Tuesday, July 6, 2021

Claim

For the first time in both of our home ownership histories, we experienced a break in.  Via a fenced-in side door to our garage that we rarely used.  All six of our bicycles were taken.  Nothing was trashed inside.  We slept through it.  

A poor ball cedar got trampled on the way in and a utility line was cut.  The perpetrators were quite careful with moving things out of the way.  In order to gain entry, a crow bar was used on our steel door.  It was dented along with damage to the surround, deadbolt and strike plate. 

There were 4 people involved.  A couple of them served as lookout.  And the other two rode and guided the bikes 2 at a time, a short distance away before returning for more.  

The last month+ has been a blurr of activity as our insurance policy was tested.  To be honest, I didn't know the limits of coverage for things like bicycles.  When setting up the policy, I was mostly interested in making sure we'd be covered for a complete rebuild should the house burn down etc. 

As an aside, a highschool friend of mine is currently going through a claim as his house burnt down due to a faulty power bar.  It will take at least 8 months for his family of 6 to be able to move back.  They will be living at a hotel until then. We've all learned a whole lot about all the professionals sent to the scene to search for the cause.  

I wasn't concerned about our bicycles.  I remain concerned that the perpetrators now know that our garage has 2 other doors leading into the house -- Mudroom and basement, along with a ladder to the garage attic.  Who knows what they could be thinking.  

We already know that with Covid, nothing happens fast.  So the quote for a new steel door is 3 months+ depending on the style...

Since our door is usable, meaning it didn't have to be boarded up, it was important to secure it better, to make it harder to another break in.  We now have very large strike plates which makes it harder to pry around.  New locks have been installed as well as window security film as about half the door is glass.  

We do have motion detector lights but they had not been used in over a decade.  They've since been replaced and we are now using indoor and outdoor timers for lights again when we are away.  Our neighbour owns a security company and will be getting us a quote for a home alarm/monitoring system.  It was his camera that caught part of the scene.  That's how we know how many people were involved.

And because of the video, all 4 people were arrested.  A couple of them were released with a future court date and then proceeded to promptly steal again and were arrested again...

It's been proving difficult to find bicycles to buy.  Because of this, our insurance company issued a straight pay out.  It was a bit of work, listing all the bikes, upgraded parts and accessories.  Believe it or not, there were 68 line items, from mostly D's bikes.  

In the good news category, both of my bikes were found by the police (who were fantastic to deal with) within the first week.  They were a bit dented and scratched up so I've had to doctor them with touch up paint.  The busted frame of one of D's bike was found as the money is in the parts ie.  the wheels of D's fat bike alone are about 1K. 

Our local bike shops had their contacts keeping eyes out for us and a complete stranger attempted to chase down one of my bikes the day after it was stolen, when he saw "...a large guy riding the smallest olive Salsa bike he had ever seen..." (my bikes are an xs frame).  We were alarmed that he would risk confrontation but I've learned that bike owners are a passionate group.  

With depreciation, and a 3K deductible; in the end, we received about 9K back for the bikes and 3K for the replacement door.  And because you are dealing with an insurance company, we can expect our premium to increase next year.  

A real highlight was our claims adjuster who is such a kind and patient soul.  Over the years at work, I've dealt with my share of insurance and case adjusters.  So I know how fortunate we were to have been assigned a real standout.  I made sure she knew how we felt too.  

***Pro tip:  Replace surge protectors / power bars that are over 5 years old!***

Saturday, May 22, 2021

Negotiation

I've learned quickly that backpacking is an exercise in negotiation.  What do you want to bring vs how much weight are you willing to carry?

Turns out I don't actually own a backpack that is suitable for multiday trips.  I have daypacks and duffels.  Thankfully D has an older 50L one I have been filling and training with.  

Let me tell you, I didn't love it then the weight was over 25lbs.  So out came my tarp, paracord, tent footprint, hatchet and 2L of water (leaving just 1L for now).  I will still have a knife that I can baton wood with.    

Am packing for a few scenarios.  First will likely be a local hike in basecamp setup for a few days.  Will have to go back and forth as I will need to fetch water.  And want to bring a hatchet or axe to be able to process wood for the fire.  But I won't need to worry about bear proofing, just critter proofing.

The most difficult will be a multiday camp in bear country because the bear vaults etc.  adds significant amount of weight.  I'll likely upgrade to a 65L pack especially if I'm going in cooler temperatures as you'll need extra clothing and cold weather gear tend to be heavier.

For a multiday hike that is more culture based like in Nepal, Turkey, Europe etc.  that doesn't involve camping, packing would be much easier.  Just a daypack as I won't need to worry about carrying too much food or water. 

I'm starting to tire of all this planning but no real doing.  Camping has been delayed yet again until mid June now.  Which has meant our canoe classes as well... Been doing some stress baking lately, which has provide a nice reprive from all the uncertainty.  Just follow the recipe and voila, something expected actually happens!  

Tuesday, April 20, 2021

Solo

I'm starting to really miss solo adventures. 

My intention is to solo camp for the week before we are scheduled to canoe camp late next month, assuming our stay at home orders aren't extended.  At this moment, it isn't looking good.  Both of our canoe course have been rescheduled already.  

However, having something to look forward to is important for my mental health.  I like to be learning, planning and moving towards something rather than dwell on what I cannot do.  Possibilities keep me enthusiatic and sane.  We've already come up with new options for our local area to check out.

I finally started delving into cooking with cast iron this month after getting an outdoor griddle.  We were originally going the Blackstone route but switched to a Camp Chef two burner system with removable griddle for more versitility.  

