Friday, February 27, 2009

A Big Spider

What a day! We had Little Ray in on the show with a few of his "friends" and I got brave enough to handle the tarantula!! Not for the faint of heart.


Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Positively Shocking

I have seen a few picture galleries of close ups of electronic equipment and thought it would be neat to try some myself. They look like mini industrial cities or industrial parks. Of course I swiped, with permission, a dead motherboard from someone's laptop at work. Cool, eh?

I find the mechanical components quite fascinating, more so than the electronic parts for some reason. Perhaps because I seem to have a love/hate relationship with electricity and negative experiences with static (pun intended). Perhaps because I can never seem to remember Ohm's Law. Or perhaps because it's just one of those things I can't seem to wrap my mind around. Like time travel.

When I was first learning to drive, I was very frustrated because I just didn't "get" how cars work. And why did we only use one foot for two pedals instead of both feet?

Same thing with computers. Punch cards? Just one of those things out of place and I was destroyed for another 7 hours.

So anything more complex than a simple machine seems to be beyond my grasp. Give me a wheel, a pulley, an incline or a lever any day. They were good enough for Leonardo da Vinci. He came up with flying machines and submarines without knowledge of electricity or electronics.

Thank God that electrical things are of interest to other people and that wonderful things can come of that interest. Like lights in the night time. Radio. The internet.

Of course, electricity powers our bodies, though to a lesser degree. It is no less important. Without electricity in our bodies, we'd have no thoughts, heartbeats, or life as we know and enjoy it. For those of us with MS, we need stronger and more resistant insulation to cover the nerves that conduct that electricity.

Power companies have to spend money to maintain power lines, poles, transformers and the billions of other parts that keep us in the light. As MSers, we have to try to maintain our infrastructure as well, through diet, exercise, and mental stimulation. Some of us take medications that, like the power company linesmen, try to prevent power outages and maintain the system.

My dad is a retired electrical engineer. He understands all that electrical stuff that I don't. When I was five he took us for a drive to the construction site of a transformer to show us what he did for work. It wasn't until I was 16 or 17 that I finally understood what he did. I've been to a few of the other project sites that he worked on and while I found the experiences interesting, to be honest it was the mechanics of everything that I found most fascinating. Hydro-electric site? Never mind the electricity the water would generate, I wondered how the water tanks got full, how the dams opened and closed. Looking at the electrical plans for different buildings I wondered more about the blue ink used to print the plans or the different symbols on the paper. Sorry, Dad. I am amazed that human beings have figured out how to harness various sources and turn them into electricity; I just have a mental block when it comes to understanding how it works. I just know and trust that it does.

I also know and trust that there are people who understand the mechanics and electronics of the brain. They are the people we MSers are counting on to fix our power bumps.


Monday, February 23, 2009

An Observation

I kid a lot about MS, about how people with MS are the best looking people I know or how they have the best sense of humour.

Truth is, people with MS are no different from any other group of people. Some are idiots who I want to slap into next week, but we are all just people.

People have their faults of course. Some people are in denial about their surroundings, blaming their personal relationship problems on MS. Some are ostriches, ignoring the problems they do have, whether it's because of MS or not.

I know people who are constantly angry, seemingly about their MS, but they were angry before the MS. I know people who have ignored their MS to the point that it has done irreversible damage.

There are people who constantly make a loud noise who actually have the least to complain about. Their glass is always half empty.

Mostly people are nice and they are the ones I will continue to speak for when talking to donors. The up side is that the whiners will benefit as well, only they will never know it.

Thursday, February 19, 2009


I am doing my Amelia Earhart impersonation with the goggles and the scarf.

In 1980 I was in my first year university in the general science program. One of my required courses was Chemistry and I'll never forget the day we had our first chem lab, specifically our professor's instructions should there be an emergency, like an explosion or fire. We were instructed to go straight to the shower stall conveniently located in the middle of the lab, strip off everything we were wearing and pull the chain to release the tank of water in order to put out any fire or rinse off any chemical spill.

That scared the crap out of me, being a natural born clutz. One of my first purchases at university was a (required) pair of safety goggles. $20!! I wore them in lab all the time. For a year. And then they got stored away until after I graduated. When I began working and fending for myself, learning the intricacies of the kitchen, I remembered my goggles. Perfect for cutting up onions or garlic, keeping the released chemicals from my eyes. So I kept them in the kitchen.

