This blog is about our travels in our solar powered "Airstream" and living off grid, in our passive solar home, near Bancroft, Ontario, Canada.

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Thursday, 31 January 2013


Finally got word from Mary. A much better day. Sherri was able to swallow water. YEA!!!! A small step but hopefully a sign of continued improvement. Mary said if all goes well tonight they expect to remove the feeding tube tomorrow.

Owen seemed to have a better day also. Much more content with just having Oma around. Maybe he sensed there was improvement in the air.

Please continue to pray for Sherri as she still has a long road ahead of her. 

Thanks to all our readers for your encouragement and wisdom which is so greatly appreciated.


We tried to go to town yesterday but our road was a skating rink.  Rather than end up in the ditch we decided returning home in one piece was a better idea.

We did get into town today for chicken feed and groceries. 

No news from the hospital yet. Sherri continues to have difficulty swallowing and I believe they are to do some tests on her today.

Once I hear from Mary I will post here.

Wednesday, 30 January 2013


Just a quick note. Sherri now has a feeding tube as a way to get nourishment into her as she is unable to swallow.

I know some of you would like to visit her in the hospital but she isn't ready for company. She is extremely weak from lack of food and she sleeps a lot because of the drugs.

If you have any questions send them my way and I will try and answer asap.  Leanne  is looking after co-ordinating support for Sherri so if you have questions in that area send them to Leanne. This way Mary can save her energy for looking after our favourite little guy under three feet.

Thanks for understanding. Your prayers and well wishes are greatly appreciated.

Chat tomorrow.

Sherri Update Jan 30th

My blog for the next little while will be focused on Sherri's  recovery as many family members are travelling and this is the easiest way to keep family informed.

I think we have come to grips with the reality of recovery from brain surgery. It will be a longer, slower process than I first realized but Sherri is making progress and Mary can see it each time she visits. As Rob said, medically she is doing fine, as a lay person you want her to be so much further down the recovery road.

Today Sherri walked unaided to the washroom as Mary walked behind ............... just in case.

She has feelings in her face which means the facial nerves were not as badly damaged as first feared. 

At the moment the biggest hurdle for Sherri is swallowing. She finds this impossible and she is being monitored for this condition.

I'll update this blog if there are any changes, otherwise I'll post in the morning to recap what happened the previous day.

Many thanks to family members who are in the medical profession and have called or written to help us "lay" folks understand what is happening.

Chat again tomorrow.

Update 4 pm

Sherri  hasn't eaten since Sunday and naturally is very hungry. Because of her difficulty swallowing they have inserted a feeding tube through her nose so they can get some nourishment into her.

Once the swelling goes down and she can swallow then the tube will be removed. 

Tuesday, 29 January 2013


Now that we've had a chance to visit Sherri we know her recovery will take time. She will not be dancing anytime soon but with support and patience she will get closer to the Sherri we all know and love.

You do not bounce back from this surgery in a few hours or a few days. It will be a much longer haul and we are not certain how this will unfold. Once Rob and Sherri have decided on the best way for us to support them we will let you know.

Until then my blog entries may be infrequent and brief. We are so grateful to have family members we can lean on as the days go by.   We are entering unfamiliar waters for us and will have to learn to adapt as the situation changes.

Thank you for your patience and understanding. You have been a bigger support than you realize.


Waiting for news from the hospital is excruciation slow and since I can't go outside and we don't have TV I need to occupy my time in a meaningful way.  Lets see .............  what can we plan today?

Ok, Carol and Don love Switzerland and have so many wonderful memories of family trips there it has almost become a second home for them. But Carol you need to discover the beauty in your own backyard.

So I've been slowly planting the idea that a trip west together would reveal beauty and nature that would rival anything they might see in Europe. Nothing against Europe but don't neglect your home country.

Sitting here with a broken ankle we have lots of time to think, scheme and debate how best to do this and when.

One major hurdle to overcome and we may need help on this is sleeping. Carol says tent I say trailer. Lets modify the trailer so all 4 can sleep inside where it's warm and dry. Carol says she wants the outdoor experience and is quite happy with a tent.

