Thursday, 25 December 2014

Merry Christmas to All!


May the Christmas Fairy bestow upon you and your family warmth and light, health and happiness, and all the wealth that comes with giving love. xoxoxoxo

Thursday, 4 December 2014

It's been, like, forever...

So much has happened in my life since I was last here. Real Life has been getting in the way of my online life. And that's a good thing, really.

The end of August, I adopted Teak, the rescue dog with the dodgy hip. He's a lovely soul but has the physical issues of hip dysplasia, which requires daily anti-inflammatory/pain meds, as well as behavioural because it has become apparent that he's not really been around other dogs. He's great with people, especially kids, but other dogs? Not so much.



Because he needs a total hip replacement to be comfortable again, I have started a facebook page (https://www.facebook.com/pages/Teak-Needs-a-Hip/671688412930037?ref=hl), a twitter account (https://twitter.com/Teak1needsaHip) and a crowd funding campaign (http://www.gofundme.com/gqspyk) in an attempt to supplement my efforts to save the $5000+ needed for his surgery. If I get more than enough to cover his expenses, the rest will go to the rescue shelter's account at the animal hospital they use. The shelter has been excellent with me adopting Teak, giving him a huge soft dog bed, a bottle of the prescription meds for his hip (which costs about $120) and doing a straight trade on a large kennel (the one I had was too small). So here's hoping next summer will be spent rehabbing his hip. He really does deserve to be a happy healthy pup!!



I've had a couple of mishaps while walking Teak. One, the beginning of October, involved a wayward bunny who just happened to pop out from a hedge right next to the dog and then take off back the way we just came. Teak, of course, gave chase (he is a rabbit obsessed dog, let me tell you!). His reaction time is a helluva lot quicker than mine so when he gave chase, I got yanked off my feet (as I was on the other end of the leash), spun around and then I hit the pavement on my right side. Elbow, hip and knee took the brunt of the wipeout and I ended up with a loose dog as well as road rash and bruises. Luckily the bunny went under the front porch of the closest house and Teak didn't fit, so he was easy to catch. We marched the 1 1/2 blocks back to my house with me cursing, limping and bleeding. My elbow and knee still hurt to the touch, so I am convinced I bruised the bones. Nothing broken and the joints were not affected. I had a nice purple hematoma on my hip for weeks too. A couple of weeks after that while walking down the street with Teak on leash, a woman opened her side door and came outside. Her puggle (beagle pug mix ~ max 20 lbs) came barrelling out the door with her, saw Teak, and charged him, barking and growling. Well, of course Teak got defensive. He was doing nothing other than strolling along when this little hellion announcing it's going to rip his face right off. So to prevent my dog (a little over 60 lbs) from killing this little monster, I have him by the harness, braced between my knees, yelling at the lady to come get her dog NOW if she wants it to stay alive!!! She doesn't... said something about it being friendly (she obviously knows nothing of dog to dog communication!), so it is up to me to pivot with Teak between my knees to prevent a massacre. Of course, I hurt myself doing this. I pulled my left gluteuls and piriformis muscles. For you lay people out there, I strained my bum. And it still hurts, weeks later, even after massages and physiotherapy... and a slip on the ice a couple of weeks ago that re-injured it. *sigh* I love my dog, but this is crazy!



I had made my way back into the land of online dating during the summer while I was off recovering from the carpal tunnel surgery to my left hand. It was the usual frustrating journey... until I met the Old Fish (his online moniker). He's not old (being 3 years younger than me) nor is he a fish... he's an Aquarian like me. He's originally from the East Coast (Down Home, if you are from that area) but spent a number of years in the Army (medic ~ special ops, pathfinders, search and rescue, plus he did tours in Iraq) and settled in the Winnipeg area after his last posting here in Manitoba. He retired from the RCAF in the late 90s and has been here ever since. We met online, emailed back and forth for a few days and then met for a coffee one Sat. evening at a Starbucks. We shut that place down after a couple of hours, so moved across the parking lot to a pub. Well, we shut that place down too. So at 2:00 a.m. we decided maybe our "meet and greet" had turned into an actual first date and made plans to see each other again. And again, and again... And now we are virtually inseparable. Outside of working hours and commitments that are necessary, we are together, either at his place or mine. He has a dog and a cat, so the dogs go back and forth with us. It's been great. That's all I can say at this point. I don't want to jinx anything, if you know what I mean.

