Sunday, September 30, 2012

And then it was the end of the weekend...

My second pan of vegetable soup improved much in taste when I added a good dash of black pepper and a generous helping of herbs from the Provence. It definitely made it a more flavorful soup to eat and the aroma that wafted up to my nose was much more pleasant too. 

I find great pleasure in slicing and dicing the vegetables with which I am generous and of which I always put in extra and chunky too. I take my time doing this job and really, why should I rush through it? The whole process can be very meditative and relaxing. 

I double the recipe and use the biggest pan I have and it's enormous but at the rate I eat soup, it has to be. Later this week I'm going to make onion soup and lentil soup. I don't know which one I'm looking forward to eating most. Both of them will be fun to fix. 

I've given Tyke extra attention and cuddles and hugs and he's returning back to normal. On Saturday, he kept molesting Gandhi but he's starting to act more like a gentleman now. No doubt he wanted to reaffirm hs position in the hierarchy. I'm happy to say that I'm still the alpha dog. 

A very good long time friend of mine from California is going to be visiting me for two weeks soon.  It will be a good incentive to quit smoking because she has asthma and can't be around smokers. I will quit as soon as I've finished the last package of tobacco and air out the apartment really well.

My friend will be flying into Brussels airport and I'm taking the train from Maastricht to pick her up there. I booked my round trip ticket on line today and printed it out also. It has three security codes on it to make it fraude proof. I was smart enough to also print the schedule of the trip there and back so I know at which stations to change trains.

I've got exciting times ahead of me but now it's time to go to bed. 

Saturday, September 29, 2012

Home again...

I am home again after a week of many emotions and many activities but I do have to say that, as sad events go, at least we were able to take care of everything that needed to get done and deal with our emotions as well as we could. We weren't always as successful at the latter as we could have been but for the most part we rounded off the week well. 

When I finally got home, one of the first things I did was have a good cry because that was something I had not got around to doing yet and I have to say that it came as a big relief. I cried for the suffering that my sister went through and was glad that it didn't last long. She was very brave. 

Tyke was a very happy dog when he saw me. The Exfactor had brought him home before I got there so he was waiting for me behind the front door.  He's not in the least traumatized for me having left him for such a long time but he is trying to get some extra attention by misbehaving a little. I have to make sure I give him many spontaneous cuddles and hugs. He is very happy to be walking through his own neighborhood again and is sniffing and peeing in all his usual spots.

One of the other things I had to do was go grocery shopping and I also went to the Turkish vegetable shop and for a very reasonable amount of money bought all the ingredients to make four huge pans full of vegetable soup for the next week or so. Soup is my main staple, it is what I live on so the soup goes quickly. I eat two bowls of it at nearly every meal.

The Turkish vegetable shop is a wonderful place to hang out at. Everything looks so fresh and appetizing. When I see the abundance of different vegetables, I feel like looking up all sorts of recipes. Not being able to eat lactose or gluten does eliminate a lot of dishes though.

My sister Marianne's specialist told me that not having an over abundance of iron in my blood most likely means that I do not carry the gene for hemochromatosis and I am greatly relieved. I no longer worry about it and since have learned that intestinal problems are not necessarily the disorder's symptoms. It's more likely that Marianne and I both had/have food intolerances/allergies. 

 Marianne always drank a huge amount of milk and ate a huge amount of dairy products. When she was put on a diet in an attempt to slow down  the speed of development of her disorder, her intestinal problems almost disappeared. Unfortunately, she didn't stick to the diet and her problems reappeared.

I've unpacked my suitcase and I have to iron one dress jacket that suffered badly for having been folded up in there. I must remember to fold it differently the next time I pack it. That will be when I go to Houston in December.  I can't wait.

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Later in the week.

First of all, I want to thank all of you who left a kind comment on my last post. It really helps to know that you were all thinking about us at this time.

We've been taking care of all sorts of details and I'm happy to say that my niece is now pulling herself together and carrying her weight to the best of her ability. We support her as well as we can and her husband is a great guy and worth his weight in gold.

We certainly get to know each other very well under these circumstances and because of the occasional stress, it isn't always our best side. Luckily, we instantly forgive each other and remember to have compassion. There will be no grudges carried and if anything is left unsaid, it will be talked about at a later date.

Erica and do do other things every day but sit and cocern ourselves with the business of taking care of all the details and being a support for our niece. Yesterday morning we went shopping and in the evening we had dinner with some friends of hers. It is very nice to have these diversions because otherwise we'd go mad with the intensity of it all.

The Exfactor is taking care of Tyke and took him to his house where everything is going well except that his cat is awfully angry at him and won't come inside. I'm sure the Exfactor will be forgiven once Tyke is gone again.

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

My sister Marianne

Yesterday morning, at 7|50 am, my sister Marianne died a peaceful death in the intensive care unit of the Schepers Hospital in Emmen. My sister Erica and I had hurriedly packed our bags the evening before and made the three hour drive to be with her on time. Although Mariaane was in extremely bad shape, she knew we were with her and she was able to talk with us a little every now and then.

