Dog Days

So, before i left to head south for Christmas, holidays and such, i had an “incident”.  To me, an “incident” is something which happens “to” me.  There is no shortage of events in my life which are self-imposed.  i refuse to read a map and so i get lost.  i do not read instructions before assembling things and…well …you get the picture.

i expect no sympathy for self-imposed suffering, but this is a story of pain and suffering at it’s highest…man’s intellect against the elements.  Here we go.

As you know, i have been recovering from a severe depression.  i am bipolar and worried about falling off the cliff of mania on the other side, but my brain is, thankfully, stabilizing.  My thinking has cleared up remarkably and my memory has improved somewhat.  Cool.

Much of this improvement has come about through regular routine and some amount of discipline.  One of those disciplines is exercise.

A couple of days before i left to go south, i looked at the weather and realized we were going to have high winds which would not abate until the next day.  I also had a load of snow in the driveway which i decided needed to be moved for some reason i cannot remember.  Probably because i always blow the snow off the driveway.

So it was windy and cold.  i have described the cold we experience up here in the north.  Last winter we had at least two days which were colder than -50C with the wind chill included.  The day of my “incident” it was not that cold, but it was cold enough for me to wear my real good winter coat, so below -30C at least.

I also decided it was important for me to do my daily walk/jog with Bella, our dog.  Part of my daily routine is to exercise and up north i walk the dog daily.  It’s only 1.5K, but it is enough to help with stress and my stamina has improved.  Blood to the brain is a good thing, for the most part.

Returning from the walk, i was already feeling the cold, but walking behind the snowblower would warm me and i really needed to move that snow.  No sense falling behind when i was getting ready to leave in a day or two.

So i got out the snowblower and blew snow for about 1.5 hours.  Sweaty, but not exactly warm.  i needed to bring wood into the house, also a good idea when it is really cold.  Getting all dressed up again later just to get wood is a pain, so might as well get it out of the way.

But there was no girl to impress.  i was going to see the girl.  So this part of the incident likely belongs to me.

i load up the wheelbarrow and bring my offering for the heat gods to the door.  i try to turn the knob and it sticks.  No big deal.  It has been doing this since the frost kicked in good and deep.  We have another door that is not even used in the winter for the same reason.  Part of northern life.

Besides.  i looked at it the other day, and other than the knob being a little loose, it seemed fine.  My procrastinationarianism kicked in.  i would pick one up next time i was in town.  What could possibly go wrong?

You are correct.  The door knob would not turn.  i put every ounce of strength i could muster into turning the knob, thinking it was the frost, but it would not budge.

Perhaps it was locked.  i have been known to lock things by accident.  It is why we have CAA.  i can tell them i have fallen and can’t get up or have locked keys in the car.  i looked in the window to see if the door was locked which told me nothing, as i stared stupidly at the knob with its tiny smaller knob.  And the keys were on the table just inside the door.

It was right then that i noticed the dog door, which is about 1 foot off the ground.  The door was open, so i could likely reach the inside knob from there!  With my many layers on, i splayed on the ground and put my head and one shoulder through the 1 foot x 2 foot opening.

i am a tad large for that opening, as i am more than double our white shepherd’s weight, but i found i could indeed reach the knob.  No luck.  It would not budge.  “Old” John would have been cursing and throwing a fit.  Maybe it was the cold setting into my bones.  i think i read somewhere that when you are drenched with sweat and it is cold, laying on the ice is not too bright.

Whatever the reason, i was dead calm.  Ok.  Perhaps i can simply remove the knob from the inside by taking out the screws.  Pull out the knob and we are in!  MacGyver time…level John.


What type of screw, however?  Because our neighbours to the south do not recognize the vast superiority of the Robertson screw (known affectionately as “the one with the square tip”) over the Phillips (“star” tip), it could be either.

i already knew though.  i knew deep in my heart.  i knew it would be a fucking Phillips.  Why?  Because it is almost impossible not to strip a Phillips, especially if you cannot see what you are doing.  I dejectedly headed for the garage (it is not heated) to see if i could find just one- please Lord- just one unstripped Phillips screwdriver.

Found one, but after another exhausting half hour squeezing partway through that damn dog door, i was no closer to my goal, and i became more aware of the cold.  i was on the shaded side of the house and i knew i could always sit in the truck and warm up…oh yeah, the keys are inside the house…doh.

So things are getting a little more urgent now.  i am beginning to shake a little bit and i just want to sit down and take a break.  i briefly entertained the notion of taking off all of my clothing and trying to squeeze through the dog door, but the thought of being found frozen to death with my bare ass sticking out the dog door gave me pause.