5 years ago today, Nova Scotia had one of its worst winter storms ever. 95.5 centimetres of snow in 48 hours. That's about 3 feet. It was an incredible storm. One woman was carried by a front end loader (in the bucket!) through her unplowed street to a street that was clear, to a waiting ambulance so she could get to the hospital and deliver her baby. The winds were wild and a bunch of us in our apartment building took shifts shoveling all our cars out when a plow came by to clean up our parking lot. I wore my safety goggles over my glasses to keep the wind and snow out of my eyes.

I wear them every time we have wild weather and I have to take the bus in to work because the roads are too bad for cars. Or when I go to shovel the walkways into the building for some exercise. Like today.

So my goggles have served their original purpose and two others. And other people giggle when they see me wear them, so that's a bonus for a clown like me.

I mentioned in my last post about the drug amitriptiline. It was originally used as an antidepressant. But soon other properties were discovered that led to the drug being used as a treatment for bed wetting to insomnia. And for neuropathic pain.

Many drugs are initially thought to be good for one thing but turn out to be beneficial for others. Rogaine was initially developed for treatment of high blood pressure, but when many men reported hair growth as a side effect, researchers took note and now use it for treating some types of baldness.

Lysergic acid diethylamide was originally being studied for medical uses of ergot alkaloid derivatives. (Ergot is a fungus that infects grains and because of its various effects on the human body, derivatives were used for a wide range of medical treatments, from inducing abortions to treating migraine headaches.) Of course we know this acid better as LSD. And it has been studied extensively by many researchers including the American CIA for use as a mind control substance.

In the early 1980s, 7 people in Southern California were diagnosed with Parkinsonism. They had all taken a contaminated illegal drug and the side effect was motionlessness; they were, in effect, physically immobile. But it took a while for a neurologist to connect the dots and discover the compound that made them remain immobile. Once the connections were made, two of the seven patients were successfully treated with neural grafts of embryonic stem cells. The compound that made the drug takers ill in the first place has now been manufactured for use in Parkinson's animal studies. (The Case of the Frozen Addicts by William Langston is a fascinating read - part mystery, part medical research)

There are studies under way as I type this, of the effect of the presence of parasitic worms in the bodies of MS patients. The worms seem to have some effect on the immune system that lessen symptoms of MS. It was an accidental discovery, but one in which I would find extremely gratifying if it is a possible treatment. As you know, I have a thing for "bugs". One of my favourite cartoons is of a guy at the pharmacy holding a bottle of something with the pharmacist looking on and saying, "Take them all at the same time and wait for them to hatch."

My goggles are something like all those drug examples I just gave you - and the parasite one. They have multiple uses and accidental discovery of those uses may be the key to solving the puzzle of MS. We need more happy accidents.


Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Pain Shmain

I saw a copy of this sculpture (original by Rodin)a few years ago at the Art Gallery of Nova Scotia and was almost in tears at the pain and anguish they expressed.

Prepare for a maze of thought. There is no cheese at the end.

Last week as part of Valentine's Day, my boss got a barbershop quartet to barge into the morning show and serenade the team on air. I was in on the plan and led the group into the control room as they sang. Of course we surprised the morning team as they were on air at the time (and timing was critical for this operation) and we got to promote this particular group's activities - serenading your sweetheart for Valentine's Day. A few of us were treated to a couple more tunes just before they left.

I have always loved barbershop quartet singing and harmony in general. But listening to these guys last week led me to the internet because I wanted to know why. Why do I get chills at certain points? Why do I have such a satisfied feeling after a song sung by them? Why? Why? Why?

I'm sure Lisa from Brass and Ivory could explain it better, being the resident musician in these parts, but I'll do my best, as I understand it.

It seems that the secret to the quartet harmonies lies in the appearance (both figural and literal) of a 5th note being sung. When sound hits our eardrum it reverberates at a specific frequency based on the sound. From Wikipedia:"The precise synchrony of the waveforms of the four voices simultaneously creates the perception of a "fifth voice" while at the same time melding the four voices into a unified sound." Personally, I think the unified sound of the four voices creates a separate reverberation on the eardrum itself, which when added to the four voices gives us that "full" sound and sends shivers up and down our spines. Added to that are the types of chords sung, which often are spine tingling anyway. Not sure if any or all of that is correct, but until someone can explain it better to me, I'll stick with it.

