From “The Abundance of Less Lessons in Simple Living from Rural Japan by Andy Couturier

From “The Abundance of Less Lessons in Simple Living from Rural Japan" by Andy Couturier

Pages 264-265

“Sooo..” I begin to ask him, a bit apprehensive, not wanting to be insulting, “Gufu-san, why write all this stuff down?”

Unperturbed, he replies simply, “To make a record. If you don’t record things, you start to lose your sense of the place. It’s also interesting when you talk to other people, or when I want to look up something later. But it’s mostly just to make a record, even if I don’t use the information.”

“Yes, but how do you decide which things to write down?”

“Whatever is possible to write down, I write. How much the bus cost. How much the movie was, or how much the hotel was.”

“But why?” I ask.

“I didn’t have any purpose in doing it.”

No purpose? Perhaps I’ve been too attached to all my own actions being done for a reason. Utilitarianism is so deep in my culture I don’t even notice it. Listening to Gufu it occurs to me that it may not be so good to be always reaching ahead in time. Sitting here with my friend in a farmhouse in the mountains of Japan, I find my way of seeing the world start to deepen and change. All these little, unlooked-at details create the fabric of memory. By writing them down, we are refusing to let the experiences of our lives get subsumed in the tsunami of time, the onrush of the next, and the next, and the next. I think of so many travelers (myself included) zipping from one location to the next, taking photos of scenery or a building. Have I been missing the beautiful in the obvious?

Gufu is showing me--not that he’s trying to show me anything--that the whole world can come alive with these tiny details, ephemera, you might call them. But not just a generalized “world,” but a specific world, an India of a particular time, and, as it happens, an India that is disappearing every day.

Saturday, December 14, 2019

Retrain to get more income to save money.

So the writing of my financial book will have to be revved up. It's got to be a project by itself. I mean it's useful to put down ideas on the blog but to advance on this idea I have to write and revise; then publish. It has to be done well in other words, rather than in the usual distracted fashion that I write when I am on the blog because I can do this because I don't care how the writing is read.

In other words, a book requires more care and craft and effort than simply publishing on a blog although god knows there are many blogs full of crazy wonderful blog posts and I can admire them but not want to spend extra neuronal effort to imitate them.
Nope. I just want my writing shot of endorphin and I am done.
But if I want to do my financial book I have to go beyond the shot of endorphin to long term work which is a tricky matter. I will have to write on a private blog and have a decent idea of what the book will yap about. Or at least I want to be able to write a book that is useful and might help anyone to become debt free as we became debt free.

I think the most useful aspect of my book should be that if you can't get rich in one profession you need to go back to school and retrain. This is hard to do and most of us do not want to do it because school is hard. But that's really the only way I know of to increase your income. It maybe you can do it by simply starting a business but looking at the number of restaurants that are closing in Alberta, starting a business is demanding work and may not pan out.

Other businesses are also dependent on the economy while going back to school and retraining might be the best thing you do when the economy is tanking.

In any case, you can't save money until you have more income. 

Saving money is a habit

So now we are saving money it's become a habit that we do. I simply put the money into a CD and forget about it.
This isn't the best way to save but it is better than leaving it in non-interest bearing accounts which I am also doing as I wait for the stock market to self destruct.

You really don't need to have any reason to save money. I mean sure I call my reason for saving is unexpected shit happening but I have an emergency fund for that so really what is the point of saving and saving? You could die tomorrow and then what?
It doesn't matter. Saving money is a habit. I do it like I brush my teeth. It's just part of my daily routine.

Saving money is helpful for me as I am insecure about money. I mean living as a graduate student for most of your life as hubby and I have done has ensured we would become habitual savers.

We just started out poor and kept living poor even as the income increased and we're still living poor for the most part.

It's like a filter in my head. When I encounter stuff I could buy, the filter comes on and the desirable items vanish.

So I am saving money but what is this money going to be used for and how can it be deployed? No idea.

Sure there is the plan to help younger boy and the plan to do the retirement thing but it's all fuzzy in my head.

It's like I think we are immortal and will live as we live now --- forever.

Maybe a lot of us feel this way until the economy tanks as it is doing.

The downfall of the Alberta economy makes is useful to save money like a bandit.

But again what will I do with the saved money? Lots of advisers are yapping at me to do something with the money but I lack motivation.

I will take a few months to think about it. I mean it took me most of a year to set up the payments into the TD e-Funds for minute monthly amounts. I will just take my time thinking about what to do with the savings.

Savings are productive to have even if the entire system collapses as I think it will eventually. It's nice to have money to keep your illusions that you are safe alive. It's always nice to have money when shit happens like the car breaks down and you don't have to go into debt again. It's a big thing for our family never to go into debt from this point on. We will save up to buy anything and for the most part, I try to keep everyone's expectations about buying stuff to a minimum. This is hard for hubby as he would like to have a normal life but he usually only gets to spend a pile of cash at Christmas and in the holidays we take in the summer. Otherwise we are mostly on a money diet where we save cash.

Saving cash habitually is like what I imagine alcoholism is. You have to keep doing it. You feel oppressed when you aren't doing it. That sort of thing.

Of course, it's boring to be just collecting money which is why I tried to get interested in the stock market. But to date, that hasn't been productive for me. Looking at the stocks I picked and following them over time on a spreadsheet bored me silly as well as made me feel the stock market is rigged and so I stopped checking out stocks.  I don't have any faith the  TD e-Funds and I am just putting money in them to pretend to be virtuous about the investments.

Really all hubby and I are doing for investments is saving money. I imagine we will have this money eroded by inflation but we don't care. We feel that the collected money represents independence from the vagaries of the stock market and the self interest of politicians/megacorporate entities that rig the stock market and economy.