Had long been intimidated by cast iron cookware and the whole needing to season it etc.  Right now I only have a panini press and a 12" fry pan (8 lbs!) and having used and cleaned it a couple of times, I want more!   

The first time was a bit of mess as soon as I added some gluten free gnocchi to sauteed onions and bacon.  It had only been seasoned once.  After the 2nd seasoning, noodles did not stick and neither did tofu.  D is going to season it once more for good measure.  

Having had low ferritin, this is another way to add iron to my food in order to avoid yet another supplement.  I going to order both 8" and 10" pans to add to my collection which will also work well over a fire.  Don't think I have a need to go the dutch oven route yet.

Friday, April 9, 2021

Plans

The biggest one is D's countdown to his retirement.  He is planning for Dec 2022.  

I had wondered how he would see things when I was done, if he would feel left out?  He says that he doesn't feel left out as there is so much we cannot and shouldn't be doing still, that he might as well continue his relatively "easy" work.  Whereas I have not felt one pull towards work at all, despite not being free to do or be anywhere I'd like.  My days are full in a mostly good way.

Our province has enacted an "emergency brake" for the month of April followed by a stay at home order (not sure if people will actually listen anymore...here's hoping!), so our camping plans got cancelled.  We have reservations for May and June so fingers crossed as they coincide with canoeing classes.  Have started to make a list of things we can do should everything get cancelled this summer.  Easier to think about that now.

Fishing has been slow going.  Fortunately we both enjoy spending time outdoors.  Both of us got trout on the first day but failed to land them.  Since that early action, neither of us has had any real bites.  So all the fish crisp, seasoning and beer batter packs are sitting on the shelf waiting... And to think I had the gall to buy a sport fishing licence as the recreational limits seemed too small!

Turns out D is quite the legendary fish lure saver.  The lengths he will go to not lose a lure is nothing short of incredible.  I have never seen someone walk from under a bridge to up and over to the other side in order to get the right angle to dislodge a snag.  I was ready to cut it off and buy a new one pretty much right off the bat.  D's efforts stemmed from not being able to afford to keep buying good fishing lures as a kid. 

Our ideas of being able to head out on interprovincial road trips have pretty much disintegrated.  We are flexible enough to make something happen should things improve.  Meanwhile, have hired our building manager of the condo out west to go in and close the water on our behalf.  A relief to close that loop.  I've seriously cancelled 5 flights since Dec.  

We had wanted to head east this summer as well, to check out land for sale.  Had been in contact with a great realtor but don't expect this trip to happen either since the atlantic provinces will not likely open up to the rest of Canada without a quarantine period.  Was hoping to fly in for a week.

The whole camper van and truck camper ideas are dead as well.  Test drove an older camper van and while I could manage it just fine (D said I drove it "like a boss"), we questioned its ability to pass safety.  Newer ones are 100K+, far beyond what I would care to spend on a "fun" camping vehicle.  

We did however buy a 1 year old recreational vehicle last fall, a few months after I sold my car.  More like a tiny home (2 bed, 2 bath), too long (43 ft) to be pulled around but set on a large ravine site (larger than our home lot), 30 ft deck, with no neighbours behind or on the one side, 10 min to the beach / lake.  

Very private site for a park, tucked away at the back in the forest, 70% shaded.  If you were to stand at our driveway (length for 2 cars), you'd barely see our heads or the fire when we are sitting at the back as the land tapers slightly down.  There's enough space and sun for a vegetable container garden between the driveway and the RV as the plan is for D to work from there this summer.  

He had to drag me to see it as I wasn't keen on the whole RV park idea after attending a summer bbq at one decades ago (found it a bit claustraphobic with so many people around, minimum trees).  He had been looking for a small "home base" in that particular region for his bikepacking and mountian bike outings.  As I do neither, told him to decide for himself as I was more interested in a mobile version.

When he stumbled on this, he thought it could be a place I wouldn't mind going to as well.  He was right.  The season was ending when we became owners last fall but I spent most days that I was there outside trying to chop wood and cooking over the fire.  Something D has never seen me do in all the years we had a cottage.  

We are still not sure why this lot wasn't divided into at least two like what you imagine a typical park would look like.  Sure, there is premium site fee but well worth it in our opinion.  Only thing, it is in another health unit district, so we are subject to restrictions.  

So until that season can start, I am going to continue to focus on my conditioning and endurance.  Start carrying a pack while on the treadmill to get ready for hike-in camping etc.  And continue to declutter the house.  You know, all that fun stuff.  Honestly, it has been very gratifying to donate and clear house.  I know many started on that road a year ago but as usual, I'm often late to the game.

Monday, March 29, 2021

Food

Now that I have a handle on all the gear we will use for canoe camping, my focus is turning towards figuring out our meals.  

Just going to make it clear right off the bat that I am not interested in macaroni and cheese (never have been), instant oatmeal or conventional freeze dried meals.  

D has gone with all of the above on his previous bike camping trips as he had firm space and weight restrictions.  But in a canoe, we will have capacity in our food barrel, so no need to go that route on these types of adventures -- One of the biggest selling features for me when deciding on a boat.  

It won't be full on food like a car camping trip, due to the need to be bear aware, but I want to eat semi normally, with variety, not a bunch of stuff I would never consider in everyday life.  

Our approach is to continue to eat foods that have higher nutritional value per serving.  It's the philosophy we already use at home but it was a good excuse to see what is new on the market. 

Examples of new finds include a higher protein pancake mix that just needs water but provides a higher amount of protein, and chickpea and quinoa-rice pasta instead of just a wheat or rice noodles. 