Work is busy as always. I have been picking up the occasional extra shift at my regular hospital, as well as sporadically at the local hospital here in my town. What I earn here locally is going into the fund for Teak's hip.

I am sorting through all the stuff I have stored in my basement this weekend so we can start gutting it. I need to get all the drywall and insulation out so we can have a good look at the structure. Old Fish thinks the centre of the house has dropped because the support posts are not doing their job. He discovered one in a closet in my laundry room down there that has actually been cut off (!!!???!!!) and is not holding up the beam at all. The others are wooden posts that were cut off and small jack posts inserted on top of them to connect with (and supposedly support) the main beam. We are thinking they are the main reason for the cracking in the walls upstairs (which has gotten lots worse since I moved in just over 2 years ago). What we find will determine if I call an engineer in to have a look at the structure. The crack I repaired last year has held well, with no leaking since. Metal jack posts are quite inexpensive (less than $100 each and I would probably need 4 - 5) so replacing those won't be a financial burden. The underpinning of the foundation quotes were in the ballpark of $25K. That's just way out of my league, and this house probably isn't worth it anyway. We will save the insulation (to be reused if it's in good shape [ie no mold or moisture damage]) and the 2x4s. All the drywall and wood panelling will be gone!!! The decor down there is so old late 80s, it is gross. So once everything is pulled down and the beam is properly supported, the rest of the work can be done when I can (a) find the time to do it and (b) afford it. And I can rearrange walls etc to suit my needs. :-)

Winter is here in full force and it has been colder than normal. At least we have a lot less snow than this time last year! I sooo don't want a repeat of that. Gak. But the house is warm and my truck runs like a charm. Teak now has the appropriate gear for winter as well. Despite having a nice coat, he still hops around with cold feet, so the boots are a must. The coat covers his hip and may help keep it warm. Besides, he rocks the red, don't you think??!!

(you can see his right hind is up off the ground)

I am going to attempt cross country skiing again this year. Did it a bit several decades ago. Old Fish is into it in a big way so I will buy boots to fit his daughter's skis and take it from there. I just don't know my physical limitations these days, what with my old back injury, fibromyalgia and bad knees. But I need to do something! So this will be good. I hope, I really hope, it is something I can do, because I used to be so active and now I so am not. So if it goes well, I will buy my own skis and poles. This province has many many miles of ski trail. Might as well take advantage of them!

So there you have it. My life in a nutshell over the past few of months. I have a lot of catching up to do but have no idea when that will happen. I will try!!!

Wednesday, 27 August 2014

It's Now Official

Teak spent a week long "sleep over" with me to make sure he would be a suitable addition to my little family. It took a bit of adjusting, which is still in progress of course, but he is fitting in nicely.



Pips, being the social butterfly that she is, took to him right away and offered to rub up against his nose as he went to sniff her. He was rather taken aback by her brazen behaviour, but that's just Pips. Despite trying to grab at her fur several times (not aggressively ~ more like he's had a rough-and-tumble cat playmate in the past), she is unperturbed and will do her best to make a friend of him. He's starting to slowly cotton to the idea.



Lila only stayed in the basement for a few hours, and by supper time the first day, was eating on the steps by the back door landing while the dog was eating about 3 feet away in the kitchen. There was a baby gate between them, but none of that is necessary now. However, if she moves fast, he wants to give chase, and if he moves fast, she bolts... so they kind of feed each other's silly antics.

(Can you see Lila there just behind the gate?)

