Technology… bleh

Computers are not lasting as long as they used to.  My hard drive started acting up, so, well, yeah… went and bought a new laptop.

Took two days…. TWO DAYS… to get it up and running and move all my data from my two old computers onto it.  Had to go and buy a new external hard drive too as the media I had on hand were not “large” enough to create the recovery disk on.

Now I can get rid of the old stuff.  I still have a CPU that uses 5.25 floppies.  Not sure what to do with my DOS games on the floppies.  Maybe… make Christmas ornaments?  I’m just going to remove the hard drives from my old towers and smash them (my brother-in-law said a hammer works faster than trying to reformat the disks), and take everything to the Eco Centre for recycling.

Based on how long each successive computer has lasted until problems started or it was just obsolete… I have until about May of next year until this one will need upgrading.

On the plus side I now have ALL my data on the new computer – so lots of photos that I hadn’t moved onto the last laptop are now accessible again.  I have about 24000 images, apparently.  So lots of sorting and culling to do as a lot will be duplicates… I hope.  Can’t believe I’ve taken that many photos.

Here’s one I haven’t seen for a while – 1983, me showing one of our American Saddlebred foals, Supreme SweetUmps (Umpqua Flashy Genius X Lucky R Supreme Majorette).

SweetUmps 1983


Changes – Reno update

It is a summer of changes for me.

Here is what has been going on in the house – basement tearout, foundation repair and basement reno.  Still a work in progress… but getting closer!!

DSC01134 DSC01135

Day 1 – old floor and carpet ripped out.


Day 2 – new gyproc.


Day 3 – mud.


Day 4 – more mud and trim painting.


Day 5 – more mud and sanding.


Day 6 – Primer!


Day 7 – more primer.


Day 8 – ceilings.


Day 9 – first colour coat.


Day 10 – more paint (other rooms too)


Day 11 – new floor!  Vinyl planking – looks and feels like wood.


Day 12 – floor in bathroom and main area done!


Day 13 – Bathroom starting to go back together.

That’s how far it is  Still have the bedroom. hallway and stairs to do the floor in.  The paint has all had a coat of colour, but they’ve been mudding flaws, so a bit more sanding, and more paint.  Right now the appliances and a few pieces of furniture are in the bedroom and hallway until they get the main area finished, then they’ll get that done.

I am very excited and happy with how it is all coming together.


Making up things – food things

I’m an excellent cook.  Always have been – I was cooking meals at home when I was seven.  Mom figured if I wanted to cook she could get out of doing it herself.  After high school I did a year of pre-apprenticeship Chef training. Back then it was an industry full of misogynistic assh**es (at least the chefs I was exposed to were,) which put me right off wanting to make it my career.  I do not kiss anyone’s as*!

I even won a gold medal at a Grande Salon du Culinaire – in the Gateau category (edible sculpture).

For almost 30 years I was the designated family Christmas cook.

I don’t measure and I make things up as I go pretty much.  The exception to that is baking – you need to have the right measurements to have consistent results.  But for the rest, I just toss things in.

I watch cooking shows and look through cookbooks to get ideas.  If I am trying to replicate something exactly I will follow a recipe – like the sauce for Vietnamese Spring Rolls!  But generally I just want inspiration then check to see what I have on-hand then substitute as necessary.

I am still trying to master cooking for one – not very successfully.  I make something then eat it for 3-6 days in a row.

Yesterday’s creation was completely made up without anything triggering the idea.  I had grabbed a couple of chicken breasts out of the freezer thinking I might make a salad with them and the fresh lettuce I had from my farm delivery.

But then I thought… I could make a hot dip, hmm, that would be good.  So I had a look in my cupboards to see what I could throw in it as I did not want to spend time chopping or shredding.

It turned out so well that I want to share it.  Keep in mind I measured nothing so seasonings are pretty much going to be to YOUR taste if you try it and throw whatever else you want in it.

Hot Chicken Dip

Two cooked boneless skin-less chicken breasts, diced

One can of creamed corn

One can of cream soup – I used cream of mushroom and garlic, but it almost was cream of celery – any flavour will work

One small can of green chilies

Once small can of sliced black olives

About a quarter cup of real crumbled bacon (I buy it at Costco in the 1 kg bags – bacon goes on everything!)

About a quarter to half a cup of grated Parmesan cheese

About a half a cup of chopped or shredded cheddar cheese (and extra for topping)

Spices – this is where it got to be a free for all.  I used dried thyme (just a pinch), chili powder (maybe 1/4 tsp), paprika (couple shakes), black pepper, onion powder, garlic powder, cayenne pepper (just a dash!) – it tastes “Mexican” with this combo.  Don’t add any extra salt – the bacon, Parmesan, soup and chilies are all already salty.