She had been given a year to live but that had been an optimistic estimate because in the end it was only three weeks. At least now she is in peace and free from all her pain and suffering,

Erica and I will be staying here until Friday when the cremation will be. We find a lot of support in each other and together take care of all the details that need to be arranged because her daughter is not able to.

I will write here as I get the opportunity because it is good to take a time out every now and then to gather my thoughts.

Sunday, September 23, 2012


My sister Marianne has several months ago been diagnosed with the genetic disorder called hemochromatosis. This is basically an overabundance of iron in the blood. This overabundance of iron settles into the liver and other organs and also affecrs the heart and the intestines. It is the liver that suffers the most and it can get badly damaged and make you very ill.

My sister's health had not been good for a long time but she had neglected to take care of it and ignored all sorts of symptoms. She did not accept any advice from anyone but then again her own docter wasn't much of a help eiither and didn't take her seriously enough. 

She had a lot of gastro-intestinal problems and for some time played with the thought that she might have an intolerance for lactose and gluten. This was really not her own idea but that of her daughter who saw what effect these foods had on her. My sister never made a serious attempt to give them up.

She developed other sorts of health problems and finally the situation could not be ignored any longer. After all sorts of tests, the diagnosis was made but it was discovered that the disorder is in a very far advanced stage and that nothing can be done about it. A liver transplant won't help her because there is too much damage to the other organs. 

As a result of the liver damage, she has also developed liver cirrosis which causes a whole set of health problems on its own.

Marianne is on a whole regime of medicines to fight the worst symptoms. She is very sucseptible to infections and just already had one. She was found nearly incoherent by her daughter and best friend with a high fever and completely dehydrated. She was put on a course of antibiotics and is doing better now but has not recovered to the state she was in before she got the infection.

She has less than a year to live but we think she won't even last that long. My younger sister Erica and I went up north to see her earlier this month and we were shocked when we did. She looked so very ill. 

Marianne's daughter and Erica and I will have to have a DNA test to see if we carry the gene for hemochromatosis because it is inheritable.

After talking to my niece yesterday and hearing more about Marianne's earlier symptoms, I have decided to make a doctor's appointment as soon as possible. I am, and have benn, having a lot of gastro-intestinal problems and especially with lactose and gluten. I have removed them from my diet. I do better now but basically any kind of food gives me some problem to some extend. I have also lost quite a bit of weight lately although that has not been my intention.

Because of Marianne's condition, we have all done a lot of reading about hemochromatosis and liver disease and the function of food in our bodies. Marianne is on a special diet that is supposed to be of the most benefit to her. I actually think that the three of us know more about all the subjects than Marianne does. 

I have only discussed my concerns with my niece and won't talk about them with anyone else until I find out more. Well, now I'm disclosing them to you of course. I had to tell this whole story to someone. It is a lot to walk around with.

Saturday, September 22, 2012

Om the more normal end of things...

I had lots of fun picking out the ingredients for the lentil soup in the grocery store yesterday and I bought enough to make a couple of big pans full of it. I had an equal amount of fun later in the day taking my time preparing all the vegetables and then very carefully taking the steps to put the soup together and letting it simmer. Very quickly a delicious aroma filled the apartment but because I had never made this recipe before, I was a bit anxious about how it was going to taste, especially with the red curry paste in it of which I only put in half as much as was required. 

Right when it was dinner time, and the lentil soup was done, the Exfactor showed up so I had a big bowl of soup to offer him. Let's just say that when we ate the soup, we didn't talk much. It was so good. I can't believe I made such good soup and it has given me all sorts of courage to make all sorts of soup now that I understand the basics. I've found a recipe called 'Grandmother's Vegetable Soup' and it has lots of good ingredients and doesn't look difficult to make at all. It will be like going back to my childhood when people made this soup every weekend. 

The morning I spent with my friend downtown was very productive because we both successfully shopped and were not stressed by it at all. We just very easily breezed from one store into another and helped each other find the most flattering pieces of clothiing. I had my birthday money to spend and didn't really have a clear idea of what I wanted to spend it on but hoped to see something nice enough and be inspired. 

I was at one store and quite unexpectedly ran into a very fashionable short winter jacket that said 'I'm female and I know it' all over it. Boy, that was hanging there for the very purpose of me to buy it. The very knowledgeable sales woman helped me get the right size and I'm thrilled to pieces with it. Lasr night I wanted to wear it to bed. 

I also treated myself to a large order of french fries at the McDonald's on Market Square. I had not been in there in years and had not tasted a french fry in that amount of time either. I do have to say that it was an extremely pleasant experience and that I was able to finish almost the whole order. I had not expected that and ordering the fries had really been an experiment to see how much I could get away with. It's wonderful to know that I will be able to eat something that's not necessarily good for me once in a while. Besides, I am the original potato eater in any shape, size or form. 

