DIARY FOR FEBRUARY 1999 FROM GUELPH ONTARIO CANADA (Diary reads from last to first)

Wednesday 23rd February 1999

This morning I had to walk into town. It's a bit warmer today - about zero I suppose. Still very sunny. We haven't had any precipitation since early February. Even if we had, it would be all freeze-dried. One gets shocked with static continually. The dust and grit flying around the streets is quite unpleasant. One's skin becomes dried out and one's hair stands on end with the static.

I thought you might like this graphic. It is pretty on a "T" shirt. If you have the appropriate printer and could get the special transfer paper, you may be able to use it yourself:-

Just heard from a friend this morning. His computer crashed during a windstorm. When he took it for repair, all his data had gone. I keep sets of tape backups. It's a pain alright!

Monday 20th February 1999

Day after day of perfect sunny sparkling weather. What can I say! However, the temperature now is something else .. What about Siberia! It's -6ļC (six degrees below freezing) but -25 when out in the windchill. That can freeze your ears off in a few minutes. Pet cats are particularly vulnerable, as their ears are so thin and unprotected. The dogs are happy sitting in the sun on the deck, actually panting. Their thick coats collect the heat and they need the sun - for they make some of their own vitamins.

I was giving Moose some extra vitamins (as he is so old). But then I noticed that the multi-vitamin pill has "C" in it. As usual, he has broken out in a horrible "hot spot": a sickening weepy sore and itchy place. This is something that happens with golden retrievers from time to time and for different reasons. They react from emotion (if there is a new baby in the house or their owners are fighting). They react in the spring. They react from diet changes or from allergies. Whatever, it will take a couple of weeks for this disgusting "hot spot" to clear up. One veterinarian sold me very expensive cortisone cream. Eventually, when I could not afford this treatment, I just used "Lanacane" or "Polysporin". On one of my golden retrievers I spent $500 on various expensive treatments. Eventually she was wearing an "elizabethan collar" and had to be shaved on her neck, shoulder and flank. As long as we had continual upheavals in the family, this horrible "hot spot" outbreak continued. Nothing seemed to cure it.

Yesterday I took Sue for a really long walk cross-country. The wind was biting cold and the sun so bright - I could use a space helmet. Anyway, with two padded head and face coverings, big dark glasses, many layers of clothing etc. A long fast walk gave us both a good work-out.

Tuesday 16th February 1999

Yet another perfect morning with slightly warmer temperature (about 5ļC I'd say). The cardinal birds singing "poochie, poochie and whew, whew". That is a sure sign of spring. We are lucky to have these attractive wild birds here, especially in winter. They gradually spread from the south .. and stayed when people continually fed them sunflower seed. I'd guess the cardinal is only about 5 inches from beak to tail end.

The other friendly little bird I really like to hear is the boreal chickadee. This is very similar to the European "Blue-Tit". It also likes to eat sunflower seed. It has a very high-pitched "dee-dah", "chickadee", call. Sometimes bird-watchers will have the patience to teach the chickadee to eat from their hands. I have never seen a cardinal bird do that. The chickadee is quite tiny, I'd suppose about 4" from beak to tail end.

The blue-jay birds don't really call much except in the autumn. The young birds then seem to find life really exciting They chase around the trees making a lot of bell-like sounds and screeching. This annoys some people, but I like all the birds and usually put out sunflower seed for them. This picture is a north American blue jay putting ants in its' feathers. The ants spit formic acid, which kills fleas and parasites.

There are even buds beginning to come on the tops of the old maple trees. This event is about two months too early. We are supposed to get rain turning to snow, beginning later today.

Yesterday afternoon I asked a friend to take a picture of the dogs. They are so difficult to photograph. Eventually I had to stand with them - but even then they were bouncing around.

Monday 15th February 1999

Wow ! .. What a perfectly gorgeous couple of days. Brilliant sun, sparkling snow, pleasantly cool. Just the sort of "Switzerland" weather I love so much about Canada.

Yesterday I spent a couple of hours at Guelph Airport wandering around wistfully watching the students practicing. An excellent day for going solo - but just a little difficult on runway 23, with a slight crosswind to add a little excitement. There's always the lift and twist at the threshold, generated by the hangers, (just when one thinks the aircraft is going to put its' wheels down) that makes one's heart and mind scramble momentarily. Then there's the runway itself, with trees at one end and the tall chimney at the other. Oh yes, runway 23 is always good for an expensive thrill!

