Tuesday, February 9, 2016

Following Life's Path

They said it wouldn't last, but here it is, 31 years later, and Merrickville Karate Club is still going strong.

Back in February of 1985, my husband and young son joined the class when it first opened here. I went up to watch, and really liked what I saw. The instructor had a way of pushing people beyond the limits they had set for themselves, and that was a great confidence builder. Once you know you can do something you never thought you could do, you are more willing to try other things without worrying about failing.

The instructor was from out of town and needed someone local to take calls from prospective students, and unlock the door to the dojo for when they arrived.  I took on the volunteer position and when my husband and I took over the club four years later, I automatically took on the rolls of Coordinator, PR person, and accountant.

The club runs smoothly, and successfully and has had an ongoing waiting list for more than twenty years.  People like that it's a family club, with adults and children in the same class.

I had a couple of openings this spring and mentioned that on Facebook.  Within seconds, those spaces were filled by two 11 year old boys. A couple of days later, the father of one, and the mother of the other had also decided to join the class. Before week was out, I had eleven people wanting to join.  Some will have to wait until September, but I am always warning people not to wait until the last minute. Spaces always fill quickly.

It's been an honour to watch so many people progress, not just in their martial arts skills, but in their life skills over the years. It really is true that once you discover you can do something you didn't think you could do, you find you can succeed at all kinds of other things.  Though I have never actually joined the karate class, I did get heavily involved in tai chi for many years, and have managed to have accumulated a few accomplishments of my own along the way.

The funny thing is, I've never been interested in sports of any kind. Who would ever have guessed that I would own and operate a karate club, let alone for so many years.  Life leads us down some interesting paths, if we are brave enough to follow them.

Tuesday, January 12, 2016

Medical Miscommunications

As Canadians, we all know we are lucky to have such a good health system. I'm not always sure it's as good as it once was, as occasionally I seem to have a story to tell that illustrates that something needs to be fixed. I think my last grumble was when I had Shingles.

Yesterday I had a phone call from the local medical centre. The doctor wanted to know why I had cancelled my appointment with the dermatologist, and a nurse was calling to find out. I had only cancelled the appointment with a local dermatologist because I got in sooner somewhere else.

I saw my doctor last October because I had a sudden unusual growth on my lower leg. She didn't like the look of it, and said they would get me an appointment to have it removed, and biopsied. She warned me that if the dermatologist didn't like the results, I'd end up with another appointment to treat it further. 

Within a week, it had grown even bigger and the friction of my jeans knocked part of it off. When the office called me with the appointment for the end of February, I asked if there was any way I could get in sooner, as I really didn't like how fast this thing was growing. February seemed like a long way off.

After a couple of weeks, I called back and discovered that the medical centre had sent two requisitions into another facility, but had yet to get a reply.  They gave me the phone number and told me who to talk to, and who to say told me to call.  I got an appointment much quicker then, and went and had the growth removed in December.  The dermatologist took one look and declared it to be a form of skin cancer and removed it completely that day.  I'm glad I didn't have to wait.

One of my first chores of the new year was to cancel the appointment set for the end of February.  When the nurse called, I told her I'd already been somewhere else. That seemed to confuse her. I told her it was arranged through their office, and asked if they didn't already have a report from the dermatologist. She checked and said no.  Well, my appointment was five or six weeks ago, so I thought that it should be there by now. I expected that the report would come automatically, and she said no, not always.  I told her I'd filled out a form and there was a question on there about whether or not I had wanted the results sent to my family doctor. I had indicated that I did. I asked her to get it for my file.

When I knew who was calling, I thought the doctor just wanted to discuss the results with me but she not only didn't have them, she didn't even know I'd already seen the specialist.  One would think there would be better communications between medical offices, especially in this electronic era.  If you are waiting for medical results, or a promised appointment, don't hesitate to call and check on the status.

Oh that reminds me.....I'm still waiting to hear when I'm to go for some diagnostic tests for the bad knee I've been telling you about in the last couple of posts.


Monday, December 21, 2015

Don't Block the Aisles

 I'm not handicapped, but this week I learned a little about how difficult it can be to get around if you have to rely on an assistive device....especially at this time of year.
As I mentioned in my previous blog post, I'm having mobility problems due to a suddenly bad knee.  I have been relying on crutches or a cane to get around in my home, and had not been able to get out Christmas shopping at all.  A friend thought I might do better with a walker, and lent me hers.  It took a lot of pressure off the bad knee, while likely strengthening my arm muscles at the same time.  Thankfully it also has a seat so I could sit to rest from time to time.

