Wednesday, June 30, 2010


Where else would a cat hang out?

Oh, well.  At least he's pointing in the right direction.

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

More roof changes...

The front of the house:

Not a poppy

Another peony plant is blooming:

And to prove that I did actually plant something that isn't pink,

Technically, those flowers on the right are "tangerine" coloured.

Monday, June 28, 2010

Roof Progress

The roof got started today.

The asphalt shingles were stripped off, then the horizontal boards were nailed/sealed over top of the rubber membrane.  The vertical boards are being nailed into the horizontal boards, and the tiles will hook onto them.  They haven't started the front or the garage, so it may take a few days to finish this phase.

...Not sure where they are now.  There are tools and supplies in my yard, and more tools on the roof.  I'm assuming that they've taken a break for dinner, and will be back to collect their stuff.  In the meantime, I'm appreciating the silence.  I know it's necessary, but holy cow is this a noisy process.

Saturday, June 26, 2010

Happy points

Happy Point # 1:  I ate the first strawberry from my garden this morning.

Happy Point # 2: I mixed in a bunch more veggies into the back gardens this year than I've ever done before, and so far it's been a success. I already have more (green) tomatoes in my gardens this year than I had total last year.  There are also beets, carrots and onions, none of which I've grown before.  So far, they seem to be doing well.

Happy Point # 3: In case you aren't sick of garden talk or poppies, another pink poppy is blooming today.

Happy Point # 4: There is a sold sign in front of the evil neighbour's house.

Hot Weather Cooking

Although it hasn't gotten too, too hot yet, we're getting a definite taste of summer.  Last night I decided to cook accordingly and made a chicken pasta with blueberries and feta cheese.  It's super easy, and very very yummy.

Chicken pasta with blueberries and feta cheese
1 pound of boneless, skinless chicken breast
8 oz uncooked pasta  (Any will do.  I've used penne, bowties, linguine and spagettini, and it's all good.)
1 tbsp of cooking oil
1 shallot (I always use 3-4 green onions)
1/3 cup of low salt chicken or veggie broth.  (This has to be low salt, because the feta is quite salty)
1/3 cup of fresh lime juice
1/3 cup of crumbled feta
1 cup of fresh blueberries

  • Cut the chicken into bite sized pieces and cook throughout .  Set aside in a bowl.
  • Cook the pasta and add to the chicken bowl
  • On medium heat, sauté the onion in the oil until softened.  Add the lime juice and the broth, and when the liquid starts to bubble add the feta.  Stir until the cheese is mostly melted and well mixed with the other ingredients.  Pour over the chicken and pasta
  • add the blueberries, and mix well before serving.

This makes 4 servings.  I like it served hot, but the leftovers are pretty good served cold too.

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Out of order

I got an exciting phone call on Tuesday.  It seems that the person who was supposed to get their new roof started this week was being indecisive, so the roofing contractor called me to say he'd be starting on my house this week instead. I was slotted to have my roof done in August, but since I know what I want (thanks in part to you) I got to swap places with the indecisive clients.

He said he and his crew would be here Wednesday or Thursday, probably Thursday.  Great, I said.  Come when you can.

He hasn't made it yet.

Technically, he hasn't done anything wrong because, from the beginning, the only agreement we've had  is that he will finish before summer.  There are two phases, and he'll do them both from start to finish so he won't leave any gaping holes exposed to the weather; but other than that, I gave him an end date instead of a timeline.  He doesn't need to come into the house, so I don't need to worry about when he'll be here.

Or so I thought.

(Apparently, I need more paperweights rocks around the edges of the tarp.)

I forgot the little detail that the dog pen has to be covered to catch any stray nails that might fall.  I tarped the pen Tuesday night, and the dogs haven't been able to use it since.  Because the dogs aren't allowed to potty in the rest of the yard, their facilities are unavailable and they need to go on leashed walks four times a day.

I wonder if it's too late to impose the timeline.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Now there's two...

There are two different colours of poppies blooming now, coming from two different plants.  Or, if you really want to put a good spin on it, four flowers are blooming.  Either way, they all add up to me being happy.

I just love the texture of those petals.  They look like paper, and the colour's so vibrant, they could be made from  silk.

