Wednesday, 18 March 2020

Are we going far enough, fast enough?

Mago asked if COVID-19 had made it to my corner of the universe. Yes. Yes, it has. Although we have a small number of cases in Canada, compared to elsewhere, they are steadily increasing. In the province where I live, we had a greater than 50% increase in cases yesterday from 7 to 18. Some of those are confirmed, others are presumptive. Here, we are not saying confirmed until the person tests positive with two separate tests.

The hospital where I work instituted a 'no visitors' policy yesterday at 6 p.m., with some exceptions (ie: baby in NICU ~ both parents allowed in) and one entrance for cancer and cardiac patients with appointments, and one entrance for all staff. Both of those entrances are manned with security and screening personnel, who ask all who wish to enter questions about respiratory symptoms, international travel (including to the US) or exposure to someone who had travelled internationally, and all are required to use the supplied hand sanitizer. Staff must present their photo ID. No ID, no working that day.

I, for one, am glad my hospital is taking the threat of the coronavirus seriously. I work with patients who have kidney failure, and they are, each and every one, immunocompromised. It is not widely known by laypeople that the kidneys play a role in your immune system, so when those aren't working properly, neither is your ability to fight off infections.

Two of the nurses I work with are from the Philippines. They both went back home to visit family (weeks ago), and as far as I know, have not come back yet because of the decrease in international flights. Another nurse had been in Mexico with her family, again for several weeks, and while she is back home (they drove), she is isolating at home, and has been tested (results unknown as this point) because she developed a cough and sneezing. Given that it is almost spring here, and we have had periods of melting snow and then freezing, we have the annual bloom of snow mould (it's a real thing! I get a runny nose every year!), that may very well be her issue, as she has no fever and no trouble breathing. But... better safe than sorry.

I am all for social distancing (I am an expert in that anyway), hand washing, and keeping people safe from this virus. I only hope that all the efforts of our federal, provincial and municipal governments to shut down travel and public gatherings have been done soon enough to flatten the curve. I have enough food, medication, coffee and cat food to last for weeks. It took a concerted effort to find two packages of toilet paper (thanks in part to my nephew!) so I now have 36 rolls. Most restaurants are doing takeout and delivery only now, some have closed completely, all the theatres and music venues are closed. The zoo and pavilions in City Park are closed. Museums and galleries are shuttered. Grocery stores and pharmacies are essential service and so are open. As are the liquor stores. That, I think, is hilarious! Don't cut off the supply of booze or all the drinkers will revolt! Many people have stocked up, not knowing if those will close soon.

Here's hoping our efforts keep the majority of people safe and virus-free. I can't say the same to our neighbours to the south, so other than essential trade, the border between Canada and the USA is closed. Stay safe, everyone! Keep your distance. Stay home. Try and stay positive. And please.... wash your damn hands!

Wednesday, 12 February 2020

The Longest Time

It has been just over six months since losing my brother. It has been a very long six months and one aspect of this is finally coming to a close.

It took 3 months to get probate on my brother's estate, which allowed me to deal with his estate and not have legal repercussions against myself if anything went south. So that meant I could put his house up for sale. We (myself, my sister, and niece and nephew) had a weekend long sale of his belongings at his house. We had distributed mementos to family and friends prior to this, but then had to deal with the rest of his stuff. It was very weird selling things we had seen him use/wear. But in the end, it helped with expenses as all that brought in about $1400.

I listed the house mid November. It just sold. There is a lot involved with selling a house. We held a number of open houses on weekends to allow people to come through to have a look. But it was a hard sell, because he had gutted the upstairs bathroom and it was only roughed in, with new plumbing and electrical, but no fixture, no flooring, and needed drywall work and painting as well. There is a 3 piece bathroom in the basement so the house is definitely live-in-able. Ultimately, it was a young woman who had come through an open house mid-December with her parents who ended up buying the house. She takes possession next Friday, Feb. 21st.

