Thursday, May 29, 2014


I have a love-hate relationship with May. 

May is the month when the world comes back to life, when it’s 99% sure it won’t snow again for months, when grey and brown makes room for shades of green and when it finally and at last becomes warm enough to take off my socks and set my toes free after a winter of being trapped. 

What’s not to love?

May, however, is also Arthritis Awareness Month in the US. I work for the RA site of HealthCentral. Which is located in the US. May is, to say the least, busy. And no matter what we do to mitigate the busy, to schedule things so they don’t all clump into the same week, to get a grip and keep our plans reasonable and attainable, it doesn’t help.

Oh, sure. The first week everything ticks along like a well-oiled machine. The first week we get all cocky and pleased with ourselves, talking about how the plan is working and aren’t we just terrific. The first week is perfection. 

The second week starts out fine, too. Perhaps some extra work pops up here and there, but we have the better part of a 31-day month to deal with it, so no worries. Right?


Because on or about May 10, in all starts to unravel. But I don’t notice, because there’s still the better part of a 31-day month to deal with the work that’s slowly popping up and organizing itself into slightly catastrophic piles. The cocky is still firmly in residence. I can totally do this, as long as I start moving just a little bit faster. So I do. And not only does the veracity of Newton’s first law of motion become apparent – an object in motion tends to stay in motion — this is also when suspicion dawns that there is a subclause to this law. Namely that in May, an object in motion will accelerate at an exponential rate with every single day that passes.

Somehow, I manage to increase the pace every day. Sure, I admit to being somewhat frazzled, my brain pinging like a ball in a pinball machine run amok and I have been known to beg my doctor for weekly B-12 injections (a.k.a. Energizer Bunny shots) in the desperate hope that they will take me to the end of the month in one piece. Because not only has Awareness Month activities taken over every waking hour, the rest of my life continues apace and it all combines into a swirling, whirling ball of insanity.

By the time the end of week three rolls around, somewhere from the murky depths of the boiling tornado that has become my mind, a memory surfaces. Isn't there something else about May? Didn’t I name it something else? 

Oh, right.

Hell Month.

May is the month I don’t talk to anyone. May is the month when family and friends start saying they miss me and I say I’ll get back to them in June. May is the month when the lists are twice as long as normal and never I catch up. May is the month when adrenaline keeps me going. And going and going. Somehow, my body agrees to support the crazy, not bothering me with idle threats about the consequences that will hit approximately June 3 at 10:25 AM. May is the month when I find out just how much I’m capable of doing. June is the month when I find out how much I’ll pay for zooming by my limits so fast they’re obliterated.

The third week in May is also the time when I start asking friends to next year not to schedule anything else at all in May but Arthritis Awareness Month. It’s the time when I start thinking about making a note in next April’s calendar to remind everyone that I’ll disappear for the month of May. And yet somehow, every year we make a plan and it seems reasonable and attainable and I’m sure everything will be fine.

The definition of insanity is to do the same thing over and over again and expecting a different result.
There are two working days left of Hell Month 2014. I’m counting the hours until it’s all over this Friday evening (at whatever time it takes for me to finish). When I do, I’ll be off for a week, most likely crashing Tuesday morning. 

And this year, I have decided to do something different. This year, I have a plan. Or rather, I have a plan for next year. It has two parts. Part one starts today: I cop to the crazy, say it out loud in public. And then put a reminder in my calendar for next April 1 to read this post. And on April 2, 2015, I will send an email to everyone I love telling them that I’ll be gone in May. Then an email will go out to every project in which I’m involved that is not related to inflammatory arthritis saying I will be incommunicado until June 1st.

Because I have finally realized that no matter how good the plan, the primal force that is Arthritis Awareness Month will take over my life and the only way to survive is to jump on the ride and hang on for dear life.


Tuesday, May 27, 2014

The Tinks, Spring Party and... Frogs?

It's finally warm enough to send the kids out to the playground, so that means it's time for the annual Spring party! Seems like a good enough reason to me...

It'd been a while since we had a party, so an extra effort needed to be made. That meant party hats. Or rather, party animal party hats. The Boy suffered the ignominy of wearing both a teeny little bunny hat, plus simultaneously getting bunny eared.