I could spend hours, just looking at these flowers.  (Actually, I do.)

Chasing the beams...

When there's a sunbeam, she'll be in it.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

I think....

That oil sands and drilling under water should be banned, period.  When the consequences of something going so wrong is so great, the end doesn't justify the means.  If fossil fuels weren't so readily available, we'd be putting our heads together to making more environmental choices like solar power and wind turbines achievable for the common man. Instead, we're destroying the environment so that the oil companies can make a quick buck.

That's all.  I try not to be too political here, but that needed to come out.

Monday, June 21, 2010

Just about...

I've planted perennial poppies in my garden every year for ten years.  Until last year, I've never had one survive the season, let alone bloom; but last year three made it.  This year, they're still alive and about to bloom.

So, without further ado - ten years in the making - I present to you my very first (almost open) poppy bloom.

Also, the first peony blooms finally arrived today too. Have I mentioned that I love peonies?  I really do.

Sunday, June 20, 2010

The weekend project

This blog entry could also be called 'what I didn't do on my vacation', or 'what I was supposed to get done during my last vacation'.  But I didn't do it then.  I would have had to take off my pajamas, and I didn't want to do that.

So, this weekend I decided that the new shade garden would be dug in, edged, mixed with compost and filled with plants.    I dug out manageable chunks of ground, and then I spent eight hours yesterday breaking them up and separating soil from the grass, and sifting out weeds and roots.  (That plastic that I laid down on the ground in late May to kill the grass?  It didn't work.  It was starting to, but I didn't want to wait.  So I dug.)  Today, I edged for 3 hours, and then finally filled it with plants.  I may never stand tall again.

As always, I ask that you pretend that I've got a lush, healthy, green lawn.

I buy baby plants to save money.  When they grow up, I'm hoping that you won't be able to see the soil at all.

Hey, RR - I've got a sittin place!  It's hard to tell, but I've got baby steppable ground covers planted all around, between and in front of the concrete blocks so that you can put your feet down in front of the bench and not get muddy feet.

I need to stain that bench.  I inherited it from the former owner of my first house.  He was a professional gardener who worked on the provincial grounds before he retired.  By the time I came along, he was 97 but unwilling to give up his gardening.  He had a few chairs and seats spread around his garden so that he could take a rest, and he left most of them when he moved out.

I didn't know it then, but he was planning to come back.  He did pop in fairly regularly for the first few summers.  I'm not sure if he was checking in to make sure I kept up his gardens, or there to pass on the skill.  Either way, he taught me a lot about gardening, so I left the seats out there for him until he stopped coming.  Most were in pretty rough shape, but this one is still good.  It needs to be stained though.  I've got purple, blue and brown stain that I could use, but somehow I feel as though it would be disrespectful to paint his bench another colour.  I might end up going out and getting a small can of red stain, in his memory.

ps - the disco balls.  Fun and whimsical, or tacky and wrong?

Friday, June 18, 2010

I hope...

...that you don't mind.

Times are tight.  The house needs a new roof and the basement is leaking.  I caved and signed up for advertising on my blog.  Chances are, this is such a small blog, I'll net $10 a month (if I'm lucky.)  But, it's $10 I didn't have before.  If it doesn't work out, I'll remove them.

I'm also working to learn some HTML so that I can make this place a little nicer.  Hopefully that'll  hide the unwanted commercialism.

Thursday, June 17, 2010

How often?

My hairdresser has been bugging me for about a year to not wash my hair as often as I do.  She says I should ideally only wash it twice a week, but should at least aim for no more than every other day.

I'm a shower every day person, and that includes washing my hair.  This girl's got to be clean.  Actually, I thought that everybody liked to have showers, until a few years ago when I took in a tenant as a favour to a friend.  It didn't work out too well.  To summarize only a small portion of her freakishness, she showered on average once every eight days.  In the four months that she stayed with me, she did her laundry twice and I washed the sheets on her bed (my sheets) three times.  Had I not walked into her room and demanded the sheets, I suspect they'd have gone unwashed the entire time.  Needless to say, I wore a has-mat suit to muck out her room when she left.  However, I've got to say that I really thought she was an anomaly in this world.

