Saturday, 10 August 2013

Golf and Old Farts' Baseball

Today has been another fantastic day.  It started off with lots of rain all morning.  The weather forecast was calling for the clouds to clear and the sun to arrive in the afternoon.  Good thing for me, my husband and my son.  We were in a charity golf tournament this afternoon.  It was a best ball format.  The last time I played golf was at this time last year in the same tournament which raises money for a local group that supports women with breast cancer.

We arrived at the golf course just before 12 noon and we received our golf carts, "goody" bags and our lunch.  We sat on the deck of the golf club and enjoyed a very tasty chicken Caesar wrap along with a bag of chips, a bag of chocolate chip cookies and a piece of fruit.  My husband and I both received crisp, crunchy, fresh apples.  They were very juicy and tasty.  My son had a plum in his lunch bag.  The afternoon ended up being hot and dry.  My husband and my son were the consistent players that got us up to the green.  I really need to work on my driving off the tee as well as my fairway play.  However, once we were on  the green, I  was able to hold my own and often it was my putts that were used.  At one point on the course, my son pointed out that there were three hawks circling lazily above us.  This golf course was located in a rural area and I'm sure these graceful birds of prey were looking for mice and other small animals to feast on.  We certainly had fun on the course and enjoyed each others' company.  The day included dinner as well.  We ate very tender slices of roast beef, with a roasted potato, horseradish, gravy, mixed beans and a Caesar salad.  There were also baked beans included.  The dinner was topped off with chocolate cake for dessert along with tea or coffee.  As part of the fundraising, there was a live auction, a silent auction, raffles and the old standby 50-50 draw.  As we were listening to the names being called who won the silent auction items, my son whispered that he and my husband were scheduled to play softball at 8:45 p.m.  It was 7:45 p.m.  So we silently and unobtrusively crept out of the venue in order to get home.  The intent was to drop me off at the house.  My husband and son would then go on to play softball.

As we were driving home, my son asked me if I wanted to play on their team.  I guess they were needing a female to fill in.  I haven't played since the summer of 2011.  That summer I remember feeling extremely tired and that it took every ounce of strength to try to swing the bat.  Every step that I took as I tried to run the bases felt like my feet were made of concrete.  I was very slow and every step hurt.  At the time, I put it down to me just getting too old to play ball anymore.  All this went through my mind as I considered trying to play ball one last time as requested.  I also needed to remember that my back has been very sore all week long.  I've been using ibuprofen every day and I finally resorted to going to the chiropractor yesterday afternoon.  Now, my back was feeling pretty good after playing golf this afternoon.  The fact that I was being asked to play softball indicated to me that the team was not going to have enough females and they'd have to take an automatic out.  My husband was very concerned that my back would not handle the game.  I decided to say "Yes, I'll play."  In my mind, I would not swing the bat hard nor would I run really hard.  Yeah, right. (snort).  I have never been able to not play hard.  So off to the house we continued and I found my ball glove, we grabbed the bug spray, the ball bag and off in the van we went.

We warmed up and I was surprised at how well I threw the ball.  I was surprised that I was still able to catch the ball.  I was really surprised at the spring in my step when I went for a short jog.  I seemed to have lots of energy!  This is when I really began to wonder if what I experienced in 2011 was actually the effects of the lymphoma (which I didn't realize I had) rather than the effects of aging.  I was third in the batting order and our team was the home team which meant we batted first.  I surprised myself at hitting a strong single at my first at bat.  I've never been a fast runner and so it was no surprise to be thrown out at second base on the next hit.  But I didn't feel lethargic and old!!  Woo Hoo!!!!  As the game progressed, I was able to jog (with a bounce I might add) out to the left field to play the left rover.  My next at bat, I hit a line drive right at the third baseman for an out.  Oh well.  I wasn't too upset because I had energy!!!  During the rest of the game, I ended up having a hit and then scoring a run.  I had a lot of fun and felt much younger than I did 2 years ago.

As we drove home after the game, I couldn't help smiling.  I've played 18 holes of golf and 7 innings of softball.  I wasn't sore and I wasn't exhausted!  My back doesn't seem to have any pain and feels limber.  It's been a great day and I've had a lot of fun with my husband and son.  I'm happy because I only have 2 weeks left with my son being at home.  He'll be leaving to attend his first year of university in another city.  I haven't been feeling to anxious about that yet.  However, I did enjoy his company and his humour today which made me realize that these moments are going to be more precious to me as they will happen less often.  But I won't dwell on the future.  I'll live in the moments that I have now and enjoy them to the fullest.  It's been a wonderfully fulfilling and satisfying day.