This morning I had to take my car to Wayne Pitman Ford for service. What a difference nowadays. Mr. Pitman has such a beautiful organization, so convenient, comfortable and courteous. Years ago I had an American Motors Hornet. When I had it serviced, it was an experience to avoid. I waited sometimes for up to six hours. The charges were extortionate. One occasion I actually watched an engineer snip wires in the alternator - and then he told me that they had somehow become broken or detached. The engineers made passes at the customers .. did they think that because we were young and poor we would never become old and rich? Didn't the management care? Who knows? After my six hour wait .. my car was outside a freezing cold and dirty room. I returned home, having caught the flu and had to miss work. The bill came to several hundred dollars. I only earned $4.00. an hour in those days. No wonder that branch of American Motors closed.

Anyway, this morning was a beautiful morning. I actually enjoy visiting Wayne Pitman Ford. Equally I can see why Ford is taking over numerous other companies.

Saturday 13th February 1999

After a good thaw - with temperatures up to 55ļF, suddenly a couple of cold fronts went through and we're back into the minus again, with some snow.

Last Wednesday I took a friend to the Rotary Club Travelog. This month it was about Cuba. The speaker pretended to be looking for a wife (as he said he needed a driver). He was warned about the women of Cuba. Apparently they are so anxious to find a husband - they will do anything to get away. However, shortly after they arrive in the new country and become accepted, they just take off!

Cuba is such a beautiful country. Lovely beaches, splendid hotels, entertainment and food for the tourists. However, the poverty of the Cubans, the conditions for their children, I thought, was unspeakable. I would not feel relaxed on a vacation where the poor people could see me apparently enjoying such abundance. The speaker said that one child was asked what he would like to be when he grew up. The child said he would like to become a tourist, so that he would not be hungry any more.

Of course, all the Islands have similar conditions for their inhabitants. But, having visited many of them on cruises, I'd say Cuba is much worse. Also, as we were on cruises, at least we did not see the poor people watching us .. and our short visits, one hopes, would add some currency to help them. (I'd be interested to know what other people think, so you can email me at:).

Incidentally, my pages may only be seen properly with Microsoft Internet Explorer. Netscape does not permit loading of all the pictures and music.

A bit of free advice to those of you who write web pages: Never include a clickable email address on your pages. A very clumsily handwritten address on a scrap of paper (like mine) displayed as a scanned .gif or .jpg, is less likely to be picked up by robot spam spreaders. You will still receive masses of annoying advertising, but anything you can do to stop the machines will help. Also, if you have email, do not use the vacation reply system .. (Vacation replies automatically reply to the thousands of spam machines during your vacation and they will continue to send you more annoying advertising at an exponentially increasing level).

Last night I was listening to CBC Radio. There was a guest speaking about Alexander Pushkin. He has a good site at:- http://members.tripod.com/~halonine/pushkin.htm If you like poetry you may enjoy this page. It has a beautifully patterned background. (I tried this background for this page but it is too busy to take print). The writing of Pushkin is similar to Shakespeare.

There I found the poem which the guest had read:

"I Loved You Once".

I loved you once; and perhaps I love you still,
The flame, perhaps, is not extinguished; yet
It burns so quietly within my soul,
No longer should you feel distressed by it.
Silently and hopelessly I loved you,
At times too jealous and at times too shy.
God grant you find another who will love you
As tenderly and truthfully as I.

Tuesday 16th February 1999

Itís finally a really lovely day .. so after taking Sue for a long walk in the park and through town, I decided to have a rest and write to you.

I burned off all those calories - then had a hot buttered bagel and tea, probably put more on than I took off with two hours of walking! Iím sorry to hear, that you still have the rotten weight problem. ... My thoughts are with you every evening when I sit in front of the TV snacking! It doesnít help that every ten minutes they bombard their viewers with junk food adverts. Personally I try to get out in the evening, to go square dancing or anywhere and not to watch. It does get to be a habit though.

If I can go to the computer and write to you or get involved in writing a page for my Website, that is a useful distraction.