Then, I read a post over at Carma Sez that says otherwise.  Apparently, there are people in this world who look for ways to avoid showering as long as possible.    That, I don't understand.  When it comes down to it, I can't be comfortable if I'm not clean; and that includes my hair.

So, it took a lot for my hairdresser to convince me that hair doesn't get all that dirty unless I'm doing some serious sweating, and that I should cut back the number of times that I wash my hair.  I finally broke down and agreed to give it a try, but I don't think it's going very well.  Tuesday night, I tied up my hair in a clip and carefully showered so as not to get it wet.  Yesterday, I had to wear my hair in a ponytail because otherwise it looked limp and lackluster to me.  I felt as though I was walking around with a sign saying that I hadn't washed my hair.

Lord only knows why, but I tried again to not wash my hair tonight.  Once again, I carefully tied up my hair and contorted myself in the shower (I've got a rain-head shower) to keep my head dry.

Then I went outside to water the gardens, leaned over and stuck my head into a peony bush that's about to bloom (and therefore loaded with nectar-loving ants).  Apparently, that's a great way to piss them off, because they very quickly climbed on for the ride and then started to bite.  I managed to shake them out of my clothes, but when I had to pick two of them out of my hair, I ran for the shower and washed them out.

I think... my hair will continue to be washed daily.  If that dries it out, then I think that probably means that I'm meant to have shorter hair.  Is that really so bad?

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

No More Ears

I honestly wasn't planning to follow up yesterday's blog entry this way, but Jen and the Bullies invited Tula and I to go to the dog park with them tonight.  There are ponds at the dog park, and Tula loves them.  She's a total water baby, and I don't normally stop her from running into the ponds because they usually aren't any deeper than her knees.

I forgot how much it's been raining, and before either of us knew it, she was under water.

(How come red eye reduction doesn't fix green eyes?)        

She went back again, and again and again.  I swear, she yelled Cowabunga once as she jumped in from a raised bank.  She could have happily swam all night, but eventually I'd had enough.  In fact, I'm pretty sure she's giving me the stinkeye in that picture because I made her come home.

Or maybe it was because I hosed her down to remove the smell of eau de pond scum.  It was either that, or she'd be sleeping in the garage tonight.

Either way, the floofy ears - a result of over an hour of grooming - are now gone.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Things I know to be True

  • Peanut butter goes with everything.
  • The best way to get the dirt out from under your nails after gardening is to wash your long hair.
  • Sh*t My Dad Says is one of the funniest books I've ever read. (Apparently, it also wins the award for being mentioned more times on my blog than any other book ... )
  • Sugar and olive oil mixed together make a great exfoliate.
  • There's a lot of vacuuming involved with owning two dogs and an angora cat
Vacuum the rug. Move stuff onto the rug. Vacuum the rest of the house. Wash the floor. Put stuff back. Repeat. Repeat. Repeat.
  • The cat loves his cat hole.

Saturday, June 12, 2010

Note to the dogs

While it's true that I normally stop to use the facilities before we go for a walk, this does not mean that you should celebrate every time that I go pee. It's been about 35 years since my successful use of the toilet was cause for celebration, and now is not the time to start again.

I thank you. My bladder thanks you.

Friday, June 11, 2010

Everybody has a story

... and this one's mine.

It feels weird talking (writing) about this. I allude to it often, because it's had such a big impact on my life; but I don't usually tell the whole story. I feel as though it was a long time ago, that I should get over it and move on. By telling people about it, I feel as though I'm holding myself back from moving on... And, really, who wants to hear about a car accident that happened 20 years ago? But I figure that I touch on it enough here that I should explain about my accident.

I learned to fly airplanes before I learned to drive a car. When you taxi a plane on the ground, you steer with four pedals in the ground... two in the front and two in the back. As a result, you sit with your seat quite far forward.

Eventually, when I started to drive, I sat in the car like you'd sit in the plane... with the steering wheel in my gut. I remember my mom commenting multiple times that it wasn't safe, but my driving instructor told me I should sit where ever it felt comfortable. Driving instructors having so much more knowledge than moms, I went with his advice.

