Reforming my inner plant killer

I am a renowned plant killer.

This someecards card could have my face on it.  Or at least it would have up until recently.

I learned this skill from my mother who also could not keep an indoor plant alive (outdoor plants were a struggle too).

This despite my grandfather and I having a garden in our backyard where we grew vegetables (okay, mostly onions and string beans because they could grow despite the crummy soil). And despite my Mom’s Mom being able to grow anything. She would come over to fix my mother’s gardens (true story), although now Alzheimer’s has caused her to also start killing all her plants too.

When I was working at the Hospice, one of the staff always cared for the plants. She went on vacation and told two of us to water them in ho[es that one of us would do it. We both did. Whoops.

When I was in Nuc Med, we had a class Christmas cactus. It died. Cactuses die too.  In my defense, I wasn’t alone in causing this death either.

So, by the time I got married, I declared my home a plant free zone.

Although, I did always want an aloe plant. I love aloe plants.

Patrick bought me this cute little flower plant my last year in med school. I somehow, despite many close calls did not kill the sucker.

We had to leave it there because we didn’t think it would survive the drive and boat ride in our very, very packed car.

So, after a year of no plants, Patrick bought me a rose plant. Because it can’t kill the cat if he chooses to chew on it (which he would). And because we can’t have aloe plants because they can kill the cat (sad face).

I told him that between the cat and I, it would die. Surely, it would.

But, here we are, a good 8 or so months later and the plant is still alive. In fact, it has grown. It hasn’t bloomed, but it has grown.

My rose plant in a new, more roomy and less leaky pot.

My rose plant in a new, more roomy and less leaky pot.

I’m evolving.

So, Patrick bought me an orchid (that is purple and beautiful and clashes terribly with our décor).IMG_0006

This brings me up to two plants.

So, yesterday, we were at Canadian Tire in the pouring rain waiting for them to fix our tire with an air leak. Turns out, there was a drill bit in it.   Anyway, it is far to rainy to walk to get coffee, so we were left wandering Canadian Tire and hoping we didn’t need to buy a new tire when I remember I wanted to get a plant for the rose bush thing because iti s still in the cheap plastic pot with pink foil around it.

So, I buy a pot. And some new soil.

And then we see the seeds and I comment that I always wanted to grow herbs.

So, what did we do?

We didn’t buy herbs.

We bought cat grass.

Yes, a plant of the cat’s freaking own.

So, this afternoon, I channeled everything I ever remember my grandmother telling me and I repotted my rose plant. And I planted the cat grass. And I remembered to give the orchid its weekly water.


The pot of potential cat grass.

I haven’t killed the plants. And I haven’t killed the cat.

I am making progress.

And our house is becoming green.

When the weather gets better, we are seriously considering maybe growing some chives or coriander and maybe even some small vegetables or somethings delicious like that.

Maybe soon I’ll be a reformed plant killer.  It is still far too soon to tell.

Ringing in 2014… By partying like it is 1994.

Yet another New Year’s Eve on call.

5 ID consults today… 5.

How festive.

On the bright side, it was home call, so the Child and D came over and we partied like it was 1994.

The 1994 making factor… The pager.

No. Clearly someone is trying to still push the paging concept. Image via

Clearly, nobody really wanted to use a pager after 2000 and the pager would have been pretty cool around that era

Also, we ate pizza made on Danny’s Pizza crust, which we recall from our childhoods as cool… Thus, more 1994.

And the visitors left before 11.  Also reminiscent of our childhoods where I wouldn’t be awake after something like 9 on New Years Eve.

This makes this New Years substantially better than last year where I got to watch fireworks from a patient’s room and ordered in Chinese food with the nurses.  I rang in the New Year sorting out a transfusion reaction and spent part of the night with someone with mass GI bleeding.

Progress, my friends.  Progress.

Even if our party was circa 1994.

Now, Patrick and I are watching Mr. Bean’s New Years episode to keep me awake until the real New Year.

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It reminds him of when his Uncle babysat he and his siblings and they watched it and then ran around a field banging pots and pans to ring in the new year.  He claims this is a tradition… The banging of pots and pans.  I have never heard of it.  I also didn’t stay up until midnight until I was 13 (for y2k, actually).

Happy New Year.

