Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Unusual Lucky Streak

I'm having a real lucky streak lately. Nothing big mind you, but normally I don't tend to win much more than a bit of makeup or the odd book anyway, no matter how many draws I enter.  While it's true that I've won a good number of books over the years, the key word there is Years.  Here are just some of the books I've won, pictured at the left. 

Something has changed since 2012 has begun however, as I've already won 3 this year, plus a necklace, and a $10 gift card for Sears.
 One day in particular was so lucky I couldn't believe it.  First some friends had passes for 2 free buffet dinners at Rideau Carleton that they couldn't use before the expiry date. They knew we liked to go there, so they gave them to us.  The day we went we stopped into Shoppers Drug Mart on the way.  I happened to spot something that I use all the time and it was on sale so I decided to buy it.  They rang it in at full price, and when I pointed out that it was on sale, they told me that if I was right, I'd get it for free. They did a price check, and verified that it was indeed on sale. It's their policy that if anything scans incorrectly the customer doesn't have to pay.  This was news to me, but I came out $10 ahead of the game and quite happy to have learned about this. 
When we got to Rideau Carleton, there were several tables set up outside the dining room area. I asked one lady what that was all about, and she said it was Spanish Night, and would I care to sample some wine. I looked up in time to see my hubby being led off to our table, so I said I had to go.  Moments later someone arrived at our table with two glasses of wine, and said they had heard "the hubby was in a hurry."  That kind of service was certainly unexpected.  Oh, and they came back with more later on.  Free dinner, free wine, things were going great. Normally they charge you extra for coffee and tea, but that night they told us to forget that too!

Now, we are not gamblers, but we like to pick a horse and bet $2 to show, just so we have one to cheer for.  By the end of the night we generally break even, or only be up or down by a buck or two.  During this particular evening I picked a horse that came in 3rd.  While many of our horses that come in first only pay $2.10 for the $2 bet, this one, even though it was third, paid $18.50.  The stars must have been really lined up right that night!

My most recent win was yesterday, when a letter arrived from Reader's Digest. It seems I've won a Swap and Drop Kit, worth about $40.  I've been entering Reader's Digest contests regularly for so many years I can't remember, but I've never won anything from them before.  I don't know what's going on, but maybe I should buy a lottery ticket, just to see if I can win something worth a bit more.  What do you think?

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Early Spring Weather Gets Us Out

The weather has been great lately. Actually, even though this is the first day of spring, it's warmer than that. I was all over town without a coat today, and my crocus are blooming like crazy.

We were out for our first geocaching session for this year on Sunday. It's just been too nice to sit at the computer so I'm sure you will forgive me for telling you a little late.  We didn't go far.  We were in Smiths Falls for other reasons and I had downloaded a lot of caches that had popped since the last time we were out last year.  Someone has kindly decided it would be a good way to educate the public about Smiths Falls historical sites. 

Well, right off the bat we found out we were out of practice.  The first cache we tried to find eluded us completely, but we didn't give up.  We went on to find the next one at the old Central School. (GC2QR25) I actually took, then later taught, Tai Chi in this building, but I'm not sure I ever realized it once was a school. Though, thinking about how the rooms are arranged, that seems rather obvious now.

We went from there to the water's edge to hunt for one that we just could not get to at this time of year. Parks Canada has various gates locked, and no matter what angle we tried to get at it from, we could not get to the right area. We did get to see various parts of the park though, and some of it we have never seen before.  We'll go back and look for this one, and explore further, once the canal has opened up again.

There was another cache in the same park though, with totally different sights.  It was easy to find, but you had to be careful of muggles, as there were certainly lots of them out enjoying the lovely weather.

We then left the area and headed out the road towards Brockville.  We were looking for the Wood Family Mausoleum.  (GC2QR3R) I remembered where there was a cemetary, and expected to find this cache there. I was wrong but got a very pleasant surprise. This particular cache was the highlight of our day.  I'm not going to post a picture of that, as you really need to see it for yourself.

Our final cache of the day had a couple of guardians.  I was so busy taking their picture, I wasn't even looking for the cache at that time and had to go take another look a few moments later.

While we didn't go far, and didn't always succeed, we certainly did enjoy our afternoon on the prowl.

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Visual Frustration

I told you about my trip to the eye doctor last year and how frustrating I found that to be. Well, I eventually picked out a pair of frames and got myself some prescription reading glasses.  I wish I could say that was the end of my frustration.

When I picked them up, I mentioned that they didn't seem to make me see as clearly as I was expecting. I was told to give them some time and, if I was still unsatisfied, I had a 3 month guarantee period in which to bring them back. 

I gave them time. At first I compared the results to that of the drug store glasses, and decided they did improve things a bit better after all. But that effect wore off within a couple of weeks and I found I was once again closing that left eye while reading. 

I started doing experiments. Cover one eye and read, uncover it and read. Do the same thing with and without the glasses. The glasses definitely improved the right eye.  But with the right one covered, the left eye was seeing letters that were blurry and appeared to be double.  That effect was even worse WITH the glasses!  I've created a little visual so you can see the way my left eye sees now. Imagine trying to read a full page, or an entire book like that.  Frustrating, isn't it.  No wonder my body automatically forces me to close that eye when reading.

I figured, what I said in the previous blog post was definitely in effect. Guessing what I was seeing during an eye exam got the prescription wrong. But first I decided I had to go back to where I had the glasses made, and have them check to make sure the lenses matched the prescription.  They did.

