Saturday, December 28, 2013

If at first you don't succeed...

Assuming that the basement will eventually be finished one day, I'm going to want a TV down there.    At first, I was going to get one through Telus, when I switched over to them from Shaw for Internet/TV/Phone.  I quickly determined a free TV wasn't worth having to deal with Telus, though, so I bought one on Black Friday.

That TV came from  It was sold as a smart TV, but when it arrived I realized that it wasn't web enabled... was in fact only called smart because it had two USB ports. (!)  It took no less than - honest to God - four and a half hours on the phone to convince them to take the TV back and give me a full refund.

After that, I waited until Boxing Day to take advantage of the sales.  Since my experience with the last TV convinced me that Best Buy is not a store I want to support anymore, and options are limited if I don't want to drive to the big city, a friend told me about her nephew that works in an electronic store that could probably get me a deal.  So, I woke up early on Boxing Day and went out to meet the nephew.  He didn't get me any huge savings, but the price was slightly lower than anything else I'd seen until then.   I bought the TV, hauled it home and set it up.

Yesterday, I was at Costco and saw that they had the same TVs, only bigger and $60 cheaper.  I went home and called a friend who helped me load the Boxing Day TV back into the car and return it, then drive out to Costco, pick up the new one and take it home.  The Costco TV is in my spare room and still in its box.  I probably should set it up today so that I can test it out and make sure it works before the return period is up.  After having set up and disassembled so many TVs, it shouldn't take me too long but I am having trouble finding the energy.  One thing's for sure - this is the last TV that I'll be buying anytime soon.

Thursday, December 26, 2013


On Christmas Eve, I had to run home briefly to let the dogs outside.  My nieces asked to come along, and Lewis was incredibly excited to see them.  We all went out to the back yard to give him a chance to run, but since he was so excited to see the girls and they weren't dressed for the snow, we ended up coming back in right away.  A few minutes later, we gave the dogs treats to tie them over and went back to the party.

When I came home a little while later, the dogs greeted me at the front door and I think I saw Winter.  I took off my coat and boots, and walked towards the back of the house to let the dogs out.  That's when I realized the back door was wide open.  And, by open, I don't mean unlocked.  It was blowing in the breeze and letting anybody that chose to either come or go.

It took a little while for this to register, so I was already out back with the dogs before I clued in to how bad that open door could be.  I left the dogs in their pen and came back in.  I'd thought I'd seen Winter when I came in -he almost always greets me when I come home- but I needed to confirm that he was still around.   Winter has been an indoor cat his entire life, and while he can be trusted not to dash out the doors when they are open briefly, this was pushing my luck.  He was still inside...  or possibly inside again.

Every year I hear stories of people's homes being broken into over the holidays while they are out celebrating.  Honestly, I was so relieved that all three of the pets were safely inside that I didn't even bother checking the house or looking for items that may have been stolen.

Monday, December 23, 2013


A representative came around today to check out the tile with the wrong coloured grout on the newly tiled basement floors.  It's white, and is supposed to be dark brown.  She confirmed that the problem is caused by crystals that are produced when too much water is used to wash the grout off of the tiles after it is applied.  She did a spot check and luckily a diluted acid removed the crystals, leaving the grout in the colour I wanted, so they won't have to rip anything out and replace it.  No word on when they'll be around to do the cleaning, though.

In other news, I was told today that my couch will be arriving ahead of schedule.  It should be here by the end of January... whether the basement will be ready for it remains to be seen.

Friday, December 20, 2013


Lewis P Wellington and I had our first session with the trainer.  She was nice, and I liked the way her focus was on looking for behaviour I'd find acceptable vs perfection.  (eg - All I need is for him to walk on a loose leash beside me, rather than demanding a perfect heel to my left.)

As expected, Lewis was a little over eager when it came to the possibility of getting Treats.  We only had to ask for and reward a behaviour two or three times before he started offering it... you'd think I never fed the dang puppy.  It's kind of hard to practice recall when he won't move more than 2 feet from me when I have food, so we worked together.  We ran around the basement and called him back and forth between us, celebrating and rewarding each time.  For practice this week I'm to get a 30' line and take him out to a park so that he (hopefully) gets distracted from the food in my pockets and wanders far enough from me that I can call him back.

When I first contacted her, I said a priority was teaching Lewis to LeaveTheCatAlone!   He's been getting a lot better, but as the trainer left she declared that we had work to do on that and would be focusing on it next week.

Monday, December 16, 2013

Another Delay

The tile went down on the floor last week.  It looked absolutely lovely, until it dried.  The tilers did something wrong with the grout and it somehow changed from a dark chocolate colour to a creamy grey.  I don't want to revisit the 80s and go with the contrasting grout look, so they will have to come back and replace it.

Contractor has been asked to come over for a chat today.  So far, his drywallers, his electrician and his tilers have messed up royally.  His charm and his humour are losing their shine and I have had about enough.  A contractor is only as good as his (her) trades, and so far his are shit.    I'm seriously considering letting him go and hiring somebody else to finish the job.

It used to be a joke that he better finish before Christmas.  Now there is no chance that it will be done by then.

In the meantime, I've arranged for Lewis to have a couple of private training classes.  I chose not to do the group classes thing with him because I don't think he should have to worry about being pounced on or eaten by a six month old lab/husky/whatever.  However, I've found a trainer that comes to you to work with your animals on a one on one basis, so we're going to address a few small behaviours that I'm struggling to train properly.

Dangit, I figure if I'm going to be stuck with a big echoing hole downstairs, I might as well use it to train the puppy.

Friday, December 13, 2013


Winter the cat had his annual vet visit this week.  He was declared to have the teeth of a cat ten years his junior.  Then he bit the vet, climbed under the counter and refused to participate any further in the examination.

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Second Job?

I was complaining to a coworker via instant message this morning, and my fingers may have been travelling a little slower than my head.  I had a bit of a typo, and I told him I'd "wored until after 9:00 last night, was up early and back at it again before 7:00, and that my eyes were starting to glaze over"

He was too polite to ask if I'd missed the h or the k until after I made the appropriate corrections.

Friday, December 6, 2013

House Bound

I got up early this morning.  Fridays are garbage day around here, and I had to shovel a path to the back fence so that I could use the garbage chute.  I was out there without my toque, mitts or scarf.  No doubt it was chilly, but it didn't seem too bad... I wondered if maybe it was starting to warm up.    Then I came in and checked, only to learn that it was -43C outside.  (That's -45F to the Americans.)

