Saturday, December 31, 2011

Year End Round Up

  • In January, I officially transitioned to my new job.  I've now got the best boss ever.
  • In February, I paid to finish off a $3000 project that revolved around having the basement waterproofed.
  • In March, I had surgery.  Just like that, I was healthy again.  Before, I thought that I hadn't felt well for a couple of years.  Now that I remember what healthy feels like, I realize that I'd been sick for much longer than that.  
  • In May, I started keeping track of what I eat.  I'm not dieting, really, just aiming to eat healthier and limit the treats.  So far, I've lost 23 pounds.
  • In July, the house flooded.  (See February)
  • In August, the nephews and their parents moved to BC.  I miss them like crazy.
  • In September, my dad and I replaced the stairs on the back deck, making them easier for old dogs.   After two years of being carried up and down the stairs, Cotton can get on and off the deck on his own again.
  • In October, I bought a piece of original art.  My girl's a star.
  • In November, the insurance claim from the flood was finally processed.   I could start replacing things that were lost.
  • In December, I could look back and say that I'd had a pretty good year.  I hope you could too.  May 2012 be prosperous and happy for you, and may your blogging be abundant.

Thursday, December 29, 2011

Making progress

I've spent the last week working in the basement.  Having an unfinished basement leads to the very strong temptation to store 'stuff', and I'm determined to get rid of it.  I thought that I'd done a pretty good job of cutting back when my basement flooded, but there's a long way to go.  I want to pare down until everything is put away and organized, so I've been going through a lot of boxes.  I'm being brutal and getting rid of a lot, and it hasn't been easy.

One good thing about taking the time to go through all the boxes is that I've found a whack of books.  I had (and lost in the flood) quite a few boxes that were specifically for storing books, but it seems that I had a bad habit that's now paying off.  Rather than putting books where they belonged, I often tossed them into piles and random boxes; I'm finding them now.

I also cashed in a couple of gift cards by scooping up any classics that I could find in the discount sections at book stores, and adding those to the newly 'found' books means that my Library is starting to have a fairly good selection.  I've got them sorted by gendre for now - mysteries, classics, romance, general fiction, comedy, language, gardening, art and children's books each have a section.   The library has a ways to go before it's full, but it doesn't look empty anymore.

I still need a table, console or something to go in front of the window.  I also need a file cabinet, so I'll be heading over to the Habitat for Humanity's RE store.  I'm hoping that I can find something with a little bit of history to clean up or maybe refinish and then put to good use.

Then I'm going to start saving up for a new closet door.

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Do you...


I call this picture "The Tallulah Hula".

I've been looking for new, interesting ways to get exercise lately; and being a cheapskate of a homebody, I give extra credits to things that I can do without leaving the house.

I decided to give the old Hula Hoop a try.  Not having done this for the last 30 years, I'm a wee bit out of practice.  For the first twenty minutes or so, I couldn't do better than spinning the hoop around myself 3 times before it dropped.  But, I'm figuring it out.  I have to lose the hip swivel that I learned in dance class, and go for the full body fluctuation.  I worked on it for about an hour on and off, and I'm up to 28 rotations without dropping the hoop.  And holy cow, could I feel it.  I had no idea that a childhood game took so much work.

Tallulah likes the new hoop. 
 Apparently, it reminds her of early agility and obedience days, where she was trained to go to her "place" (usually delineated with hula hoops).

For obvious reasons, the dogs are not allowed in the room while I'm doing this.  I don't want anybody to get knocked in the noggin by a flying hula hoop, so I make them leave the room and close the door.

I also close the curtains, because I wouldn't want anybody to see my wild, gyrating attempts to overcome gravity.  But, after I had been at it for about 10 minutes, I happened to notice something.

I had an audience.

It was the snickering that gave him away.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011


  • I am completely addicted to advice columns.  It doesn't matter how stupid the questions are, I want to know the answer.  I have a list of them that I have bookmarked and read all the time, and I'm happy to report that I just found the archive for one that's new (to me).  It's been published for years, so there's lots to catch up on.  Even better, it's written by a straight shooting comedienne.    If I go missing next week, that's where I'll be.
  • I am happy to report that after three an a half weeks with a raging ear infection, it's finally gone.  That constant ringing in my ears was no fun at all. 
  • I have a friend who struggles financially, despite working three jobs.  I hire her to do certain jobs for me when I can, but she'll only take what she considers to be a reasonable fee.  (We 'fight' about this all the time.)  Every year, I try to give her money for Christmas, but every year she refuses.   I wish I could find a way to help her out without stomping on her pride.
  • My snow elf came around again today.  I made the mistake of looking out the window when I heard the shovelling, but they must have seen me before I saw them.  The shovelling promptly stopped.  My driveway is currently half shovelled, but apparently the elf's desire to remain anonymous is more important than my desire to know who they are.  Note to self: stop looking out the window
  • Bookless Bookshelves make great playgrounds for kitties.

Monday, December 19, 2011

Size matters

I got a new purse last fall.

It's bigger than I'm used to, but I thought I'd give it a shot.  It's got lots of pockets, so I figured I could be all organized and keep everything in a specific spot.

Let me tell you, I've been throwing things in this purse.  Spare cloth bags, in case I ended up in a store unprepared.  Hand sanitizer, for when we eat out.  Epi pens.  A toothbrush and toothpaste.  My Blackberry.  A book.  My wallet.  A half empty bottle of pop and a full sized chocolate bar.  

And the bag seemed empty.

I'm really not sure when those last two were thrown in, but I found them over the weekend.  I've concluded that if I can carry a bottle of pop and a chocolate bar around for an indeterminate amount of time without knowing it, my purse is too big.   

All I need is room to carry my wallet and an Epi pen, and anything more is temptation.  (Kind of like getting a cart when you run into the grocery store for three things.)  Methinks it's time to dig back in the closet and find something smaller.

