Stomp –a tribute to a special dog by his family

Wouldn’t be nice for those terminally ill or in perpetual chronic pain to have the opportunity to choose a sendoff like this surrounded by  loved ones.                                            ——————————————————————-

Mindy and I helped our closest friend, family member and a soul who radiated love happiness and joy all around him take his next steps in his adventure. Stomp’s new journey began just after his 13th birthday in a ceremony we had at at home in his favorite surroundings. The day began with a walk through the area banked by trees, snow and peacefulness. After relaxing after the stroll Stomp enjoyed a steak meal in front of the fireplace with a few cheese puffs as dessert. Before the vet came over we went outside for a last play with his current favourite toy (the red smiling face) and some bonding time. And then as he was relaxed and chilled lying on his bed which we set up in the living room in front of the fireplace, with music in the background, candles, incense and crystals around him, he took his next step forward. He let out a last breath with both of us around and holding him, his toys beside him and we knew he was relaxed, at peace and ready. 

Stomp has been part of every aspect of our life for the last 13 years from the first day he came home as a giant puppy slightly scaring his brothers. He brought continuous joy. He would accompany me on my walking phone calls and was always in tune to the flow of the conversation and would get up to move when he sensed the call was done. He especially loved the outdoors – from the pits he would dig in the sand to stay cool to chasing squirrels, birds and imaginary intruders, almost always with this favorite toy of the moment either in his mouth or close by. He was so loved that a maskot was even created for the FAME events of him so he can put a smile on people’s faces even when we wasn’t around.

He was there for us through so many challenging times, growth, life changes, transformation, moves, travels and everything in between. It is his love, support, compassion and amazing personality that I believe helped us keep everything together.

I am sure you playing with your brothers Boskoh and Dude and doing all the things you love and enjoy. I Love you. and I miss you Stomp. You taught me the joy of being in the moment, of enjoying nature, of living in love and I thank you for everything, always and forever.



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NEW ORLEANS– my trip to this vibrant city and some New Orleans trivia

A couple years ago I Went with some friends on a mini vacation to Chicago. The trip was a huge success and we vowed that we would travel to New Orleans in the near future. The near future came. One of the Chicago ladies was unable to join us,  but our friend Ellen  made up the foursome even though she knew there might be a chance that a new grandchild might be born while she was in Louisiana . Cindy complained that she wasn’t sure she wanted to go, since she had already been there in the past with her husband.. Others from our Pickled lily woman group made some noise that they might join us but because of personal commitments they didn’t .



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Cottage is Sold

Things change and our wonderful cottage full of memories gathered over the years has been sold.It is a bitter sweet moment for me. My wish for the new owners is that they will create new memories of their own and experience happy times. Life is to be enjoyed.


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Orphaned Black Bear Cub

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What does the future hold for this black bear cub?  Some call him Leo. This cute little bear  has adopted  this waste disposal site and surrounding area as his summer home. He has no trouble scaling the chain fence or crawling underneath to treat himself to what he considers to be a tasty feast.This disposal site services  mainly cottages and a few year round residences in beautiful  Muskoka located in Northen Ontario  In my opinion our cottage association should hire Leo to patrol the vicinity and make sure cottagers and their guests dispose of their refuse properly  and to ensure that they don’t co mingle garbage and recyclables.

I suspect that Leo is an orphan. After all what kind of parents would let their child meander along a busy road and eat garbage. Hunting, motor vehicle accidents and natural causes all contribute to bear mortality. But wait a minute maybe Leo, Isn’t orphaned. It is possible that he is abandoned. After Papa bear does his job of impregnating Mama bear, he meanders off and does not participate in rearing his  offspring. Apparently if he is hungry  he has no objection to eating a bear cub or other small animal.  According to some google research that I did, while grizzly mama bears are fiercely protective of their young and will risk their lives for them, this is not necessarily true of mama black bears. If a mother feels threatened she will sometimes keep running even if her babies are piteously squealing for her help. Mama bear will not typically attack an aggressor harming her offspring.