Carol, tents are small and crowded but lets get it out and take a look. Erecting the tent in our livingroom. was no problem. It might be a different story when we camp in Denali Park and the wind is blowing and the rain is falling. I promised Carol I would hold the flashlight, from a distance.

Now that the tent is up and Carol has looked inside she is still game to go with the tent. She is spunky and if she can find a comfortable mattress I'm sure they will be just fine. In a pinch or a forecast of nasty weather I think Don and Carol will move inside and avoid the worst the elements can throw at us.

We have lots of time to reflect on this as our departure date isn't until 2014. We like to plan and look at all the possibilities and if you have any suggestions we are all ears.

Meanwhile, Carol and Don are sleeping in the tent tonight just to see if they really can do it. (Just kidding, but a dress rehearsal is schedule before we leave for the Yukon)

OK, time for you to send your suggestions.

Check out .Carol's Blog


It has now been 24 hours since Sherri went into the operating room. She is recovery as expected. It will be slow but she is making progress and aware of what is going on. She has pain but that too is expected. We are not sure when Sherri will be home but we are taking it one day at a time and making sure everyone is looked after. Owen misses his mom but is always delighted to see his dad.

Oma (Mary) is having a wonderful time taking Owen for walks. He enjoys the sights and sounds as they walk along the waterfront and into the shops along the water.

Once I know when Sherri expects to be home I will let you know. They did move her out of isolation and into her own room this morning. Otherwise everything seems to be moving forward on schedule and Sherri is very thankful to have this behind her. 

Thanks again for keep tabs on us and I will post new news asap.


Yesterday was one of those days we had to endure and we are glad it's over. Sherri was in surgery for 81/2 hours and we were so relieved when the doctor called to say she was in recovery. Rob visited her and she was alert and talking asking about Owen, all good sign.

Today we expect to learn when she is coming home and then put a plan together to assist Sherri and Rob as needed.

As for me, my day started at 7:30 with Carol and Don taking me down to Bellville.

It wasn't the best of days with snow, blowing snow and freezing rain.

Driving through Madoc. Carol discovered an excellent bakery on our return trip. YUMMY!

Imagine travelling like this in this weather.  Not sure if I would have made it to Bellville in time.

First order of business was to remove the old cast and see how things were progressing.

The doctor was pleased and ordered a plastic air cast which made me happy. Now I can take it off before having a shower. Much more convenient. (No comments on the pink pouch please. I had enough from the nurses.)

In 45 minutes we were done and back on the road heading home. Don took it easy and we had no problems, even saw 3 deer as we headed north on 62.

OK, time to learn how to use the crutches. It's good to be home and a little more mobile. I have a walking cast but I wouldn't call it walking what I do just yet. Hopefully in two weeks the ankle will be stronger and I can get by with just a cane.

Thanks again for keeping an eye on us and for all your e-mails of encouragement.

I'll post updates on Sherri as I hear from Mary.

Safe travels

Monday, 28 January 2013


Just a short note to let everyone know Sherri is fine and the operation is complete.

Here is the e-mail I got from Mary who is in Toronto looking after Owen.

Everything went very well for Sherri. They took out 95% of the tumor. Left 5% that was attached to her facial nerve. They woke her up and Rob is heading down in a few minutes.
So glad we are through this stage.
Talk later.

Once again thanks for all your prayers and notes of support and concern.  You have been such an encouragement to us during this stressful time.

I'll post more when we have any new news.


We are blessed with good friends and a wonderful family................. no .............. the best family. Most of you know we are going through a bit of a stressful time. Sherri goes in for brain surgery today and I have to be in Bellville for fitting of a walking cast.

Sherri is in the best of hands, top world renowned surgeon who does this type of surgery on a daily bases. 

Mary is with Sherri in Toronto to be available to help out with Owen as needed. Carol and Don are here to get me to Bellville for my new cast this morning.

But they do so much more than simply wait to drive me to Bellville. They feed and look after our chickens, they go to town for groceries, they fix delicious meals and make sure that I'm clean and ready for transportation. They bring in firewood and take out the ashes; all with a smile and never a complaint.

Then when I looked outside this afternoon I couldn't believe what I saw................................ Don up the ladder patching the hole in the gable end so the squirrels can't get in.