Into a two-quart casserole I dumped the chicken and all the ingredients and stirred them together well.  Sprinkled some extra cheddar on top and put in the oven at 400F for about 30-40 minutes – until it was bubbling in the middle.  Then I turned on the broiler to brown it up a bit.

I ate it with whole grain tortilla chips and it was YUMMY!  It actually still is yummy as I am eating it for day two right now.  I just reheated it in the oven with more cheese!  Photos are from the reheat in a smaller dish.

Chkn dip 1

Chkn dip 2

Chkn Dip 3

I think I will try a “Greek” version next time, leaving out the green chilies, using cream of celery, feta cheese, maybe some finely chopped green pepper, and oregano, dill, garlic and lemon for seasoning.  And chopped tomatoes added on top after it is cooked.  With pita chips.  Oh, that sounds really good!  I will have to take out some more chicken.


Summer is going by

It has been hot here, but this last week has cooled down considerably – I’m back to sleeping under the covers without the fan blowing directly at me.  It is a nice change.

I’ve been dealing with getting the household under control without mom around.  And have the occasional breakdown, particularly when people bring up mom without warning in conversation.

I’m starting a new day job on Monday which I am really looking forward to!  I needed a change of everything to get my mind occupied learning new things and changing routines.

I am thinking about renting out my house so decided to get some cracks in the foundation checked again (I had them looked at a few years ago).  So I booked a company to come and check for me – I decided to move the shelves in the basement bedroom against the wall that had cracks showing.  The shelves had mould on them against the wall – the question of whether the cracks were leaking was answered even before they were professionally checked.

Long story short – massive amount of cracks in the west wall of the foundation, only a couple along the south.  Repairs now done.  But they will have to come back to possibly do more once I get the utility room clear as I had to store most of my stuff in there while they did the work.  But luckily no mould problem in the walls, thank god.

I had no idea how much staff/crap I have.  When I started having to empty shelves so they could be moved I filled up about 9 paper boxes with books, 20 large plastic bins with photo albums and ornaments, small bins with make-up supplies, etc. etc.  I am planning a garage sale, maybe two, in August to get rid of so much stuff – appliances (a dryer and a dishwasher), small appliances (blenders, deep fryer, panini press, electric frying pan, etc.), kitchen stuff (dishes, pans, baking pans, cutlery), ornaments and decorative things like cookie jars and glass canisters, framed things, craft and art supplies, some furniture… there is so much of it.  And the thing is, it wasn’t cluttered or piled up.  I have 18 bookcases in this house… and they all were full.

Just so you know, this is what the repaired foundation looks like before the wall is rebuilt – cracks filled with epoxy and Kevlar strapping attached to hold it all together.




Now I am awaiting the quote from a contractor to rebuild my walls, gut and rebuild the basement bathroom (it is very wet and needs ripping out and fixing of the problem which we think is the shower drain), replace all the flooring (the carpet has to go as it has been wet and there is some mould), paint, trim, etc.

I am going to be counting every penny in order to pay for the repairs, but they have to be done to ensure the house is sound.  Once this is finished we will have completely replaced everything – I am pretty sure we spent more fixing and replacing things than we paid for it 10 years ago.  Last fall the roof was replaced.  The main floor was completely redone 2010-11.  First month we were in the house the sewer line had to be replaced, then all the windows, every appliance, hot water tank… well, you get the idea.

Canada Day was busy and hot as always!  My crew of ten (eight painters and two cleaning crew) worked steady at the big event at Muskoseepi Park.  As always we limited the choices and colours were red, white, and black.  And rainbow.

I did a My Little Pony themed birthday party – my first one – last month.  After some research (and sharing by fellow painters) came up with these two designs:


Only two ponies got painted – both were Rainbow Dash.  There are sure a lot of them to choose from.

On June 20th I taught a workshop in Tumbler Ridge, and will be back there on the long weekend for Grizfest.  And I will be at the Debolt Fair on August 15 and the Hythe Fair on August 16 too.  Along with other events and birthday parties to keep me busy and earning money to pay for my basement repairs!





Goodbye Mommy

My mother, June Elizabeth Fennell, died this evening at 7:03 p.m.  on the TV in the background Amazing Grace was playing (coverage of the funeral of a police officer from Edmonton on the news).  She went peacefully, holding my hand.

Her body just couldn’t recover from the two surgeries and complications.  She was alert this morning and was able to make her own decision about what she wanted.

After over a  month in the hospital, and almost three weeks of it in ICU, she was tired.  Rest well mom.

Thank you to the doctors, nurses, respiratory therapists and all the other staff who attended mom.

Per mom’s wishes there will be no funeral or service.   Bear Creek Funeral Home will be taking care of her.

Donations to any charity you wish would be appropriate.


