January 31, day 31 of the Ultimate Blog Challenge. I don’t know what the fig happened. I was awol (absent without official leave) for a few days – January 28, 29 and 30. I didn’t mean to. Really, I didn’t but my days got shorter. I ran out of time. I ran out of energy and I never had a plan for those kinds of days. But I am showing up to wrap up the month and the challenge. I will have a beginning, a middle and an ending to the month and challenge.

Did I fulfill my goals for this month and the challenge? The answer is yes and no. I did not show up every single day. I did not worked through the whole Unravel Your Year workbook. I looked back on most of 2021 but not ahead to 2022. I am not much of a planner. It shows up in different areas of my life. Maybe it’s something I should work on, eh? If I had a plan B, maybe I could have shown up here every single day. No use crying over spilt milk. I didn’t throw the baby out with the bath water.

I’ve come back over and over. I have done the best I could. Life is about flexibility. It’s a little of this and a bit of that. It’s a potpourri of successes, failures, boredom, elation, stumbles, falls and everything that is possible and imaginable. I am very happy that we have the UBC platform wherein I can do my mumbling, stuttering and sharing. It’s a great place to meet others from different parts of the world and in different walks and stages of life.

I’ve taken on more than I can bite for this January. Besides the UBC, I have a weekly online adult learning course from our university. The subject is on the goddesses of India. There are no examines but the subject is very new to me. I have also signed up for an in-person watercolour class. It seemed like a good idea at the time. It still is but it’s 2½ hours every Saturday for 8 weeks. Learning something new is very exhausting – for me. After the class, I’m no good for anything cerebral. I ski to unwind. Then I am done for the rest of the day. I have 3 classes under my belt now. I’m starting to have a feel for that sweet spot. It is also very easy to fall down and into making mud again. I try not to feel too elated or too downcast. This life is a journey of ups, downs and monotony. They all contribute to the texture of my days.

Today I say farewell to January and the UBC. Much thanks to Paul Taubman our maestro and to all the members of this community. I appreciate all the visits, reads and thoughtful comments. It’s been a fun and rewarding month.


January 27, day 27 of the Ultimate Blog Challenge. I thought I would get on today’s post early rather than late. It might give my voice a different tone. I’m not always tired and bluesy. If I was a singer, it would be an asset. It would be an honour to be called the Empress of the Blues. But that title belonged to Bessie Smith. She was a renowned blues singer during the Jazz Age. She rose from poverty with a mighty and strong voice. She was killed in an automobile accident at the age of 43 in 1937. Her grave was unmarked until a tombstone was erected on August 7, 1970, paid for by the singer Janis Joplin and Juanita Green, who as a child had done housework for Smith.

Her life is such an interesting story. We each have our own story to tell. They’re equally interesting. It’s in the way of telling and how we feel about our stories. I see stories in pictures. I see pictures in stories. In the same way, I tell my stories – one evokes the other. When I see the photo of our house in China, I remember playing up on the rooftop. I saw my first ghosts there. It wasn’t that I ‘saw’ but rather felt their presence. I remember my mother telling me they’re our ancestors and not to be afraid. I also ‘saw’ someone standing by our bed one evening. It was more of a shadow than anything. At the time I was still sleeping in the same bed as my mother. It was made of boards, covered with quilts. Our pillows were wooden blocks. I don’t remember them being uncomfortable though. Aren’t childhood memories/stories wonderful?

I used to write flash fiction for Friday Fictioneers hosted by Rochelle Wisoff-Fields. Rochelle is a published author of several books and a watercolour artist. For Friday Fictioneers we write a story of 100 words to a photo prompt. It was a good fit and practice for me. I’ve learned to make every word count and to hone out needless, excessive words. We interact with each other much like on the Ultimate Blog Challenge. You read me, I read me. Then we critique each other – in a positive constructive way. The Dentist is one of my flash fictions that still has the photo prompt in the post. I’ve removed the photo prompt in most of the posts to free up room in my media library.