So next I had to make an appointment with the eye doctor and explain that I was having problems with the left lens, and perhaps something had changed.  Something had changed alright. The cataract in that eye has progressed somewhat since my last exam. Between that and the astigmatism, I'm apparently not expected to be able to see as well as I'd like. I still could not get the Doctor to understand that I can actually see better without  that particular lens. She insists that the numbers are correct.  If the numbers are correct, then why does that lens make things worse instead of better?  I'm very frustrated now. I'm tempted to have the left lense replaced with just clear glass.

This is the second time I have attempted to improve my vision with prescription lenses. Years ago I tried bifocals. They distorted my world so badly that I declared that if I had always seen like that, I would have been in looking for glasses years sooner, just to correct that distortion.  It was awful and I never got used to it, and finally gave up.  I don't need to see things at a distance, since I don't drive. I can identify people on the far side of the street by what they wear and how they move. I know yellow things in the grass are dandelions. But I cannot get through the day without being able to read. It's probably what I do most.  That's why I decided just to go for reading glasses this time.

I can tell you one thing though. I have no faith in the corrective lens process.  When it comes time to get my cataracts done, there will be no prescription lens embedded in my eyes.  If I get frustrated with lenses in a frame, I can take them off.  So, they can just replace my natural cloudy lenses with non prescription clear ones. If I feel the need for corrective lenses, I'll wear glasses that I can remove when the frustration gets to me. 

Monday, March 5, 2012

SoupFest 2012

This weekend we went to the annual Soupfest. It's a fundraiser for TLC Ministries but it has also become a family tradition.  Two of my hubby's cousins and their spouses joined us this year, as well as another couple of friends of ours.  It's always more fun to go to this sort of event with others, as then you have someone to discuss your opinions with.

This year they changed the venue from Winchester to the new Municipal Complex in Kemptville, Ontario. I had heard the event had outgrown the old location, but I'm not entirely sure the new one was any bigger. There were nice looking round tables throughout the room, instead of the long ones placed end to end, but this and the newly added musical entertainment made talking a lot more difficult. 

What happens at the Soupfest is that many of area restaurants set up a table to offer samples of their soup.  There was a wide range of flavours and no two soups even slightly alike. We get an ample taste of them all, in little bowls that reminded me of Dixie Cups. When we are finished the taste test we vote on the ones we liked the best.  There are celebrity judges present too, and they do their own tasting and voting. This year there were 5 judges including Chef Stephen Haner, an instructor at the University of Guelph, Wayne Cavanaugh, the token media guy from Jack FM Radio, and the ever popular Chef Michael Dunn, who used to be the chef to Queen Elizabeth.

All in all, there were 16 restaurants represented, so 16 different flavour sensations.  Not all of them were something I'd care to try again.  One of those was the over all winner.  It was a Thai soup, so I guess I'm not into Thai flavours, or perhaps my palette is just not sophisticated enough to appreciate something that got both the People's Choice Award and the Judges Best Soup Award.  I'm not the only one that couldn't understand how that one became a winner though, so it's good to know I'm not alone with this opinion.  An offering of Stinging Nettle soup was given in a much smaller container, which made it all much more scary.  Having encountered stinging nettles in the wild, I couldn't get myself to taste that one.

I really liked a rich and creamy offering that I thought was a celery soup. It turned out to be called Pepper Pot soup, for some reason. That came from the Bridgeview Restaurant in Prescott.  Another one that I was almost afraid to taste was a Roasted Red Pepper soup from the McIntosh Country Inn in Morrisburg. They added a bit of pesto to the top to make it look good.  I was surprised to discover I loved the soup, but didn't like the pesto and had to scoop it off. I've got a jar of pesto in my cupboard that I've been wondering what to do with. Now I know. I'll give it away.  Then there was the Apple Cheddar soup from the Yellow Canoe in Merrickville. Oh, hey, I liked that almost as much as the Curried Sweet Potato one they entered two years ago!  I'm thinking that's definitely the place to go for a good soup.

A balloon man was on hand to make some nice creations for the children, but since it was mainly an adult gathering, he happily made things for the adults too. He was a big hit with everyone young at heart.  Another new feature this year was the dessert auction.  Even if you didn't bid on one of those, you could buy a slice of something for just $2.  That's a great way to finish off a meal of assorted soups.  I don't think I'll ever tire of going to this event. It's just a great adventure.

Friday, March 2, 2012

Inspiration to Carry On

Looking at those around me, I see that age is really just a number.  You are only as old as you feel.  Right now, I'm feeling down right decrepit.

I have two young friends, sisters both in their 40's, each with serious health issues.  They carry on as best they can, but over the past couple of months their families and I can't help but worry about them.  I have other friends with various ailments, not quite so serious, but still bad enough to disrupt their lives, and they also do the best they can to carry on.  What else can you do, after all?

At my age it's inevitable to have friends of assorted ages with hip and knee problems.  Some have taken steps to get those fixed, and some of those are, as far as I can see, not in much better shape than they were before the operation. Less pain perhaps, but not necessarily more mobile.  Carry on seems to be the motto no matter what your age or health throws at you. 

Recently we celebrated the birthday of a lady who is now 90 years young. She is more mobile, and has more energy than just about anyone I know.  I hope to have her energy when I'm just 70.....or even tomorrow!  As it is, I've got a terrible cold and no energy at all. I'm feeling ancient and useless.  But I have years to go before I'm done, so I'll just carry on, like all those good folks around me.  An inspiration, every one of them.  My problem is not so bad, after all, and I'm already starting to feel better now that I'm talked it out.