Rough Patch

Dear friends,

I am really going through a rough patch right now.  I will explain when the dust begins to settle.

Now is just not the right time. But soon.  As soon as I figure out what I’m doing about the latest crazy predicament I find myself in, I will have quite a tale to tell you.   Promise.

 

Art, Art and More Art

 

I spent my day at Art For Cancer Foundation and had a great time painting with a palette knife…something I never knew how to do.  Here is my masterpiece!  I’m really proud of this one.  I think I will frame it.  I had so much fun doing it and have discovered another way to paint impressionism.  Who knew?

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Painted this one last week.

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And here were some others I did in September and October.

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In December, Art for Cancer Foundation is have a fundraiser.  I donated one of these paintings above so they can raise funds for cancer patients to do art.  I have also started volunteering to teach art there.

Teaching adults art is quite different than teaching kids….they clean up their own mess!

I am also in their new video to promote Art For Cancer!  See it here!

 

If you are in the area of Symmington and Davenport in Toronto, come see the art show and hopefully, if you love a piece of art work displayed there, please buy one!  It goes to a good cause!

AFC Place, 1884 Davenport Road, Unit 1

Toronto M6N 4Y2

Tel 416-763-8752

Toronto’s First Anonymous Art Show – Year 2

Life is Grand

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I apologize for not writing in a very long time, but I’ve had too much going on.  A few new developments in my life…some good, some not so good.

First, my medications from Germany got held up since early September.  UPS and Canada Post are having difficulty delivering packages with alcohol contents because they think it is a bomb.  Canada Customs no longer allows anything with alcohol get through without a lengthy delay, so I’m waiting for a friend to bring my tinctures back home with her.  She’ll be back in early November.   Thats 2 months without medicine.

My last “report” from my urine sample (in August) said I was toxic/acidic and to come back to Germany for an intensive treatment.  Then I had an MRI which evidently shows cancer in my soft tissue (para-spinal) at C6 (bottom of my neck) and some new spots in my lower back (L2-S3). 

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My radiation guy wants me to participate in a clinical trial where he would radiate that neck area with two really high dose treatments.  Trouble is there is a 10% chance of it fracturing my neck.  

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I was told not to worry, they would take good care of me and would put my neck in a brace. 

I asked him if there was a chance that I would become a paraplegic and he kind of skirted the issue and said…”Yeah”.   Well, guess what?  As Maria O’Kane would say…I don’t like that plan.” 

Another alternative is to do 5 low dose radiation treatments but I don’t think its as effective.  “But wait a minute,” I said to my dr.  “I thought the last time I talked to you, I reached my maximum radiation allotment.”  “Oh no, you can have more”, he responded.  Really?

what-the-hellWell, I’m not entirely convinced I can have more radiation.  As far as I understand any more radiation and I’ve upped my chances of getting leukemia, non-hodgkins and various other cancers.

Besides, I think my thyroid has been fried from the last set of radiation treatments on my neck as there were many nodules found throughout my last ultrasound.  My family dr just told me that if I live to old age, I will need to be put on thyroid medication because of what they already did to me.  Why didn’t anyone inform me of that before?  Plus I think there is a part of my lung that got fried too. I need my voice to sing in choir at church.  Not planning on doing anything on my neck at least until after Christmas Concert. 

I know this may seem like a long shot, but I’m hoping that what they think is cancer in my neck is inflammation from going to a chiropractor in August.  It really hurt from all the adjustments and I had a bump on the side of my neck.  So I bought some special cream/oil and the bump went away.  

trustNow I have to convince my onc. to redo the MRI at his hospital instead of the other one because I want a second opinion.  My reasons are that they screwed up too many times before for me to believe them.  Remember when I thought I was getting C5 radiated and then they told me it wasn’t what they thought it was?  Remember the two times they said it was in my bone marrow and it wasn’t?  I had to have a bone marrow biopsy to prove them wrong.  And how about that blood test that indicated I was pregnant when I wasn’t.  Oh and how about the time I was told the cancer spread to my lungs and I was going to have to get it drained in 3 weeks if I didn’t go on chemo.  Didn’t happen.  Seasonal allergies.

