Thursday, May 27, 2010

The Long Week-End (that would be LAST week-end for Canadians!)

This past week-end was our long week-end (Victoria Day, which almost everyone calls "May 2-4"). Following a nearly decade-old tradition, I went out Wolfe Island. It used to be quite the party - sometimes we'd be there from Friday to Monday. This year, we went out for Saturdy evening. I gardened and planted things all-day Sunday. ("May 2-4" is the week-end many Canadians plant their gardens. Any earlier, and there's still a possibility of frost!) We also opened our pool. I meant to put more pictures, but because of uploading problems, there are just three.

Some of our irises, plants that are perennials already along the side of our house when we moved in:

I planted fox glove (a perennial we had at our old house) alongside geraniums. Fox glove is highly poisonous (and in fact is the therapeutic basis of the heart drug digoxin). It also attracts hummingbirds, but we've only noticed butterflies and bumblebees. Geranium is an annual that supposedly repel mosquitos and flies. I don't know if I believe it, but it can't hurt.

We also planted marigolds (possibly a natural mosquito repellant), a silver leaf thing (the name eludes me, but it's a butterfly attractant), more irises, peonies (far from the house as a natural ant attractant), lilacs, and hydrangeas. I'll post pictures of each of them later.

I'll also post pool opening pictures later. While we planted and opened the pool, here is what Princess did:

It was hot (33-34C / 91-93F) so we tried to keep Princess in the shade, and we kept her water bowl near her. For a few minutes, she ocassionally sat in the sun, but every time she quickly moved back to the shade.

(Okay, no more updates for me. If you have google reader, I think you just had 3 or 4 very similar posts. Sorry to bother you!)

Thursday, May 20, 2010

something something ... in Margaritaville

Rachel at Girl Learning Along the Way hosted a giveaway for this amazing pitcher. It is insulated to keep cold things cold or hot things hot. And I won!

The lovely pitcher arrived yesterday, just in time for our pool opening. (I'll try to take pictures while singing about Margaritaville!)

By the way, if you want decorating or gardening ideas or just general inspiration, Rachel's blog is my favourite. She's also on Elizabeth Anne Designs with great DIY and decorating tips.

Friday, May 14, 2010

Baseball, Bumps & Bruises

I have done sports my whole life. I always got to pick a fall/winter activity and a summer activity. In the spring, I had to take swimming lessons. My parents felt strongly that learning to swim as a child is a practical and potentially life-saving skill. In the fall/winter, I tried ballet, gymnastics (was apparently good, but my mom hated the sport so she steered me away), jazz, and then stuck with figure skating. In the summer, I ended up liking baseball (softball/fastpitch) and sticking with it for a number of years.

Between figure skating and baseball, and various other games and informal sports, I had plenty of bumps and bruises. I'm quite klutzy. I even banged my head in figure skating (twice were falls from jumps, but one time was a lay back spin that I laid too far back on!). Even through all these years, I only broke one bone (in my hand). And while the head injuries hurt, as they always do, I don't believe any were a concussion.

Well, last night, I suffered my first concussion. I was playing 2nd base in a co-ed slow-pitch league. It was my second game this season. A really fast ground ball came to me, and I stopped it in my glove. Unfortunately, I didn't grip it enough, and it sprung up and smacked me in the jaw. My jaw hit the back of my head so hard that it felt like my brain rattled into the back of my head. I "saw stars" for a few seconds, walking aimlessly around the field in a daze. I left the field, sent Wade to get me ice (for the jaw) and sat out the rest of the game. I felt better by the end of the game, but I was very spacey at work today as I was furiously finishing a report that was due at noon. (It wasn't my fault the report was almost late; the lab was late in getting their results to us.) It was a struggle because I felt like my brain was wading through mud: I couldn't concentrate, there was a ringing in my ears, loud noises were really painful, I was tired, slightly disoriented (not quite dizzy, but definitely off-kilter) and had a headache.

As soon as the report was off, I sent it off and left work. I went to an urgent care centre, where I had x-rays (nothing was broken) and was diagnosed with a minor concussion. Apparently, if something hits the side of your head (temporal bone), it's possible to have a head bleed. Fortunately, the ball hit me lower in the jaw (mandible). However, hitting the jaw is a common cause of concussion.

Strictly speaking, all concussions are brain injuries, and no concussion is truly minor. Many people fail to realize the severity of concussions, even "mild" concussions. By having one concussion, I am now at an increased risk of repeated concussions. The more concussions one has, the greater the chance of psychiatric disorders, mood disorders, impaired memory, brain damage and even "punch drunk syndrome" (a horrible disease that is essentially a combination of parkinson's disease symptoms, alzheimer's disease symptoms, cognitive impairment and slower mental processing). Of course, I am not going to develop any of these issues off one concussion, but I will be careful. I will even consider getting a mouth guard. (There is evidence mouthguards can prevent concussions by prevent your jaw from banging into your head, but it is not known for sure. But I felt the blow from my jaw knocking my head. Plus, if the ball had been a few inches to the right, I might have lost some of my teeth!)