Learning Style

Yesterday, the Daily Post had a prompt called “Learning Style” asking about your learning style.

I used to cringe when people would pass out those learning style inventories and such.

I have never been one to really fit into one of the boxes.

And I suppose that is a good thing.

It is easier for me to say what I don’t learn well doing…

Group work.

I have never been a fan of the group work.

Sometimes I like to joke it is because I’m an only child and don’t play well with others.

But seriously, I hate relying on other people to get work done.

Plus, I was always one of those kids who would have a bunch of work dumped on them.  And I like to teach and help people, but I want to get to do my own work too.

So, group work is a big no!

I am also not the best at learning by doing.  I like to learn by doing… Otherwise medicine would be a big issue.  That being said, practical skills learning by doing takes me a long time.  Manipulative skills are not my strong suit.

I like to read things in books.  Or hear them in lectures.

And yes, I prefer them in print.  Or tables.

I don’t get mneumonics.  Pictures don’t stick in my head particularly well (unless they are hilarious and not fully related).

I work things out in my own head through research and note taking… Then, I can apply it.

My books are highlighted.  I make post-its to piece together concepts.  Sometimes, I make entire sets of my own notes.  I like practice questions.

The more real-life applications and examples, the better.

But I need to know the basic concepts and build principles.

That is how I learn best.

Top Ten Books I Was Forced To Read

It is yet another Tuesday, which means that it is time for another Top Ten Tuesday with the folks at the Broke and the Bookish

This week’s topic is the top ten books I was forced to read.  By forced, I am taking it to mean those books that I was required to read for school or other groups.

I was a funny kid in that I generally liked most of the books that we read in classes with the exception of a few specific selections (some of which I have since read again and loved).  But, these are the ten favourites that I remember.

  1. To Kill A Mockingbird by Harper Lee.  I would suspect this will be on a bunch of lists.  I read this in grade 10 English and it was probably one of the best books I have read… Ever.
  2. Number the Stars by Lois Lowry.  I read this in both grade 5 and grade 6 and it was one of the first books that I read that looked seriously at some of the issues that affected people, particularly kids, during World War II.
  3. Charlie and the Chocolate Factory by Roald Dahl.  This was the first Dahl book I read and it started a big love of mine.
  4. The Tin Flute by Gabrielle Roy.  I was one of the few people in my class who liked this book.  I didn’t love the characters, but it was interesting to read.
  5. One Day In The Life of Ivan Denisovich by Aleksandr Solzhenitzyn.  This is one of those books that is  short and easy to read, but that it brings you to the place… To the point that you feel cold with the characters.
  6. The Hatchet by Gary Paulsen.  This was another book that I read two years in a row for different classes.  I will never forget how my mind was blown with his survival techniques and how a kid could live on his own in the woods like that.
  7. The Wave by Todd Strasser.  This book was eye opening and mind blowing in that someone could basically re-create the Nazi movement in a high school.  And yet, it isn’t all that surprising.  It definitely taught me to think before I jump on a bandwagon (always a good life lesson in high school).
  8. The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde by Robert Louis Stevenson.  I was not at all excited to be assigned this book, but it was an interesting read and totally something that I would not have picked up on my own.  At least not until now.
  9. The Fudge book series by Judy Blume.  We had at least two or three of these as required reading at one point or another in elementary school.  They were funny and cute.
  10. Practical Theology for Women by Wendy Horger Alsup.  I read this for a women’s Sunday school class that I only got to attend once a month or so.  It was well worth the read.

What are some books that you were forced to read and happened to really like?    

Weekly Writing Challenge: DNA Analysis

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This week’s writing challenge was interesting to me just based on the title “DNA Analysis.” 

I remember first learning about DNA in detail in grade 10 biology.  I am sure I did cover the stuff before, but this was around when the human genome project was just coming out with their successful mapping of human DNA and such and it was HUGE to a geek like me.  It is crazy how far we have come since then.  I mean, just today I was helping to prescribe a drug that targets a certain genetic mutation on lung cancer cells to a person who would otherwise have almost no really useful treatment for the cancer.


Back to the challenge… The folks at the daily post want folks to write about the bits and pieces that make you you and use them as a springboard for a bigger point.  The basic concept is simple, but the whole package is a bit intense.