Last Saturday I went to the University of Guelph Arboretum - Theatre in the Trees, Spring Dinner Theatre. The play was called "The Second Time Around", a comedy by Henry Denker. (Performances are every Saturday until 24th April. Call: (519)824-4120 extension 4110. Don't forget to ask for exact directions if you have not been there before). It was very funny. I really enjoy going there very much. The audience all wear evening dress - or at least they get dressed up, which is unusual for Canadians. I have a beautiful black silky cocktail dress, all covered with bluebottle coloured beads. Unfortunately I had forgotten that the seats there are not padded. This made the beads very uncomfortable! I sat with a very pleasant couple, who spoke to me about their children and their work. He offered to buy me some wine, which I thought was very kind. However, I have found that wine (or any other alcohol) not only brings me out in a rash, but also shortly makes me very depressed . So I had to decline.

On Sunday I went to church in the morning, as usual. I really enjoy the singing there. An old friend, from Eden Mills, was there with his wife. After lunch I decided to go to the cheap afternoon cinema. It was "Shakespeare In Love". This sounded a bit silly, but turned out to be a lovely movie, well acted and with sumptuous costumes and scenery. I liked the woman who played Queen Elizabeth. (Judy Dench) The last part I saw her in was as "M" in the last James Bond movie. She really made a hideous Queen Elizabeth - and from what I have read, historically that was the way Queen Elizabeth really did appear.

The puppy, Sue, is growing so big. She is only nine months old and is already bigger than Moose. Even after I had walked her about six miles she was full of energy and could have done the same again. I think Iíll have to call the people when I gave all my old saddles and bridles. Perhaps theyíd let me take her out with me riding one of their horses. Unfortunately, after numerous attacks in other cities by pit-bulls and rottweilers, the Guelph Council have decided that dogs have to be kept on a lead at all times. This makes it impossible to really exercise a puppy - as I canít throw a ball or stick for her if sheís on a lead. The vet sold me a small sample of some new medicine to help Moose's poor old back legs. It has made a dramatic improvement. Iím really pleased about that. Goodness knows how much it will cost tho'.

The Guelph Council seem to make strange decisions and then get everyone involved in some other controversy to distract their attention. I often think all politicians do this. The latest thing is - current homeowners will have to pay extra taxes to finance developments. To me this makes no sense whatever. They have already said we have insufficient water, no further space for rubbish, too few doctors, not enough police, too much traffic. Does anyone understand why they would make an aging population, the majority of whom are retired and on fixed incomes (or soon will be), pay for development?! They installed expensive parking meters in the entire downtown area - then complained that the downtown is dying as people go to the outlying shopping malls where they can comfortably park! They have put a beautiful theatre by the downtown - The River Run Centre - and there is an excellent parking building just across the street. However, now they have closed the big Eatonís store which used to service that entire mall. So, theyíre going to build an arena in the Eatonís store. I can see a conflict here between the quietly happy theatre audience and the rowdy people coming from the arena - Not to speak of fighting over the parking spaces.

Howís home now? ..Sis told me sometime ago that both towns have become all "boutique", with the closure of most of the decent shops. Thatís the way Guelph is too. The biggest store that has opened lately is called "Value Village". Itís actually a huge thrift - second-hand store in aid of the Diabetic Association. I bought a nice silk scarf there for only $2.00 and a T-shirt for $5.00. I donít much care for second-hand things though. Even when theyíve been washed , itís not the same. I bought some nice corduroy jeans for $17.00 - from Jean Works & Company. They are well made and Marks & Spencer would have charged about $60.00.

In spite of what you say, I still think he did the right thing - shopping around and getting things "on special". Of course, it doesnít always pay, but generally I think he did very well. We drove down south a few times and visited "Gabriel Brothers" - an enormous thrift store which sold seconds. We saved hundreds of dollars shopping there. I bought my spring walking jacket there for only $20.00 and have since seen the same thing in Sears for $95.00 The problems with it were: a seam not stitched, which I later stitched myself, and a popper off one sleeve, which doesnít bother me as I always wear them rolled up. I suppose thatís why he has become so addicted to shopping around. Heís so successful and it does become almost an obsession. "Nothing succeeds like success". The thing that bothered me was always being so cold. Iíve always had bad circulation and having the heat turned down all the time was making it worse.

The stock market is still scaring the daylights out of me, of course. I really shouldnít be involved.

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