Yep, it's so cold outside that it doesn't feel cold anymore.  Kinda dangerous.

The tiler came today to work on the basement floor.  He had to use the wet saw outside because of the dust, so I moved my car to the driveway and let him use the garage. Mostly, he worked inside but ran out every once in a while when he had tiles to cut.  Even so, it wasn't long before he came in to say he'd have to finish later because the wet saw was frozen.

I'm housebound.  After the incredible dump of snow we had earlier in the week, the roads are still bad.  Most have been ploughed to some extent, but they are still slippery and full of ruts.  City crews have been too busy ploughing to sand the roads.   I'm not going to take chances while it's this cold outside.

I thought I'd do something useful, but can't figure out what that is.  I can't paint the baseboards, because they are in the back half of the basement beyond the newly laid tiles.  I can't do Christmas baking because I'm out of flour.  I can't even hang my new art (below), because my hammer is also in the basement.

Come to think of it, maybe tonight is a perfect night to curl up with a book in front of the fireplace.

Thursday, December 5, 2013

Mending Fences

Winter has not been Lewis' biggest fan since about day 2 of being chased and having his tail nipped.   For the last 6 months, Winter has sprinted from high point to high point to say out of Lewis' reach.  "Leave the Kitty" is probably the most common thing you'd hear me say around here.

Thankfully, Lewis P Wellington is growing up, and is contemplating the idea of settling down.  He's been running up to the kitty instead of running over the kitty.  And finally, a hiss or a growl is being recognized as a warning to stay away instead of an invitation to rumble.

Today, I looked over while at work and saw for the first time in a very long time, they were playing.    I didn't want to disturb them, but managed to record some of it with my phone.

BTW - you may notice the chair that they are playing on.  It's my comfortable office chair... the one I'm supposed to be able to work in 10 hours without a sore bum.  I don't get to use it.  Instead, Himself sleeps on it while I sit on a much less comfortable kitchen chair.  It's the only way I've found to keep the dang cat off my desk while I work.

Tuesday, December 3, 2013


We've got a little bit of snow around here.  After a record snow fall in November (60cm), a snow storm blew in on the weekend and dumped on us until this morning.

The city has declared a "snow emergency" where they are doing a blitz snow removal.  Ploughs are running 24/7 and going street by street.  No signs are going up; residents are expected to listen to the radio and watch the website to know when their area will be cleared.  If cars are in the way they will be ploughed around, and their owners then have to dig themselves out.  Ditto for driveways - windrows are being left on either side of the road, with home owners being responsible to clear a path in and out of their driveways.

This may sound extreme, but since I've seen at least five vehicles stuck on the corner in front of the house, I think it's required.

Yep, the drift is higher than my waist.  It was a hoot and a half to shovel out.

I *always* park in the garage.  
This week, I'm parked on the driveway so that tilers have room to cut tiles in the garage.  That drift around it doesn't look too high, but it was 18" tall yesterday.  After a night of high winds and even more snow, it's over 2'.  With a windrow at the end.

Have I mentioned that I gave away my snow blower last year?

Friday, November 29, 2013

Kitty Woes

This summer, knowing that I wanted a red couch, and that I have a long haired white cat, I went looking for ways to address his shedding.  Winter is now 14 years old, so this is in no way the first time that I've tried to do something about the shedding, but I thought it would be worth another try.

I bought a Furminator, which promises to remove loose hair and reduce shedding.  Winter loves to be combed, so it took all of two or three sessions before he started to expect them reguarly.  I have a table set up in the unfinished area of the basement, and all I'd have to do was go to the basement before Winter would run down there, jump on the table and beg to be combed.  So, we developed a routine of me Furminating Winter every day.

To be clear, there was a LOT of hair removed.  I pretty much removed a whole new cat every time I Furminated him.  I did notice his hair getting a little thinner, but I also noticed decreased shedding and -Hallalujah - an end to the regular hairballs that I used to have to clean up all the time.

So.  It's kind of dark in the unfinished area of the basement.  There's just the one CFL bulb down there, and it's not exactly bright.  That's the excuse that I'm using, anyway, because it probably took me longer than it should have to realize that the Furminator was removing a lot more than just the loose hair.  Uh huh.  It was cutting the hair off at the base.  In the areas that Winter really loves to be combed (neck, belly, and base of his tail) the hair is pretty much gone.

My (normally) beautiful long haired, angora cat is currently covered with bald spots.  It' would be really quite sad, if it wasn't so funny.  ... and it's only been a few days since I figured it out, and his hair is already growing back in.

From now on, I'll be combing Winter daily with a paddle brush, and maybe Furminating once a week after his hair grows back in.

And that red couch I wanted?  I got one in leather, so cat hair shouldn't be an issue.

I Win!

Sorry - this is a bit of a novel, but I thought I should keep a record of this in case I'm ever tempted to change my media provider again.

I am very much not a fan of the big media companies.  You know the ones... phone/internet/tv providers.  In Alberta, we have the choice between Telus and Shaw.  It used to be that Telus had the monopoly on TV and internet, and Shaw had TV but now they both do it all.

I hate Telus for too many reasons to list here, but suffice to say their customer service sucks, and they have hidden (not so hidden, actually) charges up the wazoo.  I have avoided being their customer ever since I've had any other options - Shaw.

This all started a few years ago, when I started working from home.  I talked to Shaw a bunch of times,  about slow connections and cutting in and out; but the responses were hit or miss.  Mostly, I felt like I was being told to upgrade at my own expense before they would bother trouble shooting.

That, combined with the basement renos (which means that I would soon have two TVs) convinced me to give Telus another chance.  It's been years since I've been their customer, and they do claim to be making customer service a priority.  Plus, I like the idea of using one PVR for all TVs, so I can wander from one room to the other.  Also, Telus was giving away TVs when you sign with them.

I signed with Telus in September.  I was all set to switch over to them when a guy from the Shaw retention dept called me and made all sorts of promises.  I wouldn't have to pay to upgrade, because he agreed to give me the fastest internet available (broadband 100) a new PVR, and decrease my monthly bill (for TV/Internet/phone) to $70/month.  He also gave me his direct phone number so that I wouldn't have to deal with the spotty service on their phones.  I agreed. The Telus contract was cancelled, and  a tech came out to set up my screaming fast internet.

