Looking out from "The Den"

           Canadians are believed to 'hibernate' during the winter months.  The 'crazy-bad'
           weather that was predicted, still has not arrived.  The ground changes from white
           to green and back again, with temperatures climbing and dropping on a whim.
           We have been inside more than usual even though the snow and cold have not
           caused any travel or power outage problems so far.

           Chris has progressed from using a walker to a cane but it is safer to exercise indoors.
           So we joined the YMCA of Goderich-Huron, Maitland Recreation Centre.  We
           have been walking the track there and using the bikes a minimum of three times a
           week.  Chris goes for physio weekly and the Public Health Nurses have been visiting
           to monitor his progress, which is slow but constant.

           It is comforting to sit over a bowl of oatmeal and mug of coffee watching the wildlife
           out in the snow, even if the sunshine has been scarce.  One morning I witnessed a
           Hawk zoom by the window, grab a chickadee and head to the woods.  No birds
           returned to the yard for almost three weeks.  Indoor plants and blooms
           certainly brighten up 'the den'.

                             We came out of hibernation to enjoy a birthday party in Bayfield.

          There are many group hikes organized around the Huron Region.  Neighbour and
          friend Linda and I were lucky to get a gorgeous sunny day for our hike at Falls 
          Reserve, Maitland Valley.

                  Of course cooking up pots of soup and stew, baking bread and jams with winter
                  fruits are indoor activities that I enjoy.  D&M gifted us a Tom Tomson iconic
                  painting "West Wind" 1000 piece puzzle for Christmas.  It is the most challenging
                  puzzle I have ever done and it ate up hours of my January, in a good way!

                                                       Clementine jam

                I will leave you with a few images of an ice storm that cramped the plans for
                many New Year's Revelers.  HAPPY 2020 NEW YEAR! 


The Ghosts of Christmas Presence

      December 3, we headed for our hotel in Mississauga in order to be close at hand for
      Chris's pre-op at Trillium Queensway Hospital.  We ate dinner at Ikea and picked
      up a live Christmas tree, knowing it would be fine in the cold car for five days.

      Sherway Gardens Mall is across from the hospital so in the morning of Decemeber 4,
      we had a good power walk and let a little Christmas spirit trickle in as we viewed the
      lights and decorations and heard the familiar carols.  Chris's pre-op was completed by
      noon so we headed off for a movie and dinner out.

     Up at the crack of dawn on December 5, we were off to Trillium Mississauga Hospital
     where Chris was admitted and slipped in to his trendy pale blue (backless) gown and
     matching slippers.  Then we joined the other rows of stretchers where surgery patients
     had their vitals checked by Nurses, consults with Anesthetists and met their Surgeons
     who were fully garbed in their operating gear.  The room gradually emptied as the
     gurneys were wheeled away to various surgery rooms.  When I gave Chris his 'Good
     Luck Kiss' he was wearing an expression that was 1/3 excitement, 1/3 fear and 1/3 hopeful.

     I went off shopping and then read my book in the waiting room where the nervousness of
     the visitors was palpable.  Finally, it was time to see Chris and learn that everything had
     gone to plan except that he could not move his left leg. (WHAT???!!!) Doctors and
     Nurses tried their best to convince us that nerve issues are common with spinal surgery
     and not to worry!  By early evening Chris was taken up to his double room by the Porters
     and put in the competent hands of various staff: Nurses, Nurse Assistants, Ward Doctor,
     Physiotherapists, Urologist, Dietician, Patient Services Assistants who deliver and pick up
     food trays and Clinical Assistants who take care of ward housekeeping.   And then there
     was the cheerleader: ME!

     I was extremely lucky to have my good friends Vida and Eugene welcome me into their
     beautiful home where I had my own room to take stock of my days, read and crash out.
     Some mornings we breakfasted together and also shared a few fun dinners.  A stay that
     was supposed to be a few nights turned into weeks and I really do not know how I would
     have survived without the moral support and comfort of my "home away from home"

                 This doorknob gave me a friendly hello every time I closed my bedroom door!

         As it turned  out, Chris's leg needed a lot of attention and he did physio and retrained
         his leg to walk by cruising the 'hallway circuit' using a high walker.  Stretching and
         strengthening was done through exercises a few times a day.  His frustration was to
         be expected but he had great determination to set things right again.  The prediction
         of a four day stay after surgery was extended to two weeks.  Luckily he was moved
         to a new wing of the hospital on day four, a spacious, private space with huge windows.
         That move really lifted our spirits.  I popped home for a couple of days and pried the
         Christmas tree out of the car and on to the deck for storage.  I cut its strings and the
         branches reached out and I was relieved to see that there were plenty of needles still
         on them.  It was great to be home but did not feel quite right knowing that Chris was
         far away in hospital.  The worst thing, was coming in to the house and not being
         greeted by a certain tail wag and nosy-nuzzle!  We miss you soooo much Dixie!

                                                               Room with a view!

       Chris and I had some visitors come to hospital.  Thank you Dina and Mark, Jane and
       Jen for a distraction, your encouragement and support.  Thanks to family and friends
       who sent comforting emails and texts.  I visited a couple of malls and watched
       starry-eyed children pay a visit to Santa.  The hospital was close to Spring Creek 
       Cemetery where a number of close family members lie at rest.  I was able to visit
       them and say hello one silent sunny afternoon.  I felt such a deep love saying
       Merry Christmas to Mom and Dad during their favourite holiday season and telling
       them about Flora, a sister for Finn.

        The Advent of Christmas was in full swing in Australia.  We had hoped to be there
        this year but hopefully next!

      One afternoon a few days before we were scheduled to go home, a local Church Choir
      brought some hope and cheer to the hospital halls.  All hospitals rely on volunteers for
      many functions and they are special folks for giving their time to others!  Chris and I
      practiced walking and doing stairs with the physiotherapist before his Decemeber 20

            When we finally arrived home, Chris and I were both overcome with emotion.
            We both felt tired enough to sleep for a week.  I managed to get the tree up.

                            Amazing ornaments, Christmas gift from Dina and Mark.

             It was fun to wrap presents this year with the materials and space in the studio.

         It is so lovely to hang favourite ornaments that have been packed away for a few years.

            We had two fun, short visits with friends before the 25th.  One thing I loved this year,
            was receiving Christmas cards.  Our annual winter travels left us without a mailing
            address so cards were few.  It was such an important family tradition with Dad,
            Mark and I making our own cards for years.  I actually put 46 cards into a scrapbook
            this year. (it disappeared after Christmas, likely into the garbage) Alas! As always,
            getting out into nature makes me joyous to the world.  I had a peaceful hike in our
            woods December 24.  It helped me sort out the turmoil with Chris, now being free of
            a condition that both his Neurologist and Surgeon warned could lead to paralysis but
            still experiencing pain from the issues in his lower spine.  There would be a lot of work
            ahead to get his leg working properly and a number of weeks to heal his system from
            anesthetic and the trauma of major surgery.  We can do it together!

                  Christmas Day and week were quiet and relaxing.  We enjoyed our Face-timing
                  and Messaging was great seeing and hearing about the "good old traditions".

                                     Cousin Genevieve, Finn and Flora on a Beach Holiday