It will be a treat to relax this weekend. I had a busy week and I have another busy one coming up but that is not a complaint. It does make me appreciate the more empty hours although I do end up looking for things to do. And then there's always Tyke to roam around with.

Friday, September 21, 2012

How to make soup...

The food I always enjoy the most, and that agrees with my stomach the best too, is any kind of chunky soup. I could eat it for any meal because it is the most satisfying and filling and causes me the least amount of bother. I buy the best brand of soup that is truly packed with the best ingredients but it is a little expensive. For that reason I've decided to start making my own soup and yesterday I looked up a recipe that seemed appealing for lentil soup. 

There were a lot of recipes for it and they all had some sort of magic ingredient that made them different from each other but the one I picked out seems easy to make and has red curry paste in it. That really appeals to my taste buds and I can already imagine the taste of it now. It is a vegetarian recipe but I imagine that for the flavor you could easily add some sort of meat to it. I do have to think about getting enough protein now that I'm completely off milk products and the foods that contain them.

If this soup turns out to be a success, I'll look up recipes for other soups and seriously start making them. It will be a fun activity because the truth is that I do enjoy cooking when I have a good reason to. In another life I used to give dinner parties and they were quite successful.

I may get bit by the cooking bug all over again and start enjoying this necessary hobby as much as I used to. It's especially crucial now that I'm limited in what I can eat so it's a challenge to fix the foods that I can and fix the most nutritious ones. I walked by the seafood section in the supermarket the other day and did see lots of interesting things that made my eyes light up. And of course there was fresh herring on sale. 

I have to go grocery shopping this morning and it will be a treat to get the ingredients for the soup. I'll rediscover the produce section of the store all over again because I don't hang out there very much so it will be a journey into a new realm. 

I was supposed to have met my friend downtown earlier this week but she got sick and had to cancel so I'm meeting her there later this morning instead. We both have a couple of errands to run so no doubt we will fill our time well but hopefully still have time to sit and have a coffee at an outdoor cafe. It's not been a real visit downtown if you haven't done that.

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Another Thursday already...

I have started drinking my coffee black because I have to tell you that drinking it with the soy milk wasn't really that much of a success. I didn't really like the way it made the coffee taste. I even bought some vanilla flavored soy milk in the hopes that it would add something extra but that was even worse. It really didn't taste like a cup of coffee then anymore at all and that really wasn't the purpose of the experiment.

So black coffee it is and I don't mind that so very much at all. At least I can still drink coffee because I thought I was doomed to have to go without. Can you imagine me without caffeine in me and being able to function well? I do have to say that I make the coffee a little bit weaker bacause it turned out that I made a heck of a strong cup. That had not been so obvious when I still drank it with milk in it. 

I made one heck of a mistake the other day. I bought some digestives that said on the label that they might have traces of milk in them. I thought that was so vague that it was worth the chance to try them and I ate five of them. Well, to make a long story short, I suffered from the effects of that for two days so I learned my lesson well. I should not even ignore a vague warning.

I'm working a lot nowadays and getting properly tired and sleeping well as a result of that. I think the very relaxing walke with Tyke also help though. I don't have very many boring moments anymore and if I do, I look for something to keep me busy.

Riding my bike has become such a breeze.I used to get bothered about going up an incline and now I don't even think about it anymore but just pedal a little harder. Distances don't make a difference either. Things that seemed far away before now are easy and quick to reach. I don't worry about the traffic and weave my way in and out. Everything becomes a routine if you do it often enough and your body does become trained. I'm sure I'll only get in better shape as time passes. 

It's time to eat the first half of my breakfast. I can't eat enough all at once and I have to eat the second half an hour later. That does make for a very exciting morning.

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

The work...

I worked with someone yesterday who was completely relaxed and at ease with the job which made doing the work a lot of fun and all of it was a breeze and the morning went by very quickly. This made me realize that the people I had worked with so far had all been very stressed and uptight, putting pressure where no pressure was necessary. Knowing this now, I will approach these situations differently and try to influence them with my own approach.. It will take some assertiveness and diplomacy but I will see it through. There's no need to run around like chickens with our heads cut off as if a calamity is going to take place if we aren't running ahead of schedule by at least half an hour.

The nice thing about walking with Tyke is that he dawdles a lot but that I let him. This makes the walk last twice as long and forces me to slow down, especially when I'm having what I think is a busy day. When I'm rushed, he makes me slow down to a different pace and really forces me to take that little hour to do nothing but walk slowly and observe my surroundings in a very lazy manner. I very quickly feel all of me start to relax and I know that whatever I have left to do can darn well wait. That dog really fits my personality. Tyke always makes me take the time for a cuddle or a hug or a good romp with the tennis ball. There are lots of little times out during the entire day but the walks are the really good ones.. 

