Here there be dragons...

"I'm telling you stories. Trust me." - Winterson

We have now been officially welcomed

So it turns out the Welcome Wagon is an actual thing.  Who knew?   hahaha I definitely thought it was a phrase left-over from a fictional Leave-it-to-Beaver-ish time.  But no, I was out in the yard with the dogs and Chris came back with the oddest look on his face: "ummm the lady from the Welcome Wagon is here..."

Really?   Yup, really.  But unlike what I jokingly referred to as the welcome wagon (that'd be our awesome neighbour who brought us cookies ;) this one did not come with baked goods.  She came with a basket of flyers for local businesses, some discounts (free pizza!  Woohoo!), and some moderately useful items (bike trail map for one).

This particular ad amused me more than any;
Alas our lotto ticket failed :(
What also amused me was that it was clear that while she's lived here forever, she's not particularly happy with the changes in the neighbourhood after the last few years ('they turned all our shops into condos').   Nor did she seem particularly interested in being there; she was very pleasant, certainly knowledgeable and helpful, just didn't seem terribly enthused about her spiel -- maybe because she no longer believes in said neighbourhood? ;)   I don't know, just was somehow the opposite of what I would've envisioned as a welcome wagon had I thought such things actually existed.

So apparently it's a Canadian thing, and available across the country -- you can sign yourself up or, as we discovered, be randomly signed up ;)   Their website suggests they do other things too (new baby, retirement, etc) but I don't know anybody who's experienced it.  Wikipedia says it was a US thing first (by two years), but they don't do home visits anymore.  So there is your educational moment of the evening.  You're welcome.

Spanish, Marriage, Sasha, and Killerboots -- might be one of my more eclectic posts

I've been using Duolingo in an attempt to learn some Spanish (for which "hola", "por favor", "gracias", and "cerveza" was the sum total of my vocabulary before starting).  And for the most part, I quite like it.  I'd like a little more (read any) explanation sometimes (esp for tense changes) but it is really helpful and I'm finding things are coming easier to me.  All good.  But did it ever present me with a HUGE demotivator the other day.   You see, I was on like an 84 day streak.  Pretty happy about that.  And any day that I hadn't done my practice, it'll remind me at 8:00 pm that I should go practice.  And to avoid breaking my streak, I did.   But then the other day, I noticed it said 4-day streak.  Wtf???    So I went to look, and it turns out on Monday I did half the practice.  But then never went back and did the other half.  So I guess since I had technically signed it, it didn't send the reminder :(  And so it no longer counted as a streak.   Motivation gone.  Yesterday was the first day since starting that I didn't sign in at all.

Monday's little half-circle did me in.  So unimpressed.
And yes, I realize the silly little tracker shouldn't be the only motivation to study, but really...  When I'm not just killing time on the train and it's unlikely I'll be anywhere where I need the language as a life skill any time soon, those little things help.  I also think they really should consider fit-bit-like badges.   They start out well with being able to purchase things with coins earned through practice (that's how my owl got his really cool suit ;) but the things you can buy are super-limited and after a week or two of practice you'll have earned everything there is to earn.   Doesn't seem to be much of anything after that.  Very interesting to me the impact that has though; I've read some of the studies on adult learning, but never really believed how strong a motivator (or de-motivator) it could be.  Sheesh.

In other news...
Yup.  As of next weekend, my parents will have reached 40 years together!  14,610 days. 350,640 hours. 21,038,400 minutes.  3 children. Countless moments. Together. Congratulations :)

If it's next weekend, why mention now?  Well their surprise party was last night and it went really well :) It was, in fact, a surprise and they seemed really happy with it.  Planning it was entertaining and started ages ago (have to get in people's calendars early!)   The first concern was the day after I started sending invites, when my inbox was full of emails that read "Bev and Al's 40th" and Mum walked in and was looking at the screen over my shoulder.   I couldn't even scroll cause they took up the whole screen!   hahahha quick distraction and window switch and good to go.  I was definitely worried I'd blown it from the beginning though.   Then there was a later concern when Dad told me he was going to Rouyn-Noranda that weekend.  Ummm but no...   Just waited and watched that one though as it seemed a good chance it'd fall through.   It did.  Phew ;)   And THEN, guess which weekend the surgeon's secretary originally suggested for my eye surgery.  "It's the first date he has available in May..."  "How about late April?"  "Oh sure, we can do the 29th."  Sold.    
This photo captured everyone except Jamie and Barb.
Jamie, because he was the photographer.
And Barb, because Jamie was the photographer ;)
On the day of everybody was there on time.  Chris and Melissa provided giant balloons -- they couldn't get any "40th" balloons, so got creative :)   It was kinda awesome.  I wish I'd thought to get a photo, you can kinda get the idea from the shot Jamie took :).  Linda and Jamie got my parents there on the premise of other friends had cancelled plans and they already had the reservation.   I had a quick chat with the hostess to arrange that "Holmes, party of 4" be brought to our room ;)   And all was good.  She thankfully ignored Dad's suggestion that "this booth by the window" would be just fine ;)  And before he could argue too much, Mum had realized what was going on.  The look on her face still makes me smile :)  So other than a lack of mint, it went really well.   Mum and Dad seemed super happy.  Thanks to all who came :)