June Elizabeth (Racher) Fennell

July 31, 1938 – June 17, 2015


Ups and downs with Mom

For those who follow my blog for make-up/face painting reasons – sorry for all the posts about my mom, but this is what is the most important thing in my life at the moment.  Writing about this helps me process what I am dealing with day-to-day.

This all started on May 15th when mom fell – as of this coming Monday she will have been in the hospital for a month.

Since my last post a week ago the following stuff has happened, in no particular order as time has ceased to register with me (I don’t know what day of the week it is, or how much time has passed without actually looking at a calendar):

– Mom pulled out her ventilator ON HER OWN early this week (I can’t even tell you how many days ago it was…)  They were talking about putting in a trach tube which I think caused her to take action.  She pulled it out and she is still breathing, completely on her own.  They put a “bi-pap” (?) mask on her the night she did that, and for a few hours the next day but she fought against it (and she flipped the bird at the respiratory therapist…) so… she is now simply on oxygen through the nose.  They removed the ventilator from her room completely.  They also installed a feeding tube down her nose – they give her stuff through it – Tylenol, other drugs and supplements, etc.

– Mom is now in a private room in ICU and probably will be there for a bit more time.  She’s now been there for two solid weeks since her stomach surgery.

– She wants me there everyday.  I was reading to her but a few days ago she started saying no if I asked if she wanted me to continue.  I’ve been going to work for an hour to clear emails, etc. then heading over.  It is really uncomfortable (the chairs are horrid.)  I don’t think I’m going to be able to continue staying there so long every day.  I have other things that need doing and will run out of vacation days.

– This week they did a CT scan to check for a reason her white blood cell count is so high.  They found an abscess inside against the outer wall of her abdomen.  Long story short (conflicting medical opinions, new intense antibiotics, etc.) they drained it with a needle today without notice they were going to.  I really hope that is the end of the “procedures” she has to have.

– Today, as well, they are doing an ultrasound of her heart.

– A few days ago, after she removed the ventilator, the speech therapist came to assess her for chewing and swallowing.  The first day she came to tell us she would be back the next day to do the test.  Then she came the next day and mom would not cooperate.  The third day she came back and mom cooperated.  So a pureed diet was ordered.  Had to wait for dinner as mom had a CT scan scheduled.  Mom ate the yoghurt.  The pureed food is vile, simply vile.  Today I took in mashed banana in yoghurt and mom ate it with actual enthusiasm.

– She doesn’t want to cooperate with the nurses about moving her around or getting her up to sit in a chair (using a lift/sling) and doesn’t want to cooperate with Physio either.  But they just do it anyway.  She squeals and yells.  I am blaming some of the behaviours (well, MOST of it, I hope) on the drugs – even though they have cut way back on the size of the doses, etc. she still gets “loopy” on pain meds.

– I called to talk to mom’s nurse an hour or so ago for an update and she told me that mom’s meds have been changed – hopefully we’ll find something that won’t make her loopy.

– She’s got a full size TV now so I can put the news on and her regular shows – it distracts her a bit, and at least I can watch it while sitting there.  I need to take in something productive to work on – I’ve got an embroidery project that I’ve had sitting in my basket, unopened, for about 40 years (yes, years) so maybe I’ll start working on that.

– Last night, actually, it was this morning at 12:11 a.m. the phone ringing woke me up – NOT a good thing right now.  I was sound asleep so it took me longer to wake-up than ringing – so I got up to check who it was because, well… it was ICU.  Panic mode… I called back, and mom’s night nurse answered – immediately said “June’s okay”… but she wanted to know if there were things mom did at home to help her get to sleep.  Mom doesn’t have ANY problem sleeping at home.  They could not get her to settle – they’d given her all the possible drugs they could, all of them had tried to ask her what the problem was (with different answers for each of them), she was yelling “help, help, help” banging and rattling anything she could reach.  So… I headed over there (as I was sort of asked to) to see if I could calm her down.  Had to enter through ER and security let me in.  They had set up a cot for me in mom’s room.  Mom seemed happy to see me and I got on the cot and tried to fall back to sleep.  Mom stayed quiet for about a couple of hours (till around 2:45 a.m.)  I tried to sleep but was wired from the adrenaline and there are so many noises!!  The bed makes noises (it is an adjusting air mattress), the monitors make noises, the HVAC system for the entire hospital is just outside the window of her room, the leg compressors inflate and deflate, there are sounds from the hall… I dozed off for about an hour, the mom started again – help, help, help.  Ask her why, she has to go to the toilet, tell her she can’t, just go you have tubes in.  Wait a couple of minutes – help, help, help, what now? My stomach hurts. Why?  I have to go, then just go.  And on, and on and on it went.  She kept it up, non-stop.