While researching this topic I came across references used to describe the emotional effects of barbershop singing. They are often rapturous, quasi-religious. Hmmmm. There is a so-called "religious" site in our brain believed to be in the temporal lobe area. People who have temporal lobe epilepsy often report feelings of awe and wonder, seeing lights, sudden insights into life, and a connection with a higher being. They report feelings of "being at peace". It's been theorized that Joan of Arc had this type of epilepsy and that her visual and auditory hallucinations were a result of her illness, not communication with God.

Saint Lidwina of the Netherlands (in the late 1300s) is believed to have suffered from Multiple Sclerosis. In fact if you read any account of her life, she displays a good many symptoms of MS and much is made of the absolute misery she suffered. She was a very pious woman; accounts of her life indicate her gift of prayer, and she also had "visions" of God. Or hallucinations. Hard to say. Either way, it seems to me that she may also have suffered some form of epilepsy as well. I've met a few people with both epilepsy and MS, so it's not unheard of.

What ties barbershop quartets, Joan of Arc, and epilepsy together? A lot of research has popped up recently linking the mind and the body - particularly of importance for MS patients is the need to reduce stress (in our minds) that can trigger symptoms (in our bodies). The pleasant singing of the barber shop quartet last week gave me such an enormous sense of beauty and relaxation, I was overcome with a feeling of peacefulness. Maybe those notes, or specifically, the "fifth note", stimulated my temporal lobes. Over the years while researching pain relievers for neuropathic pain, I noticed quite a few epilepsy drugs used to treat spasms and other symptoms. Those anti-convulsant drugs work by reducing the rapid firing of neurons in our brain. MS brains sometimes fire will-nilly and tell us things that are falsehoods; I'm not really drooling, it just feels like I am, or there's no hair on my cheek, it just feels that way, or my bones aren't being crushed in a vice grip, it just feels that way. And because our brain needs calming down in order for body parts to stop hurting, they work for people with MS. Cool.

Sometimes we can "distract" our brains from pain with another strong stimulus, like heat. I have used heating pads for over 10 years for my neuropathic pain, usually with good result. By focusing on the heat, my brain is temporarily distracted from the pain. But it's becoming more and more used to the heat and occurring more frequently as well. 10 years ago, about once a month was all I needed with the heating pad. Now it's a couple of times a week. Most times, the heat suffices.But from time to time, the pain continues for a couple of nights and I lose sleep because of it; or has recently happened, the pain begins from the moment I wake. It's annoying, it's tiring, and it damn well hurts.

This post is really just a long winded way to say that I have a prescription now for amitriptiline.And I'm not afraid to use it. I haven't felt the need to use any sort of pain relief up to this point as it was relatively short lived. But I just don't have the energy to spend on pain any more. So just as I take an elevator rather than stairs (don't tell Al Gore) to conserve MY energy, I will take pain relievers as needed rather than have pain. That way I have more energy and time for the things I want to do, like hunting for bugs in the woods.


Monday, February 16, 2009

Flowers and Bugs

Happy Valentine's Day! OK, I'm late, but the wookie wasn't late with the flowers.

Saturday evening we invited my neighbour over for desert and coffee. She happens to be the superintendant of the building, lives right across the hall from me, and has become a good friend. She told us that Friday night when we were out, she smelled smoke in the hallway and was outside my door thinking it might have been in my apartment. Then a bunch of things went racing through her mind: would she go in and grab the fish in its tank to save it? Or could she grab a bunch of my mounted and framed bugs I have hanging on the wall to save them?

I told her if that happens pull the fire alarm to get everyone in the building out, call the fire department and GET OUT! Never mind the fish- I bought it to feed aquatic insects almost a year ago. Never mind the bugs- they're already dead and there are plenty more out there.

But how sweet. That's a true friend, wanting to save my creepy crawlies from being destroyed.

Turns out there was no smoke. Possibly someone burning something in their apartment. But I did learn something new about my friend.


Saturday, February 14, 2009

Eagle Watch

Last weekend the Wookie and I traveled to the Annapolis Valley for the final Eagles Weekend. The Valley is the one of two large agricultural areas of Nova Scotia and the chicken farmers feed the wild population of bald eagles all winter. Of course it's the leftover parts of chickens that humans don't consume. The farmers invite the public to view the feedings for 3 weekends in the winter, though I found out we can go anytime during the winter.