Even though I had my license, it had been a really cold, snowy winter and my parents had been driving me to my lessons and work for a few weeks. That particular day, it was -35C outside and my parents wanted to drive me again. As I'd been doing for weeks, I gave them the excuse of 'if I can fly an airplane, shouldn't I be capable of driving a car?' That night, they gave in and let me drive; but I never made it to flight school.

I don't remember the accident, but it looks like I lost control on ice when I tried to steer around a mailbox that was overhanging the country road. The car spun, collided with a truck, spun around again and collided with the trailer that the truck was hauling. I was wearing a seat belt, but I was sitting so far forward that my head still hit the rear view mirror.

The mirror broke through my skull between my eye socket and my temple, and was pushed into the center of the brain. The crack in the skull then extended down into the jaw joint in the front, and towards the back of my head. The back of the skull shattered.

The man driving the truck that I hit was fine, physically; but he went into shock and was unable to get out of his truck to check on me. Fortunately, a good friend of mine happened to be driving home and came upon us. She ran to the nearest farm house and called the ambulance, and then came back as I stopped breathing because I was choking on blood. She turned my head (probably not so smart) so that the blood coming from my ear wouldn't flow into my mouth anymore, and then gave me mouth to mouth resuscitation until the ambulance arrived.

She saved my life. I was flown by air ambulance to the Calgary hospital, where I remained in a coma for 10 days. When I woke up, I was delusional for a few weeks (I had the mindset of a 3 year old, the potty mouth of sailor and a really great talent for escaping the hospital). When I became lucid, I was pain free.

I don't remember the accident, and I don't remember any pain from it. Actually, I didn't believe that it had happened for a long time. It was months before I was convinced that it wasn't a bad dream. After all, I was up and about; and the injuries seemed minor, compared to what you'd expect from a head injury like that.

I was incredibly lucky, and I know that. I suspect that's why I don't tell people what happened; because I feel like I'm complaining or making excuses when I do. But, some of the consequences have stayed with me. I am now legally an epileptic. I don't have seizures, just the brain waves of an epileptic... chances of me having a seizure are a fair bit higher than the average person. My jaw will never heal completely. My short term memory, impulse control and ability to concentrate are limited. My balance is awful, and I'm deaf in one ear. What I don't have - what I never really did have - is a headache.

Another side effect of the brain injury is a form of amnesia, where I forgot everything I'd previously "learned". I knew who people were, I knew the year it was and I knew the prime minister. I had forgotten all of my school knowledge, like maths and sciences, reading music or anything related to flying. What I could go over right away, like maths and sciences, I picked up again immediately. It was like being reminded of something I already knew. The longer I took to review something, though, the harder it became to remember or relearn. Something like reading music, which was delayed for a few years because I couldn't play the violin with a broken jaw, never did come back. In addition to playing the violin, I also used to play the piano & flute, and had gone as far as possible with musical theory classes. And yet, now I have a mental block when it comes to music. Regardless of how many times I sit down and try to figure it out, I cannot read music. Nor can I tune or play a violin. I can, however, play the piano fairly well by ear... probably because there was always a piano in the house; and I probably tinkered away at it as soon as I got home.

I recovered really quickly. One of the first things I said once I was lucid was that I wanted to fly again. They told me that when I was well enough to do everything else that I'd been doing before, we could talk about flying. So, I went back to school a few weeks after I got out of the hospital. I had a tutor, and I relearned enough of my classes to graduate the same year that my friends did. I went to summer school, and then I took another driving class so that I could start driving again. I went to college.

A few years later - multiple, multiple tests later - it was determined that I wouldn't be able to fly again. Whether they have seizures or not, people with brain waves like mine aren't allowed to fly. That was a hard knock. It was hard to hear that I couldn't have what I'd worked so hard for; but if I hadn't had something like that to work towards, I don't know if I'd have been able to recover so well and live such a normal life. As far as I'm concerned, the fact that I'm up and about, employed and independent is pretty darned cool.

So, that's my story. That's why I sometimes talk about things I used to do, but don't do anymore. Then again, everybody's got a story; and everybody's got things from their youth that they can't have or can't do. That's life, I think. It makes us who we are.