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Sometimes I don’t know how I stay sane.  I don’t know if I’m right or wrong this time.  Time will tell.  My tumour markers from my recent blood test are normal.  What gives?  Counting on some little piggy stem cells to fix me up.

So I booked my ticket to Germany.  Bobo is going with me.  And we are going to see the Christmas Markets again!  Yippee! 

In the meantime, I’m going to the Naturopathic College and getting weekly Vitamin C IV’s because that treatment shrank my tumours before.

So what else is happening besides having to worry that my neck may break? 

I’m coaching a junior boys volleyball team at school.  I also am starting to teach adults with cancer at Art For Cancer Foundation.  I volunteer as a guest artist.  This week I participated in a video for this charity organization.  I’ll link it to my blog so you can see it when it comes out.  Got my hair done in time for my interview.  Finally found a real, organic hair dye from the States called “Hairprint” which I like.  Thanks Stella!  I finally used it.  Don’t look like a granny anymore!

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Next I’m venturing in some new interesting territory.  I applied for a scholarship for an Advocacy Training Workshop for The Canadian Breast Cancer Network.  I didn’t think I would be selected because I wrote my application at 3:00 in the morning the day before it was due, but guess what?  They want me!

Not entirely sure what it involves yet.  All I know is that I’m getting free food and a night at the Pantages Hotel in Toronto.  They are going to teach me how to become an effective communicator.  And I think I get to share my views on what its like to be a metastatic cancer patient to a room full of big wigs and perhaps the media too.  Not sure they are going to like what I have to say, but oh well, too bad.  This could be fun.  It’s interesting what life throws at you.  Life is grand.  

Milan Tour

We took a full day tour of Milan with a guide named Donnatella because we only had one day to see it all.  We were out a good 12 hours and our feet were killing us right after.

Here’s  what we did and saw:

Rode an old trolley car

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Saw Leonardo

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and his beautiful Square and buildings which is now a shopping mall.
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Then there is a cool Unicorn on the floor of Leonardo’s building. Take three turns on the shoe of the unicorn with the heel of your shoe for good luck.

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The incredible Duomo

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By the way, we learned of a rich family named the Baromeos who helped finance this church.  Thought you’d like that one Maria since that is your last name! Decendent perhaps?

More gelato

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Leonardos and Sartinis Last Supper (I would have loved to talk more about it, but I’m soooo tired, I can’t stay up any longer!)  Sorry.

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Beautiful Medieval Churches with gorgeous frescos (paintings on plaster).

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Contemporary Art shops with pics of the Queen with a nose ring and Van Gogh doing a selfie.

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The Giant Finger, strategically placed in front of the Italian Stock exchange, but is meant to signify “Love”.

Little garden
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Back at the apartment we had an appetizer (bread, cheese, salamis) with our host. One minute he was fine and talking to us the next he was disappearing and making himself a steak. I think he was manic depressive. He was getting over a two year relationship with a girlfriend.
Bumpy plane ride to Frankfurt…Mary had a German beer on the plane.  It was HUGE. I had a red wine. We aren’t sitting together unfortunately. My ears need to pop. Ouch!

Going to get our car soon!

Day 7 Venice: Gondola Ride, Here We Come!

Venice Day 7
imageYou have to check out these locks on our apartment doors. Am I missing something or is the security measures a little bit excessive?  Seven locks?

Lord help us if there is a fire in this place. I might as well jump out a window before I could figure out how to get out of this place with all these locks.

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I cut my hair before I went on this trip. This is what happens after you wash it.

Just so you know. I look like a troll.

I do not give anyone premission to take this or any other photo or written work on my blog to use for there own purposes.  I hereby claim my own copyright.

All I need is for this photo to go viral.  (Well…at least I could make some money off of it so I could travel some more and pay for my cancer treatment!).  That would be good.
imageMary booked us first class tickets on a train to Venice. We got peanuts and an orange juice for the extra bucks.

 

imageWe took a sort of hop on hop off water boat and started exploring. Our first stop was called Ca’d’Oro. The gallery was small and had the most beautiful balcony. I got some great pictures there. The light reflecting from the floor was really neat. I think Mary should get these pics of her framed!