Wednesday, 7 August 2013

So Much Fun and So Little Time!

My summer is zooming by.  I'm not complaining as I'm really enjoying each and every day.  Since I've been back from PEI, I'm enjoying having time to keep my house in order.  I really feel adrift when I'm surrounded by chaos.  That's me being nice and calling it chaos instead of mess.  I remember ranting just over a year ago about the "slime" of mess that crept into my living room.  I'm a little dense and slow sometimes and it has taken me much too long to realize that I can always catch up on the mess and grime but it is much more fun to play in the sunshine and dirt of my garden.  Or to enjoy time with my friends and family.  The mess and grime will be there when I have a rainy day to stay inside and clean it up.

On the sunny and even cloudy days, I've been playing outside in my flowerbeds or in my vegetable garden.  When I get a little weary, I "take 5" (or maybe even 30) minutes to just sit in my rocker on the patio and listen to the wind whisper through the trees as well as watch the various birds and animals visit my yard.  My favourite time on the patio is in the early morning while I drink my coffee and after supper when I sip on a glass of wine.  The traffic environment seems more quiet and I can enjoy some peaceful times communing with nature.  I especially like the gentle, soft chimes of my new wind chimes from Island Winds in South Granville, PEI.  Check out their web site at  Anyway, I digress again.  I seem to do that a lot lately.  There's nothing wrong with digressing because that is when invaluable surprises seem to occur in life, at least mine.

So as I was writing, I've been enjoying every day since I've been home.  I have started to play musical duets with one of my best friends again.  We had got out of the routine of playing duets together in late 2011.  We used to play oboe and flute duets and always enjoyed the music but also the laughter of a warm and close friendship.  Just before I became ill, we had started to explore other music with me singing and her accompanying me on the piano.  Since the singing and flute playing seem to be taking longer to return to me, we've started playing piano duets.  I'm enjoying this as we learn to play together again.  We've managed to meet for 2 weeks in a row and I find myself looking forward to our next session!  While in PEI, I rediscovered my love of maritime music.  So I'm hoping to learn some of the melodies on my flute.  I tried this afternoon and was pleased with my efforts.  Certainly I'm a long way from where I was before but I enjoyed playing and that is the very first step.  To me it is a huge accomplishment that I enjoy playing the flute!  It's been many, many years since I've played "for fun".  I've always put lots of pressure on myself to have my tone be just so and my breath control just so.

My hubby bought himself a used Honda Goldwing in the Spring with the expectation that I would hop on the back and ride with him on day trips.  He's been getting used to the bike and now feels more confident to have me on the back.  Last week, he took me out for a spin after dinner one night.  I love feeling the wind in my face and smelling the various aromas as we travel.  Sometimes I catch a whiff of steak being grilled on the BBQ.  When we're travelling through the countryside just north of our city, I smell the fresh cut hay, cattle or horses.  It's amazing how smells can be enjoyable when they are associated with warm memories.  My husband does not like the smell of cows or dairy barns but I love this smell.  It is the smell that was always on my grandpa's clothes when he came in from the barn.  That smell conjures up memories of a warm, caring man who would come in from the cold outside and stamp his feet at the door.  The cattle/dairy smell is also associated with my grandma's kitchen which was heated with a wood stove.  Again I have gone off on a tangent but it is these smells that I enjoy as we travel on the motorcycle.  As we were travelling, we passed by a softball game and it was fun to hear the chatter and cheers of the players and spectators as we drove by.  Unfortunately, my back was really sore the next day.  I refuse to let the back keep me from doing things.  I honestly believe that if "I stop using it, I'll lose it".  I go to the chiropractor on a regular basis and I'll be seeing him again after he gets back from vacation.