The bald eagle has a strong foothold in this province, from one end to another. I always see eagles when I visit Cape Breton and quite often see them in the Valley. To see them from about 50 feet away, though is quite another thing. And so many, too; I lost count of the eagles sitting in the trees near the one farm we went to. I counted 50, with several juveniles in the mix. Of course, crows and gulls make an appearance at the same time and sometimes red tailed hawks. The Wookie took a billion pictures and I've just posted a few of them here.

Many of us have visions of these creatures flying majestically, perhaps grabbing a salmon as they dip into the waters on the west coast. But eagles are mostly scavengers, going after whatever is available (kind of like those folks at the all-you-can-eat buffet) and while they don't show the "misses" of those salmon grabs on documentary shows, they do miss more often than not. Because of their size (5 foot wingspan) and shape, they can appear kind of clumsy as they try to grab a piece of chicken while in flight and I actually laughed out loud at some of their attempts, feeling a bit of a kinship with them. I am certainly not what would be described as majestic or elegant.

The provincial bird is the osprey, a fisher-bird. They are smaller than eagles but just as magnificent and when they return to the mouth of the Sackville River this spring I'll be out taking some pics for you.

In the meantime, enjoy the eagles; for my American friends, especially, as the wild turkey was almost your national bird.


Thursday, February 12, 2009

Drug of Choice

I had my annual check up with the MS Clinic yesterday. Aside from discovering that on my last MRI (a year ago) I had a new lesion, everything is going tickety boo. I did the stupid PASAT (or piss at as I call it) test, put the pegs in the holes and walked 50 feet. Yay me.

I had a great chat with the NP at the clinic, Trudy, about some of the drugs in the pipeline for MS. I was excited to discover that there is a current study of fingolomid for PPMS. Of course there are about 30 drugs currently being investigated to treat MS. I asked about the oral treatments, as I've read on other blogs about some serious side effects. And yes, they are pretty serious side effects. At this point in time, the injectables are still your best bet when first diagnosed.

I wasn't looking for info about these drugs for myself, as I told Trudy. Avonex is working for me and I am dealing with the ever lessening side effects of it. I am also coping (usually) with the weekly psychological effort of the shot. Trudy told me that if the Wookie's away again, and I just can't bring myself to do the shot, call the clinic and come in for one of the nurses to administer the shot. That was in the back of my mind always, but I was relieved to be told it was OK to do that. So relieved in fact, I was surprised at my feelings.

Anyway, Trudy said of the new oral meds, just because they're new, doesn't mean they're better. The DMDs have been around long enough to determine long term effects. Copaxone has been in use since the mid 80s! And if you're using something that works for you, stick with it. In other words, if it ain't broke, don't fix it. I was asking about the newer drugs mainly for information purposes, for my (3) readers.

Of course there are some MSers who can't tolerate the drugs despite their best attempts. Either the drugs don't appear to be working or the side effects are too hard to handle. But as I mentioned, there are 30 drugs currently being examined, so if one type doesn't work, you can try the next one. Remember, 15 years ago we had next to nothing.

Trudy was also very excited about a presentation she had attended earlier in the day by a researcher from the Mayo clinic whose field of study is early MS on the molecular level. With evidence mounting of permanent damage done in the early stages of inflammation, early treatment of MS by getting onto one of the DMDs as soon as possible is your best bet of prolonging the time between onset of MS and disability. And this is what I have been counseling people to do when asked by those newly diagnosed. I also tell them that they need to get on the 'net and do some research, and I'll point them in the right direction.

I had 20 months between the onset of symptoms (and diagnosis) and my first dose of Avonex. I enrolled immediately in a drug trial and ended up on placebo for those 20 months. Did I end up doing permanent damage to my brain? I'll never know. Would I change my decision about enrolling in the drug study? Nope.


Tuesday, February 10, 2009


A friend of mine wrote me an e-mail today and asked me questions about goals. Do I have any? Where do you find them? And should she be worried if she doesn't really have any? The questions were prompted by another friend of hers, who asked her what her goals were.

We all have goals whether they're vocalized or not. Sometimes they're little ones: getting the bathtub scrubbed on the weekend, getting the laundry done, getting through dinner time without fighting with the toddler not eating their vegetables. Sometimes our goals are a little more abstract: to lead a productive life, to make friends, to be a difference in our world. Sometimes they are long term: losing a bunch of weight, getting into better shape, finding a cure for the common cold.

I never really thought about my goals too much until today.