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I think I want to take a photography course. Loved the way the light shone on the floor in all those cool patterns.

One of my favourite paintings at this place.

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We travelled on the Grand Canal again and got off at Santa Maria Della Salute (mother Mary’s Church). Salute means health. I was in the right place to say a few prayers for me, some sick friends and those who passed. The church was built in honour of the Virgin Mary for casting out the plague in Venice.

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Next on my list for sights to visit was the Punta Della Dogana. I really wanted to get this next shot for my post, but atlas it was not meant to be. Apparently the flying donkey with his head stuck in the hole of wall can only be seen after this Sunday. I’ll be in Germany by then. Disappointed I didn’t get to see the real McCoy,  but what can you do?  You must go on, despite disappointments. So for your viewing pleasure, here is a picture out of the book (Fodors 25 Best – Venice) which Bobo gave me before we left. Thank heavens for the book or I wouldn’t have found my way around Venice and I wouldn’t have known about the jackass without it. And for you, my loyal readers, here’s a pic of it from the travel book.

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We made our way to the Basilica di San Marco where we were swarmed by pigeons!  I laughed.  If my cousin Bru was here with me she would be running in the other direction screaming her head off.  After watching a scary Alfred Hitchcock movie about birds, she has a thing about black birds.

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Time to eat! Decided it would be a good idea to try some Seafood! Yum!  A white wine with a seafood platter for two and an order of Rigatoni with Gorgonzola Sauce (Mary’s new favourite cheese).

Simply Delicious!!!

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After that, I was in a rush  to fulfil a lifelong dream of mine… to take a gondola ride in Venice.
It was a rip off, but I was on a quest and I was determined.
We were the last gondola out because the weather was starting to change.

Alex, our driver, was a bit Standoffish, I think.  He wanted $80 euros ($120 cdn) for 1/2 hour.  For an extra $60, he would provide us with a commentary about the buildings (like where Galileo lived).

Forget that.  Already saw where Michelangelo lived and it wasn’t that exciting.  Galileo would have to be there alive, in person, for me to really want to pay an extra $60 bucks for it.

The sea was getting choppy and it was getting really windy.  It was hard for him to maneuvere the boat and we had to lean sideways to go through a narrow bridge.  Out gondola was elaborate (black and gold) and was used for special occasions…like people getting married.  A sunset gondola ride would have been lovely, but we had to get back on our train to get to our Florence apartment.

Wait I forgot to eat a gelato today.

It’s 9:00 p.m. Not too late to get one!  That’s on my bucket list too…one gelato every day while I’m in Italy!

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Cheers from Venice everyone!

Day 5: Did Know Mary is Cursed?

This morning we had a hard time getting to our tour.  Called for a taxi… No connection.  Scrambled down the street to find a taxi.  Found one.

However, we missed our tour because our voucher said to be there at 9:30 and it actually left at 8:45.  Nice.  So we were running down the cobblestone roads to the Academia museum for 10:o0 to rejoin our group.

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We saw  Michaelangelos “David” and many beautiful sculptures because this was where students studied sculpting.


Beautiful marble churches that were green and white marble.

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Street artists.

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The mountain Leonardo used to fly his first plane.

 

imageThe apartment where Michelangelo lived with his father and brothers in Venice.

His mother died when he was six. It’s believed that his renditions of Mother Mary was what he remembered his own mother looked like?

All our guides told us he was not a very nice man. He also didn’t have 4 students under him painting his stuff for him like Raphaelle. All Michelangelos paintings were hand-painted solely by him. I’d be cranky too if I was 84 years old and the Pope told me to paint the Sistine chapel. Can you imagine climbing a 4 story scaffold at that age? According to one of my art teachers, Michelangelo was gay and the Pope made it abundantly clear that he would be damned to hell if he didn’t paint his church. (That wasn’t mentioned on the tour). Michelangelo only wanted to do sculptures, not paintings. Doesn’t sound like he was given much of a choice.

Now for some more pics.
Found the most incredible store dedicated to Pinocchio!

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Look, the Mona Lisa on Chemo!

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Pics from inside the Uffizi Gallery.