My dear hubby would drop me as close to the store door as he could, and bring the walker in with him once he was parked.  Some places like Walmart and some  Sears stores, provide benches where I could sit and wait.  Getting around inside the stores though, was where the challenge came in.  Many merchants put extra displays in the center of the aisles that you then have to maneuver around.  Frequently I found the remaining space too narrow to navigate and would have to find another route.  This meant I had to walk even further in my incapacitated condition.  I can tell you that if I couldn't get through those spaces with a walker, someone in a wheelchair would have had to wheel backwards, as there was likely no room to turn around.

 People  were another problem.  It's not that the stores were crowded.  Online shopping has solved that problem the past couple of years.  People stand in the narrowest part of an aisle and stare at the shelf.  I found I could come right up to them and apparently remain invisible.  If there was any room to pass I would excuse myself as I attempted to get by without running over them, and that would get them to move.  If there was no such space, it seems it wouldn't have mattered if I stood there all day.  I always had to find another route.

I found store clerks to be friendly and helpful though sometimes, in their eagerness to show me where to find something, they dashed off ahead of me at a speed that was impossible to keep up with. Luckily for me, my hubby could follow them while I tried to keep an eye on where they went without knocking things over while struggling to join them.

 I discovered that elevators exist in hidden corners, and are safer to use than escalators when operating wheeled devices.  On the two occasions I rode one I was lucky enough to get on first.  I'd move into the far corner and get turned around towards the front, to be ready to exit.  Then families with a stroller would join me in the suddenly too small space.  I was thankful there were not numerous floors or everyone might have had to get off first just so I could get out of there when it was my turn to exit.

In the crowded food court we finally found a table that a lady in a wheelchair, and her companion, were about to vacate.  The regular chair had been moved partially into the aisle on one side of the table while the lady had pulled her wheelchair in as close as she could at the other end.  while that narrowed two rows, it didn't totally block either. That gave me some idea of how to proceed.  The walker folds easily so I pulled it up beside me as I sat on a regular chair.  I narrowed only one aisle slightly, and made sure it was the one less traveled.

 It's all been a learning experience.   I will have much more empathy for the handicapped in the future, I'm sure.  Hopefully you will too now that I've pointed out a few things that we, as able bodied people, generally do with little or no thought.  If the merchants and the general public would at least keep the aisles passable, that would be a great help. Just sayin.....

Friday, December 11, 2015

Be Careful With Your Christmas Wishes

I'm the original Christmas Grinch.  Every year I grumble about how much work Christmas is, and often suggest we just forget the whole thing.  As the family matriarch, I feel the responsibility to make everyone else's Christmas merry and bright falls squarely on my shoulders.

Each year I send cards, do the shopping, the wrapping, the decorating, the baking, the cooking, the entertaining and the cleaning, both before and after the big event. It's often overwhelming.

It doesn't help that everyone on my Christmas list is male.  I can't go out and find guys some pretty, or frivolous thing they would never buy for themselves, but would be delighted to find under the tree.  That only works for females.  Guys are much harder to buy for.  If they do want, or need something, they will often go out and buy it themselves, even if it's just a week or two before Christmas. No wonder I cry "Bah Humbug" and wish to cancel Christmas most years.

This year I have a bad knee.  I've seen the doctor a couple of times, had the knee x-rayed, rested it, iced it and elevated it, but it continues to get worse.  It has effectively immobilized me at the busiest time of the year.  I have not been able to shop, bake, clean or decorate.  You would think my wish to cancel Christmas has finally been granted. The thing is, I have young grandchildren who will be here for Christmas this year....not just for presents and a meal, but overnight when Santa is supposed to visit.  I am going to have to depend on their Dad and Grandpa to buy things that will thrill them and make their Christmas happy.  I have been removed from the process and am feeling rather helpless.

