Tuesday, 12 January 2016


If all goes well, we have a family of five moving into our empty house in SJ today. They know no English, have next to nothing to their names except donated beds, a couch, and a TV, and they need pretty much everything you can imagine. Call us if you'd like to help.

Monday, 11 January 2016

oh mickey, you are not so fine

The electric furnace died.

For a few days it had been a little noisy on startup. On Wednesday past, it was louder than normal and we noticed the ducts were pushing a strange burning smell like the demise of a hairdryer. After the worst of the fetid furnace air, I turned the heat off completely. In January. In Northwest New Brunswick. By choice.

Thankfully, two of the rooms in the house - the den and the master bedroom - have electric baseboard heaters, so they groaned to life like Frankenstein's monster and kept us above freezing.

With the landlord's input, we called in an electrician. Lovely man. The good news is there was no need to turn the heat off. Bad news? The motor had already died. Not just worn bearings or in need of a drop of oil - flat out dead. 

And speaking of lack of life, apparently the odiferous waftings were not simply the last gasps of a fading motor. Stuck to the elements like a miniature Salem trial were two tiny fried mice. Mice, not rice. Fried mice. That acrid smoke? Dead mice.

As you can probably glean, one problem evolved into two. What to do about effing mice. With small rodents, the rule is see one, count ten. If there were two in the crisper, there's a higher number throughout the home.

There were also two teeny corpses behind the chewed filter.

I am not afraid of rodents, but don't want to share my home with any tiny critters that carry serious diseases. Compromised immune system aside, we live in open territory, so deer mice aren't uncommon and those adorable fuzzballs can carry hantavirus. No, thanks.

The electrician recommended I call my husband and get him to bring home mousetraps. 

In the meantime, things were getting chilly in New Denmark. Ringo seemed to think he was part of my outfit. My usual hoodie and jeans ensemble was not cutting it and I opted for extra layers. Did I mention we didn't order wood for the stove?

The electrician replaced the furnace motor after hunting down a suitable replacement. And the mouse situation is being addressed. Time to relax, right?



Tonight, while Nance was facing network connectivity nonsense, I noticed that the night's unseasonable +4 C downpour had triggered a major leak in the living room. The collective leaks were/are [sadly, ongoing at 11:49 PM] over a large window, but water was pitterpattering from a crack in the trim, underneath that sill, and also from the edge of the pane. And one for the little boy who lives down the lane.

Two buckets with strategically placed supports, five towels, a sponge, and a smattering of f-bombs, and I think the leak is slowing to more of a drip than a stream. I am sleeping - or not, as the blog update shows - in the living room to empty the buckets when needed. At least the drips have rhythm. It's almost as if I can hear them telling me just what a fool I've been.

I feel bad for our landlord. She lives well away from here and is trying to sell this house. I can't imagine she was pleased to have to buy a new furnace motor, or to hear there's a mouse problem, or there's a floodgate over the biggest window in the house. Yay! At least we were here to tell her about the problems, I suppose. Better than busted pipes and a mouldy living room. Home ownership blows sometimes.

1 AM update: still dripping and now it's blowing a 75 km/h gale and our curbside garbage can has pulled a Mary Poppins, ffs!

1 PM update: sun is shining. Fascia is torn off the front of the house and where did all those shingles come from? Also, we have ladybugs now?

In lighter news, we had a grand visit with a friend and her very handsome pup over the weekend. Two large dogs under one roof is a combo that will always make me happy. A familiar face, wine, dogs - what more could you ask for?

Maybe a life preserver.

Tuesday, 5 January 2016

danced in their heads

After weeks of boozy, sugar-coated overindulgence, the holidays are swiftly coming to a close…

...unlike the zipper on my jeans.

Irish cream in morning coffee, social drinks nearly every day, snacky foods we don't eat year round - I'm all for Christmas cheer, but my clothes are starting to request danger pay. Back to better consumption habits, immediatement! If anyone craves tiny cupcake-shaped chocolates, please help yourself to our cupboards. Leftmost, top shelf.

Fortunately, we have isolation to help loosen our waistbands over the next few months. [Covering my assets, I say "we" as my wife insists she is in need of a renewed eating plan as well. I'm not, in any way, suggesting she needs it.] When you live in an area without neighbourhood corner stores or restaurants, meal planning becomes more important and somehow easier to stick to. 

Not that we won't see anyone through the winter but we have a very small handful of friends within 300km of us. We'll surely get together with the friends we have here, but they have committed to better eating through the winter too. So, we are set up for success. Prepare for my utterly foul mood during sugar detox. I'm already finding myself scrambling to find something sweet in the morning and cursing Christmas cheer for letting sugarplum fairies lead the charge. Being removed from convenience can sometimes be a good thing.

Something happens to me in semi-seclusion. Without the distractions of TV and a social life, I tend to write and draw more. And I tend to write better. Not on this blog, mind you, but my pen or pencil stabs away at paper more. When you don't physically write much, it feels strange not to tap out your thoughts with fingertips. How odd.

It has always been this way. In my younger years I always wrote most when at the cabin. Being alone with my thoughts makes them louder. That's mostly a good thing.

My thoughts about MS have always been fairly quiet. Not that I don't have frustration or fears about having MS, but after my first year as a person with MS, my inner dialogue quieted to a murmur, for the most part. I have never been able to write about in in a concretely creative way. I have a half-assed poem about MRI claustrophobia but that's it. I have tried to write about having a (mostly) invisible disease, but it bores me. It's not interesting enough for me to put my energy into. I have wondered if denial keeps me from delving into that side of my life in a creative fashion, but I don't think so. Which sounds a lot like denial, right? 

It seems fertile ground for many authors, some with MS. Silent struggle, bravery [Raoul], hope - it's all so self absorbed...unlike keeping a blog, of course. But I write about it here and that seems enough. I stay on top of the research (MS sufferers* benefit from high levels of vitamin D). I try to remain active and eat well, the last few weeks notwithstanding. But I can't romanticise a disease that has taken things from me. It doesn't anger me enough to work up artistic acrimony. It's upsetting and sometimes to a degree that few around me would guess, but I've never been one to work out my fears out loud or in  any way other than straightforward. While I may pitch an internal hissy fit at new or worsening symptoms, I am accepting of MS and don't want to give it more room in my life than it deserves.  

It is a gorgeous, cold day in New Denmark. At -28, the wind chill is a degree colder than yesterday's face blazing snowshoe. I have learned that one needs a balaclava to snowshoe across breezy, open potato fields once January hits. The Ireland walking tour is half a year away but has become motivation to get outside even in bitey weather. Even when sloth suggests I really, really don't want to. At all.

We three [catface makes four, but he's anti-snow] love being outdoors together, so this winter is going to add a lot of miles to the snowshoes. Nance has found a new spin class. We have the treadmill in the den. Now if only someone could hide the remaining snacks.


*authors and researchers need to stop using this language. We're people with MS before we're sufferers or patients. Get with the fucking times.