We will attempt to dehydrate a number of base items including tomato based sauce, vegetables like mushrooms, olives etc., baked beans and some meats like chicken, turkey, ham.  Just one ingredient things, no whole meals planned at this point, to keep things simple.  Once we get the hang of the dehydrator, we may continue on.  Don't think we'll bother with fruit as they can be purchased easy enough.

Other meal options include using different types of pre-made curries (chickpea, potatoe, eggplant) on top of pasta, rice, with naan.  D is going to try packaged tuna plus vegetables on top of pasta as well.  I'm looking into incorporating some Thai (tom yum) and Japanese (miso, soba, udon) items to the mix.  This will likely mean buying some leakproof jars for the pastes.  

The testing has just started with the new to us pancake mix (resounding success!), concentrate chicken broth with gluten free ramen (good, but the broth was weak when following instructions, needed to double).  Won't be surprised if I have to do the same with the beef broth concentrate.  

Chickpea pasta was a bit grainy tasting, so next time will undercook.  The quinoa and rice spaghetti is a clear winner.  My stomach can't digest well the 100% quinoa pasta that D eats at home, but this one I could! The Indian curries will be next.  

The aspect of travelling I have missed the most is the food.  This food exercise has been a fun reminder of all the places we have been and hopefully leading us to discover decent alternatives to some of our memorable meals abroad, like the simple street corner thali plate in Delhi.  

Tuesday, March 23, 2021

Detail Crazy

I'm known for going overboard delving into new details.  

Been gathering unscented toiletry items and cleaning supplies for the backcountry camping trips we are hoping to take this summer.  And currently waiting on our scent blocking bags to arrive so we can begin to work out food portions etc.  

Figured out our water filtering and sterilizing procedures.  When I went to Nepal, I took the filter that came with the steripen with me and found it took forever, so didn't use it after realizing the water in the area didn't have a lot of dirt or gunk at all.  It has since been replaced by a Sawyer mini, a tip from a fellow wilderness first aid classmate.  

An added small pack of water purification tablets will serve as back up.  We aren't going with a gravity system yet but may change our minds once we see how the mini works using the squeeze method.

Also waiting on a larger stainless steel billy can to boil larger amounts of water for dish washing and cooking.  Plus a larger frying pan for all the fish we think we are going to catch!  Think we may finally be coming to the end of all this gear gathering.  Wishful thinking perhaps...

Even bought a 1 person tent in preparation for solo trips, after finding how heavy my canoe dry pack was getting with my 2 man tent.  Thought I leaned towards the ultralight end of things but that 115L pack fills and gets heavy real fast when it alone weighs nearly 5lbs.

So word of warning.  If you decide to go down this canoe camping road, not all your previous gear will transfer over.  And in an open boat (I'd like to get a spray deck -- we are on the wait list), you need to consider floatation and weather proofing everything.  Neither of those elements come cheap with respect to gear.  

It can be overwhelming especially adding in components that come with bear proofing (bear cache arrived yesterday...) your site.  We have decided not to carry bear bangers as we aren't planning to be that out there.  So I returned them.  Our non lethal deterrants will primarily be our responsible behaviour along with an air horn and bear spray.  Should a visit to the far north happen, I'll go pick up some bear bangers again.  

Thursday, March 18, 2021

Climate Catch Up

This post is weeks late as we are well into spring thaw.  

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We have lost most of our snow already... so D and I dug up all the snow stakes in order to take down my tent.  Neither of us had used winter specific stakes before and wasn't too sure how they would work.  But work well they did.  

It is just like described -- The snow freezes in the holes which creates a real solid anchor.  And because we stomped out the site in advance, the compacting made things even more frozen.  To the point where we needed to break out the ice axe (another piece of equipment to test) to get down to them. 

To completely stake out my winter tent required 15 stakes.  I only had 12 so used the ones it came with to make up the difference. They didn't work well at all and came undone pretty much right away.  Can't find anymore of the snow stakes to buy now, so will likely have to wait untl next season to top up.

Been reading of how this year will also be a challenge for gear inventory.  Or it could be a continuation of last year's phenomenon.  Or people are onto it and have bought early.  We continue to be guilty of that.  Using snow stakes as an example, I started making my purchase list early summer.  

D and I are getting ourselves back into the water this year and toward paddle in camping.  We had sold our sea kayaks last summer and considered various ideas but nothing came together until recently.  It started with us wanting to get back into fishing, having both grown up with it.  Then the idea moved to getting a fishing boat.  Which progressed to a fishing kayak (didn't know it was thing...).

And after watching some adventure videos, it has brought us to a 2 person canoe and maybe a solo kayak for me.  The huge difference this time around is portability.  I had been looking for a way to transport a boat with a potential camper van or truck camper and stumbled on a thread about pakboats. 

Fast forward a couple of weeks and we now have a 16 ft canoe sitting in our dining room with me busy packing it up with a canoe barrel and multiple duffels.  Add to it fishing rods, hip waders and a wet suit.  Fun times.  I did try out a smaller portable kayak but it didn't fit me well.

There are many moving pieces associated with canoe camping -- New paddles, back up paddles, many dry bags.  We had kept our paddle jackets, shoes, pfds and boat safety equipment but bought a cart again as we sold both of ours.  Also needed heavier duty lines. 

Paddle in camp sites tend to be in the backcountry, so camping this way often means being bear and critter aware and all the stuff that this entails.  It's the price to pay to be further away from others.  We are currently delving into the food dehydration thing and D couldn't be happier.  He has been trying to convince me to go down this route for a while.  