I have a bunch of little goals, some of which are long term. My main life goal, though, is to keep working to save money for retirement or disability, whichever comes first. I don't expect the government to be able to look after me and the Wookie is not independently wealthy, so that avenue is out, too. (I don't expect the Wookie to look after me either)

So, in order to keep on working, I have to remain healthy. I have to keep my mind healthy. I have to keep listeners tuned in so my bosses want to keep me as an employee.

To remain healthy, I have adjusted my eating and exercise habits. I read and learn something new every day.

To keep listeners tuned in...well, that's top secret.

My point is that there are a bunch of little goals that make up the bigger ones. And it's not necessarily something that I consciously think about. I enjoy watching those "Clean Sweep" type shows with folks who own a house filled with stuff that they absolutely HAVE to get rid of in order to lead a normal life. The experts tell them all, start small so the job of cleaning out the house isn't so overwhelming. Clean out a cupboard first, then work your way up to a closet, then a room, etc. Same thing goes with goals. Start out small and work your way up or look at the big goal and break it down into little ones.

All these things can be applied to MS. If you look at the mandate of the MS Society of Canada, you'll see what I mean: "To be a leader in finding a cure for multiple sclerosis and enabling people affected by MS to enhance their quality of life."

In order to find a cure for MS, we must know what causes MS. The MS Society is funding research into effective treatments and possible causes of MS. They were major contributors to the recent Vitamin D study. By researching the current and future treatments and discovering what works and what doesn't and for what types of MS we are getting closer to the answers. The big goal may be to find a cure for MS, but the smaller goal that comes before that is to discover what causes MS.

Because so many people already are living with MS we must provide support to them. That means discovering what they need in terms of education, psycho-social support, and medical support. And that means asking questions of them in the form of questionnaires, studying what sometimes seems to be no-brainer type subjects in order to provide "evidence based data", and then asking them again what works for them. If the goal is to enhance their quality of life, we have to know what things will do that. Is it a night out bowling with other MSers every month, self help meetings, equipment for getting into and out of bed, or referrals to government programs for help?

To find a cure. That's a lofty goal that almost seems unattainable until you break it down.

Enhance quality of life. That one is a lot easier to attain when you break it down to what you need.

Of course, I want those goals attained NOW, but that's the 3 year old inside of me. The adult in me understands the process of finding a cure. I never thought about it until 11 years ago. Now it is the ultimate goal of my life.


Sunday, February 8, 2009

Vitamin D

I remember learning about rickets in grade 8 home economics. There was a drastic decrease in the incidence of this disease once Vitamin D was added to milk. Cool. I recently read a study saying that rickets was on the rise again in the past 15 years. (Of course I can't find the study, but I know I read it) My first thought about it, was that we'll probably see a rise in MS cases in the next 10-15 years; over the past several years there has been a big push on to protect children from the rays of the sun. And I didn't think much more of it.

Until this week, with the recent announcement of the discovery of another link between vitamin D and MS. We've all heard the news and read about the study by this point in time, but here it is again anyway. The recommendation is for pregnant and breastfeeding women to get plenty of Vitamin D, especially if you aren't subject to effective sunshine. In northern and extreme southern latitudes, the UV rays aren't strong enough to activate the Vitamin D building abilities of our bodies.

The study links lack of Vitamin D and genes for MS. If you have the genes for MS, Vitamin D may inactivate them.

As a child, I had a "milk belly". My mom started feeding me skim milk to get rid of that. And until a few years ago, I drank at least two glasses of milk every single day. (Now I appear to be somewhat lactose intolerant) I certainly wasn't Vitamin D deficient growing up and when I was diagnosed. Several years ago, a link was made between the month you were born and incidence of MS. Those born in November had a much lesser chance of developing MS than those born in May. This led researchers to believe that prenatal nutrition was another clue to Vitamin D's involvement in MS. It would appear that the second and third trimester exposure to Vitamin D offers a protective factor to the fetus. I was born in June and only after a pregnancy that had my mom quite sick for most of it.

This study doesn't explain all cases of MS but it is a huge piece of the MS puzzle.

Let's turn our attention to the thymus. The thymus is a little gland that sits at the top of your ribcage, just behind the top of the sternum. It is vital to the development of our immune systems as children. In fact the gland continues to grow and produce T-cells (immune cells) until we're in our teens. (T-cells are named for the thymus actually.) Some of those T-cells aren't quite right and are supposed to be "silenced" by regulator T-cells. But if they aren't silenced and get released to the bloodstream..voila! Autoimmunity occurs.