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And now. A word about Mary’s Curse. I have no more pictures because my iphone went dead. By the way, I’m sure the spelling of any of my Italian words are incorrect. Too bad. I just get by. Those horrible Italian lessons my parents made me go to on Saturday mornings were useless.

Our morning guide told us a great place to go to eat was on the second floor of the marcatto centrale in San Lorenzo Square. We had the best of everything…appetizers (eggplant, sun dried tomatoes, boccachini, buratta, Gorgonzola cheese on crostini, artichokes, octopus salad), tagliatelle with truffles (that cost a fortune but was oh so worth it…absolutely delicious), Tuscany wine, cafe lattes, cannoli and lemoni gelato.

Then we heard a beautiful voice/band across from where we were sitting, so we decided to go listen for a bit. She was so unbelievably good, I’d pay to listen to her sing. I stood watching. Mary disappeared. I heard my name and turned around just in time to see Mary walking towards me, with a waiter right behind her carrying a large round tray with a LARGe glass of beer.

Do you see where I’m going with this?

Mary stops dead in her tracks to tell me she found us a table and whips around. Guessing the waiter wasn’t about to stop, I yelled “MARY”, as the glass and platter flies through the air and splatters all over Mary’s coat and floor. Opps .

The waiter starts muttering something in Italian and wipes up the floor. Mary shrugged it off and said, “Oh well”, and sat down. I had to go to the gabinetto and left. When I got back Mary said we needed to go, “Now!” We started to walk away from the place when all of the sudden we hear a CRASH! Another tray landed on the ground with two espresso cups broken on the floor. Same poor waiter, with the same look he gave me when the beer went flying. Mary said, “Quick, let’s get out of here! Don’t turn around.”

Then she tells me she’s cursed when we got outside. Apparently while I was in the washroom, the same waiter went by her with a champagne flute which also went flying through the air and went crashing to the ground. Good grief. Apparently this has happened to her before. I told her the waiter probably thought she gave him the evil eye and now had to find someone to oil his head and get rid of the curse! Gotta show Mary where she buy the Italian Evil Eye warder offer charm when we get to Venice!

We spent a couple of hours later listening to a fabulous guitar player/singer near a lovely Cafe. We had tea and a cafe latte. It was the perfect way to end an evening…next to a warm fire with dotting waiters.

Day 4 from Rome To Florence

We are on our way to Florence today.

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I will miss our little apartment, it’s hot tub, and pretty patio.

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We had a wonderful time in Rome.  It was amazing.

Can’t wait to see what Florence is like.

As of yet, we haven’t been mugged or attacked by gypsies.

We did get ripped off by a Pakistani man at Popolo Square for flowers (which we didn’t want).  They were thrusted in our face.

He was a good talker.  He suckered us out of some euros.

Now Mary and I have a system when we want to buy something.I listen in Italian and tell her what the guy says in English.
She says no. We walk away and then all of the sudden, it’s 1/2 price!

It’s working well for us.

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When we got to Florence we took a cab from the train station.  Mary thinks he ripped us off because it was $7.40 when we arrived at our apt, then it suddenly turned to $12.40.

We meandered around and found a quaint little Italian restaurant.  I asked our waiter (from Nepal) to recommend something.

Needless to say, we ate some wild boar with pasta.  Chunky pieces of meat.  Must tell you that it was pretty good.

Actually tasted delicious with red wine!  Mary’s turning me into a lush!   I never drink wine, and now we are having it with all our meals.  She says we have to try all the pastas, oils and wines of the region we are visiting.

Walked around Florence.  Quite a lovely place.  This is the covered bridge at Ponte Vecchio.

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Look Who’s Driving the Bus

Look Who’s Driving the Bus

  Dear Friends, I’ve been busy doing all sorts of fun things lately and haven’t had much time to write. Tried to do a quick update, but had to relearn to put pictures in my posts because they changed the … Continue reading

Miracles Happen, Right?

IMG_2225Tuesday, January 5

Would you believe that I still have no results pertaining to my lung yet?  I was checking all day, scared of what I might find.