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Random Rainy Day Thoughts

It's been pouring rain for three days straight.

The garden along the south of the house is dry because the house is sheltering it from the rain. I'm glad I've got a privacy fence so that people don't see me out in the pouring rain, watering my garden.

My basement is flooding again. I don't want to talk about it.

I went to the dentist last night. 8 years of braces and biweekly (painful) checkups and a broken jaw have led me to having an extreme dislike for dentists. It may have been a while since my last checkup. Both the dentist and the technician were torn between telling me off for the length of time between visits, and complimenting me on the good condition of my teeth. I choose to focus on the good condition of my teeth.

... I am thinking of having my teeth whitened, though, and my dentist says he'll refuse to do it unless I go see him every six months for at least a year. I might need to change dentists.

Speaking of which, my health care insurance through work pays for 80% of my dental care. Even so, my bill - 20% of the total bill - came to $68. I think I might go back to school and learn to be a dentist.

Not being a dentist, and not having money to spare, I decided to buy replacement windshield wipers and put them on my car myself. Because I'm something of a boob, I couldn't figure out how to remove the old wipers. It was pouring rain outside, and when the salesman saw me struggling, he came out & switched them for me. Had I made an appointment and driven my car into the building for that work, it would have cost $50 in labour. He only charged me for the parts. Gotta love dealerships. (But kudos to the salesman.)

Monday, June 7, 2010

Fire Sale

My mom and dad just bought a new house. They decided to downsize, which means that suddenly 'you should think about coming to collect your stuff' turned into 'if you don't take it, we'll throw it out'.

Much of the things that I've left behind have no actual use; but lots of sentimental value.

Over the next few weeks, I'm going to have to decide between throwing stuff away, selling it, storing it in the basement or using it.

The first carload included a wrought iron table, for which I took the base and tossed the top. I'll spray paint it, then look into getting a granite off-cut for it's top.

Loads and loads of books. It seems I've always been a wee bit of a book worm.

Then there's this: 20 years ago, this was the bomb.

My parents always made it clear that in our family, graduation from grade twelve was a milestone and an expectation - not an accomplishment. Unlike many of our friends, we didn't receive big graduation gifts, and the actual ceremony was something of a non-event. For me, it was a little different. Since that was the year of my big accident, it was something of a medical miracle that I made it to graduation. My parents let me make a bigger deal of it, and said they'd buy whatever dress I wanted.

That dress was what I wanted. It had poofy, off-the-shoulder sleeves, bows, sequins, and multiple crinolines. Scarlett O'Hara would have been jealous. ... And the fact that I'd just come off of a six week IV diet meant my waist would have rivaled hers.

Somehow, it doesn't look as fabulous as I remember it; but I'm thinking that I'll steam it up, put some stuffing in the girl parts and see if I can get a better picture of it. I'm a little late for grad season, but maybe somebody on Kajiji will want it.

Then there's these:

These were the perfect pj's for a college student living in co-ed housing; but mostly, I just showed you these to make Moosepants jealous.

Then there's the important stuff. I told my parents that the one thing they absolutely could NOT throw out was my violin. I've actually got a couple of them, but this is one is my favorite. My dad bought it for me after I aced a significant music exam, and I remember working so hard to prepare for that test... it was the first time that I felt as though I'd really earned something. I was always very proud of that violin.

Since I can't play it anymore, and likely won't ever again, I'm thinking that I want to put it on display. I just need to find a way to make it safe from cat, kid, poodle or any other type of damage. I just need to find something a little nicer than a basic shadow box. Or, maybe I'll pimp up a shadow box with crown moulding, and line it with the score of one of my favorite songs. Either way, I think it won't be long before this violin has a home on my dining room wall.

Saturday, June 5, 2010

Dog on it...

This being the weekend, yesterday was the last real vacation day of my time off. For a gardening vacation, I can't say that'd I'd done much up until now. Lucky for me, Moosepants stepped in and decided to help me procrastinate a little longer.

We did some plant shopping for our gardens, and took some time out to wrangle a Newfoundlander dog that we found wandering around the parking lot. She has somehow learned to open up the side door to their van, and let herself out. Sweet dog, who happily hopped into the back of Moosepants' suburban while we called the numbers on her tag and the owners came to reclaim her.