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Library Fail #2

The chaise lounge chair is 6' by 3' (and a bit).

The library room (once you consider the bookshelves and the new desk) is 7' by 8', minus a little bit at one end, where there's an angle and a bay window.

While the lounge chair technically fits, it kind of fills the room.  I had figured that I could place it across the one end of the room, but the angle and the location of the door make it awkward.  So, after a not-very-little effort to haul it into the room this morning, I hauled it back out.

The new chaise lounge chair will reside in my living room for now.  I'd be more upset, but I've laid on it for the last month anytime that I've watched tv, and I've got to admit that I kinda like it there... even if it doesn't quite match.

In summary:  Bookshelves, curtains, granite table/desk, chaise lounge chair

Library: 2
Me: 2

In other news, I've decided to take up yoga.  
It seems that I have a (mostly) vacant room that will be the perfect place.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

One Time Offer

Not everybody's got my sense of humour, and I'm OK with that.  But, when somebody has the same sense of funny as I do, it really makes my day.

Do you remember this?

I still have it.  I was going to use it as a coaster, but really it's sat on my desk all this time, making me laugh when I notice it.

Moosepants totally made my day week with the awesomest of all Christmas Presents.  It's gafa worthy.


In the spirit of Christmas, I'm prepared to share.  If you, too, would like to know how the other half lives, send me your address.  I'll ship you a couple of squares.

Monday, December 12, 2011

Reduce, Reuse, Recycle

Wanna see my new table???

I don't think that I can say I made it, but I put it together.

The base is from an old singer sewing machine table base.  I cleaned it up and spray painted it black.

You can't see this, but I raised the top a bit by making a 'spacer' between the iron base and the granite.  Basically, I screwed a couple of two by fours together to make the top higher.

Finally, the top came from a 'Bone Yard' for the local granite and tile shop.  It's a leftover piece from somebody's kitchen counter, and they considered it waste.  They didn't charge me for the granite, only to polish and smooth the edges.

So, nothing I used to put it together was new, but it's all got a whole new purpose.  Pretty cool, eh?

Saturday, December 10, 2011

I was blind, but now I see

I got my first "I'm getting old" glasses last week.

I think I liked it better when I couldn't see the dust.

Friday, December 9, 2011

Fitting In

My 9 y/o niece is the victim of bullying.  She's a sweet, funny little girl who simply dances to a slightly different tune that the popular girls in her class couldn't hear.  Because of that, they teased and taunted her so much that her parents have made the decision to home school her.

I thought of her when I saw these guys, so I bought them for her.

The card they come with says:
Who wants to be just another one of the herd?  
Look at Bartley the Black Sheep.  He's not baaaaashful at all.  
Aiden, Liam and Finn prefer to flock together, but Barley's proud to stand out.  
What about ewe?
I figure we're all black sheep, in our own way.  Some of us just manage to hide it a little better than others.

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Suck it up, Buttercup

There are two very different responses to what I'm about to say.  One will come from the Canadians, and the other will come from the Americans.  You know which is which.

It's -10C outside tonight, with a -17C windchill.    I walk (carry) my dogs every night, regardless of the weather, but tonight I really don't want to go.  I want to stay home tonight.  In fact, I want to stay home until spring arrives.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

That's enough now.

The plague continues to hang around the house.  Although I'm no longer on the precipice of death, I'm still sick.

My throat is better, and the laryngitis is (mostly) gone.  I can finally sleep now too - it's been a couple of days since I've woken up in the middle of the night choking through a coughing fit that can only be stopped with a hot shower and a room full of steam.  The problem is that my ears are infected.  Still.  My ears have felt like somebody shoved tennis balls inside of them, almost since I caught this cold two weeks ago.  And I'm tired, like I could sleep for a week.

So, today I called in sick today and went back to bed.  I felt a little guilty doing it, considering how much better I feel than I did last week, but it needed to be done.  This little bug needs to move on and visit somebody else.

Monday, December 5, 2011


In my excitement, I may have let a detail or two slide.  I realized this a few weeks ago, but it took me a while to decide that the humour in this situation outweighs my embarrassment.

Ever since my house flooded last summer, I've been scheming to make a library.  You know that.  You have all had to read many posts about the various stages of my plans.   Really, though, those barely touch on my obsession.  You have no idea how many hours I've spent combing through stores and the web, planning which pieces I'd use where.

The chaise lounge is the star of the room.  I love it, and the granite table that's almost ready for its grande entrance.  I'm still looking for the perfect side table and floor lamp.  The bookshelves, even though they took 4 hours each to put together, are really quite great.  The little detail that's preventing the new library room from coming together?

I forgot that almost all of my books floated away in the flood.

That's right.  My library has almost no books.    I've got a few of the goodies that I kept upstairs, but they fill maybe three of the cubbies in the new bookshelves.  Until then, the shelves are bare.    I am an idiot.

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Culinary Genius

I'm not usually a fan of peppermint because it reminds me of toothpaste, but something about the Christmas season always gives me a yen for it.

Tonight, I took a chance and tried something new.  It worked out really very well, if I do say so myself.

First, I made brownies.  I used my go-to brownie recipe that never fails, even when I try.

What I did differently tonight is to spread half the batter into the pan before I unwrapped some mini York Peppermint Patties and threw them into the pan before coving them up with the rest of the batter.  I baked this for 25 minutes at 350, then added a few drops of peppermint extract to the chocolate glaze before topping them off.

Yum, is all I can say.  I think I've figured out what I'm going to make for this year's Christmas baking exchange.