The breeding season is from May until early July. Implantation of the fertilized eggs is delayed until the start of the hibernation or the denning season. The fertilized ovum float free within the uterus for about six months. Bears must have sufficient body weight for the embryos to attach to the lining of the uterus and develop into bear babies. If the mother bear does not have enough body fat to sustain implantation and growth of her future cubs the embryos will simply be reabsorbed into her body.

The cubs are usually born in January while the mother is still hibernating. A litter typically consists of one to six cubs.  They are weaned at about six to eight weeks and then  stay with their mother. The following year they hibernate once again with their maternal parent snuggling together for warmth and protection. In the spring when the cubs are about seventeen months and when Mama is getting ready to mate again she shoos them away-perhaps to prevent infanticide or injury from a male bear jealous of the female’s attention to her children. Mama allows them to stay in specific areas of her territory which she then avoids. The cubs are given exclusive feeding rights there. Black bears are both omnivores and carnivorous, but prefer plants and berries over meat. The mother bear  seeks out adjacent territory to add to the family compound to accommodate her ever growing family. Her territory can  range from two and a half to ten square miles. Daughters stay close to home but sons voluntarily travel afar. Bears can live up to twenty five years.

Bears sometimes hibernate in caves, but usually burrow  into the ground to build dens. Mama does most of the work but the cubs help rake the leaves and twigs. The den is snug but allows a little extra space for movement.

So what is going to happen to Leo this winter?  Perhaps the cubs name should be Leora . I never got close enough to check to see if it is a male or a female.In any event this young bear may bunk in and den with a surrogate family or build his own den.

Sometimes a bear  may wake up in the winter or spring and be ravenously hungry. Sometimes well meaning individuals will put out an abundance of food for their consumption. This can be a death sentence for the bear . It can lead to cardiac arrest, similar to the phenomenon  that  killed multiple starving survivors after World War One.

We have invaded the space of our wildlife. How should we co exist with the back bears?Bears rarely attack although there have been isolated incidences. Black bears are as frightened of us a we are of them and prefer not to have any human contact. However we should exhibit caution. When travelling in their possible habitat it is good to travel in groups and  to make your presence known by singing or talking loudly. The bear will try to avoid you. It is also good to have a can of of pepper spray or bear spray with you in case of an aggressive encounter. If you do encounter a bear speak quietly and and back away slowly, preferably in the direction that you came from. Walk, don’t run and keep your eye on the bear to see its reaction. You will probably not have to use the spray.

Many many years ago my aunt and uncle were vacationing in the Rocky mountains of Alberta. It was a beautiful day and they decided to walk along a path and then stop for a picnic. My uncle was walking ahead of his wife. He looked behind him and saw a large black bear following them.Without raising his voice he directed his wife  not to look behind her and to drop the lunch basket. She did as she was told. After devouring their delicious picnic lunch the bear lumbered back into the wilds. My relatives returned  to the lodge hungry but with an interesting tale to tell.

Bears should not depend on people to be fed. They should learn what foods are available in their natural habitat and how to survive there. Wildlife societies exist  that care for and rehabilitate orphaned and injured bears  and release them  back into the wild.





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Me and my new room mate – a follow up to my follow up of my sleep study

Screen Shot 2016-08-29 at 8.06.33 PM.pngMy new sleeping partner is a Cpap machine. I  will call him Pappy. I think Pappy is a long lost relative of Sesame Street’s Snuffelufffagus. He has a long long nose. Cpap machines are usually the choice for the treatment  of  obstructive sleep apnea {the cessation of breathing} Cpap is the abbreviated form for continuous positive airway pressure.

My initial sleep study indicated that I had mild sleep apnea-not a life threatening condition. Howeveer I agreed to try it to  humour my doctor. She  researched and found that studies  indicate those with even mild sleep apnea  can benefit sleeping with a Cpap machine by reducing their risk of developing atrial fibrillation and helping to  maintain  good brain health and memory. She is  recommending it to many of her senior patients.

Sooo–  I was given an apointment with a respirologist and a technologist at a health care facility  for a demo and to get fitted with a Cpap machine for a trial period. Interestingly the offices were in the same scary building where I had my initial sleep study done. But it wasn’t a scary building after all. It was a modern building that housed a small medical/commercial   plaza. It makes a difference when one enters through the main door in daylight and not through the dark and dingy night entrance.