I wore a dress for a change yesterday and I think people were surprised to see that I had legs which so far had been covered by skinny jeans. I hadn't worn that dress in a while and it almost was too big but because of the design that wasn't obvious. The drawback about losing weight is that your clothes get too big and if they are supposed to be tight fitting this is a bit of a problem. I appreciate the few pieces of clothing I have that fit loosely as long as they don't look like potato sacks around my thinned down frame.

Eating is going well. I haven't had a major uproar in two days and that is because I'm getting smarter about the food I eat. I'm experiencing more meals when I just feel very comfortable afterwards and that is such a nice pleasure for a change. .It took a while for me for the reality of the situation to really sink in and get absolutely serious and strict about the lactose but I've got it down to a science now. You'd be surprised at how many foods have some sort of milk product as an ingredient in it. A lot of foods too that you would not expect it of which means you very innocently buy it and end up having to take it back to the store with your receipt for your money back. 

I have to go back to bed now and sleep a few more hours. I have to go grocery shopping this morning and I'm expecting the Exfactor for a cup of coffee and to put a new bell on the handle bars of my bike. I'm meeting a friend downtown later and we're going to shop and eat lunch at an outdoor cafe.

Have a good day you all.

Sunday, September 16, 2012

A wonderful day...

The day I spent yesterday with my American ex-husband turned out to be a very nice one and neither one of us wanted it to end. We really enjoyed each other's company and it was no effort at all because being together came completely natural. We spent most of the day downtown walking all over the place admiring all the old architecture and doing lots of window shopping, and at regular intervals we sat down at an outdoor cafĂ© for something to eat or drink and people watch. 

We also spent time at my apartment and Tyke fell in love with him at first sight and the feeling was mutual. Those two bonded immediately and had lots of fun playing together. My ex always was very good with little kids and animals. They gravitate towards him. 

I didn't eat anything that was bad for me yesterday and was able to enjoy a regular sized lunch without running into any problems. I can't begin to tell you what a pleasure that was. The food was all high quality food with no additives or hidden ingredients in it at all. I'm getting very food wise and will remember every place where I've eaten without a problem and every meal that has settled well so I can do it over again. 

When I was out and had a cup of coffee, I drank it black so I would not have to use the creamer which is milk based. It turned out not to be all that bad to drink my coffee black as long as it was a well made cup which you do get here in the cafes. And let's face it, when you're out and about, you do need a pick me up every now and then. At home I've reached that point that I no longer mind the taste of the soy milk in my coffee and have come to like it.

Today I have to go and help my nephew celebrate his 18th birthday which makes him officially a young adult although we have been treating him like that for a while. He stopped being a kid some time ago. He's very tall and towers above me but still bends down and gives me a hug when I see him.

I slept fantastically well last night and didn't wake up once until it was truly morning and I went to bed on time too. I hardly remember falling asleep, that's how tired I was.

Now it's time to get the day started.  It will be another wonderful one.

Saturday, September 15, 2012

A lunch date...

I was gobsmacked when I got a phone call yesterday afternoon from my first American ex-husband who turned out to be in the country doing business in a town about an hour's drive from here. I had not heard from him since the holidays last year so it was really a surprise to hear his voice. To make a long story short, he is driving down here in the morning and we will be spending the day together and bringing each other up to date about our lives. I think it's wonderful because I genuinely do enjoy seeing him and spending time in his company. We're always on our best behavior when we do meet. 

My other ex-husband, the Exfactor, did me a big favor yesterday and went to the Hema and bought the suitcase that I had seen there but had been unable to get because I couldn't bring it home on my bike. I'm going to need that suitcase when I go to see my daughter over the holidays. It's a very sturdy one on wheels that can be pulled along with a retractable handle. I think it is more than big enough for all the things I want to bring with me and that will include some typical Dutch foods to satisfy my daughter and grandson with. 

After looking at several websites of worthy causes, and feeling compassion but also unease at all of them, I decided to become a supporter of Unicef and at the same time also sign up to become a volunteer. I think that just about fills up my agenda of activities and I hope it isn't too much but I do want to spend as much spare time as I can doing useful and interesting things. I do hate an afternoon that is wasted doing nothing and doing the dishes doesn't count as a useful activity. 

 I made the mistake yesterday of eating bread that had lactose in it. I didn't realize that when I did but I certainly suffered the effects of it immediately. Then I read the fine print of the lable. It is very obvious that with everything I buy and eat I have to find out exactly what the ingredients are because the consequenxes aren't pretty. There doesn't have to be that much of the offending ingredient either. I can't handle any of it. 

The good thing is that my eczema is clearing up and I'm not itching nearly as much as I used to. On my ears it has completely disappeared. I'm also not allergic to the metal band of my watch anymore and my earrings don't bother me either. 

I've got to go sleep for a few more hours. Tyke woke me up because he had to go out back for a piddle but now he's snoring on the sofa. 