I have had to be slightly stern with him a few times regarding the cats and making sure he understands they are mine... and not his... and that he is lower down the totem pole than they are. He has now gotten to the point that if one of them is sitting in a doorway, he will not go through it unless I come right up to the cat. He's getting the hang of being bottom dog. ;-)

So today, we hopped in the truck and made the trek into the city to the shelter, and signed the official adoption papers. Teak is now my responsibility for the rest of his life. We have an appointment with my vet on Friday for a howdy-do, his next set of shots and getting his hip medication.

He's a sweet dog, funny and cuddly, and is catching on quickly to the few commands I've been teaching as we go for walks around the neighbourhood. He doesn't bark, is friendly with all the people we meet and just likes to hang out with me.

I think he'll do just fine.


Friday, 15 August 2014

Coming soon...

"New Dog ~ Take Two"

I spoke with the vet who cared for Teak yesterday during his exam, xrays and neutering. She said it was wonderful to meet the person who will actually be (fingers crossed it works out) adopting a dog she works with for the rescue shelter, which almost never happens.

She was very impressed with his body condition and muscle tone, given that he has severe hip dysplasia in the right hip joint. Just to rule out any other possibilities, they did the xrays under full anaesthesia so that he would be completely relaxed and they could get the proper angles. His right hip is ugly, his left is normal (which is good news ~ sometimes both are affected). They did his knees and his entire spine just in case. All looks great, with normal, even spacing between his vertebrae, meaning he has no degenerating spinal disks.

(Not Teak's hips, but the same side is dysplastic (R) and this looks very much like his xray.)

The xrays were done before his surgery and his nads were huge! Well developed, that's for sure. Couldn't see them at all under that hairy coat. But they are now gone (cue cringing in the men), and he is recovering nicely at the shelter.

All his bloodwork came back normal, and heartworm and lyme tests were negative. Those two are a huge relief as we have gazillions of heartworm larvae laden mosquitoes and lyme infected deer ticks in this province!! The treatment for both is long and drawn out, expensive and hard on the dog.

So the long and short of it is, Teak will come home with me probably Wednesday next week. Because he had his hip joints manipulated, and he was an older male when neutered, he's pretty sore and fairly swollen. I had a short visit with him today after talking with the vet. He was happy but obviously sore. And I heard him bark for the first time ~ there's a new dog at the shelter who was barking alot down the hall and he took exception and barked a couple of times... but on a good note, stopped the instant I said "hey! quit that!" (Good boy.)

The long term plan is to keep him lean, feed him food specially formulated for dogs with joint problems (already started at the shelter), give him glucosamine, and a pain/anti-inflammatory med (also already started). The vet figures he may be around seven but he's not huge so should have lots of years left in him. The kennel I bought for Sorley won't be big enough but the shelter is willing to take it in trade for a much larger one (same style) even-steven. I have a few supplies to stock up on before he comes, and arranging space for his kennel. I've a seat protector for the truck, and a folding step stool for him to use to get in (if required) but also to put in front of the seat to give him more room for his feet when facing forward. When he's not with me, it can be stored behind the seat. Then we will have about 4 1/2 days to get him relatively settled before I go back to work.

 
(I had a helluva time getting up after that shot! I understand his pain ~ I have arthritis in both knees.)

Monday, 11 August 2014

Sneak peek

So the dog that my sister thinks is a good fit for me at the shelter where she volunteers has been named Teak... because the brown of his coat is that of rich teak wood. (Named by my sister, no less!)



I've met with him three times in the past week, and each one is better than the last. He does have some issues and is going to the vet's on Wednesday to get neutered and have xrays of his hind end to figure out why he's a bit gimpy.