That brings me back to grade 10 biology.  I loved biology.  Cells are fascinating things.  That is when I learned something fascinating… Cancer can be genetic, so can autoimmune diseases and a million other things.

That is when I realized that things weren’t so simple.  I got the whole nature versus nurture thing and felt pretty strongly that it took a mix of these to put together a person.  But, I grasped at that point that maybe I was doomed to be more like some of my family members in ways that I didn’t want.

I wasn’t just in any biology class.  I was far to geeky for that.  I was in the International Baccalaureate program and I was one of the top in my class.  Because that is how I rolled.

Organized, driven to a fault, keen.

If you ask my parents, heck, if you asked most of my family, I was and still am my Aunt Doreen incarnate.  Seriously, I even look like her to this day (even though I also suspiciously look just like both of my parents).

She died when I was 8 from lymphoma (that may or may not have developed from complications from medications she took for her Lupus) and she was like another parent to me.

Sure, we have our differences.  I am fortunate to be healthier, for one.  Secondly, I am nowhere near as outgoing and social as she was.  She was a big party planner and loved the sorts of events with bunches of people that I hate.  I clearly took after and/or learned those behaviours from my Dad on that end.

But, in so many ways, I am very much like her.

And I like that.  Because I liked her.  And most of my similar traits are useful to have.

Then came grade 10 biology.

I share DNA with her.

I mean, I knew that before, obviously, she is my Dad’s sister.  One doesn’t tend to exist as a spitting image of someone to whom they have no relation.

But, with similar genetics, even if it is somewhere under a half of my DNA, and all of those similar traits, I couldn’t help but wonder if I would run into the same problems.  Was I destined to develop an autoimmune disease?  Am I just one hit away from developing a malignancy?

My similar anal-retentive traits led me to scour the internet for information.

Just like when we would do “fun projects” when we would hang out when I was a little kid (minus the internet, instead we had magazines, encyclopedias and library books).

I am pretty sure I am the only 15 year old who learned about tumor hit loci, and genetic hypothesis around lupus.  I even did a project on it for the class.

Of course, I know now that having a second degree relative with these problems is not that big of a risk factor.  But, at 15 and as an otherwise similar person, this was kind of concerning.

So yes, I know nature plays at least some role in my similarities. My DNA plays a role in my appearance, my capacity for learning and such.

But really, my DNA does not make me organized, nor does it make me love learning or give me my obsessive compulsive personality.  That came from spending days doing “fun projects,” learning how to color code files and singing along with the radio with my.  Just like my dislike for public displays of affection and sense of humor can be blamed on my Dad or how I am “too nice” like my Mom.

And yet, I can be so much like someone I only knew just over 1/4 of my life.

DNA is important, but science has shown it isn’t everything.  Sometimes it takes an exposure, for instance radiation exposure to cause damage enough to provoke an illness.  I guess, it didn’t take a whole lot for me to be like my Aunt.

That is just how I happen to be programmed.

My Feelings about FYI (if you’re a teenage ___) as a non-parent and former teenager

FYI (if you’re a teenage girl) by Mrs. Hall at Given Breath has been getting a ton of social media attention.  Basically, it is a letter to teenage girls regarding posting what I would agree to be inappropriate photos of themselves on the internet and the consequences of this and saying that she doesn’t feel it appropriate for her teenage son to see.

I saw this response that was Freshly Pressed (yay!) the other day called FYI (if you’re a teenage boy) by Iron Daisy.  Again, this post is basically the same message, but to teenage boys who also post selfies all over the internet and regarding the fact that she doesn’t want her teenage daughter seeing all of that.

First of all, I agree wholeheartedly with the concept of these posts.  Not the content entirely, but the concept.

And yes, I love the irony.

Don’t hate.

To start off, you have to look at the perspective of the (first) mom.  If they are raising their children in the Christian faith, then if you don’t share their beliefs, you may or may not share their perspective on how bodies should be portrayed or concepts of sin (particularly lust) and such.

I share that faith, so that piece makes sense to me.

But, this is really not simply a faith issue.

People don’t think about the messages that they send when they post pictures of themselves on the internet.  I know, I have some gosh-awful pictures of me (in the “oh goodness, why that angle” or “why am I wearing that/doing that” spectrum of awful.  Nonetheless, everything has some sort of purpose or some sort of message.  There is a reason behind why you intentionally post self-photos. I mean sometimes it is to show where you are or what you are doing.

