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The Gift of Restored Health

May27

A week ago I had surgery to remove a tumour on my kidney. The operation went as planned and I have been recovering right on schedule. But let me back up a bit to late September of 2015.

About a month ago I was changing for my first yoga class when a pain hit me that was so acute, I could not stand up straight. My doc has recently retired so I had to go to a walk in clinic. That doc suspected a kidney stone and sent me for an xray. A couple of days later, I was sent for a ct scan. I received the results of the scan just before my plane took off from Toronto to meet Doug in NYC. At this time the doctor informed me that there was some concern about my pancreas and kidney and that I required a contrast ct scan. So I headed off on our “trip of a life time” with this news.

This last ct scan was scheduled for when I was in Montreal so I had to postpone it until last week. D took me on Tuesday and because the tech indicated that it would be 3 days before my doc got results, we headed to Regina. Half an hour later, my doctor called to say that he must see me as soon as possible. This takes us to this past Friday afternoon. I was successful in not letting my fear overcome my times in NYC, Tuscany and Montreal but last week I went to a pretty dark place considering what might be ahead.

To the good news- my pancreas is clear and healthy! To the not-so-good news. I have a small (2.2 cm) malignant tumour on my kidney that will have to be surgically removed, hopefully keeping the rest of my kidney intact. Cancer Care also contacted me Friday and I will see a doctor within two to three weeks. My walk in doc indicates that I will be top priority since the tumour is so mall. I was so relieved by the pancreas part of the news that the kidney part seems like a piece of cake. I am sure that there will be tough times ahead but this weekend as we told the kids and my family, I am the happiest Glamma in the world!

I thank God for so many things, the obvious one being that I do not have pancreatic cancer. But also that he gave me the kidney stone in the first place or I would not have visited the walk in clinic that day.

Unfortunately, I was not considered a priority since my tumour was small, in fact when I finally saw my surgeon in December, he indicated that he would consider my surgery “elective”. This of course is good news but it took some time to process the information and decide when the most opportune time for surgery would be. I decided that by waiting for May I could enjoy Christmas, help with Isabelle when Josie came along in February, get away on our March trip to Isla and fulfil a teaching commitment that I had in the spring.

So one week post-surgery I can tell you that my capable surgeon was able to do the procedure laproscopically which meant instead of a considerable cut and scar, there are four small holes in my abdomen. This method quickens the healing process but actually makes for a more complicated surgical procedure for the doctor.  This week has produced the balancing act between pain management with T3s and the side effect that the codeine produces (and my desire to renew my lovely tradition of having a glass of red wine before bedtime).

Even though the forecast is not the greatest, D is taking me out to the lake this afternoon. He will get me organized for my independent recuperation and the beach house is actually a better set up than home with no stairs and a smaller space to navigate. I won’t be taking my long walks on the beach or riding my bike to collect heart stones and drift wood but I will enjoy time in our solarium and sleeping with all the windows open.

But to the point of these musings: we are so blessed to live in a country where financial position does not dictate the access to healthcare and I am equally blessed by my loving family and circle of friends who walked this nine month journey with me. To all of you but especially D, thank you. I have felt your love and concern every step of the way.

Kath’s quote:” I have decided to be happy because it is good for my health.” -Voltaire

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Love never fails.

 

The Best Gifts

December23

D sings a made up song every year on this day “It’s the night before, the night before Christmas” and we are all prepared. When I say “prepared” I mean that the groceries are bought, some dishes have been premade and are in the freezer and gifts are bought and wrapped (mostly). But what I really mean is that our hearts are ready for Emanuel (God with us). I am contemplating this gift this morning and I cannot help but reflect on all the other ones that I have received recently.

The Gift of Age

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I was so blessed when so many friends joined me to celebrate a momentous birthday. Thank you D and my family for all of your hard work. It was a memorable day in absolutely every way. A special thanks to my Toronto Bestie who has been in my heart for decades.

The Gift of Work

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Everyday is new and exciting and full of learning. The work that I do is creative, satisfying and rewarding, not only in a monetary way but because of the rich relationships that I have with suppliers, clients and comrades.

The Gift of Friendship

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I have often shared in this space that Sisters #2 and #3 are my best friends and I cherish that. This year though I have drawn closer to three girlfriends. We lunch together and drink wine together and share our joys and sorrows. Their perseverance and support has been an amazing gift this year.

The Gift of Family

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In the next few days I get to spend time with most of my whacky 35 member family. We will assemble Christmas morning at my Mom’s personal care home for brunch and gift opening. There will lots of hugs and laughter (and eating).

The Gift of Travel

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Yesterday I posted on Facebook that I would rather have a passport full of stamps than a house full of stuff and that is so true. In 2015 I have traveled to Vancouver, Seattle, Isla Mujeres, Montreal (twice), New York and Tuscany. I got to stay and visit with people I love, learn new things, see new things and just “be” in so many lovely places.

