Sunday, 25 November 2012

Decorations appear for Advent

I like Advent because I like anticipation. I particularly like the anticipation that leads up to Christmas. As it gets darker and darker in December, indoors at our house it gets more and more lit up. I suppose one’s outer life may be similarly dark, but a spark glows inwardly and gets brighter as December 25th approaches. New baby, new life, great baking, gorgeous music, fire in the fireplace: even if some things linger to make me blue, this Christmas is for the most part a red and green season for me.
Last year, I didn’t have much opportunity to prepare for Christmas, but this year is different, so I am taking advantage of Advent celebrations. Last week when the weather was warmer I did a couple of swags for the garage door and an urn display with greens left over from the Hort. Soc. downtown Christmas beautification.  They look surprisingly OK.
Then yesterday,  I got a huge kick out of starting the indoor decorations.
For the first time I put a garland on the railing beside the stairs. The bow was crushed under stuff in the Christmas trunk . I almost threw it away, but when I looked at it closely, I saw there was really nothing wrong with it that a few minutes of fluffing wouldn't cure. There is a parable in that something about our all needing fluffing from time to time.
What I like is that I can add to the display from now all the way to Epiphany when the light has begun to return to our darkened world at least from an astronomical point of view.  I am not a decorator; I just enjoy gettng the Christmas things out because, truth be told, I like playing with them.
This is my favourite Christmas bear. He is so staunchly laden  - with even bells on and his own teddy:
I have finally found a place for the Christmas Santa cat. He is a bit too big for Whoville, and ominously, no one - especially the little snowman - notices his lurking joviality:
I am going to decorate the Advent wreath with greenery next week . This is one week too early. I dislike the colours an Advent candles are supposed to have. Pink and purple, the proper colours,  don't go with our taupe and orangey living room, so green and white it is; no red, though, for that would be too blatantly cheery:
Love that Christmas ball decorated by yours truly with instructions from a fellow member of the Hort. Soc. Even someone with as little artistic ability as I possess can be creative with a few sparkles and some acrylic paint:
A Monet moment:

The mirror image and the actual picture are so detailed they are chaotic. In the decoraton, the Great Sheep approaches while the Angel of Knowledge is blissfully unaware. What will happen next?
Father Christmas to the rescue? A "ding dong merrily on high" angel is there too and a beautifully svelte and lissome Madonna. Not sure about the significance of the serendipitious windmill cookie jar - maybe a hint of the Wheel of Fortune:
Just my most favourite Christmas angel. "Bring a torch, Jeanette Isabella!" I'll supply her with a candle later on.
Here is the Christmas creche. Jesus is nowhere to be seen because he hasn't been born yet. Mary and Joseph are on their way. The angel of the Lord lurks in the undergrowth waiting for when the time is right to tell the shepherds to hightail it to Bethlehem:

And finally, there is Joseph in a previous conversation with the angel who tells him he should man up and take Mary to be his wife, which he does, thereby endearing himself to me forever. Mary is by herself looking pensive. What will become of her. The ox and the sheep are waiting for the drama to start.

Friday, 23 November 2012

All’s well that ends well

"Things will turn out all right in the end, and if they aren’t all right, it isn’t the end"
(Sonny in The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel) 

Well, the lost has been found. One of Greg’s parishioners, a farmer from north of town, has his coat back. He did not lose it at church, however. It happened at a Legion event. He went to put on his coat, and it had disappeared from the rack. What is worse, his car keys were in the pocket.

I remember something similar happening at a large downtown church in a certain city near here. A thief stole not only money from the choir room but also the keys to a car, belonging to a soprano and a bass, which was found — wrecked — days later.

A happier ending awaited our congregant, but he did have to wait.  As I understand it, about a month later, a resident of the seniors’ apartments here in town was heading to a doctor’s appointment in Strath. The day being chilly, he put on his coat only to find unfamiliar car keys in the pocket.

There was a War Amps tag on the key chain, but before he had a chance to return them that way, he dropped into Tim Horton’ s to have coffee with yet another parishioner. At least I think he is a parishioner;  like the dad in that Norman Rockwell painting pictured below, he stays at home, while his wife attends on both their behalfs. 

Sunday Morning by Norman Rockwell
A large print of this hung in our family living room when I was growing up. Reflecting on it now, its purchase was clearly passive aggressive. And ineffectual.
Naturally the chat turned to the unexpected find in the unfamiliar coat. Well, problem solved. (Erstwhile) parishioner #2 made a call home to his wife who called the wife of parishioner #1 who had scarcely hung up the phone when the inadvertent absconder was on the doorstep with both the coat and the keys. Relief all round,  especially as the farming couple had been delaying replacing the car keys owing to the expense involved.

Rural people look out for one another in other ways as well.

I drove  to Strath, also for a doctor’s appointment, which turned out to be rather bizarre and truncated, but that’s another story.  Anyhow, I decided to patronize our local drugstore for my prescription thereby eschewing a perfectly good Shoppers Drug Mart right beside the medical clinic. After a stop at the bank,  I  was heading home along the 15-mile ribbon of highway known locally as Centre Rd, a gently rolling and curving two-lane route with not too much traffic (at least by Highway 401 standards).

