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!