So that is all I have been doing for the past year. Saving money. Not investing. And watching the stock market for the inevitable downfall that is overdue. 

financial plan 2020

Because Albertans are stupid we have the UCP in power and this means basically the stripping away of the public sector for privatization and the enrichment of cronies. It's a sad thing but when people are stupid it is best to simply accept the widespread stupidity and let them find out by themselves that Kenney is no savior and the oil and gas industry is ripping us off. As they have been from the very beginning.

It's a nice day outside and the birds on my crab apple tree are becoming more various as it appears the crab apples which I always thought as pretty useless are actually a food source for many of them. Even the rabbits seem to eat the fallen fruit.  I am therefore glad that the second crab apple tree is coming up and producing fruit. 

In general I haven't done much in the garden but I am becoming more interested now. It may be that next summer I begin to set up the vegetable garden that I have successfully put off for years due to family illness.

I spent most of today looking at YouTube videos of such gardens and it appears you can actually grow a ton of vegetables right in your front and back yards. If I do rip up the jungle in the backyard and put in some vegetables this means I will need to be in good shape to do all the digging and planting. So growing vegetables and fruits will be something that benefits my health as well as my pocket book.

Since I haven't written anything for a while about financial stuff I will take a few minutes here to write a post. Before we became debt free it was hard to save money on one salary. So really we only have spare money now. What do I do with the spare money? Part of it is being saved to help younger boy with his education costs which will be increasing.

The rest of the money is just saved. I don't still have a plan. Which is why it is kind of useful for me to sit here and write up a plan.

So the steps of the plan would be:

1) Get out of debt (done).
2) Save a slush fund for emergencies (done).
3) Investment money (currently in GICs or worse-in the process).
4) Branch out investments (2020).

I mean we are buying minute amounts of TD e-funds but really nothing is happening there and I am disappointed with the stock market.

What I really want to do is simply collect money for the retirement thing.

5) Retirement money

I also want to get the will done.

6) Will and other stuff with the lawyer.

I have chosen a lawyer and just need to make an appointment and get it done.

This is a very simple plan for 2020.

Mind you none of this would have been possible until we got out of debt. How did we get out of debt? You know it's not just us who helped. My family helped. Hubby had help from his family. We didn't do it alone.

But certainly we had to stop indulging ourselves. And we weren't indulgent to begin with. Now unfortunately, I feel guilty when I do buy something. It's so ingrained in me that I can't buy stuff that I feel guilty if I do buy stuff--even a lunch out.

What was this post about? A plan which will usefully deploy savings.  We started out with debt. We  got out of debt with the help of family. Now we can start to save for other purposes such as younger boy's education and also for retirement.  We should have done the RESPs for younger boy and older boy but we didn't so there you go. It's too late now. We just have to save as we did before.

As for the investments, I'm pretty unnerved by the irrational exuberance of the stock market and I am staying out. Sure this might be an opportunity lost but the goal is to save and increase, not play the stock market casino and lose.

listening to Cher

Younger boy is writing yet another final exam. It's been a long push. His last final is on Tuesday.
You think that your work with kids end when they become adults but it never ends.
Outside the snow is peeling it's face off the trees. The milky sky is leaking bits of wet. The rabbits are running around seeking I don't know what.
I am doing nothing. I was going to make meals for today but all I ended up doing was taking out chicken breast from the freezer to defrost. I am just listening to Cher who seems to be indestructible.
She's also in amazing good health from this video. I imagine she works out every day.
She's really a hard worker. I shall follow her path. She is now 73 years old!!!

She works ‘twice as hard’ in the gym

Walking in 5-inch heels is difficult enough, but imagine strutting around a huge stage in them while singing and dancing at 73. While Cher makes being insanely fit look easy, she works hard to maintain her physique. She told Hello! Magazine that she works out five days per week with a trainer who doesn’t let her “play the age card.”
She admitted to E! Online in 2010, though, that “you have to work twice as hard” and “be in the gym all the time” as you get older. Oh, and did we mention she can hold a five-minute plank?

Cher - Woman's World [OFFICIAL HD MUSIC VIDEO]

Friday, December 13, 2019


Of course I have not started to exercise yet. The day has been consumed as a wafer in the mouth in small indispensables. I have done what I needed to do to feed folks. I have washed the clothes and laid the beds out like holy relics with fresh linens. I have watched the sky for symbols of a new language. I have preached only to myself and not ventured on the farmlands  of social media. I have left that country behind and only now and then do I throw a javelin of news to these territories. In the silence in the house there is peace and troubles for no life is empty of stresses. I put the words down here in the jigsaw puzzle of sieving solids out of the sea of time. I won't know the meaning of any of this. It's just a record. I put the days down and lay them out like bodies killed after each experience.

Who knows the worth of a life? Who knows when we will be taken? What were we here to do other than what I have done which is tried to love as many as I could and then written of them-these ordinary miscellaneous people floating by me in their own bubbles of isolation, fear, pain and joy?

Life is full of moments. I have captured as many of them as I could for no other reason other than I could do this.

I could take words and shape them to the form I wanted. My will was strong enough to do this. I could experiment here every chance I got to do the work of a project which is what? The record of time I have experienced. I have shaped this blog for my own needs and wants. Not to show the sharpness and heft of the knife of my skill but simply to use the digging implement of my mind to make holes in the ground of reality through which I fell.

Holes in reality are everywhere. We plaster them up and fill them with our illusions but the reality is not to be kept intact for we aren't immortal. We die. So when one of us sickens or one of us dies--there is another hole. And no matter how many words I use and no matter how many lines I write there can't be the repair of these wave-fronts of disaster. Each of us will experience them. And how to get through them? I write through them.