So this past weekend, my husband and I hopped on the bike again and went downtown.  The city had closed the main street to make a pedestrian promenade for the day on Saturday. We walked the length of the main street and enjoyed seeing the various displays, sidewalk sales and food.  We ended up down at the waterfront where we caught the last few competitors in the World Town Criers' competition.  We then meandered up to the local farmers' market and checked out the displays.  We started to walk back up the main street because I had a craving for a lunch from Burrito Amigo.  We enjoyed our lunch and then hopped back onto the bike.  We drove to a local newly improved park.  As we drove into the park, there was an agility dog competition.  We parked the bike and wandered down to the path along the shoreline.  I love to people watch and so we sat on a bench overlooking the water and watched the various families with young children play in the sandboxes, run along the water's edge and enjoy the warm summer weather.  I loved seeing an elderly couple walking slowly along holding hands.  When I see couples such as this, I always think how comfortable they look with each other and how much they love each others' company.  It again brought to mind my own grandparents who used to walk holding hands well into their 70's.  I was getting overly warm because it was a warm day and I was dressed in my jeans for riding on the bike.  So we started to make our way back up to where the agility dog competition was taking place.  Along the way, my husband asked me if I would like a drumstick from the snack truck in front of us.  Of course I wouldn't turn down a drumstick!!  So we slowly walked along and enjoyed licking the cold ice cream.  I had the caramel flavoured drumstick.  There's nothing like discovering that gem of caramel in the centre of the ice cream which is covered with peanuts.  We made our way to the agility dog competition and enjoyed watching the competitors.  The owners must be in really good shape to keep up with the speed of their dogs as they run through the course!  What an enjoyable Saturday we had!  My back did not seem to be any worse even on Sunday morning.  Woo Hoo!!  Maybe I will be able to enjoy riding with my husband on his bike.

On Sunday, we had made plans to go out for the day with our friends who also have a Goldwing motorcycle.  We decided to go to Prince Edward County and visit a cidery and a vineyard.  What a beautiful drive it was!!  The day was a little cooler than Saturday and the sun was shining brightly.  The only drawback was there were some bumps and I could feel my back starting to ache after one particular rough bump.  The plan was to eat lunch at the cidery where they have an outdoor patio.  Once we arrived at The County Cidery, we discovered there was going to be an hour wait for a table in order to eat lunch.  We also wanted to do a tasting at this venue as well as make it to the other vineyard for a tour later on in the afternoon.  The hour long wait for a table would have put the tour at the vineyard in jeopardy.  So we did the cider tasting which was very nice.  If only money was not an issue!!  I would love to have bought a couple cases of the premium cider as well as a couple bottles of the ice cider.  The ice cider is similar to an ice wine but it was made with apple cider and had hints of caramel at the end which reminded me of crème brulee.  Crème brulee is one of my favourite desserts.  Oh well, I know where this cidery is so that when I have some extra cash, I can indulge.  After the tasting, we hopped back on the bikes and went down the road to the Waupoos Vineyard where we enjoyed lunch before the wine tour.  It was a gorgeous day while we ate our lunch under a tent in the warm breeze.  Before we knew it, we needed to go up to the main building and sign in for the tour.  We have concord grape vines in our backyard.  It was interesting to see how the vineyard pruned their vines.  I also learned that at this time of the year, they prune the leaves down so that the grapes are left open to the sunshine so they will ripen.  This particular vineyard also planted rosebushes at the end of the rows of vines.  It was explained that when pests started to invade the roses, then it was time to spray the vines with a sulphur mixture in order to protect the grapes.  Who knew!!  After the tour was finished, we stayed for the wine tastings.  I did splurge and buy an expensive bottle of red wine in order to celebrate our wedding anniversary which is coming up.

At the end of the tastings and shopping, we climbed on the bikes again and headed for home.  Our day wasn't finished though because we took the scenic route home along the Lake Ontario shoreline via the Glenora Ferry.  I think this route is one of my favourites in the area.  I like to drive that route at least once or twice a summer.  Again, as we were on the bikes, I could smell the water and various smells as we passed homes and restaurants en route to home.  What a glorious outing it was!!  When we got home, my husband and I sat on the patio and just enjoyed the peace and quiet of our backyard.  We moved indoors when the mosquitos chased us in as dusk approached.  As I went to arise from my rocker, my back spasmed.  Oh no!!  I tried stretching but there was definite pain.