Net result, I may have managed to get a total of two hours sleep.  Her day nurse got her out of bed into a chair, against mom’s very vocal objections.  I fed her.  Then went to the cafeteria to get my self something (I hadn’t had time to pack a lunch) and she continued the whole repetitious process all morning.  At around 11 a.m. I told mom I was going to go home to sleep.  She obviously wasn’t interested in my company.  She wailed.  But I’d been there almost eleven hours and she hadn’t changed her tune.  Except to add in to her repertoire “my neck is broken.”

I managed a three-hour nap and still feel crappy and tired.

– I think it is still Friday right now.  June 12th is Friday?

For Family:  If you are planning to visit mom (and it would be nice if you did) send me a message so I can add you to the permitted visitor list.  See previous posts for hours, etc.  And please don’t phone me – I don’t want to talk as I get too emotional, upset and that just adds more stress and causes massive headaches.  Which I do not need and will not willingly subject myself to on top of everything else.




Roller coaster ride – update on my mom

We have not been having fun.

Overnight on May 27 mom’s vitals went wonky and her belly started to swell.  In the morning of May 28, the day we were going to be bringing her home, when her aide arrived shortly after 7 a.m. mom was on an IV and the nurses told her mom was going to be taken for a scan of her stomach.  She called me and I rushed over.

Mom was in pain – we thought it might be horrible constipation but she had been going.   Her belly swelled up steadily all day – she was in extreme pain and looked like she was 18 month’s pregnant with quintuplets.

They FINALLY came to take her for x-rays just before noon.  Mom was in worse and worse pain as time went by.

Around 2 p.m. a surgeon arrived to say it looked like a perforated bowel and they were going to be doing emergency surgery, but they had to get blood products into her first for clotting as she was back on her blood thinners at that point.  By now mom was totally delirious with pain yelling “help help help,” calling my name (NOT fun and very upsetting,) and screaming in pain. The nurses spent the next two hours getting things pumping into her.

Around 4 p.m. they took her to surgery.  I went home.  Around 6:30 I called the ward and they said she wasn’t out yet, and they thought she would be going to ICU afterwards.  Told me to call back around. 8 p.m.

The surgeon called me around 7:30 p.m. to say it wasn’t the bowel, but a ruptured ulcer on her stomach.  He had repaired it and she was in ICU.  He said the surgery went well.  I asked if that was better than a perforated bowel and he said “hell yes.”

On Friday, May 29 the phone ringing woke me up around 6:30 a.m.  It was ICU saying they thought I might want to get there as soon as possible.  Mom had deteriorated overnight and was on full life support.  I called one sister told her to let the others know, threw on some clothes and got over there.

Luckily mom had stabilized somewhat by then and was no longer requiring the ventilator to breathe completely for her.  That was a week ago.

She’s been steadily improving BUT, they haven’t removed the ventilator (it is on “assistance mode”) she has a lot of tubes and bags, and still has pain.  They removed the stitches from the hip surgery on Sunday – she is seeping out of the holes still though as she has been so pumped fully of liquids she was like a fully over inflated balloon – hard to the touch, no creases.  They’ve been  giving her diuretics to get the fluids off of her through the week.  The last three days she has been fully awake, finally, and communicating as best one can with a ventilator and stomach tube shoved in their face.  The bloating has been decreasing and her arms look about normal, but the legs are still pretty puffy.

Today, however, her belly is again, swelling up – and it is pretty big.  Her nurse convinced the ICU doctor to order x-rays to check that out.

So… I don’t know at this point what the x-rays show.  Shift change is going on right now so I will call in later to see what the update is.

I am dealing with things as they happen and hope to get her home sooner rather than later.  But she has to  recover from the surgeries and other issues, AND able to do a standing transfer with one person assisting before we can manage at home.

FOR FAMILY: ICU is immediate family visitors only, and only two at a time.  They are closed to visitors between 7-9 a.m., 1-3 p.m. and 7-9 p.m. I am the main contact – they won’t give out information to others.  If any family members are planning to visit her there you need to let me know so I can add you to the allowed in list.  And to reiterate what I said in my previous posts:  I am not home much between two jobs/visiting mom/etc. and do not want to talk on the phone when I am – send me an email or a Facebook message and I will answer.

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Shannon Fennell

Shannon Fennell

International Award Winnning Make-Up Artist, Face & Body Painter

I am a professional make-up artist with credits in film, television, theatre and editorial.  My face painting book YOUR FACE OR MINE was published in 2007 by Snazaroo USA Inc. is widely available worldwide and I offer a multitude of make-up related services and retail instructional products for face painters.

Some of my awards include 2005 International Face Painter of the Year, 2006 Winner of Fantasy Worldwide Face Painting Contest in Putte, Belgium, Second Place at the 2007 US Body Painting Festival, as well as over 50 other awards and prizes. 

I love creative projects and can do everything from wedding make-up to custom SFX appliances, large scale international sporting events to individual appointments at Halloween, birthday parties to trade shows.  No job too big or too small.


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