Here is a stress point. Here is the digging implement. I dig a hole and fall through. I make myself face the reality that is all illusions. We don't have any homeostasis.
Even our bodies betray us. The illusions of good health are lost daily.
We travel to the far country on a boat that fails us. We sink.
And yet here I am repairing the hole that is before me. I repair and repair until one day I can't fix the hole in reality. I can't mend what is. I stand by the hole and I fall through. It's like this in writing and in real life. You must fall through.
The landing to the other side must happen.
You must face what is.
Somewhere at the bottom there is  a way to recapture agency and hope.
But you first must fall through the real and see none of it is real. It's all illusions layer upon layer we have formed to ensure we hide away from our mortality.
So face this.
It's a matter of maturity  and truth.

and I pick it up

and I told myself
I don't need to think about tomorrow
I simply have to think about today
this hour even or this second
I don't have to worry about the coming darkness
I can be brave      I reassure myself this is indeed possible
others have done what I am doing
you don't have to be unique
suffering is universal
I tell myself

these are the hours before the ship sinks
before the ocean slams us into debris
these are the moments of predestined disaster
I tell the cells of their clockworks      how they have run amok
I tell the cells to go back to organization
and stay in their places    I tell them please
don't do their travel and instead be who they once were
I look for the past of ordinary function    good health
happiness   and hopes     those illusions
and I told myself

I could walk in a straight line 
without being distracted by disease
I could do this
hand in hand we can go together to where
the disaster waits for us   I know it's happened before
to others          and these families were destroyed
and reformatted themselves as intact in some broken way
I know all of this but it doesn't help
somewhere in the future a cry comes to me
it's my heart      I walk towards it   and I pick it up 

how does an organ cry?
how do the cells run away from their placements in the body?
how do the bodies accept the invasions of their own cells?
how do we endure all of this?    where is the end of pain?
where is the harbor where I can land both of us?
am I able to sit calmly         and wait for the blows to fall?
what is the meaning of it all?      illusions are studding the mind
here is the body laid out and waiting        and here in my hands
is the crying organ     that I am walking towards   in the future 
and I pick it up    I have agency over my life   and I told myself

R.E.M. - Losing My Religion (Official Music Video)

Recuerdo de Frida Kahlo

Recuerdo de Frida Kahlo


I made a chicken pot pie and a lasagna today. There are leftovers. I will think about the food for tomorrow soon. I have done the laundry for the most part. Sure I could be cleaning the floors but I don't want to do it.
I read part of a book on how much we don't know but pretend we know and it felt like something I should have known all along. It's pretty clear to me I am  ignorant about a whole pile of stuff.
I will try to learn as much as I can about why we don't know what we think we know. The book is dense and I get distracted.
I saw a pileated woodpecker of a tiny size eating the crab apple. Drat the bird. As soon as I could get my cell phone camera ready it was gone.
The first woodpecker of that minute size I have ever seen too.
The rabbits are absent still. I begin to worry that the coyotes have eaten them.

I will focus. There is a lot to do. I have to make a small journey with Sue on Tuesday. It's always at the last minute for our family. We don't do long term planning well. When I get back I have all the minutiae of the to do list that waits for me. As usual it's left to the Christmas season to get through it all.

Older boy is home. He will be here for a bit before going back to his apprenticeship. Younger boy is deep in the thickets of final exams in year 2 of computing science. It's  way harder than NAIT. I don't remember university being this tough but of course it must have been.

I did not go outside today. Instead I did the chores and made food; washed clothes and did the hobbit routine inside the house. Almost I could imagine that I could stay inside forever.

Because of family sickness I am getting to face uncertainty. It sits on my left shoulder and whispers about calamity. It shoves me about when I am walking and topples my composure. It asks for favors that I am unwilling to bestow. Uncertainty. Uncertainty. Uncertainty.  Although I never realized it before life is like a small boat and storms are everywhere. Will we make it to the final shore? One minute you are sailing gaily on a calm ocean of time with the future spread out like a tablecloth and you about to picnic on the endless hours. Now it is like a stormy sea of time with no time for rest or peace. You simply put one foot in front of the other and keep going. It's like that. 

Thursday, December 12, 2019

now of course

The snow was especially pretty today. The shrubs were festooned in white bandages and wrapped in cellophane of ice. There were fir boughs pregnant bellies of green and white. Wherever I went the snow was  a crunching cereal bowl of white milky ice and there were troughs of dirt in between the sea of white. I wished for a sunny day but it was lost in the haze and glare of white.
We had some respite from the snow as I shoveled it away. I watched the sky but there were no remaining owed debts being paid in snowfall. I wished for a warm summer day but only the poplars answered in white washed planks glowing in the light.
Everywhere I searched for life in Siberia and only the magpies tugged at the shriveled breasts of the crab apples. They pulled at them and ate as much as they wished. The rabbit that visited a few days ago to show me his white fur coat no longer comes and the small hole he dug under the fir tree remains empty of his presence. Where could he be keeping warm? Sometimes surely he will feed on the grass flattened under the ice pack? The deliberations of his witness will be later when the sun comes back out to clean the back garden of the monstrous suffocating mask of ice.
But now only the Christmas lights seem to cheer up the monotony of winter landscapes hard and unacceptable. The lights sprinkle color and bloom on the flat surfaces of the land where before there was green and flowers.
Now of course there is the stripping away of the summer paints to give me the delicate tracery of the shrubs, the blocks of ice on the garbage cans, the slide of the garden door on the packed back lane full of stones and silence.
Now of course there is no time to think of flowers and growth but simply to sit in the still room of winter and wish for light.

simple things

I polish the soul
that untidy bit of metal
in the mud of the body
that I have placed
like a medal on the flesh

I polish the soul
so that it might shine
in the dirty body that sags and flabs
I make it sparkle like a youthful feature
in a sea of ancient crone items