Two things about that, though.  The internet was NOT screaming fast, and I didn't get the PVR I was promised.  I called the guy I'd talked to earlier, but the number he gave me was for somebody else, and nobody ever called me back.  That made me mad.  I went down to the Shaw office and talked to a lady there who sent me home with a PVR and booked another tech to address the internet issues.   The second tech came out, spent three hours fiddling with the internet, *almost* had it fixed, but then got a phone call over something urgent, packed up his tools and left without registering my router.  I didn't have any internet at all.  That made me madder.

Long story short(er), that got fixed, but it left a bad taste in my mouth.  Then, issues with the new PVR and new connectivity issues at work that were known to be related to Shaw convinced me to try Telus again.  I agreed to sign up for a three year contract for similar services to what I have at Shaw, only I'd get a whole-home PVR and a new TV.    And I'd pay $145/month instead of $70.

Then I started finding hidden fees everywhere.  If my TV breaks and I replace it, I'd have to pay Telus $100 to come out and reconfigure the digital box that goes with the PVR.  I have to pay to keep my phone number unlisted.  Having it "Private" isn't an option.  I emailed Telus about one thing, which led to a whole bunch of other things and suddenly I realized this was not what I wanted.  A Telus employee and I went a few rounds before I finally pulled the plug and cancelled my contract with them (which I could only do because they hadn't yet set up my services).

Today, since Telus had previously said they'd make the arrangements for my Shaw account to be closed, I called Shaw.  I didn't trust Telus to un-cancel the cancellation, so I wanted to make sure that Shaw had no plans to terminate my services.  I lucked out by being connected to a rare breed of service desk staff who really knew her stuff and wanted to help me out.  All I wanted to do was confirm that my account wasn't being cancelled, but she asked for my reasons for almost leaving so that she could address them.  It turns out that Shaw also has a whole home PVR system that nobody had told me about earlier.   She arranged to send a tech out to set one up for me, and agreed not to charge me anything, as long as I'd return the new-ish PVR that I'd received in September and wouldn't be using anymore.

So, I get the pvr system I want, I keep the discounted rates of $70/month and I don't have to deal with Telus.  Oh, and that free tv that I didn't get?  It's a 42" LG.  Telus claims that it's worth $800.  I got up early this morning and took advantage of the Black Friday deals online.  I ordered a 46" Samsung smart tv that was on sale for $500.  The way I see it, it'll only take 6 months of the discounted rate I'll be paying, and I will have saved enough to cover that expense.

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

What If

I've got a good job, I think.  I enjoy what I do and I do it well.  It's the job I wanted for many years, starting at the absolute bottom and slowing working my way up before I landed the latest promotion last December.  I haven't had this job all that long.  Shortly after I started, I was told that my boss would be retiring in three years and that she was going to "groom" me to replace her.  Her role is pretty much my end game - I have no aspirations above that.

Organization shuffles are about to happen, and we're told that - most likely - my boss will be laid off.  Somebody else will absorb her role and he has no plans to retire.  While my job won't change much with the new boss, the short term plans for my next promotion will be off the table with no other room to move up.  In addition to that, we're all dealing with staff shortages, hiring freezes, pay freezes, benefit and pension cuts.  (Makes you wonder what we're staying for, eh?)  Even better, it is looking highly likely that we'll all be unionized in the next few months.  Nobody wants this.  It will mean bigger cuts to our benefits, a loss of one week of vacation/year, less freedom to move within positions and a 1.5% percentage cut of each our salaries.  We get no say or vote about this.

Last week, somebody in a role quite different and at a slightly lower pay grade from mine quit his job and left a big gap.  It's a critical role, and they're going to have to find a way to replace him, even if it means giving up the FTE elsewhere.  A thought started to niggle at the back of my mind, and I wondered but didn't really let myself think about it - what if I did that job instead of mine?

I could do it.

It would be a higher profile job that regularly deals with directors and executives, where I usually deal with people on the front lines.  There's no more room to move up from this role either, but it would be a new skill to add to my resume.  The pension/benefit/union/hiring/pay freeze issues will still be an issue.  I'd be the newbie who doesn't entirely know what she's doing, where as right now I'm the expert. It would involve being on call 24/7, which I've tried to avoid throughout my entire career.  I'd get less pay.  Because of the hiring freeze (and because my current role is lower profile) my boss would not be able to replace me unless she poached from another team.  I know without a doubt that she's be mad at me if I left - and since she's an amazing boss and I care what she thinks, that's big.   And yet... the job is calling my name.

The job was posted today.  I was approached about applying.  I said I'd think about it.  In the meantime, I agreed to start training.  The position requires coverage 24/7, so even if I decide not to apply, I can dip my toes in the pool and help fill in when whoever ends up in the position is tied up, busy or sick.

Sunday, November 17, 2013


I discovered on Friday that a mistake had been made on the electrical in the basement.  I had asked them to wire two of the  outlets to be on a switch so that my laptop (stored and to be plugged in above a shelf over the desk) and my monitors, (plugged in below the desk) can't drain any power at all while powered off.

I could have continued to use the power bar that I use now, but I would rather not have the clutter around the desk.  On Friday, I discovered that only the outlet above the shelf was put on the switch.  So, now, I have to have the power bar for the monitors AND use the switch to power on/off the laptop.

The alternative would be to have them cut out the drywall and fix the outlets, which then means that the drywall would have to be fixed and repainted as well.  Lord only knows how long this will take.  Considering that all they've accomplished in three months is the framing, electrical and drywall, I don't have high hopes for a quick turn around.

I'm pissed, is about the only was to sum it up.  This six week job really doesn't need any more delays, but it doesn't  make sense to pay extra for something that not only doesn't do what I want, it complicates what I had in the first place.

Monday, November 11, 2013


At the nursery this year, I was wowed - and oh so tempted - by big beautiful bougainvillea plants.  They aren't at all common around here, but the red blooms were just absolutely lovely.  I didn't get one because they wouldn't survive more than a season here in our weather and they cost $150.   As pretty as they are, I just couldn't justify a splurge like that.

This fall, I found little starter bougainvillea plants at home depot.  They were short, and stumpy, and I really didn't know how they'd do, but they only cost $15.  (Which, thinking about it, isn't cheap for a plant but in comparison to what the nursery wanted this spring, it's pretty fantastic.)