Brownie Recipe:
1/2 cup butter
1 cup white sugar
2 eggs
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1/2 cup flour
1/4 tsp baking powder

  • Preheat oven @350
  • grease/flour your 8x8 pan
  • Melt butter, and set aside to cool a little
  • In a separate bowl, mix sugar, eggs and vanilla.  
  • Add melted butter.
  • Add flour, cocoa and baking powder
  • Spread into pan - bake for 25-30 minutes
Note - Mix brownies by hand, unless you want them to have a cake-like texture.

Once the brownies come out of the oven, make a chocolate glaze with ~3 tbsp melted butter, 3 tbsp cocoa powder, a tbsp of honey, a tsp of vanilla, a cup of icing sugar and a few tbsp of milk.  Mix it all together and pour on top of still-warm brownies.  Let cool.

Another Note - I never measure for glazes, so these are estimates.

Last note for now - I skipped the vanilla entirely when I made the peppermint version of this.

Ok, last note, I promise - If you eat more than 1/16th of this recipe in a sitting, you're almost guaranteed to gain 10 pounds.    You might choose to take this risk, but if you do, please don't try to claim that I didn't warn you.

Friday, December 2, 2011

The Admin Assistant

 (Crappy quality cell phone pics)

She's not very handy with paperwork, but she does make for good company.

If only she could learn to file, I might just find a reason to keep her around.

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Adult Truths

I stole this off of a friend's Facebook page.  It needed to be done.

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

The Snow Elf

I don't know who, but three times this year, somebody has come over and done my shovelling.  I live on a corner lot and I have a rather large driveway, so this is no small task.  It generally takes me about an hour to complete.

Last night we got a big dump of wet snow.  Since I've been working from home, I often go out and shovel before starting work in the mornings, but today I decided that I'd wait until noon (when the neighbours are more likely to be awake) and then use the snow blower.  Shortly before lunch, I heard somebody shovelling.  I looked out the back door, and could see a silhouette of somebody working on my sidewalk, but I couldn't see who it was.  I went around to the front to thank them, and to let them know that I have a snow blower (shovelling wet snow is no walk in the park), but whoever it is skedaddled when they heard me coming.  They stopped, mid job, and left with about half of the sidewalk shovelled before I could see them.

So, I finished the job myself, contemplated who my snow elf could be and wondered why they won't let me know who they are.

By the way, the snow blower did NOT work.  Apparently, snow blowers don't like wet snow either... go figure.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

I forgot to tell you...

The painting arrived last week.

I know it needs a fabulous frame, but beyond that, I have no idea where it'll go.

Monday, November 28, 2011

Random thoughts

  • I'm still sick, but I think I'm on the mend.   The pain that I had in my ears and throat were like nothing I've felt before, but it's mostly gone.  Now, I've got a run of the mill nasty cold.  And laryngitis.  Because a cold always turns into laryngitis for me.  (It's been suggested that this might be a good thing.  A person only gets so many words in their lifetime, and if I didn't pack so many in all the time, maybe I wouldn't have these periods of enforced silence.)
  • I went to the eye doctor last week.  Although my eyesight isn't bad, my left eye is choosing not to work unless it has to.  The eye doctor has got a funky machine that measures the amount of effort eyes are putting into focusing on things, and apparently my left eye is acting like the partners I was always assigned in college - it does nothing, but takes half the credit.  Long story short, I have to get glasses.  I really don't know how they'll change anything, but I'm happy to try this over wearing a patch.
  • I have a bee-you-tee-ful piece of granite in the back of my car.  It's too heavy for me to get it out on my own, and my recent illness has delayed my preparation for it.  So, I'll wait until the table base in ready and in the meantime, the granite is going to stay in the car for now.  Call it extra weight for the winter driving, if you will... and it's a good sight more attractive than a bag of sand.
  • The neighbours down the road moved in a few months ago.  As far as I can tell, they've acquired and gotten rid of three pairs of dogs since their arrival.  Their current pair has been here a few weeks, and one of them has this awful, nasally high pitched bark.  I hate it.  HATE IT.  They leave it outside to bark whenever they're not home.  I want to complain, but I'm worried that the dogs will be punished, either with shock collars or being sent to the (kill) shelter.   Instead, I've been listening to music at really quite a loud volume.... and envisioning ways to torture the new neighbours.
  • Men confuse me.  This isn't a new conclusion; it's pretty much par for the course.  But.  Today, I have a new source of confusion.  A while back, I signed up on an online dating website.  I've looked a lot, but not sent out many messages, smiles, winks, nudges or anything else.  Today, I got an email from a guy whose profile I'd seen before, and I think I marked it as one that I'd be interested in.  (I thought doing that was private, and only used for the website to find other compatible profiles.)  He basically said that he was sorry for taking so long to reply, but he's been busy.  He also pointed out that he's looking for a casual/dating relationship and that I'm looking more for a long term relationship.  I went back and checked, and I haven't done anything more than to mark his profile as one that I might be interested in, so I'm not sure what he's replying to.  As far as I can tell, I think he initiated contact with me to say that he's not interested.  That might be taking the art of being pro-active a little too far, if you ask me.  And then there are the men who send me instant messages of "Hi there", and then don't respond when I say Hi back.  Why contact me, if you're not going to respond???

Friday, November 25, 2011

Things I Know to be True

Today, I gave in to the flu and general exhaustion that's been dogging me for a few weeks.  I called the boss, agreed to check in every few hours in case anything urgent came up and then declared today to be a sick day.  After standing in a hot, steaming shower, I had a glass of hot ginger ale and then went to bed.

Cotton lay down, right beside my head.  Tallulah lay sideways, across the bed, with her head resting on my tummy.  Winter sat on the other side of my head and lulled me to sleep with his purrs.  When I woke up three hours later, they were still there.    My ears still ache and my chest still wheezes, but the fever is broken.  I'm starting to think that I might just survive.

The point of the story being:
Sometimes you need more than just rest.  Sometimes, you need the moral support of your loved ones too.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Chocolate. Raspberries. Vodka

Enough Said.