I wished for another time
when things were simpler
when uncertainty wasn't my middle finger
in the hand of time
I wished for the childhood that is long gone

when everything was intact
I wished for constancy and yet was there ever
a time when we had peace?      the arrows fly into the body
the spirit leaks out of the body that is punctured
I wanted a place of silence and here is chaos

I polish the soul
and uncertainty like a sea
rises up about my knees     and I reach for the clouds
that are bandaged in the net of branches that gown
in snow        I wished for certainty but now there is a wilderness

I polish the soul
that bit of metal inserted into the body
and I think back on the past where things were not
grievous   when all I had to lose were small things
like a job     or a bit of money     simple things

R.E.M. - Losing My Religion (Official Music Video)

will you read the book of hours?

and here is the door
yet again
what will you do now?
will you hide away and whimper
like a child
wishing for survival?

or will you march to the door
and go through? 
will you face uncertainty?
will you read the book of hours?
will you learn the way of all who die?
will you be strong enough?

here is the chance and opportunity
you avoided when your mother died
you ran away from death and now
here again is the luck of the draw
the sudden descent into chaos
here is the way to growth

I take you by the hand
I tell you that you can do it
I hiss at all those who tell you 
that you must be obedient
I tell you that the survivors
do not obey their doctors

I tell you secrets
the lives of those who were lost
were those who obeyed and did not question
I teach you how to refuse their demands
I ask you to go over their heads
and make your own path to the end of time

I don't tell you what you must do
only that I will stand by you
and no one will come to you with failures
no one will touch you when you are here with me
I will be your sister who understands
that the door is open     and yet   it is not time to enter that room

R.E.M. - Losing My Religion (Official Music Video)

These are the times of spills and terror.

Since I stopped looking at social media for people to communicate with I have been talking more with real human beings like my family members. This is the best way of being in the world for me. It's nice to talk to online people but you simply don't get the complexity of real life with online personas.
I have not deleted my Twitter and Facebook accounts because there may be a need in the future to use them but I don't think I will waste my time there when I do not need to use social media for my needs right now.
Right now I will focus on real human beings. There are sick people in the family who need my attention.
I also have an interest in doing the walking again. When I was walking 3 hours per day I was very fit. Of course this was a bit obsessive walking three hours per day but at least I was able to go hiking in the summers when I was doing this much exercise.
Now I am doing no walking and I am becoming like a rug on the floor. So that is an area to work on.

I pull the threads out of the rug of conformity and routine. I trash the days and move to uncertainty. Life is very placid but I will shake it up. I begin slowly with small disturbances and I think about the future which is coming. I prepare for it. The world is all about disasters and the children are marching. You know there is trouble when the children sense the upheavals and turn upon the adults who are staid and confused. The children know the future is doomed and so they march. Meanwhile the so called adults rant and rave as the Trump guy does in his field of dreams. You see the way it is in the election of doubtful people to the top dog positions. Here is no better. We have a teacher who does childish pranks as a matter of course. It's like we have no intelligent people in power and so we must depend on the children to lead us out of the maze of horrors. Who will these children be?

The first step to reality is to get off artificial reality of social media and enter real life with all its difficulties and challenges; face the uncertainties and endings. Do what you can to reach into courageous sectors of your brain. Meet the uncertainties. Don't give into the stupidity and cowardice of those in the halls of professionals. Instead shape the future with your own decisions. These are the times of spills and terror. 

I take the first steps to uncertainty. I move out of the artificial and into the real. I stand with those who are losing their lives. I write about the disasters. And I do not turn away from the sorrows.  No. I do not turn away. I reformat the stories for the record I wish to make. I collect the data. And I publish the stories. Here. And I tell the uncertainty that I am prepared for it. I am strong enough.


Dealing with uncertainty is difficult but you can train yourself to become more used to it. Do a little bit of uncertainty every day and work on your feelings of discomfort.
One thing is certain. Life is uncertain. What happens routinely will be disrupted. Cells don't march into the future in a prescribed fashion and you have to watch them become deranged. Life has accidents. You lose money on a sure thing. Your kid is sick. The parents die. Then you get old and begin to go downhill. It's a wonder we get up every day to deal with the accidental nature of time.

So here I am. I am away from social media. I don't rant much. I sit in the pond of family like a goldfish and swim around. I read books about cancer and uncertainty. I wonder about the limits of learning and find out we can't get the full picture of anything. I go through sociological books. I ponder on the outskirts of everything. It's all really about uncertainty and how we try to corral chaos with information blocks.

Are there any sure things? I don't think so.  I mean look just what happened today. The Scheer guy was discovered to be paying for his kids' private education (elitism much?) out of Conservative donor money. Not nice. And he resigned lickety split. It seems that the Conservatives tolerate every sin except using their money for the private school stuff. It's OK to use public money for private school subsidy but not the party monies.

Anyway so the Scheer guy resignation simply is an indication of the uncertainty of everything. You think you can get help from the health care system and you find out it's a bunch of doctors who-when faced with complexity will take the easy way out. You think the experts would do the sensible thing when confronted say with a clinical trial requirement and find out nope, they will do whatever keeps their liability to the lowest level. See patients and citizens aren't significant for these folks -it's their own skin in the game which matters.

So uncertainty.  Deal with it with all the resources at your disposal because you can't really do much about bureaucracies except report on them to the public which is better than staying silent.

In this blog I do report on what I see and most of it is bad. The UCP government is a self serving one. The Conservatives federally are morally bankrupted and corrupt. The Liberal party is useless except they haven't gone Trump yet. The politicians are just the images we want to see while the real power lies in corporate entities like CAPP. Democracy itself is broken.