And that is one huge relief! I had the bank that held the mortgage put the payments on hold starting January after there was no interest by mid-December. Given the location (walking distance to a large hospital, and downtown) and a decent price point, I had hoped for a quick sale, But no, that bathroom put a crimp in those plans. There was only so much money in his bank account and it was dwindling fast, Pausing the mortgage payments helped a lot but the sale changes all that. Because that means there will be the funds to pay the lawyer, pay his final taxes (if any), and give a bit of money to his beneficiaries (no, not me, although I will get a bit for out of pocket expenses).

The next step will be to do his taxes. Because he was a salaried employee with no life insurance and no investments, it should be pretty straight forward, unless Canada Revenue has something in a file somewhere showing he owes them money from way back. I have his files and he's done his taxes annually from what I can see. Fingers crossed, this tax thing results in a simple return with a refund owing.

After that is done, all is just a waiting game, for the government to issue a clearance certificate, stating he owes nothing more to them, and I will be free and clear to distribute the remaining monies.

All this sounds pretty business-like, paperwork and scratching pens and clicking computers. But none of it conveys the heartache, the tears, the worry, the work involved. The piles of boxes and papers in my tiny house, making an obstacle course that I cannot clear until all this is done. The time spent after work and on weekends trying to get things all tied up. The sale of the house is a huge relief, because it took 2 3/4 months on the market to move, and we had to drop the price $5k to get it to move, and even then, it went $9K under than. But it is done, and for that I am grateful. We survived Christmas with a toast to my brother, and each of us in our own way honouring his memory and missing his hugs and gentle presence.

The road ahead has fewer bumps and turns than it did a few months ago. One day, it will just be a trail of memories littered with laughs and smiles. One that I will travel with the rest of my family.

A selfie taken long before selfies were a thing.
Circa 1989

Tuesday, 13 August 2019


On Aug. 1st, my world plummeted into a void. My youngest brother died by suicide and my family will never be the same. It cannot remain taboo to speak out about suicide, to speak out about mental illness, and to speak out about depression. Because when it is taboo, people will hide what they are going through and the end result is... this.

My brother was a carer, of anyone and everyone. He gave of himself so much over the years, but was never one to let anyone know how he himself suffered. I think he became convinced he could not share his vulnerabilities with anyone, despite how he was hurting.

And in the end, that isolation led him to the only solution he could see. An end to his pain meant an end to his life. And although his pain has ceased, ours is massive. My heart is so broken. I will miss him forever.

Monday, 1 July 2019

Losing a friend

One of my favourite bloggers, LX, posted his last the other day. Cancer is taking its toll. He has many friends amongst those of us who are still slogging around the blogosphere, and will be sorely missed. He came to visit me about a decade ago. We spent a few days seeing the local sites and I took him to Gimli (aka New Iceland) just to the north of Winnipeg, where we had pickerel cheeks (which he said were good, despite not really liking fish) and vinarterta (aka Viking cake, as he called it, and which he really enjoyed). My heart is breaking that his service to his country is ultimately killing him. He is such a gentle soul. May your journey into the ether be as pain free as possible, LX. Much love to you. It has been my privilege to have known you. xoxoxo

Wednesday, 15 May 2019

Well, this isn't bad!

An update on my progress of kicking my sugar habit, and dropping some weight. Adopting a keto WoE (Way of Eating) hasn't been difficult at all! I can eat bacon any time I want, I snack on whole avocados, I use lots of butter, and food tastes great!!

So in the first 30 days, I have dropped 13.8 lbs and a total of 8" (I am only measuring bust, waist and hips). I am rarely hungry and when I am, I eat. I still have a long way to go to get to where I need to be, but it took me many years to get heavy, so slimming down in going to take time too. I'm in it for life now, so I have patience.

On a completely different note, last fall I discovered a website called Icelandic Roots, where those with Icelandic heritage can enter their names, birthdates, birthplaces, and any family they know of, and have a whole new world opened up to them! Icelanders are very big on genealogy. I have discovered, also, the Icelandic National League of North America, an organization that strives to maintain strong ties between Iceland and those of Icelandic descent elsewhere in the world. This year, the 100th INLNA annual conference is here in Winnipeg, so I arranged a few days off work so I could attend. I am so excited to learn more, and to meet cousins! Distant cousins, but cousins all the same.