But, I'll give you some background and a recipe.  Cooking club was a few nights ago.  Each month, somebody is tasked with buying the ingredients for the drinks, and this month it was my turn.  I made chocolate martinis... of a sort... well, we drank them out of martini glasses.

2 cups chocolate chips
2 cups of half and half
10 frozen raspberries in light syrop, defrosted

to make them, we heated the half and half in the microwave for a few minutes (stopping to check every minute or so) until it started to simmer.  Then we poured the chocolate into the warm half and half and stirred until they melted.

We strained the raspberries by pushing them through a sieve, until only the seeds were left, then added 2/3 cup of that "juice" to the chocolate mixture.    This made about 9 drinks, which each got a shot of vodka and then was poured into a glass of ice.    I seriously doubt that these actually qualify as martinis, but they tasted good and they were pretty.  I had two... thought about more, but I didn't want to be a glutton.

Monday, November 21, 2011

Pets are stinky

I love my pets, I really do.  But it's a fact of life that where there are animals, there will be stink.

My area rug has been out of commission for some time now.   It had been smelling doggy for a while, and none of my attempts to get it clean would clear up the scent.  Long story short, it's been rolled up in a corner of my basement for a while, as I mulled over possible plans of action.

I ended up finding a recipe online this weekend for a carpet deodorizer powder.   I tried it out Saturday, thinking I had nothing to lose.  

I mixed up the powder, sprinkled it around on top of the rug and left it for 24 hours.  When I vacuumed it up the next day, the doggy smell went with it.

Seriously - the stink is gone.  I lay down on the rug, and moved around with my nose to the ground.  I sniffed all over that rug, and I don't smell dogs anymore.

Since most of you who read my blog have pets, kids, husbands or other forms of stink, I thought I'd pass this on.  It doesn't remove stains, just smells.  But it does a really good job at what it does.

Carpet Deodorizer

1 cup baking soda
1/4 corn starch
1 tsp ground cloves
3 bay leaves, crumbled

Mix well, sprinkle over affected area and leave to sit for 24 hours.  Vacuum to remove.
It couldn't be much easier or much cheaper.

This came from the David Suzuki Foundation Website.  I suspect that David Suzuki is known mostly amongst Canadians, but his foundation website is a great database for natural, earth friendly solutions like this.

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Things I know to be true

It doesn't matter if the packaging on your mascara says it is water proof.  If you take your dogs out for a walk on day that's so cold and windy that your eyelashes freeze shut, you will look like a raccoon when you get home.

It doesn't really matter, though, because nobody can see you under your (fake) fur lined hood, toque and the three scarves that you have wrapped around your head.

Gotta love the Canadian winter.

Saturday, November 19, 2011

I win! I win!

Five sets of curtain hardware later, I finally found a double rod that *almost* works.   It's not perfect, but the curtains are up, looking like they belong there and unlikely to fall down.

I was so excited that I woke up this morning and put them up at 7:00am.  (I should probably apologize to the neighbours.  They didn't want to see my pajama's that up close and personal so early in the morning.)



I got these because the old white sheers didn't provide enough privacy and were about two feet too short.  The new sheers don't give a huge amount of privacy, but now I can pull the outside layer closed to avoid the fishbowl feeling after dark.  Plus, they're a full 9' long, so they don't look like I'm expecting another flood.  You don't get to see that, though, because there's currently a pile of cables and cords swirling around on my floor.

Also, as a side note, there's some more unexpected casualties of the flood.  I had to patch the walls last night after I took the old hardware down.  When I tried to open the paint can that was left over from the last time that I painted this room, I discovered that it'd rusted shut.  I tried a few more, and it appears that they've all rusted shut.  I've got 18 cans of paint - good lord, that's a lot - and they're all rusted shut.  I did manage to pry a few open, but they ended up with flakes of rust floating around inside them.  I wonder if the insurance company will let me enter a late submission to my claim??

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Stage Four of the Library

The forth step towards putting together the new library was the one that I thought would be the easiest.  It's the replacement of the curtains.  I found the curtains right away, but oh my good lord has it been hard to find the hardware.

I've purchased and returned four (!) sets of curtain rods, all for ridiculous reasons.  A double curtain rod set that's supposed to fit between 45-78", except the second rod isn't telescoping and only fits 45" spaces.  Rods that come with mismatched finials.    Double curtain rods that only have 1/4" between the first and second layer of curtains (Yeah - that's going to make it easy to open and close the curtains.)    It boggles my minds that stores can sell products like this, charge as much as they do and think it's OK.

Part of the problem is that this is a bay window that I'm trying to cover.  The bump-out is about a foot deep, and the window goes all the way to the very top, with very little space on either side between the glass and the wall.

I suppose the curtains could go on the outside of the bump out, but the room is so small that I don't want to give up any real estate that I don't have to.

Long story short, tonight I head out to the Mecca (AKA Home Depot) to see if I can buy some dowels and somehow jury rig a couple of them to make curtain rods.     Wish me luck.

Monday, November 14, 2011

The Nest Chair...

...didn't happen.

As much as I love the idea of the nest chair, I had too many questions.  I've learned that when I have a lot of questions about a purchase, those questions are actually doubts.  And, there really were a lot of questions.

After insurance finally processed my claim, I went to the store (again) and sat on the nest chair (again) to mull it over.  I realized that I had something else in mind.  I wasn't sure what it was, but I knew I had to look.  So, I hit a few stores.

Eventually, the heavens did open and the angels did sing.  I found what I'd been picturing in my mind.  Right away, I knew that's what I wanted.  

So, I picked out the material, decided on the wood finish and went to make the order... only be to be told that somebody had already custom ordered exactly what I wanted.  They'd paid a deposit, made the order and then walked away.  What's the chance of that???