But there you go. We have uncertainty for sure. I'm interested in managing it. I sit in my office and write a few lines and think about the failures in the society that are simply integral now in Alberta -the sense that the entire system is corrupted and lost.  But there you go. It's the way it is. People accept and revel in the stupidity of their election choices. I sit in a room and wonder if they understand that they have taken an uncertain situation in Alberta and made it catastrophically more uncertain. Maybe citizens don't care. Certainly I see the problems and there isn't much one can do about it other than write about it.

Uncertainty for citizens can only be solved by money. You can insulate yourself with money. You can shore up the home with money. That's about all you can do. Even with money you can't always solve the disastrous purge that is coming.

If it was just climate change that we had as a challenge it would be one thing. But we have fascism, we have corporate control of political parties, we have inverted totalitarianism, we have stupid citizens and we have failures in ethics everywhere. We're pretty screwed. But uncertainty. We have this every single day and we must learn to deal with it as best we can because our election choice in Alberta has simply increased the amount of uncertainty we will face. 

Wednesday, December 11, 2019

Lace and ice outside.

It is a very pretty scene outside. All the trees are penciled in snow. There is an expectant feeling as if the sky is a big egg about to hatch new life. I expect yet more snow.
I haven't written very much as I have been working on other projects. I will spend a few minutes yapping here as I do not want to read just yet. We had some porridge that felt like gruel and I have almost finished the condensed milk I use to dress it up. The laundry is drying. I will fold and put the dry clothes away and pack for the trips that are coming up. My brother is coming from the USA to spend some time with my dad. Then the niece in Calgary is going to be picked up by my brother to go for the Christmas parties and such like. Then they return to Calgary to go home for holidays. We aren't going anywhere for Christmas this year which is a bonus for me as I do not like to travel.
In fact, I could sit like a rock in the shoreline of time and become fixed in place.
I have been successful in staying off social media which has helped the stasis presently in place. I haven't stayed off news which is washed over me like a great sea of information that I haven't bothered to sieve through.
Nope. I have been good.
For the most part I have read the library books which have been helpful in getting me to calm.
Some of us buy stuff and some of us read.
I used to do both.
Now I just read and think.
It's the most important chores of my day.
Once I get through reading and thinking I order more books. One must extend out roots to the world when one reads or you get pot bound.
Speaking of pots, I got rid of some of my plants by hard heartedly dumping them outside on the garden beds. I can't have them sitting like fossils slowly dying so I dumped them for extinction.

Soon it will be Christmas. I will do as little as possible.

Lace and ice outside. And inside the head a slow determination to stay intact in the world which eroding, always eroding at the shoreline where I am sitting like a rock or boulder surrounded by the sea. 


Just got up and making a hot cup of tea for breakfast/lunch.
It's snowing outside making new pages of white for stepping on and clean up.
The silence in the house is overwhelming.
I will do a bit of laundry after the meal of toast and cheese.
I want to make  a small pot pie and use up the chicken I roasted but if that doesn't happen I will simply make chicken sandwiches with pita bread.

As the school year comes to an end it's useful to contemplate the next year and what will be the goals for the next year.
I have a whole pile of stuff to do that is on my to do list but I can't fret about this list now.
Work on chores.

Such small steps to the end of the requirements of a life.

Going slow happens naturally to me.
I don't fret about the fast lane as I am now off it.
I simply relax, drink my tea and read.

Tuesday, December 10, 2019

Being present to your life and others

The critical thing to remember is that what cannot be done in one day can be spread out over many days and the work can be distributed to the family. This is the purpose of family -so when there are no supports or helps you can rely on the family.
It is difficult when family itself is sick and what little you can do is to be present.
Being present is hard as well because you have to face troubles when it is easier to go shop or do nothing.
Watching Netflix. Going on social media. Not being present. These are all ways to avoid the facts of real life.
But once you stop avoiding the difficulties, you can absorb it slowly like a day to day insult of your mind, heart and soul.
You can take the troubles.
And you can write about them.
Once you get to the place where you see the troubles in all their magnificence you can become overwhelmed.
Break it all down.
And put it into words so that you can digest these problems.

When I am especially ready to freak out, I take a deep breath and I sit here in my pool of words and I breathe in and out slowly as if I was starved for oxygen.

Family is all there is in the end. You have to ensure that web is healthy and not stressed. You have to be present.

I was not present at my mother's death. It's been something inside that has bothered me. Why was I so cowardly?

Now I must be present.
I must be brave.
I must think of others.
I mustn't go avoiding the problems that are here like a swarm of bees buzzing about me. I must be present.
I must be present.
Not avoiding the problems.
But present.

Being present to your life and others isn't like baking, working or doing really. It's letting others lead you to where they need to go, in whatever way they need to do their lives and you have to surrender control to them. When people  are sick you have to give them control and you have to just be present without adding to the shit.

A lot of the waste of time events like shopping, buying junk online, watching movies can be entirely due to the fact that you do not want to be present for the shit that happens in the lives others. You want to be exempted from this shit. You don't want to be present when people sicken and die. You want to pretend that no one dies. You want to avoid this crater that becomes an active volcano.

But this is unrealistic. You have to face that any of us can drop dead at any time. It's like this for our species. We know we will die and yet we keep trying to avoid our knowing.

If I sit here and write every day maybe I will get more comfortable with the life cycle that we are all going to experience. Maybe I will get to know death. 

Monday, December 9, 2019


Real life is not social media life. In other words, the people I met on social media weren't the people I was dealing with in real life. I forgot this.
I feel that real life is where I should be and real life is full of problems that cannot be solved by social media. Real life is the sea and social media is the rain.

So in order to face real life I got off social media. It's a time waster and it's changing the way I use my head. I cannot read as much as I used to because of the training of short bursts of attention for social media.

A social media detox isn't enough. I had to leave it entirely.

When the real world is faced, you need real people. I now go to real people like my brothers to talk over things that are troubling me. They were an untapped resource while I dealt with the illness all around me.