Saw my surgeon.  He is a good guy. Asked me how I was doing.  I’m okay, I told him, but it looks like I have mets in my bone marrow again… although I don’t really believe it because this happened to me before when I came back from my cancer treatment in Germany.

Oh?  Why did you go to Germany?

Now there’s a loaded question.  This is what I told him.  Hmmm…it might be because they almost killed me three times here.  Or maybe it was because the hormone treatments stopped working and they told me they couldn’t do anything for me anymore except manage the pain.  That’s when I decided to high tail it outta here because at least over there they thought they could keep me alive for many years to come.

“Well it looks like Dr Sahgal is happy with your progress,” he said.  “Nothing going on in your spine.  Your bones are growing back and your hardware is good.”

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“Yes but my oncologist is not happy with me right now because I’m not doing what he is telling me to”, I replied.

“How did you find out about this place?”, he asked.

“My friend knew someone who went there”, I told him.

Short and sweet and I was out of there with an appointment scheduled for next year.

Before I saw him,  I was talking to the nurse in the room by myself (she was the one that nicknamed me “The Screamer” after my surgery).   I asked her if she would mind looking for my chest CT scan on her computer because it wasn’t appearing on myUHN.  I had results for my pelvis and abdominal scans, but nothing has been reported about my lungs.  I was worried because I have been coughing lately and I was told in August that I had a tumour at the bottom of my right lung.  She checked.

Thank heavens PMH actually did the scan which included the lungs.  That was a relief because I would have gone on some kind of Italian rampage if someone messed that up and I had to go do this again. I really don’t need more radiation considering I’m maxed out.  The nurse went through the slides and said, “I’m no technician or anything but I don’t see anything”. Meanwhile, I was peering over looking for white spots on my lung scans too and didn’t see anything either.

Now wouldn’t that be something if the 1.9mm intelligent doubts, stupid confidencetumour they found in August and spots on the fissure line disappeared just like the thing on my pancreas?

Miracles do happen, right?

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That afternoon….I decided to try something new today to alleviate my bronchial asthma problem.  I visited a salt cave.

Several years ago when I experienced this same yearly nagging cough in the fall (rain + leaves = mould), my allergist told me the only way to get rid of it is to go to somewhere hot with a beach and breathe in the salt water air.  Sounds enticing.

Well although I would love to escape right now, it ain’t happening due to the fact that my family dr seems to think I need a blood transfusion and I’m not exactly rich.  Btw, I phoned Germany for some hemoglobin help and it should be on its way.  Plus I stopped taking my German drugs temporarily until my white/red blood counts improve.  There was also some mention about giving me a neupragena (sp?) shot ($3,000-4,000 a pop) on my Sunnybrook blood test results but no one has phoned me about that one yet.  That prescription certainly will give me lots of air mile points for my next trip, as a patient usually needs 3-4 shots to get their counts up. Although I think I would decline that proposed strategy because I’m sure it comes with some interesting side effects which I could do without.  I get to visit my family dr next week.  Can’t wait to discuss the sudden disappearance of “my baby.”

IMG_2211The salt cave was wonderful on my lungs.  I spent the first 1/2 hour coughing up a storm.  I felt rather bad for the gentleman in the cave with me and my older sister.  He certain didn’t get a quiet session because I was coughing up a lung.  Felt really good.  Salt is so healing.  Wish I had know about this before when I suffered with bronchial asthma.  I can’t use a puffer because I’m allergic to ventolin, alupent and its whole medicinal family including it’s cousins.  The cave was a little bit cool so I wore my white alpaca babushka hat which I bought from Germany.  My friend Doug calls me the Snow Queen whenever I where it.  The cold weather lately sure warranted it.

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Wednesday, January 6

Still no lung news.  I phoned the CT Scan place….got a recording, what else.  Maybe if I’m in a bad mood, I’ll nag them and call them every 5 minutes tomorrow.  Fill up their answering machine with 20+ calls.

Today I went to The Art For Cancer Foundation and made the  winter scene above.  It was challenging.  I enjoyed painting it, but my back sure could use a rest.  Time for bed.