Now before anyone panics, nobody fell. Don is a very safe, conscientious guy. 

He secured the ladder and tied off the base. This ladder was firm and going nowhere unless Don untied the ropes. Now why didn't I do that???????????????

Carol was there to help and hand Don the tools he needed.

Before too long the patch was on and the job done. 

Thanks Don and Carol, you are so deeply appreciated. You go way beyond the expected and spoil us with your love. You smooth out the bumps when they appear in the road.

Later today I'll let you know how Sherri's operation went. Thanks for the many notes of encouragement and prayers of support. 


Mary called to say Sherri's operation is in two stages. The  doctors have just completed the first stage and were pleased with how everything went. They should be finished about five.

Mary says thanks for all the kind notes you have sent and she really appreciates the support of family and friends.

I just got back from Bellville Hospital thanks to Carol and Don. I now have an air-cast which means I can take it off when I shower and sleep. Don did an excellent job of driving as the weather wasn't the best. It is snowing here now.

I'll post again as soon as I have more news about Sherri.

Saturday, 26 January 2013


It has been wonderful having Sherri and Owen here the last few days. He is such a delight to have around and is growing bigger and more mobile each time we see him. Today Sherri, Owen and Oma head back to Toronto. 

Oma will help look after Owen while Sherri goes in for her surgery and Rob spends time at the hospital.

I stayed home because on Monday I have to be at the Bellville hospital to have a walking cast put on. I'm hoping for an air cast and looking forward to be mobile again.

My sister Carol is here and her and Don will take me to Bellville and make sure I'm well fed until Mary returns.

Life is complicated at times but we are so grateful for family and friends who have helped us through and made these challenges so much more manageable.

Friday, 25 January 2013


It amazes me how much we depend on electronic gadgets these days. A few years ago we were driving back from Myrtle Beach relying solely on our GPS for our route home. You know the drill, hit the "Home" button and the GPS figures out a route and away you go.

Now that was wonderful but we had no state maps, no maps of any kind we could use if the GPS had suddenly crashed. Not a good feeling when you are on roads and you don't even know what state you are in. Today we travel with the GPS but have a box of maps of all descriptions that also travels in the back seat........ just in case.

Have you heard of "GLYMPSE" This is a neat app for your smart-phone that lets someone of your choice know where you are by simply using their computer. 

Here is what their web site says:

Glympse™ is a groundbreaking new way to share your location with anyone for a specified period of time using patent-pending GlympseWatch™ timer.

Glympse is easier and faster than a phone call or text message, simply select a contact, set a duration, and hit send.


Anyone with an Internet-enabled phone or computer can receive a Glympse – no software or setup required. You can send a Glympse to a specific person, several people, or even to Facebook and Twitter.


Only Glympse puts you in control – you set who sees you and for how long. Safe for families, friends, colleagues, and one-time meetings.

It was really neat to watch the green arrow (Sherri's location) move across the map as time passed. We knew exactly where she was and when she would arrive. We also knew how fast she was driving. Oh, Oh! .................. just kidding. You can see their speed of travel but Sherri is a very conscientious, safe driver.

Check this app out. It really reduces the stress level for those wondering where you are and when to expect you.

Thanks Sherri, a great way to travel.

Thursday, 24 January 2013


It's been below -30*C every morning for the past week. Our only source of heat is our wood stove and we are toasty warm. But we have a problem.

This morning when Mary got up she had to go out and get firewood. Yes, I know, I should be doing that but until I get my walking cast I'm restricted to my "red" chair for mobility. Not suitable for outside chores.

So, on went the layers of winter clothes and Mary was set to venture out, but ............................. the door wouldn't open. Not even a hint of cooperating, frozen shut, no movement.

Looking closer one can see the problem.

Frozen hinges. I've never seen that before. Hinges frozen solid on the inside of the house and our house was a comfortable 68*F Go figure.

Once I have an answer I'll update this posting but right now we are in discussions with our architects and the door manufacturer.  

In the meantime stay warm and healthy.

Chat later                            -28*C at 6 a.m.

Wednesday, 23 January 2013


As we get more shelves up we get more boxes emptied and create more liveable space in the process. Today it seemed to be boxes of photos that dominated the day. Photos need to be displayed, not hidden in a box. 