When I spoke with the husband on the phone, he said that his wife hadn't believed him that the dog can get out of the van - I don't know if I would have if I hadn't seen it - but there's no question that she believes him now. Who knew that Newfoundlanders have thumbs under all that fur?

As an aside, imagine how awful it would feel to come out of store to find your van with the door wide open and your dog gone. I could totally see that happening to me. Not that my dog has figured out how to open the car doors (knock wood) but I have an irrational fear that, if left unattended, my dogs would be stolen in a heartbeat.

I don't know if that the fear comes from a neighbour's dog having been stolen out of their yard when I was living in Edmonton (they got him back 4 months later when he was found in BC) , or if it's because I am asked by strangers so often how much my dogs cost. Of course, my stock answer to that question is to tell them that I paid $4000 in vet bills the first year I had Tallulah; but apparently people seem to think these yahoos are worth something.

And they are, to me. To me, they're worth a million dollars. So, even though my head tells me that not everybody wants a yappy little white dog or a Mensa poodle, my heart can't imagine that there would be anybody who wouldn't snap them right up, given the chance.

Long story short, if I'd have come out of the store to find my car door wide open and my dog(s) gone, I'd have crapped my pants.

Lucky for me, they're still here.

Cotton, who is not the brightest crayon in the box, is sitting here on my lap, with my dinner plate balanced on his back as I reach over them both and type this. That's pretty typical for him. He always wants to be on my lap, regadless of where I am or what I'm doing; so I've learned to work around him. (Except at the dinner table. If I'm sitting at the table, he knows to leave me a lone.) Lucky for him, as much as he wants to be in my space, he's respectful of my stuff. I don't feed him table scraps, and so he has no expectation getting anything from my plate. Even so, I've got to admit that I questioned his dogginess when I dropped a noodle right in front of his nose and he didn't even notice it. I had to point it out, and tell him to eat it.

Then there's Tula.

I don't even know what to say about that picture; except that she's a weirdo.

...and that I hope she knows what a great life she's got.

The dog down the road can't say the same. His owners continually leave their gates open and let him wander around; but when they discover that he's left the open yard they lash out at him. Today I was out gardening and saw the dog wandering around. Shortly after that, I heard the lady yelling at him and looked over in time to see her kick him. He crouched down and growled at her, and she yelled louder for him to get up and go into the yard. They went back and forth like this for a while, until my other neighbour came over to ask me what was going on. While I was talking to her, they must have convinced him to go back in or carried him into the yard. More yelling ensued back there, but we couldn't see what was happening.

I have zero tolerance for people like that, and I said so loud enough for her to hear. In fact, I've half a mind to call the SPCA on Monday. There's no excuse for kicking a dog, period.

Thursday, June 3, 2010

This is why

I haven't been to Costco since before Christmas, when I went and came home with a car load of stuff that was well priced but almost entirely unnecessary. Avoiding temptation is more than half the battle is it not?

But then it occurred to me that I paid good money for my Costco membership, and that not going to the store was wasting that membership fee.

So I went. I was looking for bedding plants (for which I found some really great deals), but then I couldn't help myself and not do a tour of the whole store. I actually did fairly well, and only picked up things I would have bought elsewhere. I probably saved money on most of what I bought.

Except this.

One might say that this is a little obscene.

For those of you who aren't familiar with the metric system, that's a hair's breath away from being 8 pounds of popcorn kernels. For $7.

To clarify, yes, I still live alone.

Lesson learned. I'll not be going back anytime soon.

This, not that

What I've done on my vacation:
  • Painted the new dresser four times.
  • Unclogged the bathroom drain
  • Made jam
  • Cooked, cooked and cooked some more
  • 11 loads of dishes in the dish washer
  • Woke up at 5:00am to a cat exploding at both ends
  • Supervised (aka pestered) foundation repair guy
  • Set my alarm for obscenely early hours too many times
  • worked with roofer to design new dormer/overhang over front door
What I haven't done while on vacation
  • napped
  • slept until noon
  • watched movies
  • napped
  • gardenened
  • worn anything other than pj's or stretchy pants
  • napped