Ups and Downs and All Arounds

I had a happy morning exploring the Internet.

My working career included specialized teaching of communication skills to persons who had lost the ability to speak, and who experienced paraplegia or quadriplegia. My students were wonderful people, and I enjoyed every minute of the time we spent together. These people wasted no words on complaint, or self-pity. Assistive technology was not highly developed at that time, and what was available was so expensive that many had no access to the devices. I read this publication on assisted speech with a quiet joy, as this has the potential to enrich lives, if it is accessible financially to those who need it.

The number of times I’ve had face-to-face contact with anyone except Attila, for close to a year and a half, can be counted on one hand. Until this past week, those encounters were largely negative, and involved individuals in the government funded health care system. Abrupt, impatient, and unpleasant would describe their approach to communication.

This past week offered me a different, more compassionate, kinder interaction with other humans. I had my eyes examined for a new set of glasses. Three different individuals at the clinic were efficient without surrendering their manners or humanity. The result was good news, my eyes have deteriorated little since 2013, and I will be getting a new pair of glasses. My last pair were badly scratched in 2019, when I fell face first onto the concrete on the basement floor. My body healed well after the incident, the glasses did not. It will be a relief to have glasses that do not significantly obscure part of my vision.

The Ontario government is removing funding for eye care for seniors, leaving those of us on small pensions to fend for ourselves in dealing with the near $1000 expense of eye examinations and a pair of new glasses. Seniors died in great numbers during the pandemic, as for-profit care homes failed to respond responsibly, and protect them. Many of us who are left alive are being thrown under a new bus, as our usefulness to profitable business fades. There are few golden years ahead for many of the seniors in Ontario. In the meantime, increased funding for drug addiction services are offered by the same government, which reflects Mr. Ford’s personal family experiences with his brother Rob Ford, a politician who suffered from significant substance addictions. Perhaps “political compassion” is an oxymoron, and perhaps it always has been, whatever the time and place.

After our cool spring, the summer is proceeding with consecutive heat waves. Mornings are rather pleasant on the back porch. The garden is blooming with colour. Cosmos and Zinnias offer a rainbow of blooms. Clematis blooms a deep purple. Day Lilies are a bright sunny orange. Echinacea stands tall with bright red flowers. Scarlet Runner Beans line the fence with scarlet beauty. The “lawn” is blooming yellow with Birdsfoot Trefoil, and white with Clover. Bright yellow Marigolds wave hello as they pop up among the Brassicas, Curcubits, and Peppers.

There was a slight kerfuffle in the garden last week, when to our dismay Fredrick caught himself up in the garden netting. Attila must have surprised him into making a quick exit, quick enough not to take into account the garden netting, which he had navigated without incident until then. So there was Fredrick, ensnared and panicking at the edge of the raised bed. Attila quickly located some heavy gloves, and garden scissors, then proceeded to cut away the netting to free Fredrick. This left some of the netting stuck on Fredrick, as it was impossible to get the scissors close enough to him to cut it all away, but allowed him to hide himself from sight.

We left the garden to him, hoping fervently that he would set his world right again. Later in the day I spotted him, with a small train of black netting in tow, darting across the garden path. From this I concluded he was not seriously injured, but that he had not managed to shed the netting. I next saw him the following afternoon, and happily the black netting had disappeared Fredrick was back to his old routines as if nothing had happened.

The netting was meant to deter the gratuitously destructive squirrels from digging up the seeds and seedlings in the garden. Since the plants are now well established, and less vulnerable to such violence, the netting could now be safely removed, and so it was, immediately after Fredrick’s encounter.

We have taken a real shine to Fredrick the Garden Shrew.

It has been lovely to eat fresh Lettuces, and Peas, but it is too hot now for those plants to thrive. The last of the beets have been harvested, cooked in the Instant Pot, and enjoyed with our evening meals. The Beet leaves and stems are put aside for lunches, sauteed with onions and carrots. There is a steady supply of Kohlrabi, which is cooked in the Instant Pot with Potatoes, then mashed and served hot with a dollop of sour cream. The tough fibered Kohlrabi leaves are cooked in the Instant Pot, then packaged and frozen for winter meals. The Kohlrabi leaves are lovely in Instant Pot casserole type meals, such as Mongolian Chicken with Rice. Before processing very many of the Kohlrabi leaves, we cooked and froze a small portion, then used it in a few recipes to ensure we could enjoy it. We had to be sure it was a welcome addition to our diet, as there is little use in freezing a lot of food no one wants to eat. Four different types of cucumbers are being grown this year, and none of them are doing well. I fear for my pickle making!