Meant to be, I tell you.  So, I made it mine.

Behold, the new lounge chair:

Already, the fluffy ones are fighting over who gets to sleep on it.  This thing is uber comfy, folks.  All it needs is a cozy throw blanket, a cup of cocoa and a good book.  I can't wait until the new "library" is ready for it so that I can settle in and begin my hibernation.

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Library - Stage two.

Now that I have the go-ahead from insurance to start replacing my stuff, I moved on to the next step in the Library project.  I bought some book shelves.   Believe it or not, they came from Home Depot.  They're solid pine, and were dirt cheap.

It took me four hours - each - to put them together.  

I'm generally leery of any furniture that starts off in flat pack form, and these proved me right.    Screws were bent.  Pilot holes were drilled in the wrong spot.  The instructions made no sense.  But.  These were the closest that I could find to what I had in mind, and the price was right.  I think they look OK now that they're together.

I'd appreciate input on a few things:

  • There are wood panels to go across the backs of these bookshelves (seen in this picture).  Structurally, they aren't necessary, and I can't decide if they'll make the room seem to dark without them.  What do you think, put them on or leave them?
  • Cotton's picture is going in the same general area, only nailed a little higher instead of propped against the wall.  With that in mind, should I get rid of the airplane?  It has sentimental value, but could probably be moved somewhere else if it makes the wall seem too busy.

Other than the shelves, I'm replacing the curtains in the room.  Currently, there are white sheers hanging in the window.  They're too short, and don't provide enough privacy.  Yesterday, I stumbled upon some pre-made 9' high curtains that will go perfectly with the new seating in the room.

Oh yeah, I picked out the new seating for the room yesterday.  I realized when I saw it that it was exactly what I had in mind and decided then and there to put in an order.  You kind of have to see it to believe it, but I'll give you a hint... it's not a nest chair.

Now, I need to start gathering the books  that are spread all over the house and turn this room into a library.

Friday, November 11, 2011

A little difficulty

Something appears to be blocking my view of the screen.

I'm not sure who that might be.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Insurance Sucks

Warning - I'm going to rant.  Feel free to back out now.

I got a voice mail from the Claims Adjuster responsible for processing my insurance claim yesterday.  She said that she had submitted a request to have a cheque cut for me, for approximately 15% of what I claimed.  Apparently, that request will be processed over the next 6-8 weeks and then I should hopefully get a cheque sometime after that.

I phoned back today for an explanation and the news improved even more when she realized that she'd miscalculated the total, and will actually only be requesting even less of  what she'd said my refund would be the day before.  Once they take off my deductible, I get bupkis.


So, four months after the flood, they calculated what the "book" value of what my belongings were worth.  Since the book value equals my deductible, I get nothing.   I just consider myself lucky that they paid for the restoration company that did boatloads of damage.

To clarify, I get nothing if I choose not to replace the items that were damaged in the flood.  However, if I replace items, insurance will refund me the difference between the amount I pay and the book value.  I guess that means that I'll be replacing things I didn't really want, so that I can sell them on Kajiji.  (Keeping in mind the pace at which they've worked until this point, and considering how long I'll likely have to wait for a refund... think of the interest all that would wrack up on a credit card if I didn't have the money to pay up front.)

Don't get me going on the damage that the restoration company did.  The claim's adjuster came out tonight to inspect the damage that I reported back in August and "supposedly" arrange to get it repaired.  However, once reviewing the damage, she determined that insurance would not get involved.  Her excuse is that they couldn't possibly have done the damage I say they did.  According to her, the job that would have caused the damage was never done.   No, they didn't put vapour barrier behind the electrical outlets, so there's no way that they could have damaged or moved the electrical outlets.  All I know is that the electrical outlets were vapour barriered and straight before the flood.  Now they're crooked.  And, apparently, there's no vapour barrier behind them.

The best part was, when I disagreed with her assessment, she suggested that I ask my dad to explain it to me.  I wonder how many 40 year old men she tells to confer with their fathers when she hands them her line of crap.  This was the point that I told her our discussion was over, and suggested that she leave.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Hanging In There

I didn't say much about it, but the Cotton Dog wasn't doing so well this fall.  He couldn't seem to settle down, and and kept popping up every few minutes to rearrange himself in another position.  He stopped lying on one side entirely, and  often seemed stiff and sore.  I've been worried about arthritis, so I've cut down on his activities.

What that means is that the Dude doesn't go for nightly walks anymore.  Or, to be more specific, the Dude doesn't walk when we go out anymore.  He gets a free ride.  This isn't unusual in the winter, but I suspect that it'll be a permanent arrangement.  I think Cotton's days of long walks are over.

Now, when we go for walks, he hangs out inside of a baby sling that I wear it under my coat.   You'd think that he'd want down on the ground to sniff and explore, but he's as  happy as a clam.   Even better, he hasn't seemed nearly as uncomfortable since he stopped walking.

Obviously, I want to keep him as comfortable as I can for as long as possible.  I'm still experimenting with doggie massage, and will inquire about medication if necessary.  I'm hoping, though, that it'll be little changes like this that will help him out the most.

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Crankiness, Kindness and Silliness

  • I thought I'd do the fiscally responsible thing today and get my groceries at the slightly-cheaper Superstore instead of where I normally go.  I went in with a reasonable mood, but very quickly ramped up from zero to bitch.  The crowds were crazy - Every person there was acting like they were King Poop of Turd Island.  They owned the place, so to heck with anybody else who might need to get past.   I couldn't believe the number of people who parked their carts in the center of the aisle and walked away.  Or, the people who pulled out in front of me - so close that I had to stop my own cart or turn to prevent myself from running into them - and then come to a complete stop.  Needless to say, it took me forever to get what I wanted.  I ended up grabbing what I needed without comparing brands and focused on getting the heck out of there... which didn't work out so well.    Usually, my grocery bill comes to about $75.  This week, it was $97.  Next week, I'm going back to the slightly more expense, much less populated (and way less stressful)  grocery store where I normally go.