Life is but a dream.

Friday, September 14, 2012


I don't remember if I told you that I became a member of the Labor Party and that I signed up as a volunteer for the local branch. When I did, I looked at the jobs that were available and there were all sorts of inteesting ones both indoors and outside. I'm sure there will be all sorts of activities to my liking. Already I have gotten an invitation to the yearly country wide party meeting at the end of September and I have to RSVP it but I'm pretty sure that I'll go. I'll have to take the train to Utrecht and that's pretty straight forward.

I've also become a member of Greenpeace Nederland and become a voluntee there. By having become a member, I can take the initiative myself and join actions anywhere in the country or wait until I am specidically contacted for one. Depending on what my schedule looks like, I will decide which action to become involved in.. I was a member of Greenpeace when I lived in the States but just a donating one, I never did man the barricades. I was too middle class for that.

There are some other causes I'm interested in like Unicef and Doctors Without Borders and Amnesty International but I don't want to spread myself too thin. It's worth looking into these organizations and see what sort of help they can use and then at least I will have some idea but I don't think I will make any more commitments. 

The work at my volunteer job is becoming very routine. It is, after all, not rocket science and the various chores are not hard to do. They are just labor intensive. The contact with the patients is interesting if you can get it and every once in a while you really get through. It's nice to see them make progress over the course of weeks and see them move from a wheelchair to a walker and then walking on their own until they can go home again. I find the women the most interesting and feisty.

Tyke wasn't eating his new kibbles at all. He was going hungry instead of eating. I even tried to hand feed him but he only ate a little bit reluctantly. Last night I made a cup of hot chicken bouillon and poured it over his kibbles and let it sit for a while. When I gave it to him, he couldn't believe his eyes and he ate everything in no time at all. He finally had a full stomach and luxuriated in it. After that we played ball for half an hour. 

I've got to go grocery shopping this morning and already I am looking forward to it because I've got a list going on the white board in the kitchen and on it are only fun things. That's basically the only way to shop. I've got to buy four kinds of soup and I already know which ones they are going to be having just about tried all of them. I get much better groceries when I buy them myself. Shopping is for the broad minded.

Thursday, September 13, 2012

The suspense is killing me...

As of last night. it was a neck to neck race as to which political party had won the elections and I'm not ready yet to turn on the television for an eventual outcome. I know it will still not be the final one and that it will possibly upset me so I'm going to wait for a while longer until I watch the news. We used to vote electronically but then it was thought that this was open to fraud and now we have to vote on paper again with a red pencil so the outcome is known a little later. It does keep everything fraught with suspense.

I'm sleeping a lot better, thank goodness. My psychiatrist was kind enough to prescribe sleeping pills for me and they make all the difference in the world. When you have been sleeping very badly, it is a huge relief to get a good night's sleep. I wake up so refreshed and renewed and ready to start the day. I think I will be functioning even better during the day and I was already doing pretty good. Tyke is getting used to me being asleep during the night and has stopped expecting me to be up in the wee hours.

I've washed a load of laundry in the new washing powder and to my great pleasure, the laundry smells very good as it hangs on the drying rack in the bathroom. That is an added benefit that I was not expecting but you know how I am about nice smells. I do adore them. As a result of that, I'm going to wash a lot of the clothes that I wear regularly so they will all smell good. Besides, doing laundry is one of my favorite jobs and I don't need to get my arm twisted to do it. 

The toaster is turning out to be a godsend because toast is easier for me to eat than fresh bread so I do get my vitamins and fiber in. I've been eating it with clover honey and that does taste very nice and makes me feel virtuous as if I'm doing a good deed.  I can easily eat four pieces of toast and not have a stomach upset. The chunky vegetable soup is agreeing with me the most and two bowls of it settle in my stomach quite nicely. It's such a wondrous thing to be able to eat normally. I sure suffered like a fool long enough.

I've got to work today and afterwards go to the Hema to exchange the alarm clock I got for my birthday that doesn't work well. I'm more than ready to go to work because it's been a couple of days since I have. It's always fun to walk around for a whole morning with a smile on your face and feel appreciated. 

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Carrying water to the sea...

Lately I have been feeling a greater need to write blog posts and whenever I'm facing a longer stretch of time when I have nothing else to do, I take advantage of that opportunity. My life may have gotten a little bit busier but it's not so filled yet that I don't have empty periods when I have nothing better to do. With some luck and effort I will bring a change to that, and with even more luck I will start to sleep better, but untill that time I can indulge myself and sit here and write down my not all that important thoughts.

Today is the day that we go voting for the political party of our choice and at the same time determine who our prime minister will be. It's a close race between a party to the right and one to the left and everything is up in the air and very suspenseful. Lots of important issues are at stake and these elections really count for a lot. We've watched numerous debates and have been bombarded with analyses and we are probably the most informed voting public in the world.. Yet the outcome can't be predicted.