My daughter accompanied me to my appointment because two sets of eyes and ears are better than one. Besides her sets are younger than mine. A whole contraption was brought out with all kinds of connections and parts. The technologist must have seen the look of horror on my face because he said “don’t worry , you won’t have any problem assembling this at home.” I said “Yes I wiLL” He said “no  you won’t”. My daughter said “No You won’t”. I repeated “Yes I will”.

Of course mothers are always right.The first problem i encountered was –I couldn’t get the cap off of the large jug of distilled water.The water chamber of the machine has to be washed and filled with distilled water every day. I think carrying and pouring from the heavy jugs contributed to the recent problems I developed with my hands.Then there is the face mask with its multiple straps and rubber part that fits over the nose. I am not sure that I ever acquired the knack of putting it on properly. I have worn the mask upside down and inside out, the main strap on top of my head, on the back of my head  and I nearly asphyxiated myself when I tried it under my chin. The mask must be secured tightly so that no air leaks occur. Once the mask is  on it has to be connected to the six foot plastic tubing  {Pappy’s nose}. When it is attached the machine automatically starts up. It surprised me and almost knocked me off my feet the first time. The air pressure and  temperature can be adjusted, but I can’t differentiate among the different settings.

I really don’t mind the moist air travelling through my nasal passages and I have to admit I find the mainly soft white noise to be soothing. However I have to learn not to yawn, sing or talk to myself at night. It is not a pleasant experience when one opens ones mouth and a gush of air forces its way down ones throat. Pappy’s nose constantly gets in the way and it is more difficult to find a comfortable position to sleep.I found the nose piece to be irritating and sometimes red marks could be seen on my face the next day.

Last week I went back for the second overnighr sleep study. This time my  sleeping was monitored while I was attached to the  Cpap machine.I didn’t sleep very well. The objective of this follow up sleep study was to see if I stopped breathing less frequently using the machine. The results are not available as yet. However two days later I went back to the technologist to discuss any issues i was having with the machine. The machine was connected to a computor that showed when bunking in with Pappy I had less incidents of apneas. I changed my mask for a less obstructive one using nose pillows. I find this better as I can see to read or watch television while wearing the mask. One disadvantage is it is more difficult to sleep on my side. I have been sleeping on my back with a pillow underneath my knees to ease the strain on my back.

Am I  going to buy a Cpap machine or part ways with Pappy?  I don’t know. I don’t have to make a decision until July 15. I have an apointment with the respirologist and then with the distributor of the machine. The machine isn’t cheap. Some nights I think I have a better quality sleep and some nights not. I can tolerate using the machine for about five hours a night. When I wake during the night , I remove the mask and continue sleeping without it on my side. What to do?  What to do? Any suggestions?

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Partial follow up to my Sleep study

A few days after my sleep study, I had an appointment with my doctor who informed me that I did indeed have mild to moderate sleep apnea. Since it didn’t seem to be a life threatening condition, I told my doctor there was no way I was going back. I didn’t sleep well and woke up groggy and headachy. I was upset that, the morning after the study I had to wait outside by myself for my lift to arrive at 6 A,M in the morning in an industrial plaza because the clinic closed earlier than the 7 o’clock advertised time.  I also didn’t like pulling  the sticky goop out of my hair that attached the electrodes to my scalp.

My doctor sympathized with me, or so I thought. After commiserating with me for a couple of minutes she insisted I finish the procedure. She had done  extensive research on the health benefits of CPAP machines for those who need it, especially seniors. I like and trust my doctor so I begrudgingly agreed to the next step. I procrastinated for a long time but finally made an appointment for the next step.  The next step was a brief visit with a respiratory specialist, followed by a technologist instructing  me on the use of a CPAP machine and fitting me with a mask. I was given a trial machine for 6 weeks. I am trying to adjust to sleeping with my new companion.The interaction between me and the CPAP  will be the subject of my next blog.

I am booked next week for the final  step of the sleep study. I am going back to the sleep clinic for an overnight, this time to be studied while I sleep hooked up  to CPAP to see if my sleep pattern has improved. Stay tuned for the next episode.