The Gift of Community

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We are blessed with wonderful neighbours who fetch our mail and snow blow our parking spots. Our little house of 20+ years is the now the perfect size. We sit in our lawn chairs out front for an evening glass of wine (in summer) and visit with many on the street. We do our small part in creating a better Winnipeg and I am inspired by our mayor and chief of police.

The Gift of Freedom

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Even with the effects of terror being felt around the world, I am vigilant but never afraid when we travel. I love Canada more than ever with a loving family man as our leader and his open and tender heart. D and I have been registered and hope to provide temporary housing for Syrian refugees in the months ahead.

The Gift of Health

I have had a bumpy ride in this department this autumn but I am empowered to get out and walk, get to the gym and focus on healthy whole foods that I have the time to prepare and the wealth to purchase.

The Gift of Peace

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Through the bumpy ride mentioned above, I was filled with a peace that passed all understanding. I was grateful that my “bad” news didn’t feel bad at all when placed alongside all the things that it “could” have been. I am blessed with extra doses of peace when I watch falling snow, spend time at the lake or gaze at the turquoise sea of Isla Mujeres.

The Gift of Joy

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Oh my goodness! My family and The Wee One are my constant sources. Yesterday I belly laughed with my almost 89 year old Mom over one of her “witticisms” and then watched The Wee One shake it up in the aisle when I took her to a live play. We cannot restrain our joy as we watch her sister growing inside J2’s belly and can’t wait for the birth of our second granddaughter in the new year.

The Gift of Love

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Love is all around. This autumn I have known a special outpouring from friends new and old and constantly from my family. And then there is D. Even though I have aches and pains, white hair roots and new creases on my face, he loves me the same way as he did when none of these things existed. No, he loves me more and in such a respectful and accepting way. He kisses me the moment he awakes, patiently endures my ranting while watching Jets games and constantly plans new adventures for us to share. He truly is the most amazing Daddy, Poppa and Husband. I chose well.

And so this Christmas, I hope one thing: that you get the time to reflect on all the gifts that you have received this year.

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Love-that is all.

Paris-I have no words for her beauty or my sadness

November14

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Boulevard Pub & Bistro

October9

Do you watch those cooking contest TV shows? Have you always wanted to taste the fare from the time-pressured but inventive Chefs? Chef Heather Porteous of the Boulevard Pub and Bistro in Charleswood is one such Chef. She competed on Chopped Canada earlier this year. I won’t spoil the results if you have not yet seen the episode.

The thing that I was immediately struck by when I entered the bustling place at lunch time was that all her patrons seemed so happy to be there. I even heard them commenting that it was so lovely that Heather opened in the Charleswood neighbourhood.

My lunch date was a friend who was once hired by Heather to work at her first job at the Chicken Chef in Elie, Manitoba. She decided on the Pad Thai salad with its crunchy rendition of red cabbage, bean sprouts, rice noodles and organic greens. Both our salads were accompanied by huge pieces of grilled garlic toast. But just for good measure, we also ordered the Kettle Chips which came with no less than three sauces: onion & garlic, roasted red pepper and bacon & chive.

My mouth still waters when I recall my selection. The Rustic Italian Salad was a hearty concoction of crispy prosciutto, candied cashews, caramelized pears and apples and toasted quinoa. The salty feta adorning the top enhanced the sweet/salty tastes that I am a huge fan of.

At present meals are being served up in the lounge as they have experienced damage from a water leak in the dining room. This was in no way a hardship as we were sat at a huge half moon booth which was spacious and cozy at the same time. Our server could not possibly been any nicer and our food came impossibly quickly out of the busy kitchen.

Boulevard Pub & Bistro Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Kath’s quote: “Winslow bounced over on the balls of his feet, clearly not experiencing any sort of crash. ‘Aren’t your guys nervous? I’m nervous as all hell.’
‘There’s nothing to be nervous about,’ Beck said, joining them. ‘Nerves are only useful when they can spur you on to work harder, faster, better. Once the work is done, they become pointless.”  ―
Louisa Edwards

Live simply, laugh often, love deeply.

 

The Story of a Kitchen

September23

We once had a family home in the Wolseley neighbourhood of Winnipeg. I loved the schools, the shops and the friends we knew and made in the neighbourhood. This was over twenty years ago and the community was not as gentrified as it is now and D was often concerned about our safety and was just as happy when we made the move to River Heights. The Wolseley kitchen was a do-it-yourself job with white cupboards and black hardware, white appliances and pine ceiling and walls. There was a door to the back porch, a door to the dining room, a door to the front landing and a door to the basement. J1 who we called “crash” as a toddler, once hit one of those door jams which forced his recently exposed front teeth, back up into the tooth sockets. Overall, it was an awkward space and poorly laid out and we would not miss it when we moved.

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Our River Heights kitchen was smaller but had a more efficient footprint and was relatively new. At that time I was overjoyed. There was no designated dining room in the house but it had a built in kitchen table and it was perfect for our young family. Perfect, that was, until our border collie-cross puppy ate off all the legs to the chairs for the kitchen table! Over the years, things went down hill from there.