That is fine.

The issue is when you are posting them to flaunt yourself and particularly your body at other people.  Sure, some people out there are saying that you just like to see what you look like.  But really, are you looking for the attention of people who may be attracted to you?  Are you fishing for compliments?  Would you be embarrassed if your boss found the pictures when you are in your 20s or 30s?

These are things to think about.  And I think that is part of the issue the Moms were getting at.

But, then there is the whole concept of lust and that it really isn’t appropriate to flaunt your body like that.  I mean, your body is yours, but I would also like to think that if you show it off that much you are at risk of it not just being yours but that of a million people who see that photo.  Not just those that you want to, but the creepers that are, well, creepy.

The Moms in these posts are helping to protect their kids.  Really, no teenager (or human) should have to look at someone’s “sexy” selfies (unless they are your spouse).  The Bible equates lust with adultery and if you see it, and you want it, you probably lust after it.  And putting it out there is just as bad as looking at it.

This being said, I get that it is normal teenage behaviour.  Showing off oneself.

Kind of like mating rituals.


There are other facets of normal teenage behaviour.  This is when you learn more about appropriate body image.  This is when you grow to respect oneself.

I feel like posting scandalous photos or looking at them is not necessarily fostering these things.

Teenagers do all kinds of stupid things.  I am sure most people can agree on that.  The goal is to teach them to minimize the stupidity.  Even if it is normal.

So yes, I confess that when I am a Mom I will hold this stance.

I know, a non-mom making mom claims.

But, for what it is worth, I really do think that.  I won’t want my kids to be exposed to that.  And I would have a zero tolerance policy if I caught one of my kids posting those kinds of pictures.

Yes, I get that my kids will probably do that and see that stuff.  I am not a head in the clouds oblivious person.

A bigger piece of all of this is this is teaching self-respect and appropriate body image and sexuality.  Boundaries are huge these days.  Social and otherwise.

I don’t really know how to do this.  But, I guess I will figure it out.  As much as I don’t want my kids to be ashamed of themselves, I also don’t want them to harm themselves with a lack of shame.  Middle ground is good.

Now, don’t go calling me a slut shamer.

Well, I guess you can if you want.  That is not what I am going for, though.

I agree that taking sexy selfies is normal teenage behaviour.  As is having sex, underage drinking and experimenting with drugs.  Varying degrees of risk.  And things that different parents try to prevent their kids from doing for their own safety.  I, in my head, already know that I will one day want to bubble my kids.  Just saying.

Anyway, slut shaming is degrading or mocking women (or men) for their sexual behaviour/tendencies.  It is wrong.  Point blank.

I get that the posts do mock these kids who are choosing to take these photos.  Because really, the overarching concept of posting such photos on Facebook is, at least to me, a little silly.  And I don’t quite support mocking these girls or boys to the point where they feel badly about themselves.  Offering good counsel is one thing, but there is a fine line for some people.

I think these girls and boys are potentially fine members of society (well, I don’t know, but odds are).  And I can’t say or know anything really to judge them except for reported bad taste in picture taking.

It is unfair to treat anyone poorly for their choices.  Degrading or bashing young men or women is not good at any point.

That being said, I think the spirit behind the posts is that these kids need to learn that their choices have consequences.  That other people may see the images and, yes, judge them because that is unfortunately how the world works.  And some of the people that judge them may just make a semi-humorous advice post, but others may be more predatory.    Slut shaming is real.  And so is sexual assault.

So, sure it is just an innocent picture.  But, sometimes a picture is a sign of bigger issues or can bring on bigger issues.

Kids (and adults alike) need to learn there are consequences to things that may seem harmless.   They need to learn that their bodies are not something to be sold or flaunted, but loved.  And teenagers aren’t quite at the point where they can always make those decisions for themselves. There is a learning curve.

So, in summary, I think sexy selfies are stupid, just like a ton of other teen rituals.  I don’t want my kids to do it, but I get that others will do it and that is fine because it is their perogative.  Nonetheless, I wish people would start to grasp that nothing is in isolation and there are consequences often beyond what is initially perceived.

Lastly, all teens and kids these days need prayers.  All of them.  There is a lot of bad stuff out there an a lot of tough decisions to make.