Anywho, I brought the bougainvillea home and gave it a place in one of my sunnier rooms.   I haven't taken the best care of it... I left it in a tiny starter pot, watered it when it was bone dry, and haven't even thought about fertilizer.  Even so, it grew quite a bit and then this happened:

It's pink, instead of the red I really loved, but it's still pretty darned nice if you ask me.

So, now I need to figure out what to do with it.  It's going to need a more perminant home in a different location (I wonder if it would get enough light in my new basement room?)  and a much bigger pot.   And maybe, I should figure out how to properly take care of it.

Friday, November 8, 2013

Let there be Light

Painting is now done, and the electrical was (supposedly) finished up in the basement.  It's progress, but there are a few issues.

There are lots of LED pots, which I am very happy with.

The semi-flush to the left - the one that is not turned on - was a surprise, because when I ordered it, I thought it used normal light bulbs (that I could replace with LEDs)... turns out it only takes teeny tiny Christmas light sized bulbs.  I'll be out tonight looking for LED bulbs that come that small... really won't be happy if I have to end up using incandescents.

And finally, you might notice the lonely pendant light hanging at the back/centre of the room.  There were two of those pendants.  Those were my splurges for the lighting, and were ordered from the US. One has been broken.    I'm awaiting word from the vendor to see if they'll replace it.

This picture isn't hugely important, other than to show you the bank of switches to turn the many lights on and off.  You might notice that none of those switches are dimmers... two are supposed to be.

You might also notice the gaping hole around the electrical panel.  There should be a whole-home surge protector in there, but it was forgotten.  Ditto for the intercom to the front door so that I don't have to run upstairs to tell people No, I don't want to buy their magazine, sponsor their trip to Europe or otherwise give them money I don't have.  I think the surge protector will be installed next week... I suspect I'll give up on the idea of the wired intercom, and may pick up something wireless on my own.

Something else that you don't see are the tv or internet outlets.  Wire was run for those, but a plate was slapped over where the outlets would/should go.  The electricians tell me it's the responsibility of the internet/tv provider to do this.  The internet/tv provider tells me it's the electrician's job.    I'm thinking I'll just avoid the fight and offer to buy beer & pizza for a friend of mine who does networking as a career.

A lady arrived today to measure for the tile installation, but had no idea when the work would actually be done.

At this rate, there's a good chance this 6 week job that started in August might be done before Christmas.  I've decided that'll have to be good enough.

Wednesday, November 6, 2013


My little man-dog, who had just returned from the vet where he made the Big Sacrifice in the name of social responsibility, immediately went outside and pointedly sat in the snow.

He's ok, though...  a little wobbly but mobile and none too pleased.

Tuesday, November 5, 2013


Something I didn't expect during this construction project is the echos in the house.  Ever since the basement was opened up to the main floor, noises echo throughout.  This is especially bad when the dogs start playing/barking and it sounds like there's a whole dog pack in here.  Suddenly, I'm a single person - very used to peace and quiet - living in a very noisy environment.

When the work is done, there will be a wall of books, rugs on the floor and upholstered furniture to absorb the sound; the echos will be gone.    I want that.

This six week job started in August.  Three months later, it's only half way finished.  I'm impatient for this job to be finished for a whole lot of reasons, but lately the echo is the biggest reason I want this done.

Sunday, November 3, 2013


My built-in vacuum has been broken for about a month.  Although I haven't vacuumed the construction area, that dust is hard to contain and is pretty much all over.  So, when it started to be really quiet and lost suction, I figured the construction dust had done it in.   I tried replacing the filter and a bunch of other things, but had no luck.

So, I rolled up the area rugs and went old school for a few weeks with a dust mop and a broom.  It does the trick, I guess; but just doesn't work nearly as well.  I really didn't (don't) want to have to buy a new vacuum but it was getting to the point that I figured I wouldn't have a choice and was deciding what part of the basement project could be postponed until after the vacuum repair/replacement was paid off.

Then, I had an aha moment while at work Friday, and remembered a connection that had been taken apart a while back to make room for the drywall.  I ran downstairs and checked it out, and sure enough, it hadn't been put back together yet.  I put everything back and tested it out; thank gawd it's working again.

You won't hear me say this often, but what a relief to be able to be able to vacuum again.  The dust bunnies and cat hair tumble weeds had gotten so bad, I was starting to think I was camping.

Thursday, October 31, 2013

Still here...

The last week was spent in Calgary, attending a course and getting ready for yet another ITIL exam.  I wrote it this afternoon, and now get to wait a couple of weeks to see if I passed.  These exams are written to trip you up - a lot of people fail, and I might do just that.  Although the content of this course was probably the most straight forward of any I've taken, the exam was the most difficult.  This was the only time I've seen the majority of the class stick it out and stay in the exam room until time ran out and they were forced to stop writing.

Halloween was successful, I think.  I managed to rush home after the exam and make it here before the kids started coming around.  Fewer kids this year (~80), which could be because I wasn't around last year, or maybe the neighbourhood kids are starting to age out.  While I do love Halloween, I can't say I'll miss having to buy for 150 kids

After the kids stopped coming around, I headed over to get the dogs from my parents.  Lewis has mastered the stairs while I was away, and ran up and down their basement stairs over and over and over and over to show off his new skills.    Although my mom was against me getting another dog, there's no doubt that he's won her over.

Finally, a PSA for germophobes like me:   Do NOT read an article about where the germs, bacteria and bugs are hiding in hotel rooms while staying in a hotel.  I may never feel clean again.

Sunday, October 13, 2013

Moving forward...

The basement is almost ready to paint.  The drywall mudder/taper guy was here every day for two weeks.  The job went slowly for him, as their are lots of angles from the bulkheads, etc, and the mud didn't want to dry.  Finally, he finished on Friday and recommended that I not paint until at least today.

I've vacuumed the room from top to bottom twice, but there is still a layer of dust all over everything.  So, now I am taking a short break between washing the walls and ceiling with a slightly damp cloth.  It's not a lot of fun, this task, but either I have to do it or I have to pay somebody else to do it.  I think I understand now why it costs to much to paint a new room - it's not the actual painting that takes up all your time.  It's the prep work.

In other news, I finally picked out my new sofa for this room.  I wanted a sectional for lounging, and I think leather is the way to go because of the pets (specifically - the white angora cat).  However, I had trouble finding one that wasn't all puffy like its mother had mated with the michelin man.    When I did find one I liked, I could only get it in black or special order it.  So, the order goes in this week and the new sectional should arrive in March.  I hope it's worth the wait.