And then i knew what needed to happen.  i went over to the wood shed, got out a large axe.  And then i smashed that door knob off.  i tried to be careful of the door, but i knew it was time for less MacGyver and more Incredible Hulk.  (Yes….i actually think these things while this is going on).

Door knob gives way, the guts come out and bingo, bango, bongo, i am granted access.  “Open Sesame” be damned.  Hulk smash.  i then called Eric (the guy who comes over and does everything a lot of men can do…not me) and let him know about the “incident”.  i am happy to say Eric resolved the problem while i was away.

It took me an hour or so to get warmed up (stove went cold while i was “stretching”) so no real damage done.  Other than the fact i had spent all that time calmly addressing the situation and come to the same conclusion “Old John” would have…smash it with an axe.  Yes, dear reader, i do have a point to my tale of wild adventure in the north.

The last couple of months have been wonderful, especially now that Sarah and i are back together.  But there has been plenty of chaos during this time of refreshment.  i have bounced around like a like one of those “super balls” we had as kids.  Cochrane to London, London to Cochrane, Cochrane to London, London to Curacao, Curacao to London, and now, finally, back to Cochrane, where i will likely be until the fall, at least.

i have been placed in some situations which would have crushed me in the past.  They are situations i have faced before, but never very well.  And you could be sure there would have been a lot of self-medicating along the way.

In the first place, i have worked at my Recovery by keeping up with exercise, regular meals, proper rest, and taking my meds.  i give myself credit for sticking to these things.  Not that i have not had times of slacking off, due to a hard night before or whatever, but generally speaking, i have stuck to my Recovery activities.

But there are challenges in every life.  Mentally ill or not, all of us face our personal battles and experience times that test us to our core.  But i find i have been dealing with issues in different ways.   And it goes back to the beginning, when i worked to bring gratitude back into my life.  Let me illustrate.

When we were in Curacao, our small hotel was located in a residential area.  We could walk to the beach, any number of restaurants, the local supermarket and so on, but we were looking forward to not being constantly assailed by the noise of the resorts we usually frequented.  We had a kitchen, there was a small pool and it was a beautiful, clean place.

Perfect.  Then the dogs began to bark.  People in residential areas have dogs.  Of course they do.  Every time someone walked down the street, they would erupt together in a frenzied battle to see who was more vicious.  Those dogs worked from early morning until late at night.  In my past, i would have been going nuts.

Didn’t bother me at all.  i noticed it, but i decided i would be grateful for a neighbourhood that was well protected instead of being upset.  Formerly i would have cursed the noise and turmoil and been constantly wound up, decrying irresponsible dog owners the world over…etc.

When we were in London and the sirens were going day and night (literally, all the time), i told myself the vehicles were going to help people.   i am grateful we live somewhere that has good health care.  i am learning that i can make some decisions to handle things in different ways, and that has been very helpful.

Sometimes i still get really wound up and anxious.  i have panic and anxiety attacks.  But i deal with them differently.  By talking about how i am feeling, for example, instead of bottling it all up until it vomits forth in anger.  And i celebrate the victories and try to learn from the times i did not do so well.

i could not write.  i do not know why…if it was distraction or lack of motivation or anxiety.  It does not really matter, i suppose.  It is quiet here, aside from the sounds of nature waking from a long slumber.  Birds are returning to the feeder, which comes down once the bears start lumbering around, hunting for food.

My first morning home, i sat with tears falling as i beheld the sun rising from behind the trees.  So beautiful!  The next day, our dog Bella was back home, demanding attention and reminding me of daily exercise.  Now that i am home and settling into a routine, i finally feel more creative.

Still crazy.  My meds testify to that.  And a few professionals.  Ok, probably some family and friends.  But i am feeling much better and am managing life much differently than i have in decades.

i am cooking, of course, and looking forward to the grilling season.  i am hoping Sarah will do photography for me, so i can do more cooking blogs.

Gardening season is calling to me from beneath the deep snows of winter.  The daytime has begun to lengthen and the sunlight is stronger.  The greenhouse will begin to store heat soon, enabling me to begin some tomatoes, peppers and so on.  i plan to keep a picture and article record of how things are going, with some helpful advice for those launching out into nature.

i ordered my seeds for this year and they will be here soon.  Then i need to plan what will go where.  i try a lot of different things, so i am sure everyone will learn something along the way.  My first article, begun some time ago, will deal with composting.  Since we live may in different climates, i will be governed by the growing season here.  If you have never know the challenges of short-season gardening, you may find some interesting stuff.

Your northern friend,





One thought on “Dog Days

  1. Of course I’ll be your photographer ! I’ll be honoured. Excellent post my handsome northern man! Very glad you’re back at it.


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