Weekly Photo Challenge: Carefree

This week’s photo challenge from the Daily Post is called “Carefree.”

This photo was taken the long weekend in May.  We were out at our friend’s trailer and decided to go for a walk down to the river, which turned into a big rock-skipping adventure.  In moments like that, you tend to forget other bits of life and go back to being like big kids.


Fit To Write (This one time, I got a concussion…)

This week’s Writing Challenge from the Daily Post is right up my alley.  It is called “Fit To Write” and is about what health means to you in one context or another.

Well, gosh… This is a blog written by a resident, so gosh, health comes up a fair bit.  So, it must work.

Today, I will tell you a bit of what happens when the resident becomes patient.

A week and a half ago now I got my first concussion.  Well, the first concussion I know about for sure.  I  mean, I was pretty much an accident waiting to happen as a child, so I wore a helmet a lot (not just when I was on a bike… Yes, I was that cool.), but there were at least two times I hit my head hard enough to black out, albeit just for a second…. And I never told anyone until I was an adult (it is lucky I have gotten this far in life, come to think of it).

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I cracked my head off of a cupboard standing up from emptying the dishwasher.  Something I do all the time.  Seriously.  I hit my head daily.

This time, though, I felt an instant headache and saw stars and thought I might be bleeding.  I got Patrick to check when he found me still half stunned.  No blood.  Win!  I popped a couple Tylenol and went on with my night.

I blamed the persistent headache on too much sun.  Then, on stress from the inlaws visiting.  The, fatigue.  Then, it hit me.  I know these symptoms.

But, no.  I was convinced I was a hypochondriac.

It was almost 24 hours later when I made the headache and dizziness and all around weird feeling worse by watching TV and I only really put the pieces together then.  This, after, only narrowly changing my mind about going to the gym with the Child just hours before.

But, I mean, what does a concussion change?  And how could it be a concussion?  I hit my head like that all the time.

But it was.  I woke up the next morning just as awful.  The act of even walking down the hall and thinking about going to work made it worse.  I called in sick.  I called my doctor.

You know it is a big freaking deal when I actually call my doctor.  I haven’t been to the doctor for a new health concern since the time Patrick made me go to emerg when I fell down the stairs on vacation.

I kept considering not going to the doctor. I tried to convince myself that I was a hypochondriac.  I am pretty sure that is the epitomy of hypochondriasis.

The thing is, I know the treatment for concussions.  I did two months of emerg.  I watch hockey.

Rest.  Mind numbing, boring total brain rest.

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That includes no reading, no TV, no activity.  Just lying on the couch trying to nap and trying not to think of all the ways you could gouge your eyes out.

So, on day one, I cheated.  Patrick and I played a game .  I tried to read a journal article for work.  My head got worse.  But, really, I was still in denial.  And being a hypochondriac and telling myself I was a hypochondriac.

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But then, I saw my doctor (well, the doctor on call at the clinic my doctor works at).  She made me complete the SCAT2 form (aka a concussion score).  I got a full neuro exam.  My score was high but my exam was normal (minus some weird nystagmus my friend H pointed out to me in Med 2).  Concussion.

I walked out with a note for an additional minimum 2 days off work and orders to make my husband empty the dishwasher now.  And  detailed instructions on doing nothing and gradual return to activity.

I remember giving patients the spiel about this.  I felt for them.  It sounded gosh awful.  But getting the spiel when you feel that gosh awful already is even worse.

I have a new empathy for people on bed rest.  I have an even bigger new empathy for people who are on concussion brand rest.

Patrick is a saint for not killing me.  I think he could be a rich man for the number of times  I exclaimed “I’m bored.”

That being said, he found some bright sides.  He was less bored because he had company around the house.  And he and several others pointed out that maybe this is God’s way of making sure I get the rest I need.

Ugh.  Rest.

On day 3 of being home, I got to go to the grocery store and read a few pages of a book.  I got dizzy.  But it was good.

I finally went back to work that Friday.  I was never so strangely pumped to get back to work.  Even if I knew I couldn’t take a full patient load or stay the full day.