Finally,  Winter got something new himself last week.  He's been showing a lot of signs of age lately, particularly in his hips.  I don't know that he's in pain all the time, but he's lost the ability to jump very much.  This is a cat who loves to go as high as possible.  I felt bad for him, particularly since I've introduced a puppy that the cat just wants to stay away from.  So, I bought him this little dresser that converts into a mini set of stairs.    

It's beside my bed right now.  Of course, Winter hates it and won't go anywhere near it.  Suddenly, he's making flying leaps onto the bed and sticking his landing every time.  I'll give him some time, though.  Hopefully the catitude will wear off before long.

Friday, October 11, 2013


I've worked on a 2'x 3' desk for two years.  Soon, my new desk will be 12' long.  I'm going to try hard not to let things get cluttered, but I'm looking forward to having space to store more than a pen.

This is my first accessory purchase for the new room - after the way things have been going, I figure it sets the tone.

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

The F Word

No, not the F-bomb; although this word is just as upsetting to me.

Lewis and I went to Kelowna a few weeks ago, to visit my sister and her boys.  Lewis climbed a mountain, walked around the lake a few times, and ran through a field with long, wet grass.  I think the latter adventure is where he picked up fleas.

We don't generally have fleas in Alberta.  There are a few cases of them reported each year, but it's so rare that we don't bother treating for them.  You can be assured that all three of my animals have now been treated for fleas.

After daily vacuuming, mountains of laundry and tonnes of scrubbing, I think they're gone.   I hope.  Just thinking about it, I'm itchy all over.

Thursday, September 26, 2013

Redemption... almost

There has been progress in the basement this week, every day.  The corrections I wanted were made, the ceiling was insulated (making it seem almost dead down there, with the lack of sound) and they started putting up the drywall today.

There is a big beam that hangs overhead of where my desk will be.  I don't like it - it blocks the window - but I never considered that it could be removed.  The contractor has also disliked it from day one.  He's complained about it a number of times, but I never expected him to do anything about it.

Yesterday, he surprised me by arriving with both an engineer and the city building inspector to discuss removing the beam.  Much measuring and mumbling occurred, and they left with the general understanding that the beam could go - they'd just need official signoff from the building inspector.  Today, they arrived with cheers of "The Beam is Going to Go!", and I heard sawing and hammering start up right away.  Shortly after that, his phone rang, the hammering stopped and the contractor called me downstairs.   Sadly, the beam has to stay.  The inspector had signed off on the removal of the beam, if the room was 16 ' wide, but they remeasured one last time before they pulled it out and discovered that the room is 18' wide.

There are options to beef up the joists that will mean the beam can come out, but that would cost a lot of money.  Since I was satisfied to keep it a week ago, I decided to keep the money and live with the beam.

Oh well.

This is what the room looked like when they went home today.  Suddenly, it seems a lot smaller, but it'll stretch out once the furniture, etc is in place.

They'll be back tomorrow to finish the drywalling.  Mudding and taping is next week, and then it's over to me to paint before the floor goes in.

Saturday, September 21, 2013

Slow progress

I left town last week with a long to-do list for the contractor.  He was quite sure that he could get it all done plus do the drywalling, but I was adamant that drywalling didn't start until I gave the go-head.  It was a wee bit of a battle, as he seemed to think my being away was a good opportunity to motor ahead and that my not letting him drywall was micromanaging.

Unfortunately, my instincts were right.  I came home to see that they'd missed doing about 5 jobs that would have been covered over if they drywalled before I got back, and they'd have had to rip it all out.    There are a few silly things, that I shouldn't have had to add to the list in the first place... making the closet door opening the size of a standard door from the big box stores... moving the vacuum outlet to outside of the closet... And, a few requests that have been long standing but so far unaddressed, like lowering electrical outlets that had stickers on them stating the proper heights (that they vapour barriered over them, stickers and all!!).

So, the contractor and his team will be returning on Monday to do what should have been done long ago, so that we can finally get the place inspected and then close it up.  He and I are going to have a talk soon about lighting a fire under this project.  I am starting to run out of patience, and I want to start seeing workers here every day towards that end.

Some shots of the progress they have made...

This is the before of the stairwell

This is how it looks from the top looking down

And this is how it looks from the bottom looking towards the stairs
(I didn't think to take a before picture from this view)

Sadly, that's it.  There is no other progress to show you.

Looking at it now, I think that nook under the stairs would make a great built-in bench or day bed for reading.  Unfortunately, I need that area for storage.  I can't decide yet how I want it done (cupboards, drawers, or just a door so things can be tossed in), so he'll be drywalling over it for now.

Saturday, September 14, 2013

Back at it

Renos on the basement are set to start again, after the city finally deigned to give us the permit.  It was kind of frustrating to have a three week delay over something that had never changed about the house, and shouldn't have been an issue in the first place.  (You have to have windows that are big enough to escape through in basement bedrooms, but we are not building a bedroom.  This will be an office/rec room with two large-ish windows... kind of hard to explain what they were thinking.)  Anyway, we should be back on track again on Monday.

I'll be heading out of town for a bit with Lewis, and Tallulah and Winter will be moving over to my parent's place until I'm back.  Winter tends to get a wee bit curious around the men working, and can get in the way.  I also don't want another repeat of the chalk incident.

Winter walked through and lay down in the middle of a chalk line while they were framing the walls last month.  His feet, tummy and whole back end turned red... rather horrifying for the first few seconds that I saw him, until I realized what must have happened.

Oops - think I posted this before.  Oh well, It's probably worth a re-post

This is what he looked like a week later.

A month later, he is pretty much the same, only maybe a wee bit whiter.  I'm guessing the hair will fall out before he is white again.  Luckily for him, he sheds buckets every day.

Women have paid hundreds for a lasting red hair colour.  If only they knew about red construction chalk.

Monday, September 9, 2013


Lewis P. Wellington is reaching his 5th month on Wednesday.  He's got missing teeth, loose teeth and a few chew marks where they don't belong to show for the new replacements that are coming in.  Even so, he's a keeper.

He's housetrained now, and knows his rudimentary commands.  He can sit, lie down and come to me when I call.  I haven't worked on "stay", so I won't judge him that he can't do that.  He can, however, do an excellent imitation of a zombie when the mood strikes him. He stands on his hind legs, lifts his front legs up over his head and growls as he walks towards me- it's terrifying, I tell you.