I don't have time to have my back become an issue!!  There's too much living to be done.  Monday morning, I woke up to almost being seized up.  I hope that this is not going to be a common occurrence after riding the Goldwing.  I felt very comfortable on the bike on Sunday so I'm not sure what's going on.  Anyway, I had plans on Monday morning to go for a walk/hike with my daughter.  I was slow moving but hoped that the walk/hike would loosen this old body up.  We packed up our lunch, water bottles, bug spray, sunscreen, camera and batteries.  My daughter and I went off in the van to just north of the city where there is a trail that used to be a railway.  The rails have been gone for a long time and the line is now used as a trail for walking, hiking, biking and horseback riding.  We set off for our walk/hike from the van at 9:45 a.m. after spraying ourselves with bug spray.  I've walked this trail before and remember being attacked by deer flies as well as mosquitos.  I was dressed in my jeans while my daughter chose to wear her shorts so that she could go for a run as well.  I put the backpack on my back and off we went.  We started off at a slow walk in order to warm up and stretch our muscles.  This is what I told my daughter although in truth, I was not up to walking very fast.  After about 20 minutes, my daughter informed me that it was time to speed up the walk to a quick walk.  I have always had trouble finding someone who can walk briskly with me when I want to exercise.  Well....I've met my match!  My daughter can leave me in the dust of her strides.  This is good because it meant that my heart rate increased and my cardiovascular system was working hard.  As I struggle to walk briskly and keep up, my daughter informed me that it was time for a run.  I suggested she go ahead.  I slowed down to a more manageable walk and then started snapping pictures of the beautiful surroundings.  At one point, the path was bordered by rock cliffs where you could see the compressed lines in the limestone.  A couple of trees were gripping strongly to the rock face with their roots as they grew straight out from the ledge.  I took a picture of my daughter running back towards me as part of her jog.  The path was shady as the leafy canopy created some cool areas for those of us using the trail.  We continued walking until we had walked approximately one hour north of where we parked the van.  We sipped our water at various points along the way.  Then we decided to turn around and start the walk back.  We did not have as much of a spring in our steps as we were getting tired.  We decided to eat our sandwiches once we got back to the van which was about 11:45 a.m.  I was very, very tired.  My back was sore and my legs were feeling like jelly.  We've decided to do this on a regular basis as it gave us a wonderful opportunity to reconnect and enjoy ourselves.  Next time, we'll drive a little further north and then pick up the trail so we can explore a new section.  Needless to say, I didn't do much more that day.  I got home and sat on my rocking chair on the patio.

Yesterday was another fantastic day.  Over the weekend, I had been in contact with a friend from my university days.  She has been living overseas for many years now and I haven't seen her since 1986.  She was touring our area of the province and we made arrangements to have her stop by.  We went for lunch yesterday and talked non-stop as we caught up.  She indicated she is learning to sew and quilt.  When my children were babies, I had the opportunity to help a very good neighbour lady with her quilts as they were spread out on their frame.  Over the years, I've been wanting to learn to sew and I do have a sewing machine now.  I tried to sew an outfit for my daughter's teddy bear a number of years ago but I proved to be inept at it.  I still like the idea of learning to sew and learning to make a quilt.  I do knit afghans but it would be fun to make a quilt.  Anyway, my friend and I visited a local quilting store where she picked up some materials for small projects as she learns to sew.  I had fun looking at the various projects and the seed of an idea has started to sprout.  My daughter also wants to learn to sew.  I think I will look for a place that offers basic sewing lessons and we can learn together.  My friend and I continued to talk non-stop.  Now it was late in the afternoon and so we made the decision to have her stay for dinner and overnight.  She would continue on her travels this morning.

She met my husband and children.  I made stuffed pork roast for dinner along with a rice dish and some peas.  We chatted and chatted as we ate.  After dinner, we continued to visit and watch "America's Got Talent".  My friend chatted with my daughter and they looked at my friend's various sewing projects which she is going to be working on in the next week or so.  Before we all knew it, it was after 11 p.m. and my daughter needed to be out the door for 7 a.m.  We headed to bed and I set the coffee maker to brew a full pot of coffee early in the morning while I slept.

This morning, my friend went on in her next leg of her vacation.  It was absolutely wonderful to reconnect and spend time with her!!  As I mentioned to her that her life has had such great opportunities and life experiences, she mentioned to me that it has come with a sacrifice.  She mentioned that I am so fortunate to have a family and one day will have grandchildren whereas she will always "just be an auntie".  We both realized that someone else's life always looks better than our's.  So we shared a hug and said our goodbyes.  Today has been a quiet day but also very satisfying.  I have played my flute until my embouchure tired and I fully enjoyed it even though it was just for a short time.  I played the piano for a little bit and fully enjoyed the music that I played.  I've spent time with my son this afternoon.  I took my sewing machine out and tried to reacquaint myself with it.  I have caught up with blog.  This has been a great day even though it has not been earthshattering.  Summer is too short as I have so many fun activities to do and people to see with so little time.  This is not a complaint but rather a celebratory statement of life.