Another item unearthed was this wooden ironing board Mary found by the side of the road many, many years ago. So do we throw it out? Maybe burn it??? Not sure, but for now it's a photo display table.

My sister Carol will probably have lots of suggestions when she comes later this week. Her focus seems to be: if you haven't touch it in two years .......................... pitch it! Easier said than done.

Seems to me whenever we pitch something ...........................  a month later I could use it. Why does that happen? 

Back to work, sorting, cleaning and yes ..... PITCHING!

Oh, one last favour.Here is a note from our daughter. If you would like to help just go to the site to see the outfit she made for her son Owen, then click (Like) bottom left of the picture. That's all.
Sherri's note:
Hey Guys,
Kind of a weird request,
Back in October I won a contest for the costume I had made for Owen. Well, now all the monthly winners are being voted and the over all winner gets a $500 gift certificate for Baby Bot, a very cool kids shop.
Could you click the link below and "like" my pic. 

Much appreciated and if you know to pass this on to anyone that would be cool too ;)

Thank you

Chat later.    -34*C or -29*F at 6 a.m. in Bancroft

Tuesday, 22 January 2013


The great room is looking so much better now. Amazing what a few baseboards and kick-plates will do to improve the finished look. Peter and Brendan worked cutting and fitting so it all came together perfectly.

Our windows and doors before we started installing the trim.

We've had the trim stored inside since Christmas, getting acclimatized to  our indoor environment.

Brendan cut the pieces while .................

Peter used the air-gun to install the baseboards and trim.

Baseboards in place ..................

as well as the trim around the door.

We even got the bathroom done. 

Thanks guys, a great day.      (-18*C, OR -8*F @ 7.a.m.)

Monday, 21 January 2013


Looks like most of North America is under a large blanket of Arctic air. 

 The pictures here were taken out our patio door yesterday. We started off at a balmy +2*C and finished the day -16*C The day started cloudy with snow-showers and finished cold and clear. (-27*C or -17*F at 6:30 this morning)

We are warm and comfortable inside with just our wood stove keeping us warm. We cook with propane and heat with wood and expect to get through the winter on less than 6 cords of wood.

We cut the wood off our property and most of it is poplar which burns quickly. The wood we are burning this year was cut two years ago but wasn't stored properly. We need to build some type of adequate structure to protect our firewood once it is dry. I think that will be the #1 summer project and several readers have shared great ideas for storage design.

Peter comes today so we should get the trim and baseboards installed in the great room. Another step closer to the finish.

Thanks for stopping by. Time to toss another log on the fire.

Sunday, 20 January 2013


The last thing the doctor said was"Don't put weight on the cast"

Not a problem. At that stage I couldn't put weight on either ankle, let alone thinking of weight on my broken ankle.

But a week later things are different. I'm fairly mobile, thanks to the "red" chair and I'm not in any pain.

Even though I've been avoiding using the leg in the cast, Mary noticed the bottom of the cast was becoming soft. I suspect just the occasional contact with our concrete floor as I move around breaks the plaster down.

I have another week to go and need some easy way to protect the cast but still allow me the freedom of movement I have come to enjoy.

What to do? Wrap a towel around the heal of the cast? Too awkward. Oh, how about Duct Tape? It's good for everything from aircraft repairs to splints, that should do, but I can't find my duct tape so ......................

lets try this.  Can you see what I've done?

I took one of my knee pads, strapped it to the bottom of the cast  and it seems to work just fine.

It stays in place, cushions the bottom of the cast, is light weight and still allows me my freedom. Perfect.

Now when I come down the hall, it's push, click, roll,  push, click, roll and my cast is staying protected.

That's what the old timers did, solved their own problems with what they had at hand. Oh, oh, don't say it, don't even think it.

I remember my uncle Gordon had a friend Anton who lived with his dog out in the country. One day Anton fell and dislocated his shoulder but didn't want to go to the hospital.  So uncle Gordon brought over some old horse harness and used it to strap up his shoulder and make it immobile. In a few weeks Anton was as good as new, back doing his chores and looking after himself. Neighbour looking after neighbour, just like it should be.