Today I introduced the collar... again.  We've tried them off and on, almost from day one, but he doesn't like them.  Instead, I use a vest-style harness to take him for walks.  However, he'll be coming with me soon to BC to visit my sister and her boys, and he needs tags for that.  So, the collar is back on.  The weight must be oppressive, because he lies down for hours with his chin flat on the floor until I take it off.

He's gravity challenged... not that gravity won't hold him down, but in that he's seemingly unaware of it.  He climbs, jumps, dives and rolls as though he's got no concept of it, or fear of landing.

This week, after what seemed like forever, he became a lap dog and started to ask to lie on my lap.  Finally, after almost six weeks, I get to sit down for more than 2 minutes and relax.

Monday, September 2, 2013

Big Ocean, Small Pond

It's kind of funny how well I've adjusted to things, after the breakup.  I haven't been in a tonne of relationships, but usually there's a period of time after one ends before I want to even consider looking for another one... this period has lasted from a few months up to a few years in the past.  This time, there was no mourning period.  It's too bad that it didn't work out, but looking back, I think I knew we would have a limited amount of time together before it came to an end.

The truth is, I waited a month before dipping my toes back in the pool out of respect for him.  I was pretty much ready to start looking right away.  I liked being part of a pair, and having a partner.  If what we had, which was pretty good, was what relationships are like with the wrong guy, then I can only imagine it'd be even better with the right one.  I want that.

Long story short, I signed up on a new website a while back.  This one sends you a list of your matches every day.  The very first list that I received, I scrolled down to find that -once again- I'd been matched with him.


Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Christmas in August

I've had three deliveries from couriers today.  It felt like Christmas, with all these packages arriving... except that I had to pay for them all.

One of the packages was my new light fixture, one was the hardware for my secret door (which I really, really hope works) and the other one is an art piece I took something of a chance on.  Even better, each of the packages contained generous lengths of bubble wrap.

I won't go into details, but things have been... hectic at work.  I can use a little bubble wrap therapy.

The light fixture I got was a happy find.  I was looking at quite a few in this style, and they cost $160-200.  This one, which I actually like better than the ones I'd seen earlier, cost $95.

It's actually made of chrome... not sure why it seems so yellow in this picture.

I won't show you the hardware for the door.  I posted a link to it a few posts ago.

The art was a gamble, and to tell you the truth, I think it may have been a miss.  I had a photo printed out on a very large sheet of metal, with the intention of using it to make a cover for the electrical panel.  Although I like the effect (it reflects a tonne of light), I don't love the photo the way I thought I would.  It's cute, but I don't know that I want to look at it every day for years and years.

You really can't tell how much light it reflects from this picture, which is a shame, because that's what I like best.

Oh, and Lewis needs his bangs trimmed... the appointment for his first grooming session has been made.

Regardless of what I think about the photo, I feel like I need to give a shout out to Posterjack.  When I ordered the print, their website said it took an average of 12 days to do them (maybe longer) and then they'd courier it to you so you get it in 3-4 days.  You could pay to have the piece couriered faster, but there's nothing to do to speed up the process of having it made.

I ordered this on Sunday.  On Tuesday (yesterday), I got a message from FedEx, saying that they'd picked up a package for delivery to me.  The FedEx tracking info showed my package as being much, much smaller than the one I ordered, so I emailed Posterjack to ask if they could intercept it before it was shipped across Canada.  Within minutes, they had checked it out, confirmed the right package had been shipped to me, and reassured me that I'd just gotten lucky with a quick turn around.  Then, the package arrived today, before lunch.  This company really knows how to do customer service.  I've actually ordered from them a few times, and I've always been very happy with the work they did.  And no, Posterjack has not sponsored this post in any way.

Construction is on hold for a bit.  Even though there are no bedrooms yet, the city got concerned about egress (means of escape, in the event of a fire) so they are withholding the building permit.  We had to prove that the windows were big enough to escape out of, which they all are, but now it's going to take a week or ten days for them to process the paperwork.  Yahoo.  I'm trying not to get frustrated over the delays.  In the long run, it won't matter.  Whether the basement is built in a month or six months, a few years from now, it'll all be the same.

Saturday, August 24, 2013


I've pretty much made up my mind about everything for the basement room being built.  I've finalized colours, fixtures, flooring and layout.  What I can't decide about is what to do under the stairs.

I've tried very hard to plan this room (and eventually the entire basement) with storage in mind.  You can't ever have too much storage space.

I've always known that the space under the stairs would be used as a place to store things, but I don't want them to look like angled, under the stair cupboards.  The stairs are closed off on both sides (ie with walls, not railings) so the wall on the other side of the stairs goes from floor to ceiling in the basement.  Any access to the space under the stairs needs to be from the room I'm building, because future plans will have that area blocked off in all other directions.

Options that I've considered for under the stairs are a built in dog nook like this:

I don't know if the dogs would like it, though, since they won't have a whole lot of visibility.  And, as much as I like the gate/door, it seems like it'd get in the way.  (My dogs aren't generally crated, once they grow up and earn free roam of the house.)  Without the gate, this would just be a hole in the wall... without the lights.

More importantly, I want storage cupboards.  Lots of cupboards... except those would be pretty darned deep cupboards (48") and things might get lost in the back.  

I love these, but I'll already have  a 20' wall of bookshelves.  I don't really want to give up any more floor space to bookshelves I don't need.

So, I talked to the contractor about something like these, only with fronts that look like cupboard doors and are straight across at the top.  

Something about them doesn't seem right, though.  I'm worried that they'll make my OCD go off the charts if they don't fit perfectly and spaces are visible between them.  Somehow, I'm not entirely convinced that they will look like built-in cupboards.

I've mulled it over.  The contractor has mulled it over.  We haven't come up with a solid conclusion, and we're getting close to crunch time.  

Today, two things occurred to me.  One, that while I may take a time to make up my mind, I generally know when I've found what I want.  I don't feel like I have found it yet.  More importantly, it also occurred to me that I don't have to do anything right now.  I can have him frame that area with the idea that I'll be adding cupboards below down the road, but cover it with drywall for now.  Not all of the basement will be finished right away, so the stairs will be accessible from the other side for a while.

It's kind of a relief, actually, to have one less thing to worry about.