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The Sleep Study


Initially I fall asleep quickly, sleep soundly for about on hour or two, wake up and think it is  morning and then have difficulty falling back to sleep. I play scrabble or a card game on my I  pad until I get drowsy again. I know, I  know, that this is a no -no for good sleeping habits–but you can’t teach a somewhat sleep deprived person with old ingrained rituals, new tricks.I wake up numerous times during the night. A bonus is that I get exercise walking back and forth to the wash room or the kitchen. Perhaps I should purchase a fitbit tracker. Who knows I may  discover that I accumulate so many steps at night that it might not be necessary for me to walk during the day. Because of my sporadic sleep pattern I am often tired during the day. My doctor suggested that perhaps I should participate in a sleep study, especially when I told her my embarrassing secret that I sometimes wake myself up with a soft feminine snort or a snore.

Overnight sleep studies are often used by physicians to determine  and ultimately treat the quality of an individuals sleep and  uncover and evaluate sleep disorders such as neurological, breathing and abnormal movement such as restless leg. My doctor set up an appointment for me at a sleep clinic. The clinic mailed me an information sheet of what to bring and what to expect.

I agonized over what to pack to sleep in  and finally decided on a velour track suit even though Toronto was experiencing a heat wave. Why did I decide on this? I like to be warm at night and a couple people told me that the clinic  where they went was freezing and no extra blankets were available. I was glad I did. I was amazed, as was my friend who drove me, to see snow, yes SNOW outside the facility. The mystery was solved when we realized that the clinic was next door to an indoor  skating arena. Instructions were to arrive at 8:30 P.M and enter through the night time  exit and to wait in the parking lot for the technologist if the door was locked. The door was locked.We waited for him to come.

I was the first patient to arrive. Soon the others showed up. They were all men. I was assigned a room with a bed and a sink. Shared washroom facilities were down the hall. I filled out a questionnaire, was weighed and measured and attached with electrodes to the scalp, head chest and legs for the purpose of measuring brainwaves, heart rate, and eye movements. The electrodes were affixed to my body parts by very, very sticky icky paste.  A sensor was placed by my nose and mouth to measure air flow, and a clip attached to my finger to measure blood oxygen levels. The electrodes were connected to a device beside my bed that relayed signals to the control room. I was also being videotaped and felt like a movie star doing a horror movie.

I was told I could sleep in any position I wanted. Right. The darn wires kept getting in the way.I was actually amazed I was able to sleep at all . Maybe it was because I  was exhausted mentally and physically. It was a busy week and I had attended a funeral that afternoon . It didn’t help that it poured at the cemetery–Or maybe it was because I knew if I didn’t sleep this horrendous undertaking would be for nothing. Apparently a minimum of six hours is required for an accurate sleep study. I don’t think I slept quite that long but I refuse to repeat the test. In the middle of the night I think my knee dislocated and caused severe pain before it went back into place. The pain only lasted a couple minutes but during those couple of minutes, I thought I  would never be able to walk again.

The written instructions that I had received in the mail said that I was to leave the clinic at 7:00 AM. This was the time I told my chauffeur/slash/friend to pick me up. At 5:15 the technician came in and told me to get up and dress quickly. I said I wasn’t being picked up until  seven. I was informed that he was closing the clinic early that day and I would have to wait outside for my lift. Yikes. I was reluctant to phone to be picked up earlier. I didn’t want to wake anybody. but I did call around 6 because I certainly wasn’t thrilled with the idea of waiting outside alone  in that desolate deserted industrial strip mall.My friend  was awake but his cellphone woke up his wife. She hurried her husband out the door. She also didn’t want me waiting by myself. Both husband and wife are long time good friends and have big hearts. He arrived a few minutes after the clinic was closed.

I was sensitive to the tape and I arrived home to discover that I had red splotches here and there and every where. The worst splotches were on my face. They have pretty well receded but even though I have shampooed my hair twice , I am still pulling sticky paste, that was used to attach the electrodes, off of my scalp.I have a follow up appointment in a few weeks to discuss the results.


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