I now have post-concussion syndrome, starting a couple hours afterward: headache, difficult concentrating, sensitivity to noise, ringing in the ears last night, couldn't sleep last night, tired all day today, feeling disoriented / slow, and nausea. Post-concussion syndrome is "debated" by some doctors, but I am telling you I am feeling all these symptoms (and I didn't even know this was post-concussion syndrome until I got home and looked up concussion on-line to research what I can do to heal faster). I am glad this is a minor concussion. My brain is on "slow motion", and though the headache isn't nearly as bad, I still feel "off-kilter".

Does anyone have any experiences with concussion? First-hand or otherwise? (I'm okay and have seen a doctor, so don't worry!)

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Animal Safety for the pool

Remember I talked about animal pool safety here? Well, Wade's picking up our Scamper Ramp tonight. We're opening our pool in exactly one week, so I felt we needed this animal safety item.

I keep calling this the "Critter Crawler". I'm not sure why. I think I must like the name Scamper Ramp better.

New picture of Princess (in our backyard)

It took me four attempts, and with each attempt 20-50 pictures to get a couple good pictures of her. It's hard to take a picture of a dog who wants to play! Most of the time she was either moving to fast or trying to play with me, both of which don't make for ideal pictures. I'd hardly call myself a talented photographer, but with digital photography and enough exposures, I got a couple that turned out nicely. To get this picture, I tied Princess to a tree (if we don't tie her or have her in our fenced area, she sometimes bolts after squirrels and birds). Then I called her to me, but I sat out of the leash's reach. She quickly realized she couldn't reach me, so she sat and watched me squeak a ball at her.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Art or Science?

NASA publishes a picture-of-the-day here. I recently discovered it, and it's really cool! Would it be NEAT or NERDY to frame a few of these pictures as "art" in our house? I'm on the fence. I think these pictures are really interesting, and would certainly make for some interesting focal points. But would guests be charmed by the pictures or amazed by my geekiness?

Original? Or is this just a horrible idea?

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Pool Safety

Before we open our pool, I am semi-obsessing over making our pool safe for children and animals. There's the obvious pool safety implements, of course: it is completely fenced with a 5' high fence; the gates entering the pool are self-closing and self-latching; the door to the pool is locked whether or not we're home (unless we're actually on the deck).

But there are less obvious problems that many people don't think of.

Case #1: our door opens onto the back deck to the pool. That's a problem because it's an easy access point for children to the pool. We have two choices: put up removable but secure fencing to block access to the pool (like a big child gate) or put a second (elevated) lock on the door to prevent little ones from opening the door. Here's the fencing:
If these fences are truly secure and easy to install/remove, I think the fence option seems convenient. You just put it up when the pool's not in use and we're not around. However, if not, then we'll install a second lock on the door that's far too high for any child to reach. Probably cheaper, of course, but I'm afraid that it's easier to forget.

Case #2: animals can still get in the pool. Although dogs can swim naturally, I read that if they fall in at night, they can panic. Also, frogs and other critters can get confused in pools and drown trying to find their way out. Of course, where there's a need (or someone manufactures a need!), there's someone to sell me a solution! Well, I uncovered this solution, which I think looks neat. There are several brands that make stairs or ramps for animals, including the Scamper Ramp (shown here):
No idea if these work, but I like that it'll save pets and wildlife who may become confused in a pool.

Currently, we have a fancy-schmancy pool cover that you can walk on! It's a winter cover that can withstand up to 200 lbs of weight. It's not made for adults to walk on it, but rather to support the weight of children or animals who might escaped supervision (children) or get over the fence (animals) to venture around/on the pool. It's stretched taut so that no one can get under the cover, too. I really like this cover, but it's a winter cover. Once we open the pool, it's far too difficult to put on-and-off the pool frequently.

I considered a pool alarm (it goes off if anything penetrates the surface, creating waves). However, the literature indicates that it's prone to false alarms (such as on a windy day) so most users end up disabling the alarm. I think we'll save the money and not put in a pool alarm. I will investigate more permanent safety method that will not be disabled.

So, do you have any opinion on what we should do to ensure our pool is incredibly safe? Have you seen or experienced the animal pool ramps? Have you used the secure fences that are easily removed around pools? Any thoughts on pool safety in general that will help me out to make our pool safe for children and animals? :)

P.S. I'm thinking of creating "pool rules" to discuss with all children before they swim. Things like "no running", "no pushing", insisting that children who can't swim wear PFDs, and all the good stuff I learned in swimming lessons many years ago. Or maybe I should discuss expectations with parents? Although most parents I know are well aware of pool safety, so I might not need to have "rules". Could creating "pool rules" be going too far?