What remains to be seen is whether we'll paddling together well as we've never done tandem...We'll see if the marriage survives...

Wednesday, February 24, 2021

Relief -- Life Continues!

I got my ultrasound results and it was negative for abdominal hernia!  What a relief.  I was starting to mentally write off this year and part of next already should surgery be necessary.  D waited 7 months for his in a non Covid year, so what hope would I have for what is not usually a life threatening diagnosis.

What the radiologist did pick up on the scan were some benign uterine fibroids.  I'll be finding out more about their locale and number next I speak with my MD.  My blood work to check my iron levels also came back and they are good.  I really do not want to be on an iron pill.

My injury set back my plans to start sleeping outdoors this winter as I wasn't wanting to get into low positions to set up my bivy, tarp, tent etc alongside stomping down the snow for my camp site.  So I missed testing out my gear during the polar vortex.  Bummer.  

D thinks I'm insane for even wanting to try that.  It's definitely not something he is remotely interested in.  He would consider winter camping only if it involved a hot tent and wood stove.  We're looking into it.  I would love for him to experience it in a positive way.

So I have completed 4 nights of sleeping outside so far.  Initially with my new tarp, bivy and sleeping bag.  Temps dipped to -19 C and did great.  Actually wore too many layers.  My new sleeping bag was really thick, so it took up a lot of room.  I used a wool blanket on top of it to catch condensation.  

Next up for the test was my winter tent as I've only used it in late fall.  It was luxury to have so much more space.  No condensation until last night when temps got warmer.  Didn't do a good enough job leveling the site so I can tell snow melt is gathering in the low sections.  Using an avalanche shovel can be tricky as the handle is short, even for me.

Monday, February 8, 2021

Travel

I've delayed writing about this as I am but one of millions whose plans have been cancelled last year.  Nothing different or unique there.  What I am excited about is having finally reached resolution of all of my cancellations right up to Jan '21.  

My final set of flight purchases were from Feb '20, thinking at the time, that Nov, Dec '20 and Jan '21 would be "safe" timelines to choose...and a fun way to end the year...    

Plenty of us have found the road to getting refunds and credits to not be smooth.   I had a combination of easy cancels (points flights, that I could cancel up to 72 hr before departure without penalty due to my airline status), auto systems to get airline and hotel vouchers for up to 2 years expiry, calling overseas (Ukraine!) to request a refund for a flight voucher, to insurance claims that rivaled the joy of teeth pulling.  

With respect to the insurance claim, it ended up being a misunderstanding.  In my case, I had open jaw flights (departure and arrival airports different) and there is a rule that I have to be able to prove that I start and end up back at home.  

It took a while, many emails and phone messages to clear it up.  I mistakenly assumed that claims adjusters were travellers themselves, had knowledge of Canada and US airports or had enough experience with claims to understand.  

Once I realized what the hold up was really about, a final email sorted it out and all was cordial and good.  By this time, my claim had escalated a number of levels and I had "lost my shit" over the phone after being asked 5 times to send in the same 26 page document -- Not the proudest of moments.  I did preface to the phone representative it wasn't about him before I lost it.  

D told me afterwards that I sounded highly irritated but didn't lose control in the way it felt like to me.  I think he was obliged to say that as my husband.  Not surprising, the amount I got back was woefully pathetic considering the amount of time spent.  But it is done!  In fact, I've started working on requesting additional extensions.

Last week, I received an email answer from Bologna, Italy, positively extending my hotel voucher another year, until May '22 as there is no way I would be able to make it this year.  They said that they clearly understand and their situation is nowhere close to being normal either.

Am still laid up and now thinking I might actually have torn something.  Managed to get an appointment with my MD tomorrow, so hoping to get sent for imaging to confirm things one way or another.  Glad I have a lot of books to read. 

Thursday, February 4, 2021

Forced Down Day

Overdid it on the last couple of workouts so am forced to have a rest day today.  Made a couple of batches of soup, put a movie on the background while I catch up on writing while sipping on a coffee and amarula.  

The last couple of months have been a delicious indulgence in time.  Loving not having a strict schedule.  The biggest surprise has been how normal it feels to not be working.  Not once have I felt weird or guilty about not having an income.  Haven't missed anything about the office at all.  The only regretful thought being not taking the step 2 years earlier.

The couple of months leading up to Christmas were pretty horrible.  So many goodbyes, so many tears and red eye reducing eye drops, made even more awkward with all the PPE I was wearing.  That remains the toughest part of leaving.  It has passed and am thankful I do not have to do that over ever again.

D expected and was waiting for me to go into some kind of panic but that has not occured.  I don't think about money when I go shopping compared to before, which makes no sense.  The only explanation is that I trust that the plan leading up to this point works and we'll be OK.  I feel grateful, confident and free.  It is the feeling I had dreamt of. 

In fact, it is D, who is being more conservative and cautious about calculations for his end date.  It has been quite the role reversal.   Now that I've got the time, I've taken over the weekly errands and money management.    

The plan was for me to spend the ski season out west, leaving shortly after the New Year, with D coming out for a month.  But, our province went into a lockdown, interprovincial travel discouraged so I cancelled my flight and ski pass and booked for Feb and March.  We'll see if the stars align this month for it to happen.  It's starting to make me nervous (re: home insurance) not seeing our place for so long -- coming up to a year as we cancelled our last summer plans.  

We've been exercising, taking lots of early morning/early evening walks and cooking new to us recipes.  The gluten free baking trials haven't been very successful.  Still in search for a great gluten free vegan scone recipe.  Been starting to read more again, which has been enjoyable.  