Friday, August 23, 2013

Class Act

There's a rental about five houses down from mine that got new tenants a while back and it's been party central ever since.  They have their music blaring non-stop, and their place has beer bottles and cigarette butts strewn all over the place.  It's lovely, it really is.

What's even better is that when their next door neighbour tried to complain (I'm not sure if they went to the landlord or the police) their house was peppered with raw eggs the very next night - at least 2 dozen.  Needless to say, people are a little hesitant to speak up to them now.

Last night, they had a party at the rental, and it was loud enough to keep me awake five houses away.  I think I may have fallen asleep shortly before 2, only to wake up to the sounds of a sick puppy (who had just gotten a rabies shot) at 3:30.  I had to get up, clean up his crate and take him outside.  The rental house was quiet by then, but the cool air outside woke me up.  I was awake for probably another 45 minutes.

My alarm went off at 5.  I managed to haul myself out of bed at 5:30.  I got dressed, stretched out and then threw in the towel by walking across the street to tell Jen (my jogging partner) I was going back to bed.  I got another hour of sleep before I had to get up to work.

I'm a diet coke drinker.  I know it's bad for me but... yeah.  I usually only drink a can a day, and since it's my sole source of caffeine, I drink it early.  As in, I usually crack one open before 9.  Today, when I was functioning on almost no sleep, I felt desperate for my diet coke.  Imagine how thrilled I was to realize I was all out.

I tried to cope without it, I really did; but I finally gave up after I lost the ability to speak English about 11:00.   The brain just wasn't firing, so I got into my car with the intension of hitting a nearby drive through.  Of course, the drive through was backed up down the road, so I parked and went inside.  Baggy sweatpants, bright orange M&Ms t-shirt, paint splattered crocks over socks and bed head.  I was all sorts of class.  Probably even more so after I had my first sip, fell to my knees and practically broke down in tears of relief.

Thursday, August 22, 2013


No big news or pictures to show any significant difference today, but they worked all day.  Electrical was wired in for the basement.

Mostly, I'm excited about the light fixtures going in.  They took away the junction box/fixture that used to hang at the base of the stairs, and ran the wires to replace it with a couple of pot lights.  Pot lights aren't necessarily very exciting, but these ones are replacing a boob light.    There used to be one of those fixtures in almost every room; but with this change, I am only one away from this house being boob free.

Wednesday, August 21, 2013


The contractor touched base with me yesterday to say that he'd been delayed in finishing up his last job, and was ready to start my basement today.  Once he started, things seemed to go fast.  Framing is up, electrical goes in tomorrow.

Looking at it now, I can see that there's a long ways to go, but I'm still excited about the progress.  The wall to the left of this picture was extended about 6 feet, and then the wall at the end was framed in.  There will be a "piano" window there, like the three on the main floor of the house.  The door opening will hopefully be the secret door we have planned.  Other than the window and door, the rest of that wall will be floor to ceiling bookshelves.

This part is hard to tell, but it's at the base of the stairs.  The stairs basically go down the middle of the basement - we'll be opening up the wall to the right of the stairs quite a bit, and then closing things off on the left to keep the unfinished parts separate from the room we're building.  To the right is a 5' linen closet that is going in.  On the left is a temporary door and wall that will be removed when the basement is finished.

Framing and electrical inspection is in a week or two, when they can be arranged.  Heating will also be updated, to move the registers to the base of the walls instead of the ceilings.    Drywall takes about a week, I'm told and then it's up to me to paint before the tiles go in.

On a different but related note, Winter was curious about the activity in the basement.  The guys hadn't been there 5 minutes when walked past him and did a double take... and then another.   It never occurred to me that they'd be using chalk lines.  It never occurred to them that the cat would check it out so closely.  His feet were died completely red.  His legs, back and tail had a smattering of chalk that I was mostly able to brush away.  The red feet, however, will stay that way for the foreseeable future.  There's no washing that stuff out.

Thursday, August 15, 2013

Radio Silence isn't so bad in some ways...

I still haven't heard from the contractor.  Odd, because radio silence was the one thing he promised he wouldn't do to me if I hired him.  Huh.

Oh well, at least there's no deadline for this project, so I guess it doesn't matter when it gets done.  It's hot and humid this week... the kind of hot and humid that makes it hard to sleep... and I keep telling myself that this time next year I'll be able to work and hang out (possibly sleep on a couch) in a nice cool basement.

Also, I'm trying to pick my battles.  If I don't nag about being here all the time, hopefully he'll be more receptive when I go all OCD on him over other things.

I am back to the drawing board with lighting.   I wanted a chandelier in one corner.  I was leaning towards a whimsical, mobile-like fixture that had frosted glass bubbles hanging from it, but couldn't find pendants for above my desk to go with it.  I had a few other chandelier options in mind, but could never seem to find pendants that went with any of them.

Then I found these pendants, and the angels did sing.  They don't go with any of the chandelier options I had in mind, but I've decided that these are the pendants I have to have, so now I need to start over with all the other lights.

One of these will hang on either side of my monitors, over the built-in desk.
(psst, those are loose crystals at the bottom of the glass)

And then, after all that, I realized last week how low the ceilings are.  With all the natural light that shines in there, I never caught on to how low the ceilings are; but for some reason, the boob guy who built this house made the ceilings only 7'9" in the basement.   So chandeliers won't work unless I want to frequently bonk my head.   Like I said before, back to the drawing board.

Tonight, the dogs are taking an unscheduled nap.  In another room.  I can't sit for 5 minutes without jumping up and dealing with one pet or another lately. Tallulah won't stop barking at Lewis.  It's a friendly "we're playing and having so much fun!" bark, but it's been going on for days and she won't stop.  And, she's bloody loud about it too.  If I split them up, I have dogs on either side of whatever door is keeping them apart, scratching and whining to let them play.  If that wasn't enough, Winter is mad at the world, hissing and spitting aggressively at the dogs every chance he gets and needing to be separated.  I know there are all kinds of training tricks to deal with these things, but the truth is I'm tired.  I just want it to stop, without any effort on my part.  

On top of that, the dogs keep wanting to go outside.  They are like bobbsey twins, so wherever one goes, the other follows... but they haven't synchronized their potty schedules, so they're in and out like yoyos.  I'd be OK with them hanging out outside, but there is a pair of gigantic crows that moved in nearby and who keep looking at Lewis like he's lunch.  He's doing so well at his house training, I feel like I have to let him outside when he asks to go out; but the crows mean I have to go with him until he gets a little bigger.  