I tried out the bunny thing, too

 Photo by David

A few weeks ago, I met two wonderfully fluffy, ginormous frogs at a local store. Naturally, I had to get them for the Tinks. Did I mention they're huge?


Morgan named hers Waffles. Of course. Liam started a staring contest with his. They're still at it.

The Boy came bearing treats. From a nutfree bakery! Everything was decadently delicious, but the chocolate-caramel bars were the biggest hit. 

For me, The biggest hit was being able to eat everything. Not that I did — I sampled quite a few, but there was a lot of sugar, so I stuck to the sampling. It's moments like this that makes you realize how limited you are in party situations when you have food allergies. The freedom of being able to eat anything I wanted was profound. The Boy knows what he's on about.

After all that sugar, we naturally needed to burn it off, so we descended on the playground. Morgan and I played a game where we alternated authorship of a story, each telling a chapter


Others engaged in activities that would've caused their parents to have a heart attack, had they been outside. Luckily, they weren't, so no parents were harmed in this game

Spending an afternoon surrounded by good friends and family was a pretty spectacular way to celebrate a Saturday.


Ahh... summer's here. Time to dream.

What did you do this weekend?

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

A Walk on the Ptui, Part One

This weekend, The Boy and I went to the Leslie Street Spit. Or, as it had been known for a while, The Ptui.

Well, what would you call it?

This excursion has been planned for a while. Ever since we meandered around on the Islands and heard the quackophony, we wanted to find out just how many waterfowl it takes for the sound of their nesting area to travel that far. The weather has been against us, but this past weekend, it was finally dry enough that we could wander around outside for three hours without risking pneumonia. Not without risking frostbite, though — it was 11°C/51°F. When the sun came out, which it did only briefly, it warmed up a bit.

The Ptui is a peninsula created and maintained by construction rubble. It’s also a lovely wilderness area right in the middle of the city. Tommy Thompson Park is home to masses of wildlife and it’s a stopover on the migration path of birds. During the week, trucks drop off clean rubble, such as bricks from developments, and on weekends, the park is open to the public. In this past weekend, that included me and The Boy.

The reason we went was twofold. Partly, to investigate the source of the quackophony and partly to test if I really could do the 5K for the Walk to Fight Arthritis. We never quite made it to the waterfowl nesting area, but did find out that a yes indeed, I can do a 5K (we walked somewhere between 6 and 7 km). Handy that, what with all the wonderful donations the team has received! Should you want to donate to Team Your Life with RA to help us raise money for support programs for people with arthritis and research into medications that can help protect more people from the ravages of RA, you can do so here.

Hey, I have to take every chance I can to make my fundraising pitch!

It was a day full of adventures and lots of beautiful sights. So many, in fact, that there’s enough material for two posts. Today, I’m focusing on the landscape of the park.

A sign at the entrance prohibits unauthorized vehicles. We spent much of the trip wondering if I qualified and feeling vaguely illicit, which added to the fun.

 Photo by David

The first part of the trail is mostly about getting into the park proper and gradually leaving the city behind. As city noises disappeared, all you could hear was bird song. Well, some qualified as song, but as we progressed, others were less melodious. More about that in the next post.

On the south side of the trail, you could see Lake Ontario, only occasionally blocked by trees and that doesn’t really count as blocking the view, does it? When you looked back, you could see the shore of the lake looking terribly picturesque

There was also the occasional reminder that this was a wilderness area with all that this entails

Unfortunately, it was too cold for us to see any snakes. I have high hopes for next time! Other signs of wildlife included this, which I’m pretty sure is a beaver construction site in progress

About halfway into the park, you come to a fork in the road. To the right, the paved road continues directly to the lighthouse. To the left is a more isolated area between cells of marshy areas perfect for birds and along the shore of the lake. Wonderful paths meander through the different areas, leading you on a journey of discovery. 

When this past rejoined the main path, we turned back to make sure I had enough strength to get back to our pickup spot. Here, a wonderful small metal bridge linked two parts of the path.

For a while now, I’ve bemoaned the lack of birch trees in my life — there aren’t many of them in downtown Toronto. This past weekend remedied that.

Although we kept track of the different birds we saw, we lost count of the many different types of plants. I have no idea what this is, but I love the unexpected right angle

And finally, another reason we went to the Ptui. To gaze at water with no land in sight. I did a lot of that. It brought peace to my soul.