What hasn't been enjoyable are the changes with my perimenopausal body.  My naturopath warned me about the effects of decreasing estrogen but I felt confident that I would be able to counteract it, until I couldn't.  Am in disbelief with how much more I have to do exercise wise to start noticing results compared to a couple of years ago.  Not thrilled and so easy to be discouraged.

Am currently drawn to country living or owning a parcel to land to escape to again.  We don't live in a large city, but we're not allowed to have a bonfire and it is something we'd like to be able to do on our property.   It's hard to find forested land without driving at least 4 hrs as we are surrounded by farmland.   Would also love to live in a winter wall tent.  

Buying something out west would be an obvious answer, so an option we are exploring is buying a camper van and hitting the road this summer to explore the different regions.  Want to head to the arctic (should our territories open up) as well, so this could check off a number of boxes as international travel won't likely be open for much of this year.  Now that I am no longer practicing, my vaccine timing will be based on age, which will likely mean end of summer.

Friday, November 13, 2020

Fire

The last months, I've been working on my fire starting skills in anticipation of rainy and snowy days.  As I still don't know my types of wood well nor have I had consistently dry wood, the results haven't been as predictable as I'd like.  Have some belief that I ought to be able to easily start a great fire on each non rainy day, no excuses...

The way I've been approaching it has been with a firesteel.  D has a small inexpensive one he uses to start his stove but I've been hesitant to even touch it over the years as I didn't relish sparks burning small holes in clothing or being burnt.  That's why I bought a pocket rocket deluxe in the summer, which has a piezo ignition vs his original pocket rocket.

Have come a ways since.  Been practicing with a "Light My Fire Firesteel -- Army model".  It's actually quite fun. And no -- I've not turned into a pyromaniac nor have burnt holes in everything!

Reason I went for a firesteel versus a lighter is because it requires no fuel, can be transported by airplane (thinking ahead of future adventures) and can be used wet.  Plus I'm delving into all things Bushcraft nowadays.

I bought other fire starting materials as I develop my layered approached depending on weather.  Wouldn't risk flying with some of this stuff though.  It's easy to get carried away with all the options out there.  

Found that the best motivation to seek better options and improvement has been after suffering from the elements, exposing a need.  Thus the reason why I own 4 sleeping bags...Haven't yet forgotten how miserable I felt at night in Nepal and Mongolia using -11C and -18C rated bags respectively.  

Even though I may not measure up in toughness, my latest winter sleeping bag, bivy and tarp are patiently awaiting their turn to show me what they're made of.

Wednesday, September 30, 2020

Commerce

One of the real positive wins that has come out of this pandemic has been the ability to order local farmer's market produce, baked goods etc. online weekly.  We actually order from 2 different markets as the variety is quite different.  And depending on the market, you can choose a time for pick up.  It has provided opportunity to buy from producers that we would have not met otherwise.  

I don't know if it has been worthwhile for the farms to participate.  Just found out that dates have been extended through the winter into next spring for our local market so the hope is yes to the platform thriving and not just keeping heads above water until the world starts to normalize.

Like many others, we have also noticed that sports equipment, outdoor leisure supplies have been harder to come by and in the case of used bicycles, selling for far higher than they would have been last year.  We were too late with sourcing a couple of muskoka chair ottomans and another campfire grill.  

Now that I've gone down the rabbit hole that is Amazon, I can see just why they are so successful.  There are just some items that I cannot buy at the usual places.  After not being able to find directly, will now go through them.  

One thing hasn't changed though -- Still really like the online ordering for curbside pick up option.  There are stores that are a pain to shop at, at the best of times.  So being able to have all the searching done on our behalf has worked out really well for a couple of not enthusiastic shoppers.  

Wednesday, September 16, 2020

Camping 2

To keep my mind occupied for now and towards winter, I have been looking into ways to cook meals over an open fire while camping.  

Summer was hot this year, so we didn't get much of a chance to do much until the evening.  Even then, it was only hot dogs as fun food.  

Now that fall is upon us, we've been using a griddle over a fire to fry up onions, pulled pork, toast buns etc.  And will up things next with mulled wine and apple cider, kept warm in pots.  

Want to maximize use of the fire for as many things as possible.  And decrease our dependency on other fuels and cooking methods as their efficiency tends to drop off as temperatures fall.

We bought a stainless steel nalgene which has been used to boil water directly in the fire, saving grill space.  Learned about it online -- Works great and faster than you'd think, considering our go-to is a Jetboil!  Burnt sap stains on it though, depending on the wood.  But easy to wash off.  

My new winter sleeping bag arrived and it is a bit of a beast!  Am waiting on my waterproof bivy and likely a better tarp and I'll be set for some minimalist outdoor sleeping.

Thursday, September 10, 2020

Shipping

Not aware if this is a univeral "big company" thing, but as I have been ordering more stuff online, I've notice that rarely do I get the entire order at once anymore and have it come from nearby. 

More often than not, it will be split into 3 with each coming from different provinces.  I don't know how companies can make money when orders work out this way.  Three separate UPS charges!  Sometimes, the items ends up costing less than the shipping.  Am concerned for them. 

Because of this, I cannot bring myself to reorder things just to get a sale price and have them take the hit with shipping again.  Just happened today, when I got an email notifying me of a sale, 2 days after I ordered a better winter sleeping bag.  And I haven't even received the bag yet. 

Have noticed that some companies have increased their minimum order amounts this year.  I feel they need to.  What's the use of being "competitive" if it puts you out of business?