This is the long and short of my post. Not my best but not my worse. It has a beginning, a middle and an ending. Now I’m off to work on my watercolours. What is your story?


January 25, day 25 of the Ultimate Blog Challenge. I got my wish for a replay of yesterday’s beautiful morning. It played beautifully, though in a different way. For one thing, I slept in, more than an hour later than usual. It made up for the other morning when I got up before the chickens. Instead of heading out to the park after breakfast, I got out the mixing bowl. We were down to the last loaf of bread. When the temperature dips down to -29℃, it’s a better idea to bake bread first, then ski in the afternoon. There is a time for everything.

The memory of yesterday’s pleasure was still fresh in my mind and body. I decided that it’s a good way to approach bread making and everything else – as a process to enjoy in a relaxed manner. It worked well for me. The morning was sunny and beautiful. In between risings and proofing, I stretched and sipped tea in the sunroom. Somehow everything got done according to plan – 6 loaves of bread, a pumpkin pie, 3 tarts, cleanup and even lunch. Who could ask for anything more?

I have to say that at the end of the day, I was done in. To be continue…..

January 26, day 26 of the Ultimate Blog Challenge. I’m back to continue, to finish, to wrap up. I’m back to say that there’s only so much time in a day and so much a person can do, no matter how efficient or how vital you are. I thought I would have lots of free time today but it had a way of running away. I couldn’t stop it. But I had a short visit with my mother after delivering her groceries. I gave her 2 loaves of my bread and ½ the pumpkin pie. I worry about staying too long since she has only one vaccine. I worry every time I cough. It is my usual sinus problems and dry throat. Still one worries.

I think about not skiing every day to have some time but skiing stops my worrying. It makes me feel better when I’m feeling bad. It keeps me fit and strong, so it is not a good idea. There is time for everything. I just have to redefine what everything is.


January 23, day 23 of the Ultimate Blog Challenge. I like to think I’m back in the saddle again, ready to take control, ready to get on with everything. I think it might be wishful thinking. It is almost 8 in the evening. I’m feeling a little melancholic, a little despondent. It’s nothing serious. It’s just the evening blues, the end of the day fatigue. I am thinking and that is always a dangerous thing. I’m wondering where we’re at as a society, as a world.

My corner of the world is small here on Preston Avenue. It is a busy street with lots of traffic. I don’t mind it. I’m right in the middle of everything, within short distances of shopping centers and things that are convenient. My street, being a main thoroughfare, is almost always cleared of snow. What it lacks is the warmth of a friendly neighbourhood. Perhaps it is only my perception. I am not surrounded by those who I can share a cheery greeting, a casual cup of coffee/conversation or a small helping hand. I have encountered wrath and ire over boundary lines and yard/garden maintenance differences and preferences. I’ve had an earful of tragic stories and ugly divorces. Not one invite for a friendly cuppa or glass of. But I have invited. I feel the disconnect and loneliness more acutely on this winter Covid evening.

January 24, day 24 of the Ultimate Blog Challenge. It is true what they say about things looking better in the morning. I also decided that I would make it better. I don’t like wallowing and sitting with those low heavy feelings. Instead I used them to move me through the day. I’m ok with slow. It’s faster than not moving at all. We’re early risers, so we were out in the park by 9:30. By then I already had Roomba cleaned up 2 rooms downstairs. The sun had not shown itself yet but the sky was a magnificent palette of soft greys and pinks, followed by the yellow.

I would push the replay button for this morning every morning if I could. I certainly got rebooted. I took the time to relax and enjoy my ski. I finally felt the sweet of the glide. I felt the whole body joy of it. I did took a tumble at the bottom of the hill though. I got up with my skis on after a struggle, but then before I knew what happened, I’m down again. This time I took my skis off to get up. Heck with it. Much easier and my new skis are a snap to put on. I made another run up, around and down the hill without a mishap. It was a good ski with 2 rounds, almost 4 km. Now I’m sitting pretty and content, doing my tap dance on the keyboard. No thinking of where we are or how we got here.


