Shannon Fennell's Blog

My life, art, travel, make-up, cooking and the occasional rant!


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Pretty sure THIS is my last post from Canada!

I know I said three posts ago that that one was probably my last post from Canada… but it wasn’t. I’m organized, lists made, appointments booked, etc. so to “relax” I write posts.

But I only have three more sleeps until I leave now! So I am pretty sure that this will, for real, be my last post until I am in the UK.

My room is VERY bare – I’ve sold all my personal furnishings and taken at least a dozen loads to donate to the thrift store (by bus) over the last two months. My room is furnished so I am not sitting on the floor!

Tomorrow I go for my PCR test (required 72 hours prior to arrival in the UK). That is making me nervous. I’ve been taking strict precautions, but if I happen to test positive what the hell am I going to do? My lease is up this Friday, they have already rented it for September. Where would I go to wait out a quarantine and further tests? The cost of staying in a hotel for two weeks… NOT in my budget, but that would be the only alternative. Changing the flight is not an issue thankfully and my entry visa is good for 90 days, but…. that is stressing me.

Other than that, I pretty confident everything is under control. I’ve got my spreadsheet of things to do – I’m holding off until I get my test results to do the official address changes. As most, if not all, can be done online, that isn’t a big problem. Most things I get online so getting snail mail isn’t really an issue, and I’ve made arrangements with a roommate in case something does show up in the short term.

I changed my cellphone plan… I’m rather annoyed as it is LESS than my current plan! But, if the phone activates there is a daily roaming fee (only IF the phone pings a tower) that is in effect for 24 hours. So I’ll just plan to do anything I need to use that phone for all on the same day, or connect to the wifi.

I’m packed. But went through my luggage, again, today and probably will again on Wednesday. I am worried about weight – need to make sure I am not over. I don’t know how accurate the scale is, so need to allow a little wiggle room. I weighed everything again, and it all looks good – as long as the scale is right! Also, my carry-on is 25lbs and I haven’t got everything in it! My back pack is over 12lbs. So… all my worldly goods weigh under 200lbs. Does that seem sad to you?

The Big Three… two under 50lbs (barely!) and one over.
The blue things will be in the black things when I’ve finished putting things in them.

For me culling and sorting is a process. I start off with a list of things I really want to keep, then as I start actually sorting to pack, I remove things. I am now at the stage where everything DOES fit in my luggage HOWEVER, the weight… that is a real concern. So now I am taking out things that I do not need, I would like to keep, BUT they are not necessary and don’t actually serve a purpose, so they will go to the thrift store.

How I look at it now is that if my goal is to travel for most of the rest of my life, what is the point of physical objects that are purely decorative or sentimental? Particularly if they don’t mean anything to anyone but me? Why carry them around? Little things that can fit in a pocket are one thing, small furnishings or heavy art objects are really not required. I will take photos or scan things that can be, and that is good for the memory trips if I want to reminisce.

My last run to the thrift store will be Wednesday morning. At that point this room will be like a jail cell, with luggage. Then cleaning and sorting out things for the dumpster. Up very early Thursday to strip the bed, get rid of the mattress pad, eat breakfast, toss left over food, take out all my trash, sort the cleaning supplies, etc. My ride is picking me up at 9:30 am.

It feels like this is happening so fast… but I’ve been planning it since 2015 really, with hiccups along the way, but… FINALLY!!!


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An Artist’s Quandary

Tell me… do you keep ALL your sketchbooks?

I mean, every single one you’ve ever used? Or just the ones with good stuff or important things you want to follow-up on?

It seems to be a accepted thing that we SHOULD keep them, but how realistic is that?

If you’ve kept yours, do you actually use or refer to them? How are they of value to you 10, 20, 50 years on?

Historically I was keeping most of mine, just because I hated throwing out anything I spent time on – it wasn’t an issue to carry them when we moved (considering my family had 19 bookcases full of books and collectibles, a couple more boxes made no difference!) Most of them weren’t even full. I had some going back to grade school. And lots of random bits of paper with doodles on them that I saved as I thought they were particularly good.

But I had to cull substantially when I sold my house and downsized in 2017. I just kept the pages/drawings that I thought were either good or an idea I wanted to keep. It was sometimes hard, but a lot of what is in a sketchbook was just filler that served no purpose other than to kill time or practise.

I also have a paper fetish so buy new ones just because they are on sale, or I want to try a different paper finish or weight or size. That’s not even all of it on that shelf, the bigger pads are stored elsewhere. This was early this year – that’s all gone, except for a small selection of my preferred sizes that I was able to fit into my luggage.

Bottom shelf, all brand new – there are 37 different items there!

Now, because I am moving to another country with as few things as I possibly can, I’ve gone through everything and scanned work that I want to keep a record of and some process/planning sketches from finished projects and trashed the originals.