Friday, September 4, 2020

Car Camping

As we are staying in our main home province until Christmas, we have taken up "car camping" since June.  Until now,  I've never camped in Ontario during the summers as I am a mosquito magnet and had imagined being so irritated, I would not enjoy the rest of it.

Thanks to Covid, I was aching to get out to nature so much, I surprised D with the suggestion of giving it a go.  He had already started bikepacking and have been used to me saying No Way, so that idea surprised him greatly.  I don't think he really believed me until I started getting my gear together.

Our initial mistake was deciding that we'd just throw everything in the car and go from there and not really think it through.  We are both so used to hard limits with packing for flights and bikes, it felt so freeing to have the entire vehicle's worth of room to bring pretty much everything we wanted.  It was license to go a bit nuts and we did.

The first time, we packed so much stuff, it looked like we were moving...spent too much money buying ice for all the extra food (like the 2 dozen eggs etc., etc.) we didn't need...brought 2 coolers (crazy, I know)...and eventually losing a lot of the food due to melted ice getting into containers and ziplock bags (lost some great ribs and potato salad etc)...

The second and third times, we did much better as we came to terms that just because we have room, doesn't mean we need to use it all.  That it still takes thinking and problem solving.  It was luxury to be able to buy an outdoor grill that went over the fire so we could cook stuff over it.  Not something we would take abroad but something that super enhances the experience in the here and now.

And there was the issue with showers not being available this year at our provincial parks.  After unsuccessfull searches for a small privacy shelter to be delivered in time, we found online plans to build one out of pvc pipes and tarps.  The trickiest part was finding the corner pieces.  A pool supply company came through for us.  It withstood wind gusts up to 40 km/hr.  D did use extra tent stakes and guy lines.

It was also an opportunity to add a camping size frying pan (gsi), a better camping pot kit (sea to summit sigma) and an ultralight camp stove (msr pocket rocket deluxe) and a couple of stainless steel plates (msr again) to our arsenal as we identified further needs and wants for when we move towards the more minimal end of the range again.

We are both quite tanned and excited for the fall and winter seasons.

Wednesday, August 12, 2020

It's happening

This turned out to be the year.  I gave my notice.  Last day of work will be shortly before Christmas.

No matter how many great things I hope to look forward to, it is still a huge loss, with the first few weeks post announcement the saddest.

My career has spanned over 2 decades, not including the schooling.  It has allowed me to build a lot of relationships, gotten to know generations of family members, walked alongside many through difficult times.

Have received a number of heartfelt messages and well wishes which continue to trigger tears.  It won't be the easiest emotionally the remaining months.  There is a lot of history there and I don't do well with goodbyes.


Thursday, July 9, 2020

Monday, June 15, 2020

Negativity

It was probably a combination of too much ice cream, seasonal allergies and long work hours that brought on weariness this past week.  I was tired, lost focus and negative feelings surfaced.

Intense anger and disappointment with the level of violence and tragedy going on.  Just when you think it cannot get worse.

Disbelief at not being able to travel across my own country this summer.  We can but it is strongly discouraged so we won't until it is officially accepted without quarantine restrictions.  I knew inside but hadn't been willing to really accept it.

D was surprised it took this long.  My last international flight was in January.   The effects of all the cancellations and restrictions to movement caught up to me.  I've actually been having trouble coming up with future plans that excite me.

Exhaustion from finally seeing months of preparation coming to fruition and subsequent release of the suppressed worries even though the outcome was really good.  Kinda like getting sick at the start of a vacation.

Frustration with lack of variety with everyday life.  Nothing new for many of us.  Not from lack of thanks for our level of comfort and security but more from boredom with current routine.  Action was needed.

Part of why we wanted to head out west was to do some hiking.  So we started making use of a nearby trail and liked it enough to integrate it into our week.

Feeling defeated by the amount of conditioning I've lost the past couple of years.  Watched the Rogue Invitational and became more inspired to change things up to continue getting stronger.  It's amazing how much work capacity those athletes have.

Spent an afternoon looking for a parcel of land to buy to use as our private campsite.  That "magical" place did not materialize.  In fact, the ones we saw were so unsuitable, we put the idea to bed.  But coming up with a new idea to potentially move forward with was a win.

A real positive thing I've noticed with this emotional rawness has been increased sensitivity to others' suffering.  Increased face mask wearing has heightened my intuition.

As the upheaval in the world continues, I do my best to stay away from media for a couple of days each week to decompress.  Continuing to take positive action where I can.  With the uncertain timeline of things and my inability to not feel, this downtime has been necessary for my mental and emotional health.  

Tuesday, May 26, 2020

Keeping it Local

We had fun last week supporting our area ice cream parlours, beachside establishments, bakeries, seasonal farm stores.  Any excuse to eat fun foods in the sunshine. 

I've already spent a lot more time sitting and dining outside on our deck compared to previous years.  It has been so pleasant to actually use our beautiful and solidly built outdoor furniture.  D reminded me that our set is 8 or 9 years old now and it still looks and feels brand new.  Definitely worth the investment

Unexpected treat highlights were our soft serve cones dipped in salted caramel and chocolate hazelnut respectively.  It was a long week and even a 15 min drive radius with fun food stops provided the needed pick-me-up. 

Later today D will be doing a farm order pick up containing highly anticipated first strawberries of the season along with eggs and other staples. 

I continue to be acutely aware of the issue of food insecurity.  And could not help thinking that a seemingly "simple" act of going out for hot dogs, beach fries and onion rings is not realistic for many families right now. 