Now I can call them and talk about the problems I am facing which are the problems other people are facing that I have to stay calm and deal with.

I begin every day trying to stay  calm and not useless.
It's difficult.
Let me be calm. 

This and That - Monday December 9, 2019

Making and planning meals is very troublesome. Imagine if we were a species that was able to inhale our food or simply take it in on all skin surfaces.
I have a couple of pork chops. I could make that for supper.
I also have some sausages.
I don't really want to make them as they aren't as tasty as they could be.
I will think about the meals.
I don't want to go out shopping as we have enough food in the house.
I even have wontons to make for lunch.

Since I went off social media and took the time to think about life it's been calmer. I don't waste time on issues that will be resolved by politicians one way or another.
I've let go of other peoples' problems and I now focus on family problems of which illness is the major feature.
Illness is not being well.
It's also a matter of refusing to face the life cycle.
Death is inevitable and it's unpleasant but has to be faced.
Not facing death and preparing for it leaves a mess for others.

Right now I will focus on the messes that are everywhere around me that I am able to fix.

But  not all of life is to be spent on illness, death and fixing problems.
Some of it can be spent on seeing the beautiful world. 

Thursday, December 5, 2019

slow and steady

I have marinated the whole chicken just now with olive oil, salt, pepper, seasonings, onion, celery and I forgot the garlic. Will add later. Now to let it sit in the fridge.
It's nice out and the sun is washing her golden hands in the snow so that it melts. Hopefully this trend will continue.
I am reading today.
I made a strong cup of tea that I will soon add to as I am almost done it.
Slow and steady is how I will be from this point on. I haven't looked much as the news as it is uniformly bad and I have to focus on other more important stuff like the corporate taxes and billing.
I will work on my notes today.

Once I have made a dent in the notes, I will roast the chicken. It is always useful to have a bit of cooked chicken for a pot pie and today's meal will be chicken legs and boiled potatoes/veggies. 

Tuesday, December 3, 2019

strawberries and blueberry jam

I made a strong cup of tea. It's almost finished.
I have decided to make a shepherd's pie with the last of the cheese. I should  have bought more cheese this morning when I got groceries but there you are.
It's nice out and I will focus on reading today.
I was going to make a banana loaf but it will wait.
Lunch is going to be outside.

As I have now stepped out of the wrestling ring of social media time unfolds like a napkin on the table. It's calm and relaxing. I will do some cleaning of the office today and work on notes. I haven't bought any thing for Christmas but that's fine. These things will be taken care of later.

This year dad is doing a big party and this will be the main event of the season. We will do some small get togethers at my place. I have decided to make fruit and veggie trays with a fewer assortment of treats as I am fat.

I didn't get to do the walk today as I am just getting up out of my morning daze. I did however buy a ton of strawberries. They were expensive but I expect they will go fast and it's such a luxury to get these sweet berries in winter. It's decadent. I will serve them every day until they are gone. Besides the strawberries I got some of the expensive blueberry jam as I had wanted to buy it before but always forgot. I will use  a small spoonful on my bread as a treat.

Luxuries are small delicacies that make you happy. I will finish my tea and get going on notes. 

Monday, December 2, 2019

The changes would alter rates at which doctors can bill, fees for what are known as complex care plans, and changes to mandatory drivers' medicals for those aged 74 or older. "I think the first thing that goes through my mind is that this is a blatant and horrible attack on primary care," said Jillian Ratti, a Calgary-based physician. "This appears very much as a cynical attempt to divide physicians right before negotiations, and I'm disgusted by that, frankly."

This is a problem but no one cares in government:

Doctors sound alarm about Alberta billing changes

83% Upvoted
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level 1
23 points·9 hours ago
Where do these brainiacs think a complex care patient is going to end up if they aren't getting want they want/need from their primary care physician?
level 2
26 points·9 hours ago·edited 9 hours ago
politicians aren't able to think beyond their 4 year term. let the next generation deal with the consequences. last time I checked, a hospital stay for a single patient costs the system $2000-3000 a day.
level 3
18 points·9 hours ago
I would also add here that I don't think the average citizen understands the labyrinthian complexity of treating patients with multiple comorbidities, POAs, personal directives, competing family interests, and financial concerns.
It is a massive investment from not only the physician but all the supporting disciplines as well.
level 1
Huge cuts coming to doctors in Alberta, particularly family doctors . Back-of-the-envelope calculations show about a 30% pay cut for family doctors, likely more for those that work rurally. I expect 5-10 minute single visit appointments will become the norm where doctors have to cram in 50 patients a day, similar to the system they have in BC where there are essentially no doctors taking on patients.
level 2
13 points·8 hours ago
It’s ridiculous, Alberta is going to lose so many young doctors because of this.
level 3
As a younger citizen you just read my mind. I'm getting my medical school dream ready and immediately mentally moved away from practicing here.
level 2
13 points·10 hours ago
Wait what, I thought 5-10 minute visits were the norm in Calgary... My experiences were typically "can't book appointment the same week, 4h wait for a walk-in unless you got there before the clinic opened." Once you got in for your appointment, there was a really good chance the doctor would just say "here's your prescription, take this until you feel better, okay I'm done." Then they would seem confused when I wanted to ask them questions and see what my options were if I didn't want to take medication.
level 3
21 points·10 hours ago·edited 9 hours ago
There's definitely some clinics that are like that here but you'll also find doctors here willing to spend time with patients addressing multiple issues. A typical appointment is 15 minutes but appointments 20-45 minutes are regular occurrences at family practices, particularly with mental health and complex patients. This change heavily penalizes the doctors who spend time with their patients and practice comprehensively.
Across the border in BC, finding a family doctor is nearly impossible so a large portion of the population gets their care at walk-in clinics where they rush you out 2-3 minutes into an appointment. Appointment slots are literally 5-10 minutes including paperwork time for the doctors.
level 4
6 points·8 hours ago
Yes, when I was up in Fort St. John, the only clinic that did walk ins & accepting new patients, the standard appointment time was 7 minutes and a double appointment was 15 minutes. They typically didn't like to schedule you longer than 15 minutes even with your family doctor. BUT the clinic next door was minimum 15 minute appointments and you could book a 30 minute appointment, but you couldn't get in with that clinic as they have been "full" for many years.
level 3
5 points·9 hours ago
Not sure where you are going. With my Dr, I can call and get a same day or next day appt no problem. And they sit and talk with me up to 15 mins or longer.
level 4
3 points·9 hours ago
Well, I don't know if you got lucky, I got unlucky, or you just had a doctor for so long. I do find there are quite a few family doctors who haven't taken on new patients in 15+ years that give really high quality of care compared to many of the "newer" doctors. Now, I don't have a big sample size, so that's just anecdotal to me.
level 3
6 points·8 hours ago
Calgary has a surplus of family doctors. It’s so easy to get another doctor if you find the wait times bad or don’t like how they practice.
level 4
2 points·7 hours ago
Then I guess it was my fault for not looking around more.
level 5
4 points·7 hours ago
I’d recommend it! I came from a smaller centre so was blown away at how easy it was to find a doctor when I moved to another part of the city.
level 5
Just in case you want to make a change, this website from AHS has all doctors that are taking new patients in Alberta and you can filter by location:
level 4
to play devil's advocate: if there's a surplus of doctors then perhaps that's their justification for lowering pay.
level 5
1 point·3 hours ago
Isn’t their pay already lowered as a result of lower patient loads?
level 2
4 points·4 hours ago
and forced rural employment for new doctors.
level 2
Can you share those calculations
level 1
If you live in Calgary and believe any of the UCP's measures will have a happy ending for you and your family, you have not been paying attention.
level 2
17 points·10 hours ago
Silly Alberta, having kids and an average life expectancy is for the wealthy don'tcha know!
level 3
-33 points·10 hours ago(1 child)
level 1
Ah, now they're concerned. When other allied health were notified of cuts, they stayed silent. Now they want to sound the alarm. The more stand up against Kenny, the better, I suppose. Everyone is affected and things will only get worse before they get better.
level 2
There’s definitely truth to what you’re saying. But maybe now that the docs are affected and complaining, people will start listening to all healthcare workers.
level 2
9 points·8 hours ago
They were concerned before because the allied health cuts make their lives worse too.
level 1
13 points·8 hours ago
It seems some Albertans have a short memory as to how bad our GP problem was 15 years ago, get ready to go back to future.
The UCP motto: "Keeping our citizens weak by keeping them sick and stupid." All hail Kenney Jong-Un, oh glorious leader.
level 1
5 points·10 hours ago
I don't agree with a race to the bottom with wages just because it looks like one group of people earn too much compared to others... but give me a beak. The entire article has nothing to suggest what doctors/physicians would be happy with any loss of wages. Just argue that patients come first and ignore the cost. We clearly have a problem in most of Canada were there isn't enough funding to provide proper and timely care to everyone. Something has to change and personally I'd like to see more access to the education required so we have more doctors in the country. Even if they wanted to pump more money into the system, with a shortage of qualified doctor's in the country, we will just get a declining return on investment.
level 2
19 points·9 hours ago·edited 5 hours ago
In 2016, doctors agreed to a pay cut and then in subsequent years they agreed to no increases. Alberta has been relatively sheltered from the effects of a shortage since the province has treated doctors well. There are (might change now) hundreds of family doctors taking on patients which is unheard of in many places in Canada.
level 3
Not to mention Trudeau’s incorporation tax changes. This negatively doctors ability to save money in the corporation for retirement.
level 2
1 point·8 hours ago
We need more people in rural areas, cities are fine. More medical students by lowering standards won’t help that unless you can target those who will move back (but it’s a problem in a lot of fields).
level 3
8 points·7 hours ago
"lowering standards" is not helpful verbage. There are a lot of people who meet the requirement for medical studies but simply can't get in due to the limited number of spots creating a competitive process to get in. And having more people graduate from medical school will help. It's not like every new space you open up will directly be exported to another country upon graduation. Also, there are lots of other policies than can be used to discourage people simply going to medical school in Canada to go work in another country.
Sure, the rural issue is a lot harder to solve than simply more doctors, but having more people trained and able to work as a doctor is necessary as part of the solution. That or we open the doors back up to doctors from other countries (eg. South Africa) and have them move to rural locations.
level 4
7 points·7 hours ago
We’d need funding for more residency spots as well, and currently match rates are decreasing.
Law schools tried this and it didn’t help at all, just increased competition in desirable locations.
level 5
1 point·6 hours ago
that is one unfortunate problem that is very widespread. But, my theory is that by increasing the competition in desirable areas, service can be provided at a lower cost. Now, I would like to "pretend" that those cost savings would be put toward incentives to get people into less desirable areas... but knowing government they'd probably just say "oh we can spend less since it costs less" and not improve the quality of service. i.e. the main argument against a two tiered system.
level 6
I think you might be talking past each other here - it isn't economic competition that's being referenced in /u/Azanri's post (that is, how having many doctors providing services might affect a market), but rather competition for residency placements through CaRMS.
level 7
1 point·3 hours ago
Plus a lot of people straight up don’t want to work in rural areas. Unless we can find a way to target those who do just adding more med students won’t help.
level 1
I’m betting a good number of GPs will be moving their offices in the near future to get better lease rates.