Teak was found near a small town in the southeast part of the province wandering loose. No one has come forward to claim him, so he is available for adoption. Age is somewhere between 2 - 5 years, at my best guess from the condition of his teeth. The vet will have a more accurate idea. He has a bit of training as he has on occasion sat on command but given that he's uncomfortable in the right hind, they have not been pushing for more than he is willing to give. He trots around okay in the outdoor exercise area and will lift either leg to pee, but when standing often only just lightly rests his paw on the ground. It might be hip dysplasia, or it may be an injury from getting clipped by a car, or wiping out while running loose.

He doesn't like the barky puppy that's there and will grumble a bit when walked past BooBoo's kennel so he may have had a bad experience with puppies (perhaps disciplined by a human for trying to discipline an unruly pup?). He doesn't care about the other barking (adult) dogs at all.

Because his health status is unknown, Teak will get a very thorough exam on Wed., which will include blood tests for heartworm and Lyme disease, a good going over, nail trim and deciding what, if any, treatment is required for the gimpyness. The nice thing about this rescue shelter is he will get treated for all things that are discovered and it doesn't affect what I pay for his adoption. They have a set fee for that. Now, I have donated things that they need like bleach and canned cat food (they have a sponsor for dog food so that doesn't seem to be an issue) so I do try and help out in ways that I can. They post on facebook when they are running short on things.

It is very common for dogs in kennel situations to bark like fiends. Teak has not. In fact, he has rarely barked (yay!), according to the staff there. He seems to be very calm and laid back, friendly with people and barely showed interest at the one cat he's met there so far. (That will get tested more once they get him more comfortable.)



I don't yet know how long he will be there, but I have put a "reserved" sign on him!

Saturday, 9 August 2014

I have a plan...

After the breakup with Maart, I fell into a brief binge of feeling sorry for myself and consumed way too much in the way of sugar and fat. Now, I wasn't slender before all that, but when I stepped on the scale mid-June, I was horrified! I was at the heaviest I have ever been in my life and I knew I needed to seriously do something about it!!

I actually didn't get motivated to do anything until mid-July when I bought a pedometer that will track not just steps taken, but distance, calories burned, stride length, etc. This was right before little Sorley came into my life (however briefly) and I started a daily walking regime.

I am bound and determined to get rid of all this excess flab and fat and get to a healthy weight. I know what a healthy weight is because when I was in my early 40s, I was in the best shape of my life. I went to the gym almost every day, I ran, cycled, rollerbladed, swam and rode my horse. I was fit and trim, with strength and stamina to boot.

Not now.

Now, I look like a frumpy middle aged Mrs. Potato Head. Very round in the middle with normal arms and legs. Not a good look, I can attest. It also makes looking fashionable impossible.

And I hate it!

So I walk. In the past 4 weeks, I have logged 145+ kms. Even without a dog now, I continue to walk and attempt to do a minimum of 5 km for each daily jaunt. So far, I have been mostly successful. So far, I have dropped 11 lbs from that horrific high of mid-June.

I have a long, long ways to go.

But this time, I am determined. I know that as I get older, this excess weight will have hugely negative effects on my health. It will affect my heart function. It impacts my (already compromised) joints. And I flat out refuse to buy bigger clothes! I've kept many of the smaller sizes in the (hopefully not deluded) chance that I will get into them again at some point.

I also plan on finding another dog. I have leads on a couple but need more info on how they are with cats and whether they have any major health issues. One I've met but his health and cat status are still unknown. The other I've not met and am going to try and find out more today.

I have two more weeks before heading back to work, so now would be the optimum time to bring home a dog, to get it settled and into a routine before I start back in the salt mines.

Sunday, 3 August 2014

Short-lived romance

Well, it lasted 19 days and every one of those days was fraught with frustration.

Today I returned Sorley to the terrier rescue group from which I had adopted him. No, he didn't try to mangle one of the cats. But because he'd had pretty much no training for his first full year of life... and he is a terrier (mix), he was too much of an intensive project for me.

Terriers are noted for being very smart dogs, and that Sorley definitely was. But he also didn't give two hoots about anything I was trying to teach him unless he got instant benefit from it. Which meant food or play or both NOW.