Completely unrelated -- I am finally teaching Sasha to walk on a leash.  As a barn puppy all I cared about was getting her obedient and responsive off-leash.  Sadly, that's not terribly useful where we are now.  But man is she ever a super-smart puppy.  It's fun to see her brain work.  Using the very simple, if slow, method of any time she pulls we stop.  In order to go anywhere she has to make the leash loose.  And we're getting longer and longer distances before she hits the end of the leash now (honestly, it was like 2 steps when we started this game on Fri.  By sat we were up to about half a block.  Which doesn't sound like much, but it's pretty extreme improvement; especially as she hasn't been to the park to burn off steam since Friday).

Back to work tomorrow.  I'm still not managing to be fully functional for an entire day yet, so slightly concerned about this idea.   Doctor's note says off till end of May, so thinking I may go the safe route and start with half days.  Wish me luck!

And just because it made me laugh -- this was the after photo from a dog groomer I'm thinking about taking Sasha to.   The name is just so perfect.  Enjoy!

I've gotten so good at sleeping I can do it with my eyes closed!

I writing this post sitting at my desk in my home office.  Normally, this would not be a noteworthy statement, but as some of you may know, my life is rarely normal ;)

So we moved recently.  Step one was to rid ourselves of the horrifying pink that coated all the walls.

Why women live longer than men...
I would like it noted that the impressive horrificness that was that shade of pink is not done justice by my iphone camera.  Anyways, once that was accomplished (injury free, I might add ;) we could start unpacking and organizing and other such normal moving things.  Our bedroom was the first room I focused on, with my office being a close second.  But I didn't actually have a desk, so it was less effective than it could be.  We do live all of five minutes from Ikea (who we've also learned has an amazing return policy -- but that's another story).

Pre-desk.  My office-mate is horrible about hogging both the chair and the printer.
However, before I could get to that, I had to have more eye surgery.  I was more anxious about this one than I had been the others.  A combination of factors: the last surgery was the first that actually resulted in permanent vision lost for me; a rather brutal reality check.  And dealing with the fact that the prognosis was not terribly promising.  Suffice to say I was *very* relieved when I woke up to discover that it had gone well, there were no new holes in my retina, and most importantly, I did not have to hold any particular position for any length of time.  There is no way I can convey the relief I felt at that.  My shoulder still hurts from the last time.   In fact, there were very few restrictions beyond take it easy and don't do anything excessive.  Ummm, right.   AND, I was feeling well.  Woohoo!

So Mum, knowing me better than the doctor, set more definite rules: "Pick one, one-hour job each day and make it take five hours."   No using the recovery week to be productive.  Seems reasonable -- I really don't want to go through this again.   But what I didn't realize was that my body would not agree.  One hour would be way too much to ask *sigh*.

Surgery day is all pretty much a blur.  I was staying at my parents cause Chris had to work, so Mum was taking me for a follow up appointment.   I was feeling fine, able to eat dinner, and Chris came over for a while that evening.  All good.   Follow up appointment was slightly scary in that when the surgeon took the eye patch off I couldn't see anything.  Not even light and shadows.  But after a few minutes I could see (at least from the bottom half of my eye) when he waved his hand in front of me.  To put in perspective, said hand was close enough I could feel the air move on my face.  Interestingly, repeating the process now, I can almost see as much with my eye closed as I could see with it open that day.  (Try it, close your eyes gently in a bright room and move your hand around in front of your face -- the light and shadows move.  That's how much vision I had on day 1.)

Feeling good so Mum and I went to Fran's for breakfast before going home.  I was going to play with the dogs for a bit while they ran some errands.  They weren't gone long, but by the time they got back I felt so sick.  Nauseous, with a pounding headache.  So not fun.   Mum took me home and I curled up into bed.  For hours.   Got up, feeling slightly better, late afternoon.  Stayed awake long enough to go grab some dinner and come back -- all in, less than 2h.  And went back to bed.  I'm pretty sure I slept all the next day.  Basically woke up, got dressed, had something to eat, and went back to bed.  Would wake up for a little bit mid afternoon, then have another nap.  Then I'd be good for a couple hours that evening.  And out all night.

Monday -- having now slept for essentially 3 days, I had a little more energy when I woke up.   So I decided I needed to get my desk (remember the desk?).  Because, of course, I'd be working from home the next week so really -- this could be Monday's one hour job.   Yeah, I can still hear that mocking bastard Hindsight laughing.

Lesson 1 -- I am *not* okay with driving with the air bubble in my eye.  Not even the five minutes to Ikea.  I did it, and I was smart enough when I got there to find drive-through parking (turns out Ikea is all kinds of empty at random times in the day), but it's not something I want to repeat any time soon.  Now I knew what desk I wanted so was just a matter of going and getting it.  No weight restrictions, so should be fine.  Right.  Except my body didn't seem to get that memo at all.   With some creative solutioning I managed to get the boxes (yes two, why would I get a desk that all came in one piece) onto the cart, checked out, and got everything loaded into the car with only minor assistance from a lovely couple passing by.   Got home, got the light box upstairs, decided there was no way I could move the other one, so opened it to take the pieces out.  Nope -- turns out it was all one piece *sigh*.  Executive decision that that could wait till Chris got home from work to help me.  Went back in to decide what to do with the rest of my hour.