  • On the way home, I came upon a loose dog that was running on the road.  We weren't very far from the main drag in town, so I stopped to see if I could catch him.  He was super-friendly and let me put him on leash.  We walked the three blocks to the address that was listed on his tags, only to hear that he didn't live there anymore.  The owners had recently moved and hadn't gotten his tags updated yet.  Luckily, the lady at his old house offered to help.  She called the phone number on his tag (which hadn't changed) and when the owner said it would be a "bit" before they could come get him, she took him into her house with her own dog and kept him safe until he could be retrieved.  People like that make up for the hoards of idiots that I'd encountered at the grocery store.  My mood was restored.

  • I stopped to get Tallulah her winter boots for the season.  She wears boots on our nightly walk, from the time that the snow flies in the fall until it melts in the spring.  There's a particular brand that I like, but they tend to last only a year before she starts to wear through the soles.  Really, only one or two of the boots wear through, but I have to buy them in sets of four.  In the past, the only colour of these boots that I could get were red.  Last year, they were purple.  This year, the only colour that I could get was black.  Next year, I'm kind of hoping that they will come in a different colour.  That way, for the year after next, she can wear the leftover good boots from past sets, and have a different colour on each foot.

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Let's Review:

The horrible cat tree

The butt ugly half pipe

The nest chair

... and the cat decides to sleep on a worn out old face cloth.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011


  • I called my insurance broker yesterday to inquire if it is normal for insurance claims to take 3+ months to process.  Apparently, she called the insurance company, who called the claims adjuster that was contracted out to process my claim.   From the tone of the voice mail that the claims adjuster left me, she's not impressed.  I sure hope that doesn't reflect on the results once my claim is finally processed.  I know, I should probably relax and just wait for it to happen, but I'm impatient.  I also have a very low tolerance for poor communication and/or a lack of effort when it comes to customer service.

  • I ordered a slab of granite today.  I'm very excited about that.  It will top the iron table base (which actually turns out to be a Singer sewing table) that I spray painted a few weeks ago.  

  • Supposedly, there are no cockroaches in Alberta.  That's what they say, anyway - kind of like there aren't any rats here either.  However, with all of the ethnic food and produce imported here, the cockroaches have been sneaking in.  I've seen them here or there, with hasn't really bothered me in the past.  About a month ago, though, I was walking the dogs after dark.  I noticed something that was reflecting light on the ground, and when I stooped down to get a better look, I realized that it was a huge cockroach.  I've been having bad dreams about cockroaches ever since.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Houston, We Have a Problem

This is my spare room, which I've turned into a home office.  It's working out well for me.  Because I didn't spend much time in here before, it's easy for me to be in work mode when I come in and tune out the distractions.

This is my little work corner.  The furniture is make-shift until the insurance company processes my claim and I can get something new.  (The new stuff is going in another room, and then the desk and chair will be moved in here.)  It's pretty tight in this corner, but it works for now.

It's also pretty tight for the White Fluffy Dudes, who have a bunk bed behind the door.
(Cotton was off chasing sunbeams this afternoon)

Tallulah has her own bed, which she uses most of the time.

In other news, an interesting development has been the observation that the balance ball that I sit on always rolls to the far side of the room if it's not wedged under the table.

Yes, I'm aware that this probably means the floor of the bedroom in my six year old house probably slopes.  

No, I don't want to think about it.

The point being, if I'm not seated at the desk, the ball usually rolls over and blocks the door.  The white fluffy dudes can slip around it, but not Tallulah.  Tallulah, for some reason known only to her, is afraid of the ball.  There have been many times during my lunch hour or at the end of my day when I've gotten up and left the room without thinking about it.  Later on, I'll hear a quiet woof, which quickly becomes a large WOOF if I don't respond.

Tallulah Belle Poodle is calling for help because the big, bad balance ball is blocking her in the room.

Somebody, give that dog a haircut!

Monday, October 31, 2011


Happy Halloween!

This is an old picture - back from before digital cameras and crazy poodles were in our lives.

Today is my favorite holiday - it's all about gluttony and greed!  Actually, to me, it's all about watching and enjoying the excitement in kids' eyes.  I'm not all that much of a kid person, but I do really enjoy watching their faces when they come to my door.  I, and many of my neighbours, like to get into the spirit of things.  Many decorate their houses, and most of us are known to give out a fair bit of loot.  That, and the fact that we're in a fairly large close (read - safe) near a whack of schools has meant that we've expanded from 30 some odd kids the first year that I lived here to about 150.

Which, I've got to admit, can be felt in the pocket book.  I shopped around some, but ended up trying something new this year.  Normally, I give out a bag of chips and two small chocolate bars to each kid.  But, the chips and bars are getting smaller and the prices are going up.  What used to be a generous serving seems pretty puny to me, and it costs about a buck a pop.  So, when I compared prices and realized that it wasn't any more expensive to buy full-sized chocolate bars at Costco, that's what I did.  I now have a pile of 150 chocolate bars in my front foyer.

Please, God, don't let this be the year that I only get 12 kids.

Some people are all scroogey about Halloween.  They resent having the kids tromping across their lawn and knocking on their doors.  Me?  I'd prefer that they stay off of the lawn, and I'll be quick to tell them to get the heck out of my gardens.  But, with all the bad things that kids could be up to lately, if they want to come to my door and ask for candy once a year, I say that they are welcome.

Friday, October 28, 2011

In Recovery

Winter had his teeth cleaned today.  They were looking pretty bad - enough that we figured a few would need to be pulled.  We got lucky, though.  It it turns out that his mouth was in pretty good shape for a guy who hasn't brushed his teeth for 12 years.