So we continue to support local food banks and organizations who distribute supermarket cards to anyone in need.

Thursday, May 14, 2020

Thinking of

The young man we met at Delhi airport who was also en route to Leh to spend a week's vacation with family.  He was in 2nd year medical school then, so would have graduated that part by now and would have continued on with a speciality.

He wasn't interested in family practice but instead wanted to do something big, like work with Doctors without Borders in the Congo.  Well, a pandemic would qualify as something big.  He comes from priviledge (his words), so felt it was his duty to give back.  I often wonder how he is managing in his country where basic sanitation isn't a right and PPE in critically short supply.

And I worry about him, as many doctors, nurses, health care workers have continued to be targets of hate, getting stones thrown at them and or evicted; as their people are so gripped with fear, they forget that they are targeting the very ones who play a vital role in saving lives.

Those scenes unfortunately play out not only in India but in other countries like Mexico and even Singapore.  Complete contrast to the health care support I see and feel around me.  Humans can be such dangerous animals.

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I'm gutted for the people of Brazil, especially the ones living in the favelas.  The conditions there can be so bad.  No running water, difficult for consistent hygiene.  People are starving as workers in the informal sector who depend on the beaches for daily income have not been able to work.  

Surprisingly the favela gangs have stepped up to enforce curfew and social distancing.  Hoping people are questioning the ridiculous the comments from their President.  Frightenly, those in the Amazonas state may still not be not aware enough of what's going on in the rest of world.  

A number of NGOs have thankfully stepped up delivering food (rice and beans) but the need is high.  Food insecurity and inequality are being highlighted to the world even stronger now, bringing light to what so many have known for years.  I've been made more acutely aware than ever of this real need in my own backyard.

Especially when seeing UPS, FedEx, Purolator delivery trucks go by daily, due to unprecedented online shopping demand.  Of which I am certainly very guilty of these last couple of months, along with the petty impatience with the delays which has been the "worst" thing that came along with it.  

Wednesday, May 13, 2020

Nerves

Well, it has finally happened.  D and I got on each others' nerves in an extra big way recently.

Triggered by a number of things:

  • His decreased exercising 
  • My increased exercising 
  • Him realizing he hasn't taken more than 2 days off this year
  • My feeling down about the prospect of zero international travel this year and dealing with the insurance claim process
  • Him being on a new prescription that increases his metabolism which is having an adverse effect on his long distance cycling
  • Me wanting him to take more responsibility for his health 
  • Him not eating enough to counteract this new med
  • Me feeling tired of trying to meal plan for him
  • Him missing being able to have a drink (to be avoided with the med)
  • Me drinking more (one drink every 1 - 2 weeks)
  • Him being gluten and dairy sensitive
  • Me working on being meat free
  • His communication weaknesses in our relationship
  • Me being at home way more than before
  • His tendancy to spew out negativity and hostility when he cannot manage things
  • Me refusing to be his emotional punching bag
  • Me holding him to adult standards
  • Him not liking that

Saturday, May 9, 2020

Back to Work

This was my first week back at work.  It took right up till last Saturday for me to have all the protective gear I needed to get started again.  There are some orders still to come, mostly repeats of things since I had to order from different supplies in hopes that one would come through.

It felt really good to be back.  Have had a number of meetings to go over current status, set up booking and cleaning procedures etc.  Being in action felt great with much relief knowing I have things covered for the remainder of the year.  D even commented on the enthusiam in my voice.

There is tremendous community support in my area.  Strong groups of volunteers making ear savers with personal 3D printers alongside our local caremongering group making homemade masks, headbands, scrub caps, scrub bags for hospitals, long term care, health care offices, front line and vulnerable groups.  Their zest and dedication have inspired me to give more.  

Thursday, April 30, 2020

Push to Reopen

Pushing for a reopen is currently a theme circulating around the world.  I get that.  Some income is better than no income.  The shock of sudden closure created a lot of panic for people and businesses alike.  However it is widely accepted that it won't be business as usual for a while yet.  For some, the real financial battle may just be beginning.

Business owners in my neck of the woods are starting to come to terms with the reality that a restricted opening with a maximum 50% capacity for what could be 3 to 6 months or longer could spell the real end of their businesses.  Especially when it's been already so difficult for many from just one month of shutdown.  Some were teetering on the edge in a good year.

How many of them will have the liquidity to be able to afford overhead and payroll when income may be halved, depending on the type of business?  Will they be able to scale things to maximize further in this new economy?  Is there enough credit available to make up the difference until the world normalizes?  Not easy but necessary questions.  

Consumers may be anxious to see their favourite restaurants, services, shops open back up without realizing the behind the scenes financial burden for the respective owners.  Many places will have to spend (ongoing) money to buy hospital grade disinfectants, put sanitization stations in place, equip their staff with PPE, just to be able to get back to work.

Monday, April 27, 2020

The Best Buy

Since we've both been home and using our garage workout areas (weight machine, pull up bars, gymnastic rings) we've left both cars outside in the driveway.  Last week, things came to a head.

D has been going crazy and driving me crazy trying to discourage a particular Robin and his bird friends from hanging around and pooping on our cars.  To the point where he is yelling to them and telling to them to go away...

I asked him if he was going to start flapping his arms and chasing them next... And if he was going down that road, to make sure he doesn't fall off the deck or do anything even more silly that would necessitate an ER visit as I wasn't going to drive him.

D then decides to order an owl decoy after learning about its effectiveness.  It didn't work.  No matter where it was mounted or placed.  So one of the cars got moved back into the garage and the other onto the street during the day.