January 21, day 21 of the Ultimate Blog Challenge. I can’t say that I am one with the Universe though I am feeling better today. No headache and my eye is feeling better. It did caused me a bit of concern yesterday. That happens when you get a jab with a stick because you weren’t paying attention. Good thing I have experience as a nurse and past similar mishaps. I didn’t run off like a jack rabbit for medical attention though that’s what they tell you. I assessed and treated myself first. There was no need for the doctor at the moment. Sometimes I stressed myself more catastrophizing. Then there’s energy and time spent needlessly.

I was surprised at how calm I was. I was remembering all the Bruce Lipton videos I have watched. I have had the habit of accumulating information and material. The trouble is I forget to put them to use until now. It matters not how much smarts a person has if they don’t use any of it. No use just hoarding. In this case, you do lose it if you don’t use it. It is just a habit. I don’t need 50 ways of solving a problem. I can try with one or two first. Start small. Then build on it. I have to remember this one. Use what I got. I already have and know a lot of stuff. I don’t need to search, google, take another course, taken another summit of how to. I don’t have to buy more sewing and art supplies. I already have binfuls. I think it’s my way of procrastinating and avoidance. Like Caroline Myss would say, STOP IT.

January 22, day 22 of the Ultimate Blog Challenge. I am living my words. I can’t do everything. I am doing small. But I am not throwing out the baby with the bath water. I am still here, tapping away. I haven’t shown up every day. I haven’t posted every day, but I am still posting. I am still working on and participating. I am tired for sure. I had a 2½ hour watercolour art class this morning from 10-12:30. Painting is supposed to be therapeutic and relaxing. It is not at all when you are learning a new medium. I am, instead, tensed and exhausted like a wound up spinning top. It’s good to sit, sip and tap to loosen my muscles.

Watercolour Class – Still Life study

I would have loved a ski today. However, I am too tired. It is good that I can stop and not push myself. On the other hand I did buy more paints. It was on the advice of my instructor and the store had everything on sale at 25% off. Sooo…I’m being wise and flexible.


January 20, day 20 of the Ultimate Blog Challenge. Once in awhile, thoughts of yesteryear would pop up in my head. It seems that I had so much more free time then, even though I was still working. I would remember lounging mornings in the sunroom with my toast and tea, listening to CBC on the radio. They had so many interesting and informative programs. Now I hardly listen anymore. When I do on rare occasions it is all about the pandemics, vaccines and bad news or repeats. I wonder what has happened to our national radio station. I wonder if the government is trying to dumb us up.

I’m trying to smarten myself up. I’m trying not to get my panties get tied up over things that don’t matter a damn. Maybe then, I can recoup some of my lounging time. Right now I’m letting Roomba zoom around in the bedroom picking up dust and lint. Meanwhile, I run a wet mop over the hallway floor and the stairs where Roomba refuses to go. I’m learning to be more efficient, not letting thoughts get in my way, wasting my time. Oops, I just remember there’s nothing for lunch!

Once upon a time, I liked to stir fry but now it seems like so much work, so time consuming. But, alas, I have nothing to pop in the oven except pizza. I’ve done that just the other day. I racked my brains. What can I make? I dug out some frozen ground beef to defrost in the microwave. I brought up some onions and a butternut squash. I can make a beef stew in the Instant Pot. It means work but what can I do? I have to stop those It’s work thoughts. Instead I should look at it’s building more neurons in my brain. It’s good for me. My brain is racing ahead and my fingers are tapping like mad. I have to take a break to breathe slow.

My break is over. I can’t say that I’m feeling any better. I just poked myself in the eye. I did have a headache but it is replaced by my sore eye. Funny how these things happen. The other day I was showing my friend this special eye ointment for dry eye. It was still on the dining room table. Maybe that was an invitation for my accident. It is teaching me to put things away, back in their places. I hope I have learned a lesson.

At any rate, lunch is cooking away in the Instant Pot. It was a bit of a chore washing and chopping up the veggies. I threw in onions, celery, a small butternut squash and 1/2 cup dried Swedish beans. I guess you can call it a stew or chili. I don’t have a recipe for it. I use what I feel like and have. For spices, I added pepper, a couple of star anise, some cilantro seeds, cayenne and a bit of soy sauce. Ok, it is Chinese stew/chili. I am sure it will be good. I look like I paint – intuitively.