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Below are the benefits of going into a salt cave, should you ever decide to go.  The one I went to was in Mississauga.  There is one near York University, in Niagara Falls, and The Windsor Arms Hotel.  I didn’t realize it increases your hemoglobin level too!  Next time you’re sick or have a respiratory ailment you may want to check it out.  Prices range from $17 (Groupon) to $50 for an hour session depending where you go.

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Rant about Walmart, Robbers In My Neighbourhood, and Dad, You Are One in a Minion

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Intended to post this on Father’s Day, but my internet was giving me problems. Sorry I’m late!

This spring chicken is still very sore from my LaserQuest escapade over a week ago.  In fact, if the pain doesn’t get better soon, I think I may have to err in the side of caution and request an x-ray or MRI on my back.  It kind of feels like the time I fractured my back.  That’s not good.  That’ll teach me.

IMG_0848I ran out of snake venom and am only taking what looks mostly like vitamins and injections 3x a week, right now from Germany.  That has me a little bit concerned. I’m happy to say that the bottle of Sanomit (liquid Co-enzyme Q10) has really improved my heart…I can now walk up a flight of stairs without being breathless now and the arrhythmias (irregular heartbeats) I was having has stopped.  My recent echo test shows me at 55%, down from 62%, but that is still in the normal range (55-75).  Hearts still good. Backs bad.  What can you do?

Frick just came back from Quebec.  All I can say is that it was very quiet when she was gone.

I actually heard my son speak!

Brother For Sale

Anyhow, I hope you have a Happy Father’s Day.  Decided to post some of the watercolour minions I made with a grade 3/4 class at my school.  Dad, You Are One In A Minion!

Here they are!

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Now, if you have time.  I am going on another rant about Walmart.  Needed a carpet for the entrance to my side door.  Found one at Walmart.  Drag it (it was heavy) to the cashier with the help of Frack.  Backs really sore now.

walmart need anythingWaited in line.  HATE line ups at Walmart.  Aggravated.  Finally, my turn.  NO F’n bar code/tag/price tag on the carpet I picked.  She puts my item on the side.  Calls for another ding bat. No ding bat shows up for another hour.  Standing in line, (back hurts more when standing still).  Asked the cashier if I could go back there and get it myself .  Sure.  I go ALL the way back to the carpet section half way across store.  Found same carpet.  No bar code.  Found the bar code on plastic thing on shelf.  Take it out.  Take picture on my ipad of the carpet and the bar code.  Back to cashier, who is with another customer. Give her bar code.  Show her ipad picture.  Looks like she doesn’t believe me.  See another ding bat dressed in blue vest behind her. She gives it to him and tell him to go back to the carpet area and make sure it’s the right one.  “ARE YOU KIDDING ME?”  I holler?  I just went there and got that thing for nothing?   I sat on her bag area and complained bitterly of how I have cancer in my back and it is killing me and I have to wait even longer for some guy to check it after brought the damn bar code over myself. Stewed about it for about a minute and then yelled, “Forget it!  I am going HOME”.  And that folks, is what happens when you are agitated and in pain.  Go Home.

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Dragged my husband to another Walmart the next day to get me a carpet!

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And earlier on, I had a fight with the manager/customer sales rep. for an hour because the idiot they sent to find the leak in my bathroom was incompetent and I still have a leak.  They aren’t going to do anything about it.  I am bitter.  Don’t ever hire Rona Home and Gardens for anything.  I warned you.

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The only good thing that happened to me that day is that I coerced Starbucks to give me free coffee for our graduation on Tuesday.  God Bless Starbucks.

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A couple of nights ago someone tried breaking into a house at the corner of my street.  The poor guy was sitting in his bedroom (he has 2 kids too) while people were trying to climb into his window.  Fortunately, someone had already called the cops and they arrived to catch 3 of them.  The fourth went running down the street.  One of my neighbours nearby chased him down and sat on him till the cops came and got him.  3 boys and 1 girl altogether.  Gosh, haven’t had this kind of excitement in my neighbourhood since the woman with the giant knife came to my my house….but that’s another story.  This is all hearsay from what Bobo got from the neighbourhood.

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P.S.  There is a new LaserQuest opening up in Whitby in July.

I still haven’t survived the last attack.

I got 3 free tickets.

Anyone want mine?

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