Thanks for stopping by and be nice to your neighbour. You might need some horse harness some day.

Saturday, 19 January 2013


When Sherri was a baby it was very easy to take her camping. She didn't crawl when we first visited Algonquin Park so a collapsible bed with a screen top was all we needed for her comfort. 

I'm not sure if that first camping trip at 6 months was registered by her very young brain but as soon as she discovered she was pregnant with Owen she bought a baby's camping tent.

So last week when Leanne was here the tent was unwrapped and assembled.

In true Kelly fashion no one read the instructions, just laid the parts on the floor and started putting this inside that.

When you've camped as much as Mary has, putting tents up is very simple. They all seem to have the same basic technique.

Slide the fibreglass rod through the sleeve and hook the end into the strap at the bottom. That's pretty easy.

The rods become the tent skeleton, giving it shape and holding it in place.

So here is Owen's tent, ready for sleep or play it doesn't matter.  We are so looking forward to having Owen up here next week. 

Thanks for stopping by and good to hear from you Connie and Mike.

Friday, 18 January 2013


Leanne and Katie were here for a few days this week. It was great to see them and have some time together. Katie and her husband Matt own and operate a coffee company called Do a google search and see what they have to offer. Matt is a coffee connoisseur and their coffee is fabulous. They have a unique business approach and if you live in the Burlington, Oakville area check them out at the local farmers' markets.

 Here we are having a delicious breakfast of  egg omelet, back bacon and toast while enjoying the morning sun coming through our windows. Oh yes, the ladies had a delicious espresso coffee made on Leanne's machine.

Place the hot water in the plastic bowl on top.

See the black handle? That's where the coffee goes. Leanne uses Katie's fine grind and it makes the best cup of coffee by lifting the handles on the side and squeezing the hot water down through the coffee grinds.

No muss no fuss, one delicious cup of coffee. Are you ready for yours?

Next week Sherri and Owen are coming up for a few days. We are excited. Mary has been getting out the baby toys and preparing Owen's room so everything is perfect. 

Then Carol and Don are coming to look after me and take me to the Bellville Hospital for my walking cast while Mary returns to Toronto to be with Sherri during her surgery.

It is a busy time for us and we really appreciate all the help and support family and friends have shown. You guys are awesome.

Thanks for stopping by and safe travels Annie and Marvin.

Thursday, 17 January 2013


I have three wonderful sisters. All are talented and gifted in different areas. Sharon is a retired nurse and our "go to person" when we have a medical question.

So having a broken ankle, I have lots of questions and have been sending her e-mails on an hourly bases.

One concern was bleeding.  As you can see in the picture below it is obvious I have some bleeding where the incision was made. Should I be concerned? Is this normal?

Sharon's advice was to go back to the hospital and have them take a look at it. Not possible. At this stage of healing, going outside is just impossible. 

So what to do?

Sharon suggested outlining the blood with "magic marker" then we could easily monitor the situation and see if the bleeding was continuing. A smart tip. No expansion of the blood spot, no more bleeding. So far we are watching but haven't seen any change.

Thanks Sharon, a great tip and an easy way to see any changes.

Progress is good. No pain since getting home, unless of course I put some weight on the ankle. Everything is looking good.

Thanks for stopping by, more tomorrow.

Wednesday, 16 January 2013


When you have 30 lbs of plaster attached to your left ankle you're not very mobile. But there are certain situations I do need to leave my bed. Fortunately our home is all on one floor. 

Our first attempt at getting me to the bathroom was a disaster. Mary can't support my weight and my good ankle is bruised and tender so not much weight on it.

What to do?

We have come up with a solution and a routine using Mary's office chair.

The feet are wide and stable. It will take my weight and Mary can push me around the house no problem.

I'm now able to slide off the bed onto the chair without Mary's assistance, She makes sure the chair is secure before I slide onto it. 

When she brings me back to the bed I swing my good leg up onto the mattress and then roll off the chair onto my stomach. Very easy and without putting any stress on Mary's back.

On the 28th I'm off to Bellville to get my walking cast and then I can get around as I please.

Thanks again for all your notes and calls. So good to hear from you.

