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December 02, 2022


Having dependent livestock is a good motivator. We board two horses just up the road, but it’s not “full board” so stall cleaning and turn-out is a twice daily chore. Cycling may continue through the winter, as it has in the past. It will be my fifth year riding a “fat” bike on the trails, my third year with studded tires added. That said, I’ve picked up a few canvas boards and begun to paint a bit - facing the fact that I can’t take the cold like I used to.

A woman once advised, "The secret to surviving winter here is to get on top of it"- literally. Like you, I no longer ski or skate, but walk daily, through neighbourhoods at dawn (Icebug brand boots lend security when on icy streets, IMO better than crampons that have to be taken on and off.) I notice that many persons here have a certain good will in winter, and I'm lifted by them. I also like the folding in, the snug woollens, hot chocolate, little kids skating in the park across the street, and days when snow sparkles on the mountain. It's March, when the thaw reveals nothing but brown, grey and litter that's hardest for me to head into.

We just sold a problematic house in another state that was being supported by the old folks so that is a huge relief. And both cats were ill and are much better now. My 17.5 year old kitty girl had somehow gotten a major infection and we feel blessed to have a fantastic vet with a lab just down the road who diagnosed and treated her right away. I couldn't face sitting in the vet's treatment room waiting for the bad news so himself had to do it. He leaned out the door and gave me the ok sign.
Her brother has hyperthyroidism but he is better and on his weight gain plan. He was down to 8.5 pounds and is back up close to 10 now. But he was a hefty chunker before. Since kitty girl is my constant companion I could not face losing her. And she is here as I write.
It's pouring rain here now. I can still ski and himself has bad knees but he will ski, on the flats or in the woods.
Daily housework, cook for everyone, make up the daily pill box for the parents, cat care, oversee the airbnb, tai chi, read. We're going to make a peaceful Christmas for the old folks, some new lights, a tree, presents. I love getting past the 21st of December and looking forward to April frog sing.

Mike, good to hear from you! And of course the horses do get you out frequently -- not much choice about that. I'm impressed you're riding a fat bike on trails, it must be fun. There are quite a few cyclists here who keep going all winter, with varying kinds of equipment. I pack the bike in as soon as the roads get icy. But I'm super happy to hear you're painting again, and hope you'll show some of the results.

Duchesse, yes, that's the key, though of course it changes as we get older. Last winter we went out to parks in the countryside quite often, as well as the larger parks and wildlife reserves in and near Montreal, and it really made a difference in our mental health. Like you, I'm more likely to get depressed in late winter/early spring when it feels interminable, and ugly!

Sharyn, I hear you about aging cats and am sorry yours have been sick. It's such a worry. So glad you have a good vet. We've just switched because of our move, and I hope for the best, because Manon (14 or 15 now) has been off her food, off and on. She's much better now. Wishing you the best as you get through to the 21st -- same feeling here, I want to see the sun start to move in the other direction!

"after twenty-five (lengths) I felt renewed" I know the feeling. Twice a week I used to swim ninety-eight lengths of a 16 m pool at a health club. That's a mile - give or take - and lasted 55 minutes. The perfect exercise for a decaying octogenarian. But not just any old stroke, proper crawl, for which it was essential I learned the correct breathing: head immersed most of the time (thus goggles are essential), quick two-second flip of the head to take in air, exhalation into the water. It took ages to learn this but, once learned, I never swam any other stroke. Crawl is easily the most efficient way of doing longish distances in this intriguing medium.

But alas, direction can be difficult to maintain if there are no tiled lines on the pool bottom. And although I started as early in the morning as possible the pool tended to fill up with other swimmers. Bumping into others - especially if they happen to be women - is justifiably frowned upon. I'd be still doing lengths now, three years short of ninety, but the apprehensions re. bumping, got the better of me. And I am not as fit as I was. These days I chat to medicoes, dozens and dozens over the last eighteen months, as I mentioned. A new meritocracy but I'm fairly sure the sympathy is genuine. Recently, in casual conversation, I let loose the adjective "subclavian" and took some pleasure in that.

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Who was Cassandra?

  • In the Iliad, she is described as the loveliest of the daughters of Priam (King of Troy), and gifted with prophecy. The god Apollo loved her, but she spurned him. As a punishment, he decreed that no one would ever believe her. So when she told her fellow Trojans that the Greeks were hiding inside the wooden horse...well, you know what happened.