Amazingly, not being able to do all the things I normally complain about is certainly not lessening the stress of Christmas for me.  This year there is nothing I want more than to be able to perform my usual duties and try to make the holiday special for everyone.  Sometimes you have to be careful what you wish for. As they say, Christmas will come, ready or not. I do hope it will miraculously be a merry one for everybody.  In the future I will try very hard never to grumble about Christmas again and always remember the year I got my wish not to have to be bothered with it.

Sunday, November 29, 2015

Give Kids the Gift of Imagination

When we were kids we made up games, constructed toys out of other things, created fantasy worlds, and sometimes we even had imaginary friends. Today's kids are so scheduled with such things as daycare, school, after school sports and other supervised activities that they have very little, or no time for creative play. When not being directed by adult in how to do something, they are often parked in front of some screen.

There is currently a Duracell Star Wars commercial in which their batteries are powering light sabers. A boy is fighting off storm troopers to save his sister.  Together they continue the fight. Storm troopers bite the dust ...or snow...as the kids take their light sabers to an inflatable snowman in the front yard.

During this commercial, of what I would see as normal childhood play, a message appears on the screen informing viewers that certain scenes are nothing more than a Fantasy Sequence.  Well, Duh!  Has it really become necessary to remind people that this is the natural way for children to play?  If so, I suggest everyone step back and leave the kids a few hours a day to just explore their world and rediscover their imaginations.  Without it we will have a whole generation incapable of inventing anything.  In a country where great minds have produced such things at insulin and electron microscopes, snow blowers and snowmobiles, electric ovens, electric wheelchairs and car heaters, Pablum , cardiac pacemakers and of course Canadarm, that would be devastating to our future growth.  Can you imagine how you would get along in the world today without the things others have invented through the years?

Child play produces creative children who learn how to solve problems. Creative children invent their world, and things to play with.  And sometimes, as adults, they invent useful things for the rest of us too. Duracell has just pointed out that perhaps some of today's adult population has forgotten that it's perfectly normal for children to enact fantasy sequences, and feels it necessary to label them as such. Surely we can tell the difference. Or perhaps the labels are meant for the children because they no longer have much experience with fantasy, and need to be told what is real and what isn't. Either way, I find that sad.

If you are wondering what to get your kids for Christmas this year, perhaps you should skip the electronics department. Find something they have to find a way to play with....even if you have to get down on the floor and do it with them. For instance, put together a train track with your boys, or have a tea party with your girls. Maybe you could get them books you could read to them, so their imagination fills in the blanks.  Put away your own electronics, and just play with the kids, even if you have to resort to old fashioned board games. They will love you for the time you spend with them, and someday they will remember the year you gave them their imagination for Christmas.

Wednesday, November 4, 2015

Art School Fair

This past weekend I attended the first ever Art School Fair in Ottawa. It was an art materials trade show, but it was great fun.  The vendors were from the manufacturers themselves, so they all knew their products well. They were able to demonstrate and answer questions, and in many cases you had the opportunity to try the products before making the decision to buy.  Some of the vendors even handed out samples.  What they were really good at was getting you inspired to try new things.

The admission price was just five dollars, which was waived if you signed up for one of the many courses available.  I didn't do that this year, mainly because the ones I was most interested in were fully booked by the time I found out about the show.  The event was a great success though, so I hope I can get in on at least one of the classes next year.

As this is the first year for the Art School Fair and because it went so well, hopefully they will find ways to expand it in coming years. I am very sure they will do it again, and I am also sure I will attend.

I certainly came home with more than my entrance fee in samples.  I got a PITT Artist Pen, some watercolour dip dots from Daniel Smith, a nice little bag with 6 products from Golden, plus a beautiful t-shirt I will be proud to wear. I also purchased a new journal in support of the Ottawa Art School for another $5.  It is divided into right brain and left brain sections. A quiz inside tells me I'm definitely Left Brained, which kind of confirms my theory that I'm not all that creative.

Did this trade show do it's job? Yes, indeed. I came out of there knowing about products I had never heard of before, and plans to try them.  I want a water soluble graphite pencil. More than that, I want some Daniel Smith Watercolours. They have granules in them that create interesting textural effects and I'm already dreaming up ways to use them.  I also am very interested in the Mixed Media products by Pébéo.  Yes, I'll go again next year, and every other chance I get.  Great show!

Wednesday, October 28, 2015

Witch Crash

 Wishing you all a happy Halloween season. 


Please watch out for excited children on the roads.