You can't keep training with food because if that's all you do, the dog will eventually do absolutely nothing unless you are stuffing treats down its gullet. I've trained plenty of dogs over the past 35 years to know that.

What I had was a dog who barked incessantly at every little noise and movement. The dog down the street yapped ~ the alarm went off. The woman in the house across the street and down on door walked past her front room window ~ the alarm went off. The car across the back lane fired up or drove out ~ the alarm went off. Some noise was emitted from the tv ~ the alarm went off. If someone walked down the sidewalk in front of the house, you'd think we were being attacked by giant aliens! I tried the water squirt bottle. He didn't like it but kept barking. I tried the rocks in a plastic bottle trick, he's jump and cringe ~ but kept barking. I resorted to an ultrasonic anti-bark collar, which would limit things a bit if he just started with a grumble but if he started right into the alarm bark, it had no effect whatsoever. Using a clicker when he was quiet only worked if the food kept flowing... constantly. Me yelling when he barked and praising when he was quiet made no difference at all.

Then there was his on-leash behaviour. He had no idea how to walk on a leash without constant pulling. Didn't matter that he was wheezing and coughing ~ he kept pulling. Didn't matter that we spent many short sessions (he's a terrier ~ gets bored quickly) weaving in and out of the posts along the edge of a local museum's parking lot. Or that we practised changing directions frequently while walking down the sidewalk. He got the hang of sitting each time I stopped at an intersection, even to the point where he did it without any prompting from me about 75% of the time. Why that and nothing else is beyond me. But then a controlled walk forward was impossible. It was a full out launch as far as he could get (which wasn't far, because the leash was short when sitting but not applying pressure at all to his collar). One time, in trying to get across the street without this rocket launch thing, I actually stopped and had him sit and start again at least 10 times!

And then there was his reaction to any dog that we walked past, whether it was loose, tied up or behind a fence. Whether it was barking, growling or silent. Mostly they were not quiet at all. He went absolutely ballistic!!! Right up on his hind legs and willing to rip out the throat of the other dog out if I'd only let him close enough. Didn't matter if it was the tiny cockapoo who was tied to the front deck so it could just reach the sidewalk, or the three big behemoths behind the chain link fence a block over, each of which was at least three times his weight.

He peed in the basement once, and pooped three times, despite two good walks a day (the morning one was usually at least 3.5 kms) and several trips to the back yard. He managed to pop through the cat door I installed on the utility room to keep the cats' litter box safe. The third time, I actually caught him IN the box, digging for treasure. I hauled him out by the scruff of the neck and was ~this~ close to killing the damn thing!!!!

I tried. I really did. He was a very cute dog, and a nice size (30 lbs), and was affectionate and playful. But... he exhausted me, both mentally and physically. I began to hate going for walks but knew he needed the exercise (as did I) and the training. But it was a battle every time. A dog should be a pleasant companion, not a nightmare on four legs 80% of the time. So back he went. The rescue group has a 21 day trial period so I got my adoption fee refunded.

So I am keeping my eyes open for someone else. Someone much more laid back... and quieter. My sister volunteers at a no-kill shelter and took me to meet a new dog there. They think he's got german shepherd in him  from his markings (black on his back and the rest of him brown, but not tan; more the colour of rich teak) but is smaller (60 lbs maybe?) and not the same shape as a shepherd at all. But he's not been there long, needs to be neutered and will have his back end checked out because he seems to be a bit sore (hopefully not hip dysplasia). All the other dogs were barking like crazy (as shelter dogs are wont to do) except this one. He was friendly without being pushy and when we took him to their outdoor area, he came over to each of us when coaxed quite easily. He gets along really well with a couple of the dogs, doesn't like one of the pups who is super excitable, and has yet to be evaluated with cats. So him, I will keep and eye on, and my sister will keep me informed of what is going on with him.

Monday, 21 July 2014

My new man

As you know, I have ventured into the world of online dating again after the demise of my year long relationship with Maart. I was not a willing participant in that demise, but have nonetheless come to accept it for what it is. Which is over.