Planning sketches for a project 2019

At least with modern technology I can scan or photograph anything I want to – which is making the whole process of destroying my “babies” tolerable even if I still feel bad about it.

It was hard but, sigh, I can’t carry a ton of stuff around that NEVER gets referred to. And really… unless it is a current sketchbook that I am actively working in, it doesn’t get looked at unless I am going through the process of culling.

I don’t think I have EVER actually filled up or used up an entire sketchbook or artist’s pad in my life. I’m close on two currently… one I’m working in and keeping. The other is going to get tossed – I’ve photographed or scanned the parts I want to keep out of it.

These are/were the 2020/21 in use sketchbooks

All this made me wonder… do artists REALLY keep ALL their sketchbooks?


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I’m “normal” now. But don’t worry, I’m still me!

Got the results for my blood letting last week. I’ve been making the rounds of doctors, etc. in preparation for leaving the country – also, my benefit plan from school is good until the end of this month so am getting everything done that I can.

Doctor’s comment: “Everything is excellent!” The results in no way indicate that I was diagnosed with diabetes six years ago. He tested everything and every result was in the normal range!

Of note – my fasting sugars were 4.8 and my A1c was 5.4…. that is NON-DIABETIC.
– For Fasting 3.6 -6.0 is “Normal”
– For A1c under 6.0 is “Non-Diabetic”

I’ve had these numbers since 2016 after going Low Carb for only 4 months. And completely off medication since the beginning of 2019 (after having reduced the dose myself for a year before that) – with no change in my numbers at all. I stopped taking the Metformin without consulting anyone – I was monitoring myself, and the drugs made no difference whether I took them or not at that stage. I just told the doctor I’d stopped about a year after the fact.

So… cut out the sugar and the carbs and things will improve! Diabetes does not have to be progressively debilitating if you change your habits and take away the root cause of your body’s malfunctions which in my case was CARBS. I still wish I had known this information 10 or 20 years earlier as I could have stopped the damages, and lost the weight way earlier in my life, which would have also stopped the wear and tear damage to my joints and back (osteoarthritis and degenerative disc disease.)

And the really great thing is that the damage from diabetes can actually heal/improve with time in many cases! My only remaining “issue” is my eyes – unfortunately the diabetic retinopathy was so advanced when it was caught (that was how/when I was diagnosed) it is taking a long time to try to control. But I still consider myself lucky that there are treatments for it – my uncle went blind at the age of 19 – he was a Type 1 diabetic in the late 1960s when there was no treatment.

I was diagnosed as Type 2; but Type 1 also have HUGE benefits with Low Carb – I highly recommend Dr. Richard K. Bernstein’s book – Diabetes Solution – this is what I followed to fix myself and still strictly follow. Most of the information is available online so you don’t even have to buy the book!

At the time of my diagnosis, which was three days before Christmas in 2015, my doctor simply said, “You’re diabetic” handed me a prescription for Metformin and the equipment (which was covered by my insurance as long as it was prescribed – was an excellent plan!) And that was it. No advice or referrals, nothing.

So I had to do my own research, which… given the state of my eyes was rather urgent. I knew carbs were not “good” for my blood sugar control. Looking at the various diabetes associations’ guidelines and diet plans I was completely disgusted. Sugar, carbs, fruits, three meals and three snacks a day – ALL CONTAINING HIGH CARBS AND REFINED SUGAR. I didn’t know a lot, but I knew that made no sense.

At first I tried to find a “plan” that would work. But if I followed a so-called diabetic meal plan my blood sugar did NOT come down. So I started removing carbs and anything with sugar, completely. I tried to keep fruit – but one bite of banana would spike me 10 points. A small slice of apple about 6 points. I tried to keep some so-called “good carbs” like oatmeal and 100% rye bread – ah, nope! Those would spike me around 8-10 points. I was doing a lot of eat it, then test every 20 minutes for a few weeks. Was interesting to see how things work.

Then I came across Dr. Bernstein’s book online and it was an epiphany! I think I heard angels singing. He has all the pertinent chapters freely available online so I was able to download the information and follow it right away. I did a series of blogs about how I got myself organized back in 2017 – You can read them HERE – that links to the first of the five-part series of “Getting Organized for a LCHF Life Style” that I wrote. They are also listed on my Food Stuff page.

Long story short I now am what is considered “normal” for bloodwork and weight range. I am 200lbs lighter than I was at my heaviest. My knees don’t hurt, I can touch and SEE my toes, and I don’t have to ask for seat belt extensions on airplanes anymore.

1998 vs 2017

I do not miss sugar. I don’t use sweeteners. I can bake cookies, breads, cakes and other desserts without either carbs or sweeteners and they are delicious. There are a multitude of options for protein and vegetables out there for low carb. Cheese is WAY more versatile than you think! And you can make awesome gravy just adding heavy cream to your pan juices or to butter and seasonings and reducing it.