While we are still in our mother's womb, this little organ doesn't really show much capacity for anything until later in the pregnancy. That's when the precursor cells for T-cells begin to develop. Once we're born, the T-cells begin to develop at a much faster rate and our immune system begins to kick in. Thymic activity is greatest between birth and puberty.

Lack of vitamin D may be responsible for the body's inability to silence the "not quite right" T-cells.

My head has been spinning with all this information over the past couple of days, trying to make sense of it. I can only liken MS to a perfect storm. If your immune system is defective from lack of Vitamin D (or an inability to make it) and you have the genes for MS, then you can develop it. this shows how complex MS is. And it demonstrates how a simple $2. widget may be the key to preventing it.

Thursday, February 5, 2009

Brains and Lichens

I’d not seen the movie Underworld or its sequel but had the tv on the other day when an ad came on for another sequel in the franchise. I wasn’t watching at the time so just heard the announcer on the trailer reading his script. The music playing in the background was very dark and moody, out of the corner of my eye I captured a bit of the dark and moody look of the movie and got the impression of sci fi. And as often happens, I heard different words than what was being said. I heard Underworld: Rise of the Lichens.

So, of course, I stopped what I was doing and immediately thought “Rise of the Lichens? What the heck is that about? Plant life taking over the world or something?” and then something else got my attention, probably a piece of lint, and I forgot about it. Later on in the evening as I was actively watching TV and paying attention, the ad came on again and I caught the true title of the movie: Underworld: Rise of the Lycans.

Ahhhh…that makes more sense. Lycans are werewolves or some such creature. Lyc is the root of lycanthrope and means wolf.
But the whole misunderstanding made me laugh out loud as I envisioned reindeer food propagating and covering the entire planet. There’s a definite parody in that title, Rise of the Lichens. According to Wikipedia there is an ongoing problem of lichen overgrowth on Mount Rushmore that requires regular cleaning by mountaineering employees. So it could happen.

I was also extremely amused when I left my brain on the dresser in my room. I turned out the light and it glowed in the dark. Cool. I had forgotten it did that. So now I’ve left it there to give me that little smile when the light goes out. (It's a hard plastic model of a brain with a brain eraser inside)

I have a couple of brains that I keep on my "medical" bookshelf. It is the final frontier(I keep saying that) and I know it holds all the secrets of the universe. I also have a little paperweight from the 25th Canadian Neurological Association (or some such group) meeting in 1973. There's a coin in the hard plastic weight with the Association name on one side and a brain on the other. I picked it up at a flea market or yard sale and because of the "brain" on it, I had to add it to my collection of weird and wonderful medical related stuff. I have a little Merck man from the 60s who bears a striking resemblance to Oscar (of Academy Award fame) that was actually an advertising gimmick for docs and pharmacists to display to advertise a certain medication. As a kid I had one of those really cool see-through anatomy models of a pregnant woman. Not sure whatever happened to her.

Last month I felt a cold coming on so one night I put some Vick's vapo-rub under my nose to aid in breathing. It's the cream stuff rather than the petroleum jelly based stuff. Anyway, the next morning I put a little more on my face and went to work. 3 hours later I was in the bathroom and discovered I had a white moustache from not completely rubbing the cream in and NOBODY told me! I was walking around work for 3 hours and not a soul told me I had a moustache. Were they just being polite? Did they think I was doing a milk commercial? Did they just not notice?

You already know that I'm easily amused. This is just more evidence.


Sunday, February 1, 2009

Gall Wasp in the Dead of Winter

Remember a few months ago, I had pictures up of the gall wasp egg casings (galls) I had found out on my walks? I put them in the fridge for a couple of months, then a few weeks ago, put them on a shelf in the living room. While eating supper last night, I discovered one had emerged and was on the curtains. So I scooped it up and put it under the World's Best Christmas Gift Ever and took a few pictures. This little gal is only a centimetre in length, and that includes her ovipositor. It looks like a big stinger, but it's for laying eggs. Cool, eh?

Once I was through taking pics of her I let her go in the living room.

We had a very light snowfall last night and it was finally decent enough to make my army of snowmen:

I have always been a big fan of Calvin and Hobbes. And Calvin was always making really cool snow people. Or snow monsters. Whatever. It was a good excuse to play outside. Like I really need one.