I told you that I had bought a very special dog food for Tyke because he needs to eat healthy and lose some weight. I was very strict with him yesterday and refused to give him anything else but the kibbles in his bowl no matter how much he begged for other food. Finally, at the end of the day he gave up and ate everything in his bowl and apparently liked it. It was just a question of me being more stubborn than he was and me being able to ignore his antics. He did put on quite a drama. The cat is so much easier to satisfy although they are sipposed to be so finicky.

Of the two pairs of skinny jeans I bought, I very quickly picked one pair as my favorite. When I first got a look at them, they seemed impossibly small and I could not imagine being able to fit in them. I haven't gotten used to me being this skinny. When I tried them on, I thought I'd never be able to show myself in public in them but now I wear them all the time and they get more comfortable each time I wear them. I do have to admit to some vanity but I'm sure I'm forgiven that. A person can't be totally perfect all the time after all.

Now that I do the grocery shopping myself, I'm able to choose which products I want to use because I can compare prices and the relative quality. The Exfactor always picked the cheapest item but it wasn't always what I was happiest with. Very often I do want the better and more expensive product, especially if it's on sale. But I hate to be nitpicky about a Euro and do want to spend the extra money if that means that something will taste better or do a better job. I'm trying a new and better washing powder and hopefully my expectations will not be dashed. Now I can't wait to do a load of laundry.

After trying several brands of soup, I've found one brand that is really the best and I eat it with much pleasure and the least amount of stomach upset. I didn't have my glasses on to read the list of ingredients but maybe it has the least additives. I ate two bowls of the Chunky Chinese Chicken and was satisfied and full. I've also got Chunky Vegetable and Spicy Mustard to try. Yes, I do lead an adventurous culinairy life but when you live alone, you want the least amount of bother when it comes to fixing food.

I've got to try and get one more hour of sleep before I get ready and dressed to walk Tyke and go to the voting place. When I lived in the States all those years, I was never able ro vote because I was not a citizen but now I am glad I was not and that I'm able to vote here. I get so much satisfaction out of it.

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

On a rainy Tuesday...

I've taken everything that was dairy related out of the refrigerator and either threw it away or gave it to the Exfactor this morning. When I went grocery shopping, I bought soy milk to put in my coffee because the liquid creamer I had was made of milk. I am now getting used to the way the coffee tastes with the soy milk but it isn't too bad and I think I will survive it. There are too many benefits to not using milk products so I have to completely ban them from my diet. Already my eczema is clearing up. 

I bought biological honey to put on my toast and I've found a spot on the counter to permanently leave the toaster out. I can now eat toast whenever I want and Tyke likes it too. He was a little suspicious of the honey at first because he never had that before but his desire to eat everything overcame his reluctance. 

I'm trying a new dog food because Tyke weighs 17 kilos and according to the vet he has to lose three. I'm going to have to be very careful about how much he eats and how nutritious it is for him. Right now he is on strike and he won't eat the new dogfood but I won't give him anything else. I did spend some money on it and made sure it was a good brand because nothing is too good for Tyke. He's like my little kid after all.

I'm supposed to go to the pharmacy to pick up a supply of medicines but it's been raining all afternoon and it doesn't look as if it's going to ease up. I guess that at some point I'll just have to get on my bike and go and  not get too bothered about getting wet. It won't leave permanent scars and I won't get a horrible disease from it. When you get right down to it, rain is pretty harmless. It's a benign sort of assault. 

The Exfactor raised the handlebars on my bike so I won't sit so bent over and lean on my arms too much. It had been bothering me all along but just today I thought to ask him to fix that. Luckily he had the right tool to do it. It will be fun to try out my bike in a little while. It will be a stately ride. I will look like the queen on her best horse. 

It has stopped raining and I will put on my coat and make a run for it. I've pumped up my tires extra hard and gain amazing speeds. No doubt I'll get a speeding ticket soon. 

Monday, September 10, 2012

A beauty sleep...

Since I quit so many of those god awful medicines, I've had just one stroke of bad luck and that is that I sleep very poorly at night. I sleep in one hour segments and in between I'm wide awake for long periods of time. All together I get maybe 3 or 4 hours of sleep and I don't really make up for that during the day.

Last night this finally got on my nerves and I decided that I was more than ready to have a normal night's sleep. I had some sleeping pills left over that my psychiatrist prescribed for me at one point and took two of those and very expectantly laid me down to rest in my bed. I then proceeded to sleep very soundly for eight hours and when I woke up, I jumped out of bed in the best of moods. 

I wasn't hung over or groggy as you might have expected so I sent my psychiatrist an email respectfully asking him for more of these pills. I haven't heard from him yet and it is possible that he is not in the office. Luckily, I have two pills left so I can take those tonight. I'm not letting the chance at another peaceful night go by unnecessarily. I do know a good thing when I see it. 