My eye is feeling better. Once upon a time, I would have freaked out with anxiety. Once upon a time I would have trashed myself. Why am I so stupid? Why did I do this or that? And why didn’t I……Now I know better. It was an accident. I was feeling tired. I had a headache. I wasn’t alert. There was no fault. I could blame the weather. It has warmed up quite a bit from yesterday. Such sudden changes affect me negatively. I can’t control the weather but I can schedule more lounging times.


January 19, day 19 of the Ultimate Blog Challenge. I’ve missed day 17 and 18. That’s how the days have crumbled. Sometimes I can’t do everything. Sometimes I don’t want to do everything. A change is as good as a rest. I hope it can bring me a fresh outlook and some good ideas. I was feeling a bit staid and tired but not overwhelmed. Truth to be told, I am not enjoying writing and the Challenge as much these days. Perhaps I am challenged out.

So I cut myself some slack and gave myself some time away from the keyboard. Why not, eh? I have no business or service to promote. I write for pleasure and therapy. If it is no longer either one, a rest is needed. I am hard pressed to find time to sit and read these days. It was pure pleasure not to worry about writing a post these last couple of days. It wasn’t easy at first because there’s this voice saying I should live up to my commitment. But my fatigue and the book Beach Blonde spoke louder. Now the book is read and I am feeling so much better and rested.

We are back in the deep freeze for the next couple of days. It’s another reason for my well being. I am brighter with more pep and vinegar on cold sunny days. Strange but true. Maybe I got used to very frigid temperatures from having had a very high energy Lab Border Collie mix. We went out to the dog park in all kinds of weather. We were more regular than the mailman. I no longer have her to run with in the snow. Cross country skiing is now my substitute.

I don’t like to miss any days. Today is no exception. Even with an extreme cold weather warning, I was out in the park. I warmed up doing 2 laps in the South Park where I am more comfortable. Then I moved over to the North Park with those troublesome slopes. Today I did good. Being so cold the tracks were not fast. I had lots of control downing the slopes. No skyrocketing into space was possible. No falling and splatting. No hugging the snow. I am getting over my fear and getting my confidence back. The exercise was invigorating. It did me and my disposition a world of good.


January 16, day 16 of the Ultimate Blog Challenge. A lovely sunny Sunday smiled upon us today. We had our usual Sunday morning sourdough pancakes with bacon for breakfast. I thought about taking today for a day of rest. Yesterday was quite taxing. But the morning beckoned and we headed out early to the park for a ski. I graduated over to the north park this morning. It’s more interesting with hills and valleys. I’ve worked up the courage to step on its tracks again. Like the experts say. the best thing to do after a fall is to get right back on the horse again. It’s been a year since I’ve fallen on these trails. It was time.

I am much better and faster now that I got my new skis and boots. I can boogie along pretty good, that is until I met an uphill bump. I ended up on my butt on top of my skis. Getting untangled and up took some doing but I did it. Then it was going down some slopes. They’re probably not a big deal at all, but still scary for me. I managed the first one and second one. But at the end of the second one it had an incline. I should have pushed with my poles then for some speed to get over. I didn’t. I was like deer in headlights wondering what’ll I do. The next thing I knew I was down. This time getting up was much, much harder to do. The snow was very deep. I ended up taking my skis off.

I did not give up though. I went down successfully on another slope and made another loop around the park. I fell once more at the tricky upward slope. But I got up without taking my skis off. I’m still keen though. It is another challenge for me – to get over that tricky spot without falling. It is only January. I have till March to get over it.


January 15, day 15 of the Ultimate Blog Challenge. The half way mark. Do I have it in me to do the second half? Today is just as hard as yesterday. I woke up at 3 am. My nose was as dry as all get up, my tongue thick and furry. I could hardly swallow. I’m thinking allergies. Damn that snow mold! We’re having melting temperatures after some very frigid days. Then I wonder if it could be the coronavirus. I got up to wet my mouth and squirt some salinex nasal spray and went back to bed.