He was some pissed off when he got home.  I had to lock up the dogs for their own safety.  But, he eventually went to have a good long nap and now he seems to be on the mend.  I suspect that by the time he washes off all the vet cooties, he'll be back to his old self.

Until then, he's not in the mood to pose for the camera.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Area Rug Angst

Apparently, my dogs read the Zadge's blog.  Harry has taught one of them bad habits from a distance.

A few months ago, I went to Edmonton for the day.  When I came home, I noticed a distinct doggy (urine) smell in the living room.  I couldn't find any puddles, but figured it must have come from the area rug.  I tried all sorts of ways to clean it, but the smell didn't go away.

A few weeks later, I rolled it up and removed it from the room. The smell was gone, so my next step was to take the rug to a company that specializes in cleaning area rugs.  They said they'd use a black light to find the stain and get it cleaned.  Worst case scenario, the entire rug would have been peed on and it would cost $300 to clean.

One. Month. Later.  They called me (after I've called them multiple times) to say that the owner of the business - who apparently has a bionic nose - had sniffed my rug, and he didn't smell anything.  They could clean it for me for $100, which wouldn't help with any urine enzymes, or if I was really worried about the smell, they could do the full $300 clean.  When I asked about the black light to find any spots, they said it would take another month or two before they could do that - and then they'd still need to clean it

I thought of tossing the rug, but it cost me over $800.  Replacing it with a cut of basic bound carpet would cost $500.  I'm not spending a lot of money on a new rug when I've got an old dog who is losing control of his bladder.  And, not having a rug isn't an option I like either.

Needless to say, I'll be picking up my rug tomorrow.  I called a friend who has a carpet cleaner, and I'm going to use that.

Probably should have done that in the first place.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

How to Freak Out Your Roommate

The girls and I ended up talking about dreams last night, and how some people remember them when they wake up, or some people can figure out mid-nightmare that they are dreaming and turn things around.  Me?  I can't usually remember my dreams.  Nor can I tell that I'm dreaming when it's happening.

Actually, I used to have a bit of a problem with waking up, not realizing that my dream is over and then acting on it.

Case in point:  I will probably never live down the time that I scared the snot out of my roommate.  I used to live in this old historical house in Downtown Edmonton.  I shared it with two guys and another girl.  Two of them were frequently away, but the one guy almost never left.  His name was Marcel.  Marcel was, to put it nicely, a very lazy guy.    He did not help out with house work.  He didn't cook, and he certainly didn't do dishes.  He mooched our food, let us do the dishes and thought nothing of letting the others clean up after him wherever he went.  It was a problem.

So, when I had a dream one night that there were a treasure in our house, it should come as no surprise that everybody in my dream helped out with the search but Marcel.  I don't remember the specifics, but in my dream we had been informed that a large pile of money had been hidden somewhere in the nooks and crannies of the house.  The two roommates who were rarely home and I started a thorough search in an effort to find it, but Marcel did nothing.

That was the dream.  It ended when I woke up at some point around 2:00am.  I didn't realize that it was a dream, though, so I continued to act it out.  I got out of bed, went to the door of my room and opened it up.  I called out in a whisper "Marcel.  Marcel!" until he woke up and came out of his room.

The exact moment when Marcel opened his door was when I realized - in real life - that I was wearing the ugliest pajamas on earth, and that I shouldn't let Marcel see me like that.  So, I slammed my door closed.  Marcel called after me, wanting to know why I'd woken him up.  Still on a mission to find the money but not wanting him to see the hideous sleepwear, I opened my door a crack.  I whispered urgently "Check the house!" before closing the door, going back to bed and falling into a deep sleep.

Not being in on the dream, Marcel had no idea that I was chewing him out for not assisting with the search for the treasure.  No.  He thought I'd heard noises and wanted him to check the house for prowlers.  And amazingly enough, he did.  Even better, when he got to the back foyer, he realized that the door was unlocked.

Marcel got zero sleep for the rest of the night.  I slept like a baby with the knowledge that I'd finally convinced him to step up and help around the house.  And that, folks, is a most excellent way to screw with your roommate's head.  And probably another one of many reasons why I should live alone.

Sunday, October 23, 2011


I'm all for quality sheets. In the summer I like 600+ percale sheets, but there's something to be said for flannel in the winter. When the temperature drops, nothing makes you sleep better than warm flannel sheets.

Even when the idiot with the camera won't stop with the flash.

Roller Derby Recap

Last night was an adventure.  I was invited by an old friend from Edmonton who has recently moved to town to join a group of her friends to go to roller derby.  Before we went to the roller derby, we met at one of their houses for a finger food pot luck, and then we took the party bus to the event.

I ended up bringing another friend along with me, (which was a really good choice, if for no other reason than the fact that she brought homemade ice cream balls dipped in chocolate to the pot luck).  It was funny, because there were only nine of us that got together.  When my friend Michele and I arrived and were introduced to the others, one of the guys and Michele started eyeballing each other like they'd met before.  It turns out that they both used to live in Grande Prairie.  He was a car salesman up north, and he sold her the SUV that she drives now.    We just finished laughing over what a small world it is when another lady arrived, and it turns out that I know her.   We both work at the hospital, and were in the same office until last year.

The pot luck was great.  Everybody brought something yummy, and I'm not ashamed to say that the food there (including the dishes brought by the men) was better than a lot of the food that's often served at my cooking club events.    This was a group of gourmands.  Where cooking club can sometimes focus a little too much on speed and convenience, this food was made to impress.  There were ham an pineapple potato skins, blue cheese guacamole amuse-bouch, three different flavours of the ice cream balls mentioned above, meatballs in a spicy mustard sauce and homemade crackers with a selection of dips that were amazing.  The food was so good, my bacon wrapped jalapeƱo poppers almost seemed a little pedestrian by comparison.