My personal helper still comes to see me on Monday mornings but we are going to have to start tapering off because now it is just a coffee visit. We discuss very ordinary things and no problems because there aren't any and we have no real reason to get together anymore other than that we enjoy it. That's not a good enough excuse to get specialized help. 

My Monday afternoon domestic help  has gone with maternity leave but I've got somebody really good instead. He is a medical student and a vegetarian and politically to the left and a great conversation partner. He works very thoroughly too and he likes Tyke and Tyke likes him. I think from now on I only want intellectual domestic help. I made a phone call to the dispatcher who plans the schedules and made sure I always get this person. 

When you very often run into people with limited conversation skills and the resulting subject matters, it is a great relief to meet someone with opinions and the ability to express them. I often feel frustrated and deprived and breathe a sigh of relief when I can have a good conversation. 

I've officially become a member of the political party I'm voting for on Wednesday and let them know that I'm available for volunteer work. I hope to hear from them soon and that they will put me to use speedily. I've got enough free time that I can fill and I even don't mind being busy in the evenings. 

I will have so much to do that I will stay out of trouble forever.

Sunday, September 09, 2012

Skip to the beat...

I worked again this morning and to my great relief my feet have stopped hurting so much from all the walking around I do. It must have been a beginner's problem that is now abating. I am also getting very good at riding my bike to the clinic at the other side of town and am hardly out of breath when I get there even though it's up hill a bit. All of this must mean that I'm quickly getting into better shape and that, as I go along, my stamina is improving.

At my age that is a good thing and I'm planning on getting physically more competent as I get older. I will not go challenges out of the way. I do always want to go that extra mile and push myself just a little bit further. I don't know yet what I'm capable of and I don't think I am of any amazing feats but it will be more than I give myself credit for now. It is true that I always manage better than I had expected.

Today I took the cookie tin and removed all the broken cookies and ate those. That way I took care of the state of the tin and satisfied my longing for cookies. I'm not so much on a diet that I can't perform such an unselfish act. All the supplies in the little kitchen off the communal living room are refilled by the household team. The volunteers never have to worry about running out of anything and if we do, all we have to do is give a shout. The cookies appear as if by magic in the cabinets as does everything else. 

This morning I had to take the priest around to all the different rooms and ask the patients if they wanted to take communion before I let him into their rooms. Most of the patients did but there were some who absolutely didn't want to. The priest wore a white robe and had a large cross hanging on his chest and, despite his young age, looked quite impressive. Little did he know that I was an atheist but I didn't tell him that. He seemed so sincere. I have to take the priest around every Sunday that I work. Maybe God is doing his work in one of his mysterious ways. 

The beautiful analogue alarm clock I got from my sister for my birthday stopped working and I had to dive into the trash bag to retrieve the old one that still worked. It was necessary because I can't always be sure if I'll wake up on time in the morning without it. I usually do but you'll just see that I won't when I have to be somewhere on time. I don't think I'll sleep soundly if I think I'll oversleep. I don't do a very good job of sleeping anyway now without the sleeping pills. I just sort of slumber and take cat naps. Still, I function during the day and don't get into any bike accidents or major mishaps. 

Maybe this life is all a dream...

Saturday, September 08, 2012

and a bright blue sky...

I did my own grocery shopping the other day and I enjoyed it so much that I fired the Exfactor from always doing the job for me. I've become such an expert at riding my bike that there's no excuse not to ride it everywhere and the grocery store is really close by. Now that I've stopped drinking all those liters of milk, those don't need to be hauled around any more and that certainly simplifies things. There's no longer any danger of toppling over on the bike when I go around the corner of the street. 

I had forgotten how much fun it is to simply wander through the grocery store from one end to the other and look at everything even if I have a shopping list that I have to stick to. I sure as heck get a good idea of all the stuff that is on sale and what the possibilities are to expand my diet. When you are restricted to some extend, it is nice to get inspired by seeing the alternative foods that are available and that may be worth trying also. 

I also found out that at the counter where they sell the cigarettes and the tobacco, they also sell stamps for all the regions of the world so it's not necesarry to go to the little post office and stand in line like you always have to. That's a major convenience for impatient people. This was something the Exfactor knew about but had neglected to tell me. I always felt sorry for him when I wanted stamps because I thought he had to stand in line. 

It's much better to take care of your own stuff and not be dependent on someone else. That's the whole purpose of being an emancipated human being. It's to be self sufficient as much as possible. That doesn't mean that I don't want the Exfactor's help. It just means I'm going to ask it for things that I really can't manage on my own. I'm sure I'll think of something. Oh yes, like patching my bicycle tires. Now that's a job I'd hate to do on my own. 

I had to work this morning and was up bright and early. I think that's really my favorite time of the day, although to tell you the truth, I like any time of the day and there really is no bad moment. I do like taking Tyke out first thing when it's still nippy outside when the sun has just come up. He won't eat until he's been for his first walk so it's necessary that we get that done. 