I don’t get hungry all the time or have cravings. As I’m not hungry I do Intermittent Fasting (referred to as IF) which just means I eat nothing for 16-18 hours at a time, any food consumed in only done in the other 6-8 hour window. Many times I only have one meal a day (often referred to as OMAD by some people.)

I read labels – which can be challenging with my eyes not being great. I don’t buy much processed food as it is very difficult to find any without added sugars or carb based fillers (like starches such as bread crumbs) and I don’t like additives either. My goal is to be as low carb as I can possibly be. There are a few brands of sausages and cured meats that only contain meat and spices, but you really have to hunt for them.

This is one of the times where being considered NORMAL is just what I wanted and is an excellent thing to be.


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This could be my final post… from Canada

My visa was approved for the UK and my flight is booked for August 22nd, so if I keep to my first of the month posting schedule my September post will be made from Plymouth, England!

If you squint you can see my new home in this photo of Devonport, and the Naval Base which is right behind it.

I might post again sooner… I’ve got a lot of time on my hands for the next three weeks. I’ll be reviewing my moving checklists and doing up new ones: mainly address changes, but also figuring out the phone thing (need to find out what the costs will be to keep the Canadian number active), and cancelling things here. Then a list for when I get there – top three are pick-up my identity/work card, open a bank account and get a local phone.

I donated most (95+%) of my art and craft supplies which cleared out my room substantially. I’ve taken four trolley loads to the thrift store to donate, sold some items to a pawn shop (gold jewelry – I didn’t know you could get that much for random bits of gold,) and sold some things privately. I don’t want to keep packing things around that I never wear so I cleared out things I never use, or won’t use again from drawers and bins. And am trying to sell some items online (which is the most frustrating and aggravating thing I have EVER done!)

I’ve stopped getting rid of or posting anything else for now as I still need to be comfortable in my room for the next three weeks. So my bookcase, shelf, table and chair, lamps, etc. will stay put until the last week when I start to pack for real. I have to hold onto my printer to the last possible minute – I have to print off my 72 hour PCR test results to carry with me, and my test is Friday morning, my flight is Sunday night… they guarantee them within 48 hours. So not sure what I’ll be doing about the printer.

Now I’m just puttering, sorting out things for packing purposes – wrapping fragile things up, sorting the art supplies I am keeping which I reduced to two scrapbook cases (not including paper), going through documents I still need to keep accessible for dealing with in the move.

I had thought I would have to mail/ship some stuff over due to lack of room in my luggage, but I think I am going to have more than enough room. I’ll know more definitely once I start practise packing. This is going to be a lot different than packing for a trip! I always would pack, then spend two weeks removing things because I knew I wouldn’t need them or get around to wearing everything I packed to start with. This time, I have to pack everything!

I will probably end up trying to sell, or donate, one of my carry-on suitcases as I have two that size. If I need to check a third bag, one of them will be used for that. But if I don’t need to have a third checked bag, then I won’t need it at all. I have two “free” checked bags (my two brand new huge suitcases – which were on sale for $109, original price was $450 each which I would never have paid, my god,) the third checked bag I would have to pay $225, so ideally, I hope I won’t need it. I will be working towards NOT needing it.

My new suitcases – biggest I’ve ever had.

Had my last eye treatment with my doctor here a week ago. Little bit of excitement this time with the injection – I could NOT see out of that eye immediately after the shot. Total grey-out like solid frosted glass. She immediately “fixed it” – by ANOTHER needle in the eye to remove some fluid. Instant vision return. Wow. I’ve completely lost count of the number of injections I’ve had over the last five years and this has never happened before, but it was immediately resolved. I see her again in a couple weeks for a consult before I leave, to get a letter and forms from her to give my new specialist in the UK. She checked to see if there was time for me to have another treatment before I left but there isn’t, so I hope I can get on with a new ophthalmologist ASAP once I get over there.

I’m concerned with the increasing number of cases in England, and the fact that they opened up even with numbers climbing. But… I really can’t change or delay my plans at this point. My lease is up here August 27, I’m off my school health insurance as of August 31, the move has been planned/delayed since 2015 (first delay was because I was diagnosed T2 diabetic and my eyes needed treatment – couldn’t leave my 100% medical coverage at that point), then I was attending school here. I need to get back on my timeline for getting on with my life. I plan a lot of travelling but that’s going to have to wait until the virus retreats or is being controlled. And getting a degree done has been deferred as I want the full in-person learning experience, no more of this online stuff.

I’ve no intention of giving up masks or hand-sanitizer for quite some time! I’ve ordered more of the antimicrobial TrioMed surgical masks. They started selling boxes of 50 to the public so I ordered a couple. Shipping to the UK would be ridiculous, if they even would ship, so I stocked up. They don’t weigh anything to pack with me, and have a five year shelf life – the pandemic will have retreated by then… right?