I was enjoying the drive, when two things happened. I noticed I was going well over the speed limit, and a car approaching from the opposite direction flashed its lights at me. I knew I did not have my brights on since it was 3:00 in the afternoon. However, another light came on when I realized this as the time-honoured warning about speed traps. I slowed. Just in time too, because there was the OPP cruiser lurking by a copse of trees.   Although I thought he was probably interested in just looking south, I did flash my lights at the next car coming from the north just in case. It is nice to be neighbourly.

By the time I got to Parkhill, the fuel gauge was bouncing in the red zone so I pulled in to the gas station.  I don’t pump gas very often. After a couple of tries, I had  positioned the car close enough to the diesel dispenser and got out. There was a trick to opening the gas flap which I successfully employed, but I couldn’t get the gas cap off. Frustration. 

However, a young chap was providing complimentary windshield washing (really — this wasn’t a squeegee kid).   He managed to unscrew it for me.  That was nice. Then I was faced with the pump operation. I chose $20 as my price of choice and put the nozzle into the tank. Nothing happened.  Apparently you need to follow the directions on the pump about lifting a handle. Thank goodness, I discovered this before I had to ask again. Neighbourliness is all very well but not when one’s incompetence might be food for talk at Tim’s or the restaurant at the Esso Station.

Prescription in hand, I went to the local drugstore as planned. Alas, although their computer said they had the medication, it was nowhere to be found on the shelves. However, the pharmacist generously offered to phone the Shoppers Drug Mart in Grand Bend.  (Given a choice, I just did not want to face driving to Strathroy all over again.) He had the presence of mind to make sure their computer and shelves were in agreement, so off I went to the Bend.

More successfully than expected, as it turned out: not only did I get signed up for the Ontario Drug Benefit Program by another awfully young person, but they had on special what is really my  favourite prescription— Lindt dark chocolate (Intense Orange and Intense Mint).

Purchases made, I was soon sedately driving down the highway home — only four hours after I had left for my 10-minute appointment.  

But it had all turned out well!






Friday, 2 November 2012

Pursuing the elusive mammogram

Sometimes you just have to wonder. I need my annual, but now, due to my procrastination, biennial mammogram. I have been getting them at the Princess Margaret Hospital in Toronto, but having retired and left the city two years ago, I felt it was time I had the test done locally.

To get this underway, my family doctor at the local clinic gave me a slip of paper with the number I was to call at the Ontario Breast Screening Program. I called them this morning and was immediately asked if I had the purple form. No, mine was white. This was puzzling apparently, so I read what was on it; I inferred that it lined up pretty well with what would have been on the purple form. However, had I ever had cancer? Well yes, 12 years ago and it had resulted in a right mastectomy. So we would only be doing a mammogram on the left? Yup, seems so. But I said out loud, yes, that’s correct. However, it turns out they are interested only in women who have NOT ever had breast cancer.

Hmmm. I suggested I could phone the Princess Margaret Hospital where I have received my past mammograms. Did they know if I could self-refer? No, they didn’t. Should I ask my doctor for the purple form?  Oh no, no, don’t do that! Okay, then I won’t. What form should I ask for? It seems a prescription form was the thing.

Well, thinking out loud, I suggested maybe I’d phone the Princess Margaret myself and my family doctor’s office as well if need be. That sounded good to her. We agreed this all seemed a bit silly since one would assume a breast screening program should screen people like me. We rang off cordially.

I like the Princess Margaret. The people there are efficient and pleasant; at the appointment, the wait is not too long; and most importantly, all my records are there. I hate upending routines and making changes. So I looked up the P.M. on-line and found the “contact us” button. Thought I would be clever and put “mammogram booking” into the search engine. Nothing came up. No one had ever thought anyone would try to book a mammogram at one of Canada’s leading cancer hospitals, I guess. This set me back on my heels.

Also, I remembered the last time I tried to connect with the mammogram department there at the urging of my Toronto family doctor and with a requisition form. Somehow, I got sent to medical records instead, a detour which caused a lot of confusion on my part and the person in patient records since neither of us realized what the other was doing at least not right away. Once we did, it was smooth sailing to the correct department and an appointment.

But now two years further on, I decided to revert to Plan B — call my current doctor’s nurse at the clinic closer to home. Pleasant conversation. I alluded to the incorrect white form and the need for the prescription form. Did we have fax machine? No, sadly, we did not. I didn’t mention the one we can use at the bank because it is raining and sleeting, and I must admit I didn’t want to go all the way over there in the ghastly weather.

She suggested she’d fax the requisition to the imaging unit at the hospital instead and instructed me to call there in half an hour or so. I waited until after lunch and called. The fax had arrived. I asked if I could come in the same day as the day I am to receive a shot of cortisone in my hip. Yes, I could!

So it’s all set up.

I like my local hospital and my doctor’s nurse who it turns out is related to one of the men on the team of waterers my husband is on who water the hanging baskets here on Main St. (but, I hasten to add, she didn’t know this when I called her).

On-line follies

Before the Globe and Mail on-line went “unlimited” thereby (oxy)moronically limiting me to only 10 articles per whenever, I could read without thinking twice (and btw give the ads the same attention I pay them in the print format). No, I am not going to subscribe at least not when I still have the Huffington Post and the CBC at my fingertips.
But now I must exercise discretion and judgment so as not to waste my 10 newsy opportunities. So it’s tough choice: should I read about housing sales, Supreme court decisions, Hurricane Sandy and the American election or fritter away my time on the lonely elephant learning Korean or the dog poaching salmon? Sigh  ...