I like to be up a couple of hours before I have to leave for work and have enough time to get the day properly started. I'd hate to have to rush and feel that I was running behind myself. I wake up before the alarm clock goes off and setting it is really more of a formality. It's for the very odd chance that I do oversleep. 

Work went fine and I'm getting to be an old hand at it now. I'm even remembering which beverage some people prefer and how they take their coffee. Today I listened to someone tell a story from long ago in dialect and I understood every word of it. I thought that was noteworthy. Now, if I could only speak it. 

I got my voter's pass in the mail and I'm all set for next Wednesday. The smug liberal party is so sure of a victory. I'd like to wipe that smile of their face. I hope for a landslide victory of my party but it's going to be close. I've been watching the debates on television and am glad that there's been a ban on outright lying and that they're called on it. Only the honest politicians play a fair game and those are not necessarily the ones who win. . 

Thursday, September 06, 2012

On the eve of my birthday...

Tomorrow I turn 58 but I can assure you that this does not distress me and that I am more than prepared to turn this age. It is only a number, after all, and you are the age that you feel you are inside and inside I still feel very young. I feel that I've got many more years of productive living inside of me and I am planning on living for a long time. I just hope none of my parts give out before that.

I am celebrating my birthday in a small way with some company and cake and presents so the day won't go by unnoticed. I am going to do the groceries first thing in the morning and pick up something nicely baked and decadent at the bakery. I will just have to make sure that there isn't any whipped cream in it.

Today, during a short break in my volunteer work, I mistakingly thought I could drink a small glass of chocolate milk. I certainly very quickly found out that it was not a good idea and that there is a reason why I'm off milk products. If there was any doubt about having to do this, there isn't any longer, and I will continue to be very vigilant that none of them pass my lips again. It was a hard learned lesson and it would have been funny if it hadn't been so unpleasant.

On the way home on my bike today, I thought I was smart by taking a short cut through a little street that I hadn't tried before but suddenly I found myself in the pedestrian zone and there were all kinds of people walking there. I had to get off my bike and walk it to where I actually had to be and could get on it again. Strike that one up to experience. I do try to outsmart the street arrangement of the downtown area. It's a challenge to try to find another way to get some place. You think you can go anywhere on your bike but there are limits.

To celebrate the arrival of meteorological autumn, I had a big bowl of pea soup for lunch. Not that it was all that cold outside but the slant of the sunlight is different and there is a crispiness to the air. The soup tasted very good and I had none like it in a very long time. I shared none with Tyke although he did look at me with big begging eyes. This treat was too good to share. Besides, I don't sit by his bowl when he eats in the morning.

Have another cup of coffee...

I sit here at the end of the evening trying to decide if it's time to go to bed or if it's more enjoyable to write a post and I think the latter is what I really want to do. There is, after all, lots of time to sleep and the night will last long enough to get the amount of sleep I need, which isn't very much. Now that my sleep is no longer drug induced, it lasts much shorter and it is much lighter and I'm awake again and ready to start the day for no reason at all.

After I told you that my jeans were sliding down my hips because I had lost weight, I ordered two pairs of new ones in a smaller size and I'm happy to report that those fit just fine and make me feel like a million bucks. I'm planning on not losing any more weight because, of course, I can't keep buying new clothes and there does have to come an end to how skinny I get. I do have to keep looking normal. 

On Monday morning I went to the hospital and had my gastric band emptied out just a little bit so that I can eat just a bit more comfortably and will stop losing weight. Just a little bit of the content was removed. I think it was just a half a unit, as much as was added the last time it was filled. 

The radiologist said that I should notice the difference within four weeks and the first two days I noticed no change at all when I ate and I had the same amount of discomfort. Today, however, I could eat without discomfort and with a lot of pleasure. There was almost no pain and not the awful lot of burping that I usually do. I suppose things have really opened up and shifted into place. 

I have been eating simple sandwiches without the crusts and chunky soups. I find that those are very filling and nutritious and don't upset my gastric system. Now that I'm off the milk and milk products, I no longer am bloated and a victim of gas. It makes a huge difference. It's probably the best change in my diet I made ever. 

On the days that I don't have to go to my volunteer job, and if the weather permits, I go for numerous walks with Tyke whenever the mood strikes me. He thinks it's great and is always ready to go. I really need another volunteer job to fill the rest of the empty hours and I'm thinking of becoming involved politically. That's especially on my mind right now because we have elections next week and the campaigns are going on heatedly. I'm drenched in politics and can't wait to vote. 

I know which political party I'm going to vote for and they happen to do well in the polls. It would please me tremendously if they won and provided the prime minister because he's a man I can believe in. I appreciate his points of view and the more I find out about him, the better I like him. Regardless of if they win, that's the party I want to get active for locally and will join. 

I suppose I will call it a day and go in search og my bed now.