The Robin followed it across the street and the pooping continued, albeit less.  It doesn't seem to like any of the other vehicles in our neighbourhood.  I'm starting to think that the Robin is a reincarnation of one of D's ancesters' enemies.

All the while D is trying to keep the car clean with his hand pressure pump thingy multiple times a day.  What are those birds eating?

After 3 days of his whirling about, I had had enough.  Remembered him mentioning a car cover and did some research and found some for sale.  It gets ordered and was thankfully available for pick it up the same afternoon.

Car got moved back to our driveway and covered.  Birds immediately left it alone.  No poop since.  Something to do with birds not liking to sit on a soft surface.  Amazing.  

Saturday, April 25, 2020

One of Those Days

Started the day with a portion of a nanaimo bar after I got update of yet another delivery delay...  Commiserated with a colleague who happened to have sent an email and felt better afterwards.

Then it was off to try and remove some malware off my computer that is affecting the sign in on a credit card account site.  Actually it was D who was dealing with it and him telling me to please give him space while he figures it out...  : )   The credit card site is now down, so maybe it wasn't me. 

Finally received completion photos (looks good!) from some needed plumbing work at our condo out west.  It has taken consistent follow up since Feb with the plumbing company, the only one that the mountain community relies on, as the person who manages the emails admits to forgetting a lot... (pandemic and early resort closure aside) 

The kitchen and bathroom sink taps and lines needed to be upgraded as I think we had been using the originals which would have been decades old.  The plumber also checked out the toilet and recommended the stack be replaced as well, so we gave him the green light.

Dripping started from the kitchen hot water tap on the day we were due to fly home!  Thank goodness it was noticed before we left.  I don't want to imagine the consequences. 

I got on the phone and managed to reach someone from the company who came over within 1/2 hr to assess and a plan was promised.  By that time D was able to get to the water shut off taps.  We stuck a plastic bucket under the sink just in case. 

Won the bet on how much the estimate would be.  D's pricing was out of the 80s.  

Thursday, April 23, 2020

Rest Day

Yesterday was one of those rest days for me.  Ate a carnivore breakfast, first one in a over 2 weeks as I've cut my meat consumption significantly the past year or so.  But was craving animal protein -- Eggs and bacon.

Rounded the plate off with potatoes and a slice of toasted sour dough bread with peanut butter instead of my usual butter.  So good!  I normally start my day with a vegan protein shake so a huge difference.  Plus I rarely eat gluten nowadays so the toast was a treat.

After reading an article of the extreme difficulties facing hospitals and women's shelters in Quebec (the worst area in Canada for Covid right now) who are running really low in funds to purchase PPE and continue to provide additional meals respectively, we made a couple of donations.

My office has been on pause since Mar 17th.  Since my hours are so part time now, it made sense to refer to colleagues at larger locations who can provide emergency coverage for me for the time being.  There are many of us who have also enlisted/volunteered and are awaiting mobilization to help in high needs areas.

Meanwhile, I've spent an inordinate amount of time and energy trying to source out enough PPE with an eye on the need moving forward as it may take many months before "normal" returns.  Have you noticed how much hand sanitizer costs?!  Judging by how slammed the supply and delivery companies are, I'm not the only one thinking this way.

Currently have 5 more orders (out of 17 attempts) to come after a number of them got cancelled or lost.  Which has necessitated ordering items twice from different manufacturers in hopes one of them will come through.  I'm beginning to think it would be easier and less costly if I just wait it out but that could be months and I cannot stay away that long.

Tracking and following up has become a part time job.  And to be clear, an order for me typically will only contain 2 items as stock is so low and prices high.  It is certainly not cases of things.  The majority of things are taking 4 - 6 weeks.  I have supplies supposed to be coming from either ends of Canada, the US, China (unintentional, thought I was ordering direct from the US).

Everything is understandably prioritized to hospitals first right now.  There are shortages at so many locales.  Any supplies I have found, I've matched in donation, in terms of supplies or money.  We are in this together.

Wednesday, April 22, 2020

Day to Day

Noticed a number of bloggers have taken to posting more often since sheltering at home has become the norm for so many of us.

Found reading the day to day posts to be grounding and a source of comfort, inspiring me to want to contribute in the same spirit.  Brings me back to how blogging once was and a reminder of how much I missed that.

Admittedly I haven't found the extra time at home to be too much of a burden.  Little did I know the timing of my increased introversion and desire to settle at home would coincide with social distancing measures.

Found purpose with my Spanish lessons and the first of a number of 30 day fitness challenges i.e. 100 kettlebell swings a day, 100 skips a day etc.  It's going well and I have had to learn to take rest days after experiencing some really painful culmulative muscle tension.  I miss my massage therapist!

Am proud to report that we have yet to buy any toilet paper or extra wipes or flour or yeast.  The latter because we don't bake from scratch.  The former because a bale from Costco lasts a long time when it is just 2 people.  We'll deal with it when the time is near, just like any other time.

Either D's timing was bad or the increased shopping tendancies have gotten worse, but after 2 aborted attempts to regular shop at Costco, we decided to pause the in person experience and place our first online delivery order.

Couldn't buy everything we were looking for but got the most important items -- Almonds, walnuts, oats, beet root crackers, peanuts, CoQ10.   And will pay a slightly higher price to get other items like frozen avocado (shakes) at a supermarket instead.

It's going to take a while before it arrives, but I've noticed that regular supermarket pick up times are about 1.5 to 2 weeks out as well.  Changes your appoach to shopping.  We kinda like it and intend to continue to shop less frequently once we move out of this pandemic.