'My biggest fear is people falling through the cracks': Doctors sound alarm about proposed billing changes

Alberta government proposing changing regulations around doctor billing, complex care

Kate Bisby, left, and Jillian Ratti are Calgary-based family physicians who protested cuts to public service outside of the Westin Calgary Airport hotel on Saturday. (Anis Heydari/CBC)
The "severity" of proposed provincial changes to the way doctors schedule, bill, and interact with their patients has prompted outcry from some Alberta physicians.
The changes would alter rates at which doctors can bill, fees for what are known as complex care plans, and changes to mandatory drivers' medicals for those aged 74 or older.
"I think the first thing that goes through my mind is that this is a blatant and horrible attack on primary care," said Jillian Ratti, a Calgary-based physician. "This appears very much as a cynical attempt to divide physicians right before negotiations, and I'm disgusted by that, frankly."
The Alberta Medical Association (AMA) was informed of the changes on Nov. 14, and given until Dec. 20 to provide a response to the government. In a letter sent to AMA members, president Christine Molnar said the board had "deep concerns" about the changes.
"These proposals have a significant potential for patient harm," Molnar said. "They are directly against the platform that the government ran on." 
The Alberta Medical Association has requested feedback from its members while it formulates a response to a collection of proposals from the Alberta government, including changes related to how doctors bill for patient visits. (CBC)
"Additionally, some of the proposed cuts and ones we're quite concerned about will greatly impact adversely rural care," Molnar said. "These cuts are targeting rural Alberta."
Steve Buick, a spokesperson for Health Minister Tyler Shandro, wrote in a statement that the proposed changes would help to get costs in line.
"Alberta is a great place for doctors to work and nothing in our proposals will change that," he wrote. "We spend $5.4 billion a year on physicians. Our spending is out of line with other provinces and we need to make some modest reductions."
"These aren't modest reductions. But the way they've targeted these reductions is going to have an adverse outcome," Molnar said. "We've talked to them about the need for pursuing financial sustainability and quality care. You can do both if we work together."

Billing changes

The Alberta government has proposed changes that will see doctors paid the same for a 25-minute visit as they are for a 15-minute visit. It is not yet clear what doctors would be paid for sessions lasting more than 25 minutes.
Dr. Kathleen Moncrieff, a family physician who works in northeast Calgary, said this will affect doctor-patient interactions.
"Right now, the way we bill in this province, there's a set amount for a family physician visit that's 15 minutes or less," she said. "But if it's longer than 15 minutes, you essentially bill more for each additional 10 minutes."
This isn't just cutting our salaries. This is cutting what we need to do to run our clinic.- Kathleen Moncrieff, Calgary family physician
Visits that last 15 minutes or less are fine for addressing straightforward needs, such as diagnosing a urinary tract infection or refilling a birth control prescription, Moncrieff said. 
But many of Moncrieff's patients have multiple health complaints or illnesses, requiring a longer time slot.
"It doesn't make sense for me to say, I have 15 minutes to talk to you about your diabetes, and I have 15 minutes in two weeks to talk to you about your blood pressure or your asthma," she said. "Because you are a person, you're not a collection of illnesses or a collection of body systems."
Kathleen Moncrieff, a doctor based in Calgary, said she fears proposed changes introduced by the Alberta government will lead to sick residents falling through the cracks. (Submitted)
As doctors at community medical practices are not employees of the government, they essentially function like independent contractors or business owners, Moncrieff said. Doctors have to cover the cost of running a clinic: from paying office assistants and nurses, to rent, supplies and other overhead. 
"This isn't just cutting our salaries. This is cutting what we need to do to run our clinic. The government doesn't pay for these things," Moncrieff said. "So the fact that we have had these billing codes that let us bill for the amount of time we take with a patient is what allows us to bring in the income that keeps our clinic running."

Complex care

The province is also proposing cutting funding for complex care plans, a billing system that supports patients with complex or chronic conditions.
A person with diagnoses of diabetes, high blood pressure, and chronic pulmonary disease – and who is potentially quitting smoking and dealing with depression and anxiety – is a typical example of a patient who would fall under this designation, Moncrieff said.
Moncrieff said such visits allow for doctors to schedule long, involved visits with patients, family members and nurses to develop a plan to improve and maintain health.
"We'll sit together, go through all of their illnesses, go through all of their medications, go through all of their goals and really come up with a plan collaboratively," she said.
Without specific funding for such relationships, Moncrieff said she is concerned patients' needs will not be met.
"As physicians, we'll try to do our best … but my concern is, economically, we won't be able to take the time that we have been taking because we need to bill enough to keep our clinics open," she said. "People's concerns will be missed, people's conditions won't be managed as well as they can be. 
"Ultimately, it will lead to more complications from illnesses, more emergency visits, more hospital stays, which leads to worse health outcomes and also doesn't lead to any cost savings."

Mandatory drivers' medicals

Under Alberta Transportation guidelines, a driver must pass a medical exam to keep their licence at age 75, age 80, and every two years after age 80. 
Those evaluations test vision, hearing, cognitive ability and overall health of these individuals. 
Currently, doctors in Alberta are allowed to bill the government for those exams, but that would change under proposed regulation.
"The government is proposing cutting funding for that entirely, so that senior citizens would have to pay out-of-pocket for those drivers' medicals, which is very concerning to me," Moncrieff said.

Government response

Buick said the proposals would apply to all doctors, not just family practitioners.
"Nothing in our proposals will harm the ability of family doctors to give comprehensive primary care," Buick wrote. "The minister looks foward to working through the issues with the AMA at the bargaining table. We're not going to negotiate in the media."
Moncrieff said that, though she typically doesn't engage in politics on social media, she made an exception in this case out of concern for her patients.
"I think my biggest fear is people falling through the cracks and getting sicker because they aren't getting the care they need," she said.
With files from Anis Heydari