It look me three hours to watch a 1 hour tv show last night.  So, tonight the dogs are in their crates, Winter is somewhere else - away from the dogs - and I'm giving serious thought to getting a spray collar to see if that will convince Tallulah to play quietly.  

And a scarecrow.  Apparently, I need a scarecrow.

Tuesday, August 13, 2013


The basement construction was supposed to start last week, and then it was supposed to start today.  I keep reminding myself that there's no reason it needs to be finished right away, but I am feeling antsy already.

So far, I've purchased a few things in preparation.  LED recessed (pot) lights,  which set me back a pretty penny up front but will hopefully pay themselves off by saving electricity.  I still need a couple of flush-mount light fixtures and a couple of pendants for over the desk area... am struggling with the decision of going whimsical (feminine) or something a little more classic (of course, the classic options I've selected are more expensive).

I'm also trying to decide if I need/want a fireplace.  I can't get a gas or wood fireplace because I've maxed out on allowable natural gas usage in this house, and I don't have room for a real chimney.  I did find a very nice electric fireplace, but I can't quite decide if it's necessary.

The most exciting find/purchase for me (which I suspect makes me an uber geek) has been the hardware for a legitimate secret door.  This will be hidden amongst a wall of bookshelves... I can hardly wait to see it in place.

Am still stewing over colours.  I'd made up my mind a long time ago, but now I'm questioning my earlier decisions.  If I'm smart, I'll stick with the plans.

Monday, August 5, 2013

What's up

In renovation news, although the primary reason why I decided to finish the basement room was to make space for the Boy when he moved in, I've decided to do it anyway without him.   I'm looking forward to having a dedicated place that's larger than a shoebox to work in each day.  The contractor was supposed to start today, but today's a holiday so I wasn't surprised when he was a no-show.  I'm guessing he'll be here tomorrow, or we'll have to have a talk.

These are the before pictures... it's basically an unfinished basement, but I thought it'd be fun to keep a photographic record of the progress.

From the stairwell, the left hand wall and door will be opened up in the foyer.  The floor will be changed out on the basement level of the foyer (the stairs won't change) to match the brown porcelain tiles that will go down throughout the basement... haven't decided what pattern it'll be laid in yet.

This is pretty much half of the basement.  We'll be finishing 2/3 of what you see here.  

A wall will go in at the far end of the little bump out on the right.  That wall will go all the way to the other side of the room on the left, closing it off, and will be floor to ceiling bookshelves.  There will be a window built into that wall, to avoid blocking off all the light that comes from the window at the end.  ... And we're mulling over possibilities for a hidden door amongst the bookshelves for untraditional access to the room behind it (which will be finished at a later date).

The bump out on the right will be my new office area, with a built-in desk and shelves.

This view is from me standing where the wall of bookshelves will be, looking forward.  The bump out/office area is to the left now, stairs to the right.  I am planning a sectional couch in that front area, with the tv on the front wall.  I know what couch I want (a down sectional) but I don't have plans to buy it right away.... maybe in the new year.

In other news, the wee beastie is growing like a weed.  He's trouble and he's bad; but he's all sorts of cute so I suppose I'll keep him.  I like the shaggy look, so I comb him every day, brush his teeth/clean his face most days (to prevent the goopy eyed look he's got in that first picture), and give him a bath every week.  He's *almost* house trained, and he's *almost* leash trained.  He can sit on command, and knows to come to me when I call (but isn't quite 100% reliable yet.)  I've been teaching him to lie down on command, but I've also been teaching him to shake his paw and to imitate a zombie.   He's quick, but not nearly as quick to pick up new commands as Tallulah was.  I think maybe he's getting confused by learning the three new commands at once, so - as cute as the zombie is - we will be focusing on his lying down on command until he masters that and then moving on to the funner tricks.

Sunday, July 14, 2013

And so it goes

The Boy and I have had an undercurrent of tension on one topic, almost from the start.  He's a spender and I'm a saver.  This came up in discussion numerous times, and I'll admit to being stressed a little bit more, every time he made another significant purchase that, in my mind, seemed unnecessary.

Since about February, plans have been for him to move in here once his lease is up and, although he'd pay rent, it would only be a small amount to help cover half of what I currently pay in mortgage.  There has been no talk of him helping to cover the costs of finishing the basement to make more room for him.

Last week, we hashed it out again, and I tried to simplify/rationalize my point of view.  He has a significant debt and no savings.  He says he has no intention of letting me support him but he hasn't done anything to provide for his own future - if not me, who?  He said that he doesn't save because money doesn't matter to him, and that stuff isn't important.  I turned that around on him and asked him why, if it doesn't matter, he can't set some aside for later.  He'll certainly be living on next to nothing in the future if he keeps on they way he's been going, so why can't he live on a little bit less now?  I wasn't asking him to pay me, just to start saving for himself.

The very next day, without saying anything to me until it was done, he bought a sports car.

Although he is a wonderful man and I will miss him dearly, we have decided that our beliefs are too far apart on this fundamental issue, and have parted ways.

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

What I've been up to

    • Alberta flooded last week... More specifically, southern Alberta flooded... As in, a natural disaster that has displaced thousands of people.  It's still dry here, Wherthefurflies, thank goodness. Calgary was not nearly as lucky.
      • Data centers lost power, hospitals closed.  Work has gone insane to deal with it all, but it is hard to complain when you think of those impacted more directly.
    • My friend Jen and I have been jogging three times a week for about a month.  She makes me go twice as fast as I usually do, which I think is mean, but I suppose is good for me.  
    • A few weeks ago, I spent a stressful week in Calgary (before the flood) taking a class in preparation for an exam that generally has a high failure rate.   I hate school - always have - but I am happy to say I got my results and I passed.  90% thankyouverymuch.
    • The boy and I went to the market on Saturday, because I'd heard that a local farm had fresh strawberries ready for sale.  We bought a basket, which caused me to ooh and aah they were so good.  Today, I went out to my yard and picked the first few strawberries from the garden.  They were even better.
    • And, I have been occupied with my puppy.  He's trouble, but I already love him to bits.  So do Tallulah and Winter.
      • Exhibit A  (the warm up)

      • Exhibit B (the main event, which is very closely supervised)

        • Then, every once in a while with no warning, this happens, and I think it’ll all work out.