We made a brief visit to the Camp last week. Although Grace the trailer did entertain a visit from a mouse, who left its calling cards on the kitchen counter, there were no mice caught in the mouse trap. The Gypsy Moths are dying off, thank goodness. However, the tree trunks are covered with dead moths clinging to caches of eggs, and there were thousands of moths flying about stupidly, into our faces, just flying anywhere, seemingly blind. Thankfully not all of the trees were stripped bare, although most of the Oaks and Beech trees had lost all of their leaves. Some will recover, some will not. We had a lovely time though, enjoying a Camp Fire and a picnic.

Humans and trees have taken a real beating this past few years! Other species have as well, but most familiar to my existence are the humans and the trees. Another pestilence for the local trees is the Emerald Ash Borer. Thousands and thousands of Ash trees have been killed, their bare trunks and branches rattling in the hot summer wind. We have lost three Ash trees here at Mist Cottage, and the community around us has lost hundreds and hundreds of these tall, beautiful trees.

a dozen or so dead ash trees in the distance
A Sadness of Ashes
I see this Sadness of Ash Trees in the distance, from my perch on the back porch. Two summer’s ago I could watch their green clad branches reaching toward the sun, swaying gracefully in the summer breezes. No more. The branches are bare and stark. Ash trees no longer form a grove, or a woodlot, or a woodland, or a thicket, or a forest, or a stand, now they are a Sadness of Ashes.



Updated on Fri, Jul 16, 10:45 AM
21 °C
Mostly cloudy
Tornado causes serious damage and multiple injuries in Barrie, Ont., Thursday after storms strike southern Ontario. Not near us thank goodness! Barrie has been hit by tornadoes three times, that I know of.
Wind 14 N km/h
Humidity 74 %
Visibility 24 km
Sunrise 5:38 AM
Wind gust 21 km/h
Pressure 101.5 kPa
Ceiling 9100 m
Sunset 8:48 PM


“Journal writing is a voyage to the interior.”
Christina Baldwin
1946 –

That is the inside-outness of online journaling. I am sitting here alone with my thoughts, with only my fingers to acknowledge the stillness without, as they send missives into the unknown.
There is no audience here in the silence of this room, or in any of the rooms I’ve written from over the last twenty two years. There is no applause, there are no smiles, no nods of approval, no eye contact, nor are there disapproving shakes of the head, bored sighs, or anything less benign.
Being read is an invisible connection. Interation, when it happens, is a gift.

Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
Stubblejumpers Cafe

Your inner poet is showing, Maggie!


I’m glad you were able to get your glasses. Unfortunately, by the time I turn 65 next summer the option may no longer be there and DH will be leaving his job on Sept 30th when his company insurance wouldn’t allow us to get new glasses until Jan 2022.

I’m not sure you realize this but it’s the optometrists who will be refusing OHIP money for senior and chidren’s eyecare, it’s not the govt withdrawing the money. The optometrists say they aren’t being paid enough by OHIP, so they would rather abandon seniors and children and leave them to their own devices.

You have Frederick and we have some little friends, too. The other day we saw 3 black, glossy-furred little mink running across the road. They were small, so maybe 3 siblings from a recent litter. So cute!


I have several online friends who have had excellent experiences with ordering glasses online, but I have wondered how they figure where the focal center is on the lenses. I think I may need to ask one or more of them.


So, I just talked to one friend. She’s ordered glasses online from 2 manufacturers. The first one had her send in a picture with a credit card under her eye. The other one did nothing at all, which says to me they just assumed a standard. That of course could cause a problem. Heaven knows I’ve gotten glasses from the optometrist and the focus on one lenses was wrong and it immediately caused problems for my vision and gave me headaches. I guess the answer would be to research how the things are handled and go with the one who has figured out a way to measure the focal point.