After an hour or so, we all loaded into the party bus.  I can see the draw of party buses, in the sense that it's convenient and a much better choice over DUIs, but it was kind of a non-event.  The windows are blacked, so it's really dark.  The music was loud.  The stripper poles had been removed.  And, probably more importantly, we only about about 10 blocks to go.  We got in, we laughed a few times, we got off.

Roller Derby is confusing.  They skated around this really tight circle, almost as small as my living room.   The goal was for the skater at the back of the crowd to push her way to the front of the crowd, and then lap them.  There's one girl for each team that does this, and the rest of the team focuses on blocking the other team's way.  There were almost as many participants and refs as there were audience members, so we spent a good half of the night figuring out who is who and which team we were supposed to cheer for.  Roller Derby, I think it's safe to say, is not my thing.  Although, the inappropriate comments from the people around me were pretty funny (which may be the point of the whole thing).  Also, the costumes and the skaters' names were entertaining too.

There were also a few merchants set up on the outskirts of the arena.  I figured "when in Rome" and had a look... and ended up picking up a couple of groany glow in the dark bug necklaces for the nephews.  From a guy with a mohawk, no less.

We couldn't get the party bus home, so we grabbed a couple of cabs.  We had the cabbie crank "Black Betty" on the radio and pretended that his mini-van was a party bus.  We gave him a good tip, and headed back into the house to drink, eat and tell stories.

So, it was a fun night.  Good food, lots of drinking (Note to self - jello shots taste good but sneak up on you faster than you think.) and great company.  There are already plans for us to get together again, but I suspect that it'll be a while before we go back to the derby.

Friday, October 21, 2011

Random Friday

There was freezing freaking rain last night.  When we woke up the deck (and new stairs) were covered in a layer of wet ice.  Tallulah fell ass over tea kettle down the stairs, and then wiped out and cracked her noggin on the way up.  I think she's OK, but it was pretty scary for both of us.  In an effort to avoid future injuries, I ran out at lunch and bought 15 yards of non-slip tape for the stairs.

Did I mention that I ended up buying the Tallulah Painting?  I did, and I'm pretty happy about it, if somewhat stressed about the money.  When I finally made up my mind and contacted the artist, she gave me a "collector's" discount and offered to let me set up a payment plan.

Tomorrow night I am stepping completely out of my comfort zone.    I agreed to go with a friend and a group of her friends (none of whom I've met) to watch roller derby.  Like that Drew Barrymore Movie.  We're taking a party bus to the event, which is something that I'm really not looking forward to at all.  So, why would I agree to do something that is so far out of my element, you'd ask?   For a guy.  My friend thought it would be fun to set us up, and from what I hear, he sounds very much like the kind of guy I'd like to meet.  She's the one that wants to go to roller derby.  Apparently this is outside of both his and my comfort zones, but she can be pretty convincing.  Except, I was sure she said this was happening on the 20th, which was a Thursday.   I was stressed out about the party bus part of things, and then having to get up at 5am the next day for work so I bowed out earlier in the week.  By the time we figured out that we're actually going on a Saturday and not a Thursday, he made other plans; so now I have to go on this crazy night all for nothing.   But, who knows?  Maybe I'll be surprised and it'll be fun.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Insurance Companies are Omniscient

Summary of an email string between the insurance lady and I today:

I received the first cheque for $X today.  Thank you! Unfortunately, it did not come with an explanation for how this amount was reached.  So far, I've sent you four receipts:

  1. Receipt 1 for $_______
  2. Receipt 2 for $_______ 
  3. Receipt 3 for $_______
  4. Receipt 4 for $_______

No matter how I add up these items, or combinations of some of these items, I don't come to $X.  Can you please break it down for me to explain what this cheque was intended to cover?  

Insurance Lady:
Hi, Janice,    That was for the receipts you submitted.

The mystery has been solved, people. You can all relax now.

Monday, October 17, 2011

An observation

Sitting on a balance ball while you work on a computer is good for your core.

Sitting on a balance ball while a cat perches on your lap and you try to reach around him to work on a computer is even better for your core.  And it's probably good for his core too, not that he cares.

I'm going to feel this in the morning.

Sunday, October 16, 2011

New Old Desk

Working from home as presented to me a new problem.  My work computer and monitors have taken over the desk, so my personal computer has had to move to the kitchen.

I hate having the Mac on the kitchen counter.  I can't comfortably sit there, and the mouse and the keyboard keep getting gummed up with cat hair and kibble crumbs.  (Winter's feeing station is directly above the computer.)

I've been looking for a small desk to use, without much luck.  Either they are too big, or their prices are too high.  I thought I was going to have to keep the computer in the kitchen for a while, but yesterday I had an idea.

Yesterday was Dump Day.  When my parents moved about a year ago, I took a lot of their stuff that was otherwise headed for the dump.  Over the last year, I've given away or sold most if the stuff, but not all.  I asked my dad to come over and haul the few left overs to the dump, and that's when we found an old iron table base again, hidden in the back corner of the garage.  I'm not sure where it came from, but I suspect that it used to be at my great-grandfather's farm.

It's been painted many, many times.  Paint chips were flaking off and rust was starting to show in a few places.  I washed and sanded it down, and then sprayed it black with a can of paint.

I forgot to take the before picture.  It used to be white.  

I thought of stripping off all the previous layers of paint, but the truth is, I suspect that this is so old, the paint may be holding it together.  And, I kind of like the idea of keeping the existing lumps and bumps, and celebrating its age.  Especially if I can find the top I'm thinking of.

Depending on the price, I'm hoping to get an end cut of granite or corian for the table table top.  (Something small - max 2x3'.)  Or if that's too expensive, maybe I'll sand and varnish a nice piece of wood.  Either way, I'm hoping to have a new computer desk soon.