When J1 became a young man, he and D backpacked through Europe. Back home, for no apparent reason, the tempered glass on the front of our stove imploded into a million little glass shards. D and J1 redesigned the kitchen footprint on the back of a napkin in some European pub along their route. By this time, we had reworked a little TV room into a dining space so we no longer needed the kitchen table. We did a small redesign to move the stove where the table had been and replace the flooring which was very much the worse for wear.

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In more recent years, we had run out cupboard space and the cupboard doors would literally fall off their hinges on a regular basis. We were disgusted by our popcorn ceiling and the grime that had accumulated there from our constant use of the stove. I had suggested a modest face lift to fix the cupboards and ceilings and create some more space. D want to start from scratch and so we waited until we could afford the reno.

In the mean time, my Momma had moved out of our family home and shared the proceeds of the house sale with my siblings and me. The kitchen dream, came back onto the front burner, so to speak! We researched some very grand plans of creating a doorway into the living room and going back to the bare bones with the help of our designated contractors-DAB Building and Renovation.

In the end, our plans had to be scaled back without the access and retaining the flooring and appliances, or we would have to continue to save. We chose the former and moved ahead. The guys from DAB are friends of our offspring and had some appreciation of our casual lifestyle. They suggested a beach-like kitchen decor and I was SOLD! The only thing that we modified was replacing a laminate counter top with a granite one. Otherwise, we accepted every one of their practical and design suggestions.

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The majority of the work was scheduled to be completed while D and I were up at the Beach House on our August vacation. We emptied the cupboards and moved the contents of the city fridge to the lake one. Right on schedule, the demo and rebuild began. We got regular up-dates from the guys and I remained up at the beach house for some extra time to stay out of the guys’ hair.

A custom-made window took a bit of time to be completed and installed, but otherwise, the job took about three weeks.

Here’s a tour:

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D prepared our first dinner at our dining peninsula. We wanted butcher block surfaces but was cautioned about surrounding the sink with wood, so we mixed it up with the granite top on the cupboards opposite. (This photo also illustrates that we should probably pour less hearty wine portions in the future).

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We had never before had a spice drawyer. This one is right next to the stove top and D was thrilled with how easy it was to season everything up before the grilling that he did that evening.

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In the drawers directly opposite the stove are all of our utensils. These three drawyers were newly acquired and much needed space. I seem to have accumulated way too many gadgets, given as product samples at blogging events. I itentially placed all of the plastic items in the bottom drawyer so that the Wee One could open it up by herself to help me unload the dishwasher or just play. The granite gives me a place to work with dough and is very “organic” looking in appearance.

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The shelf to the left was added so that there would be clearance by the stove which allowed for a bank of open shelving. We had one of the shelves removed so that our tall bottles of various oils could be readily available at the stove top.

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The open shelves serve a number of purposes: I never before had the space to place my much-loved cookbooks. Having a place to display a couple of decorative items means that it is less tempting for me to “clutter” up the counter as D likes clear counter tops. I think that we have found a number of good compromises between form (me) and function (him).

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In our previous kitchen a double lazy susan (Sister #3 has always wondered why Susans are labelled in this manner), was full of packaged goods. Now one shelf holds all of our stove top cookware and another, all of our small appliances.

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In addition to the lazy susan space, the pevious cupboards that occupied this space, right down to the floor, was full of food packages. These days, we find that we depend on hardly any packaged foods and so we were able to incorporate almost all our food stuffs and ingredients into this one space. We retained the wire baskets from our former kitchen so that we could pull out the shelves and see all of the ingredients so that nothing would get lost and forgotten about at the rear of the cupboard. In addition, I categorized each pull out, so if I am baking, I just pull out that entire basket and place it on the counter for easy access.

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We do not have a stove hood or vent in the kitchen so it is so lovely that the window now opens to let steam and cooking odors out and the fresh air in.

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The plant shelves by the south window are for growing herbs in the winter. The glass fronted cupboard is a great place to display some glass and pretty coloured serving items.

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We have tripled the lights with numerous pot lights, strategically located. The pine that serves as our backsplash was white-washed to cover the popcorn ceiling. The double farmer’s sink is great for rinsing on one side and allowing supper to defrost in the other. The floor matt was out on our back deck and I initially brought it in just to have a place to put it over the winter but I love it so much that I will not want to give it up. I think that it ties everything together and really contributes to the beachy decor that we were going for.

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Now here is the ironic thing, a detail that I do not think that D has even remembered: the white cupboards with black hardware and the pine on the walls and ceiling are exactly the decor of our first kitchen those many years ago (the one that we couldn’t wait to leave behind)!

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Kath’s quote: “Don’t it always seem to go that you don’t know what you’ve got til it’s gone”. -Joni Mitchell

Live simply, laugh often, love deeply.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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