Be safe and watch out for moving ladders. Chat again tomorow.

Tuesday, 15 January 2013


I must stay off my cast for two weeks, put no weight on it and keep it elevated. So what does one do when confined to bed for two weeks? 

This is where family and friends are so helpful. Your e-mails and calls actually speed up the healing process. Did you know that? Amazing but true. Our support systems (family and friends) give us encouragement, and a healthy perspective on life which in turn assists the healing.

I have been so encouraged by your e-mails, calls, prayers and words of encouragement. You make the stay in bed tolerable, not fun but tolerable. Don, I'm enjoying the movies you left.

I suspect my blog posts will be a little brief for a while. Can't take many pictures when lying in bed.

Thanks everyone for touching base. You are so greatly appreciated.


Some of you have been asking for a view of the injured ankle. The blood you see on the side of the cast is from the incision to insert the pin. The bleeding as stopped since this picture was taken.

Now movement is another issue with all this plaster stuck to my ankle. My right ankle although not broken is still sore and tender and refuses to allow me to put much weight on it. Right now I'm confined to bed but hope to be up and about in a few days.

Monday, 14 January 2013


The last few days have been very mild here and yesterday I thought I would do a few outdoor jobs. 

I moved two skids of wood onto the front porch so they are protected and the firewood is easily available. I also moved one onto the back porch so now we have 2 cords of wood close at hand and ready whenever winter returns.

I have been concerned about squirrels getting into our attic as one gable end is still open. Nailing sheets of steel onto the beam would prevent the squirrels from getting a foothold and scrambling into our nice warm attic space.

Things were going very well as I was working on my own to get the sheets in place. One sheet left to do and I needed to lift the ladder just slightly to get the steel in place.

Bad decision.  The ladder decided to go left and I went with it, riding it down from the roof edge about 15 feet above the ground.

Fortunately Mary saw it happened and helped me crawl into the house.

We are blessed with wonderful neighbours and within minutes Paul, Steve and Doug were here to provide whatever help was needed. 

Since both ankles were just too sore to put any weight on, Mary called the ambulance and I was off to the Bancroft hospital.

After a few ex-rays they could see that my left ankle was broken so back into the ambulance and off to Beleville hospital to meet the orthopaedic surgeon. 

Charlotte another neighbour graciously offered to drive Mary to Belleville about an hour and a half south of Bancroft. The night was foggy, rainy and not the night to be out driving our northern roads. Thanks Charlotte you are wonderful.

So here's Mary in the waiting room. Believe me she wasn't smiling like this when the accident happened.

Once in OR the actual operation took only twenty minutes as I was awake for the entire procedure having asked for an epidural.

I'm home, resting, a little tender but otherwise fine.   Mary is a fabulous nurse and her cooking I'm sure will speed the recovery and I'll be up snow-shoeing shortly.

I can not say enough good things about the way I was treated. From the ambulance crew, to the nurses, doctors, radiologist  receptionists, everyone was friendly, professional, helpful and caring. Thank you everyone who came to my rescue. It is very reassuring to live in a country with such high standards of care and to live in a community with such wonderful neighbours.

Thanks for stopping by and stay off the ladder.

Sunday, 13 January 2013


Spring arrived early and we're not happy. We didn't expect to see warm temperatures until March but yesterday we got up to +7*C and today may reach 9. Winter isn't what I remember as a kid. Back then the snow came and stayed until March. Now we get snow, then it melts, then we get more snow, don't even need the wood stove going all the time.

After lunch we decided it would be good to get out for a walk in the fog and see what was happening down at the lake.

The road has been heavily sanded wherever there is a steep grade. We shouldn't have any problem getting in or out this winter.

You can see how misty the conditions are. We've lost a lot of snow in the past 24 hours and the mist continues to rise in clouds.

Here's Lee out walking the dogs. He's very good to get them outside every day for some exercise. Love those long rope leashes.

Down at the lake it's obvious we need to stay on shore. The ice has melted and is unsafe. All the fish huts are off and back on land. No fishing for a while.

Looking across the lake it was difficult to see the other side.

Not sure what the plans are for today. As Don says, "No schedule"

Thanks for stopping by and safe travels everyone.