We went away for the weekend.  I still couldn’t drive, or run, or read for prolonged periods.  But, I got to see great friends.  And yes, I definitely did too much (like decide I felt great all day and hopped on a roller coaster… Fact… That is an AWFUL idea.).  But, I felt human again.  I could concentrate. IMG_0820

I am back to work like normal people.  I can do homework like normal people.  I can drive again.  And I went to the gym for a half workout and felt good.  The only two things that have made my head hurt so far this week were intense grilling on rounds and trying to run the seven flights of stairs to the floor I work on.  Both don’t make a person feel great at the best of times.

So yes, I survived a concussion.  I was not the picture of the perfect patient.  But I learned some valuable lessons.  And I think I value my health a bit more.  I have never missed 3 consecutive days of work for anything but vacation.  I have never not cooked a meal for Patrick and I for almost a week.

Plus (brace yourselves for a follow-up post), I discovered how awesome audiobooks and podcasts truly are!

I am so behind in reading for work and working on my research it isn’t even funny (and yet, here I am blogging).  But, feeling healthy again is worth it all!

Have you ever had a concussion?  What about mind-numbing bedrest?  I would love to hear about your misery since you had to read about mine.

Weekly Photo Challenge: Nostalgic

This week’s photo challenge with the Daily Post is entitled “Nostalgic.”

I had a tough time thinking of something to put.  I don’t have any old photos where I live now and I struggled to find a picture that really brings me back.  And then I found these…

You see, I was one of those super cool kids in Air Cadets who went to band camp (the combination clearly leads to epic coolness).  My first camp summer was now 13 years ago in 2000.  I spent three years doing that program and then became staff teaching music at that same camp for another two years.

This weekend is the weekend that I would be leaving for camp, if I had been going on course.  Otherwise, it would have been last weekend.  The place where I went to camp isn’t terribly far from where we live now.  In fact, we played in a parade in this very city and the people from that camp still do that parade (we are SO going if we are in town that weekend).   I have also been telling Patrick all about it for years, so maybe sometime, we will take a drive by that area to show him where it is and where we used to go on our adventures.

It seems kind of silly, but it was a big part of my teen years and I do miss it in many ways.

Breakfast and a library: being “festive” on the long weekend

I worked an overnight shift last night, so I felt horrendously tired this morning.  Probably because I went to bed at 5 and was too wound up to sleep until at least 6:30, which isn’t that much earlier than I naturally wake up.  So, my morning was actually when I was woken up by Patrick at 1.

Did I mention I hate shift work?

The good thing is that it was my second to last shift.  And my next one is a day shift.  I quite like day shifts (although the nights are nice because then we can go out and do errands like normal people during the day… like open a savings account like legitimate adults).

The other good thing is that my night shift was relatively sedate.  As it turns out, Friday nights on long weekends are less crazy when it is pouring rain.  The weather keeps some of the craziness away or prevents it from happening.  As someone who doesn’t adore suturing, drunk people or mass traumas, I am cool with that.  Plus, it is nice to not see people getting mangled.

Anyway, back to my “morning…  Patrick is my superhero because he made me blueberry pancakes with real maple syrup.  It is my first actual breakfast food breakfast in bed.  And I was literally woken up to a plate by my face.

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The way to my heart is through my stomach.

Our post-overnight shift and first day of the Canada Day long weekend festivities were riveting.

We went to the library.

In our defense, it is pouring rain, I have to work again tomorrow and, well, the library is awesome.

Going to the library is generally trouble for me because I always want to get a bunch of books and I still have a heap to read at home and I have this thing called a day job.  I picked up three books… Baby Proof by Emily Giffin, Half Baked by Alexa Stevenson, and a book both Patrick and I will read called The Uke of Wallington by Mark Wallington.  I could have grabbed ten, so I consider it an accomplishment.

The library was a suspiciously popular place today.  Like, parking lot full and crawling with kids kind of popular.

As it turns out it was sign up day for the Summer reading program.  And, well, it was also raining.

I felt all nostalgic.  Apparently, now a days, you can win prizes for the number of books you read.  When I was a kid, we got stamps for every ten we read and a book mark.  Gosh, I miss those days.

Now, we are back in and safe from the sogginess.  Who knows, maybe we will attempt to go out and be social and try to do some Canada Day festivities tomorrow night after work or on Monday.  We will at least creep on the fireworks while the cat freaks out.

I am looking forward to reading, and Patrick is being a superstar and cooking supper.  We are so festive.