Wednesday, April 30, 2014

I guess where I'm going, is On.

If you've been reading for a while, you'll know how I am with anniversaries. I'm a big believer in observing days of importance, but not as something artificial or obligated. Actually it's better to say I believe that days of importance ARE observed, whether that's intended or not -- on a deeper level, sometimes unconscious, something in us remembers what happened a year ago, or five or ten years ago, and marks the day.

Avery was diagnosed on April 29 last year. Yesterday was a bit tough for us. Fittingly, I was up at 2 AM doing a cartridge change to try to bring her blood sugar down with fresh insulin. She had been crabby for days, sick with a virus, reacting to a booster shot, with her blood glucose perpetually over 12.5. It was wearing on her, and wearing on me...the constant weighing of variables, the hourly troubleshooting, the second-guessing. Is it a bad site? Is it that extra 6-carb Cadbury Mini Egg she had that we didn't bolus? Is it the lack of exercise from being sick? Is it just the virus coming back? Could that insulin be bad?

So D-Day carried a lot of feelings with it. Avery was a little down. She made two remarks about it: [grouchily] "I don't feel like going for a bike ride, I'm too high," and [gloomily] "I wish I didn't have to squeeze blood out of my finger and take insulin every single time I eat anything."

For my part, I spent the day moping around the house, crying at odd moments, for not much immediate reason. On most anniversaries, even of something bad, one is marking an event that ended -- time has passed since the occurrence, and one is in the process of moving on.

In this case, what we were marking was an event that started a new way of life: one that is different than before, and in a handful of ways better (improved diet, more activity) but for now, overall it's worse. Say what you want, be as positive as you like, but it would be better if we didn't have this disease.

Let me repeat that.


And she's going to have it forever, unless some genius cures it, and within her lifetime the cure can be administered.

Otherwise, this is the way it is forever.

So we were sad, and we were tired, and we just didn't feel good.

The story of life is that in order to survive all the shit that comes your way, you have to find happiness, hope, humour or joy in the small things. They don't actually outweigh the bigger, bad things, but at least you can have a laugh, or feel the tiny thrill of a tiny victory.

The insulin WAS bad. After the 2 AM cartridge change (which she didn't wake up for -- victory), she woke in the morning at a nice, calm, reasonable 7.5. Victory. Two hours after breakfast, she was 11, and then before lunch she was 8.2 with a little insulin still on board. Victory. She threw a fit about going to Pony Club last night, but once she was at the barn she had a great time running around finding chickens and checking on all her cucumber seeds. 45 minutes of exercise -- victory. Before bed, she was 9.0. So it worked. Relief.

Today I read a bit of chatter on Facebook about first-world problems; how funny we all are, debating our lipstick colours while children are starving on the other side of the world. Sometimes I feel inconsequent for lying in bed at night, thinking about whether or not to continue dyeing my hair -- grey is the current reality, after all. And how annoying it is that I have to buy 50 paper cups for giving my homemade ice cream to my friends, when I really only need 10.

Am I lucky? Sure. Am I blessed to be here in safe old Canada with an earning husband, a dental plan, more yarn than I can use and a pharmacy stuffed with insulin? Of course.

But we live the life that's in front of us: not the one that could be if only we were poorer. It's impossible and unrealistic for me to live in a constant state of weak-kneed gratitude that I have food in the fridge. I can be grateful -- and I am -- but I won't be racked with anguished guilt.

Because the fact is that, full of technology as it is, full of privilege and wealth, safety and comfort as it is, life is hard. Life is also sad. Full of loss. Full of disappointment. It's grueling. It's one foot in front of the other. It's wake-up-tired, make-do-all-day, never-make-progress, go-to-bed-too-late, lie-awake-worrying hard.

I'm not sure how to end this post. The writer in me wants to wrap it up with an inspiring paragraph about beauty in small moments. Stirring my tea. Watching the hummingbird tending her nest.  Or I could close with a list of little, quaint domestic actions that make me feel better. Hanging laundry out to dry. Braiding my daughter's hair. Either would be fitting, slightly positive (the break-in-the-clouds effect) and allow the reader to leave with a sigh of completion. It might inspire you to put a comment about how well we're handling the whole thing.

Instead, I'll carry on the way I started. She was 9.1 at 1 AM, but she woke up at 15 today -- last night's slice of pizza came on board in the early morning. She's gone to play with a friend, who always feeds her crackers no matter how many times I protest. She'll come home high and hungry. I'm tired, and as usual I'm way behind. Still haven't unloaded the dishwasher. I need to buy more test strips. Anna is due at the barn in two hours. The kitchen floor is desperate, and, bizarrely, I can't find the broom.

Sunday, April 27, 2014

Garden Flat, Tenanted

Two years ago we had the pleasure of watching a chickadee family raise their young in a hanging basket just outside our sliding glass door.

It seemed like a miracle. We kept thinking they'd get a fright from the dog barking, or the sliding glass door opening too much, and move out; but they stayed around until the babies had grown and flown away.

A few weeks ago, a windstorm brought this branch down into the corner of our roof:

That's the kitchen window. For days, whenever I was washing dishes, I'd look at that branch and think "I must remember to take that down - it's going to drive me crazy."

My procrastination was rewarded last week when this happened.

She finished the nest the day before yesterday (always seems to be something to tinker with, though) and left it for a few hours, giving me a chance to get closer.

And today I think she must have laid some eggs, because she has been in position most of the morning.

She looks quite reddish in this picture...just a lighting change.

It's a joyful process to watch. We feel quite honoured that these little creatures have decided to trust us, in a way...we come and go out the back door, mow the lawn, putter in the garden, and the birds move in anyway, just a few feet from us. For a couple of delightful weeks, they watch us, and we watch them.

Wednesday, April 16, 2014


We live on the very edge of a small wood owned by the city. In the middle of it is a water reservoir, so thankfully it remains undeveloped. It's only a few acres in size, but it provides a lot of habitat for birds. I'm happy to have them - robins, in particular, hang around almost the entire year.

BUT. Every spring, my house becomes the epicentre of frenzied mating and nesting activity. The birds go ape, basically, flying around the place in a wild-eyed riot of screeching and flapping.

Most of them, I don't mind. I can put up with that slightly sinister pair of crows who cleverly rearrange the dried grass and bits of scrap wool I leave outside for them, before carrying it off to line their nest. I like the two hummingbirds who square off for honeysuckle rights every year: they're a lot of fun to watch. Two years ago we had a little chickadee family living in a planter directly outside the back door, where we could look right down into their living room and watch their babies grow.

The ones I really, really don't like are the Northern Flickers. These pesky things have become more and more of a nuisance over the past few years. They hang around in the trees, beginning in late February or early March, doing their irritatingly monotonous call that makes the entire neighbourhood sound like the Amazon rainforest. To make matters worse, they love nothing better than sitting up on my chimney, getting a bill-full of metal flashing in the hopes of attracting girls. It's to the point where I spend all my early mornings (my best sleeping-time), eyes half-closed, stumbling around in the backyard looking for pine cones to chuck at them. Here's what they are doing:


You can't get the full effect from this video. But take it from me: if you're lying in bed at 7 AM and these idiots start up, you will think there are crazed gangsters with tommy-guns having a shootout on your roof.

Stupid nature.