander the stores hoping to find something that will make me think of one of my recipients. I seldom know what I'm after until I see it. I ask for lists but never get them so they just have to be happy with what I find.  This year I have not been in an actual store except for groceries since March. The second wave of this nasty virus is upon us and there are more cases than ever so I'm not about to start shopping now, at the time of year when the stores would have even more people.....or worse still, lineups to get into the stores where I'm not even sure I'd find something.

As for shopping online, it helps to have a clue what you are looking for or you could be scrolling aimlessly for months. For me, there is an even bigger problem than that. While many of you are lucky enough to have things delivered to your door, I live where you have to go to the post office to pick up a parcel. There are lineups there already so you can imagine what it will be like as the big day draws closer. Only a couple of people are allowed into the building at a time so everyone else has to stand outside at this time of year when the weather is also about to get worse.  I'm too old to stand for long, freezing temperatures or not.

I finally faced the fact that I just couldn't do it. I have told my family not to expect presents this year.  Instead, I suggested that they take the money they would have spent on us and go buy something they want for themselves if they care to. Unlike me, they can get packages delivered to their door. It might be nice if they could show us in pictures or live video on Christmas morning and we would still get a surprise, and delight in their choices. That's right, we can't even be together for the holidays. 

What I want most from Santa is a new bed, and that is one thing I know can be delivered here without a problem.  I just won't be able to test out any in the shops, but that's okay as I used to order my mattresses from the Sears catalogue. I will miss getting together with my loved ones, but I am actually relieved not to have to try shopping for presents under the current circumstances.

The Grinch has stolen Christmas this year. He came disguised as Covid-19 (or maybe me), not the Prime Minister.

Sunday, November 8, 2020

Enjoying a Summery November

 I saw someone walking out of a store yesterday carrying a Christmas wreath. I thought, "What? No way!" and then had to remind myself that it's actually November. Halloween is over and people are starting to decorate for Christmas.  That's mindblowing to me as it feels like summer this week.

The only difference is, the leaves are gone.

We couldn't pass up a chance to go for a walk on a local trail in this 20C weather. This one is close to home but I have not explored much of it over the 46 years I've lived here. We didn't really go too far this time either but we enjoyed the walk and will definitely go again.

On the hill above our village is an old country road called the Scotch Line that runs through the northern portion of the Limerick Forest. It is not fit for automobiles but very popular with recreational vehicles and people walking their dogs.  Some parts of the road are naturally paved in limestone that lies at the surface level up there. Other parts of the road are often muddy or downright wet.  

Shortly after we began we came to a side road called the Old Schoolhouse Road, which is also naturally paved in places but leads to a swamp. I have no idea where the old school was, as I didn't see any sign of it on our journey today.

The recreational vehicles were out in full force though. The fact that the water covered the road far beyond where we could see didn't stop them. We saw four different vehicles make the journey into the wetlands. I do hope they made it out the other side without getting stuck. Maybe there is enough rock on the roadway through the swamp to prevent that. 

I walked through there once during a dryer period back in 2000 but it was not possible today, so we went back and continued up the Scotch Line. Old cedar rail fences line the abandoned fields. Many of them have been knocked over with the passage of time but I found this one little stretch where it was still in pretty good shape. 

There is nothing too exciting at our end of the road, but there are apparently some boardwalks into the swamp further along, and an old abandoned house somewhere too.  I love to explore trails and this time of year is perfect because there are no bugs. Summer weather in November is okay with me. Just don't mention Christmas.