Luckily I got back to sleep. In the morning, just to be sure I did a rapid test. I was pretty sure I am negative but I have an in-person watercolour art class today. I want to be responsible and be sure and not risk other people’s health. I tested negative. It was still a relief even though I am triple vaccinated. I could relax and go to my class without worry.

Being in the classroom again is one of the things I missed in 2021. Before Covid I had an aerobic class Monday, Wednesday and Friday. I had swimming on Saturdays. I attended an adult learning class once a week at the University of Saskatchewan. Yes, I missed them, the exercises, the in-person learning and the people. I am happy that I had signed up for the art class way back in December. Of course, I had morning jitters, wishing that I hadn’t. It was signer’s regret but I got quickly over it once I arrived at the studio. Today there was 5 of us plus the instructor, all masked.

I didn’t pull off any master pieces. I was learning the basics of watercolours. What’s good, what’s not. What to cheap on and what not to. Definitely get good paints and paper but you can cheap on brushes. We practiced a few brush techniques and how to mix colours. I like the instructor. She’s a good teacher. I learned that I missed talking in 2021. I found myself talking quite a bit in class -asking questions. Maybe it was just an excuse to talk. It surprised me. It felt good.


January 14, day 14 of the Ultimate Blog Challenge. I have digressed from working on Susannah Conway’s 2022 workbook Unravel Your Year. It is work and it would be easy for me to dump it. But my word for the year is FOCUS. I’m big on words, being authentic and congruent. If I am all that, I have to live up to them. Let’s see if I can get back to it. Let me work on the questions in groups. I am still unravelling 2021. It’s a slow process when I am a slow poke and a procrastinator. The first group of questions are:

How have you taken care of yourself physically?

How have you taken care of yourself mentally?

How have you taken care of yourself emotionally?

I wonder how do you separate the mental from the emotional health. Here’s how one website describes the difference.

A good way to think about mental and emotional health is like a tag team. Mental health refers to your ability to process information. Emotional health, on the other hand, refers to your ability to express feelings which are based upon the information you have processed.

These 3 areas of health go hand in hand. One affects the other. I try for balance in all, though I do tend to get obsessive now and again and go a little overboard. It doesn’t last long because my body tells me, whoa, time to slow it down, or cut back a little. I’ve learned to listen to my body more carefully. Right at this very moment, I’m hit with a wave of sleepiness. It could mean a couple of things. One- a high carb hit from devouring a very yummy slice of pumpkin pie, my very first effort made with sweetened condensed milk. The condensed milk was a happy accident. I meant to use evaporated milk. A second reason for my sleepiness could be the cloudy and much warmer weather. I’m a weather vane. I feel every sudden change.

What does that have to do with taking care of myself? I do wander and digress a bit. Workbooks and questions are difficult. But it’s good to know what makes me tick, all my quirks. Understanding how my body works makes it easier to care for. I’m really struggling with energy these last 2 days. Even so, I still go out for my daily ski in winter. The fresh air and moving perks up my serotonin and energy levels for the day. I’m less likely to get irked and bothersome. On days when I can’t make it out, I do my qigong and hula hoop. In summer, I get my daily oomph from swimming, walking, biking and gardening. All these activities keep my body and mind healthy and strong.

I could have chosen an easier project to write on for this challenge. I wish I had but what is a challenge without a struggle? I do like difficult things – very hard crossword puzzles, hard cross-stitch patterns, multi-pieced quilt blocks, etc. The cross-stitch of Jesus took me 10 plus years. My queen sized quilt is still waiting to be stitched up. These challenges keep me mentally fit. I have things to figure out and put together. I am never sitting in idle boredom. There’s always books to be read and videos to be watched on how to’s.

These are some of the things that I do to keep myself together, though I don’t feel that at the moment. Life is hard. And that is also a challenge for me to work on. What a good project, eh?