Sleep.  Sleep was what to do with the rest of the hour.  And the next several as well.  Woke up long enough to a (potentially earned) lecture and help with the other box, find some food, and back to sleep.  Sadly, not even exaggerating.

Tuesday the fence guys were coming to fence off the 15' of yard that's not fenced so our dogs could come home :)   I was still drugged enough that I managed to sleep through much of their building.  And when I wasn't asleep I was doing literally nothing.   Like sit on the couch and stare into space.  Actually quite disturbing, esp as I wasn't bored with this situation.  The thought of moving or even turning on the tv was just entirely too much.   But the puppies came home Tues night!  Woohoo!  Chris and I went for dinner with my parents and I played with the dogs for a bit before bed.

I'm actually really happy with how this turned out
By Wednesday I was starting to be able to be up for a couple hours in the morning, sleep most of the afternoon, and up a reasonable amount of time in the evening.  All of this time was spent with the dogs -- nothing productive happened.

They were okay with nap time too :)
So on Thursday the time came to build my desk.   I have built more than my fair share of Ikea furniture so I wasn't too concerned about this.  The first challenge was the lack of depth perception.  Now for those who have never experienced it, it's very odd.  For me at least, it's not as though the world is suddenly 2D.  Everything looks normal -- you can see what's near and what's far for the most part.  But when you reach for something it's never quite where it should be.  Now, I haven't had any depth perception since the last surgery, so you'd think I'd be used to it.  And indeed my brain had sorted that out -- I was comfortable driving and shy of somebody expecting me to catch something, I had acclimatized and could function.  But yeah, whatever's different this time had undone that.  And made it way worse.  So why does this matter for furniture?   Well -- just try putting the screwdriver head into the slit in the screw when it's not where your brain is telling you it is.   Hammering was done in the most tentative of manner.  Everything that should've taken one try took at least three.  It was not a fun game.   

And eventually I hit one I couldn't solve.  For the life of me didn't get why one piece didn't work.  Decided future Lauren could deal with that and went and...  You guessed it.  Had a nap.  A long one.  Chris figured out in about 30 seconds later that I had put the piece in backwards -- label's might've been nice ;)   Admittedly I'd already figured that'd be the next thing to try, but was not up to getting said pieces out to reverse them.

Suffice to say by Friday I had a functional desk ;)   The job that should've taken an hour, took me five days.  I still wasn't up to being awake all day, but was at least down to one nap a day.  Still stunned at how much this last one knocked me out.   It is now the next Friday, but we had Mother's Day in there and then this week I started back at work (working from home, using said desk).   Monday I way overdid it *sigh*  And spent the rest of the week paying for it.  By Thursday I was pretty useless -- wicked headache and nausea again.   Did one meeting that was really important and skipped all the others, mostly curled in a ball.  Feeling better today, but again only worked about an hour.  At least made it through today without a nap.  As this is the first day of that, I'm not holding my breath for an entirely successful first week back at work, but we shall see.   I'm lucky that they're super supportive -- that helps.   And doctor's note technically says to start back May 30, which seems a little excessive, but helps me not feel guilty if I have to leave early a couple days.

I'll tell ya -- two weeks passes really fast when you're sleeping 12-18 hours / day ;)   But here's hoping in the end I'll be able to see stuff.  And now, it's time to sleep.  Night!

Happy Mother's Day to my closest friend :)

To the woman who climbed mountains with me...
Happy Mother's Day!!!

To my all-round amazing mom, for whom my vocabulary is insufficient to express what she means to me.   Let's just consider shall we, this past year.  She's supported me through not one, not two, but four eye surgeries -- rearranging her schedule to take me to appointments or play chauffeur when I couldn't drive, helping run errands, and generally doing anything she could to make the experience slightly less miserable.  Now keep in mind, I've been an adult for quite some time now, and am a married one at that, so this is all stuff she could easily have stepped back from.  But no, because she is the incredible person she is, anything I needed, or anything that would help, she was there for me.

Then there was her and my Dad's joint awesomeness of letting their adult daughter live with them, and one step above that, always making me feel welcome there.  That made a frustrating situation significantly more bearable.

And then, not only did they let me live with them, but when we were trying to sell our house and move, they took both Sasha AND Tucker -- for months!  And took amazing care of them even after we moved while we got the new house puppy ready :)

Then there was the move itself, when they came out in the ice storm to help us relocate from Paris to Burlington.

Yup, I won the parent lottery for sure.  And my bond with my mum is extra special.  I love the days we manage to align schedules and commute home together -- it's those little day to day things that mean so much to me.  You know, to the job she helped me get the interview for ;)

Love you Mum!