It takes two to tango, as they say.

So I have registered with a couple of dating sites and have been trolling the depths in search of someone to become my companion, my friend, my partner in adventure, my inamorato. So far, I've had no luck although I will admit to not really searching very hard. The websites fling potential matches in my face but so few even meet my 'requirements' that it is frustrating beyond measure. I am 5'9". Please do not direct me to men who are 5'4". I am not comfortable with towering over my date, thanks. And nix the smokers too, buddy. Absolutely a deal killer right there!!! And how is one a 'social smoker'? Does that mean you have the occasional cigar or one or two joints a day??? Does only smoking when you are outside your house count as social smoking??? Smoking is smoking... you either do or you don't. Period. Doing is a Very Bad Thing in my books. It's what killed both my parents, and I see its devastating effects in my work as a nurse all the time. So forget those guys.

The thing that ticks me off is these sites don't seem to pay much attention to the parameters I've entered for searches of potential dates. I won't say mates, because you have to have a number of dates before the mates part might become apparent. I don't really care about your level of income, or education, religion or even if you have kids living at home. I want to see pictures and I want a nonsmoker who is at least as tall as myself. I don't think that's unreasonable, but they seem to think I am too picky.

So, since this online searching for a man seemed to be so futile, I switched my sights to dogs. Yes, it's been a few years since I had to rehome Zoƫ the drool monster after I tore up my shoulder and sold my house. She has since passed away from cancer, at the age of 10 1/2, but her second home was an excellent one and she got tons of love and topnotch medical care (one of her new owners was a vet).

I hunted high and low for a dog from the local rescues that would be not too old, not too damaged psychologically and not aggressive with cats. I finally found one. He has pretty much no training whatsoever, but he's a smart cookie and is catching on fast. He's keeping me busy and I have been logging lots of mileage in our daily walks. Which is good. Gets me out of the house. Gives me something to do, and he is a bit more interactive than the cats.

Meet Sorley. He is a terrier mix, approximately one year old and had been in foster care since the age of about 3 months. He comes from one of the northern communities and was rescued last fall after being found as a stray (at 3 months! can you imagine! he would have starved to death). I named him Sorley because it is an old Scottish name meaning 'summer traveller' in reference to the Vikings who used to raid only in the summertime, as opposed to the raiders who came to pillage year round. (He came to me in the summer, and I am a Viking... makes sense, right?!?)


He's a bit of a barker, so we are working on that (his foster home did no training whatsoever but he lived with cats and dogs there so that's a good thing). He also, in typical terrier fashion, is a jumper, a climber and a digger. I've not left him in my yard to find out what trouble he could get into on his own. Lila lived in the basement for a few days before deciding that was just a little too cloistered even for her. Sorley is not much taller than the cats (but he does weigh in at 30 lbs ~ he's vertically challenged) and has been fine with them. He has tried to play a couple of time but so far, they are having none of it. I think Lila may come around to that in the future, but not Pips. She doesn't play with dogs. She likes them and will snuggle with them, but playing.... no. She was mauled (in play) as a youngster and didn't do well with that ~ which is how I came to have her.



So now Sorley is the man in my life. We have twice daily walk dates, and snuggle on the couch watching tv. He's met his cousins at my sister's and they all played really well together. He was not at all perturbed by their larger size and exuberance. He is, after all, a terrier. Exuberance is their first name!!!

If a hu-man comes into my life in the future, you'll be the first to hear.

Saturday, 5 July 2014

Okay, so I lied

...when I said I wouldn't do the online dating thing again. But in all reality, barring someone setting me up with a brother or friend, I'm not really going places to meet someone new. So online it is.

I've only been on two sites for a few days and lo and behold, yesterday, on both sites, guess who came up as a match in their list of automated potential mates? Yes... Maart. Talk about a feeling of deja vu, as just over a year ago, we'd run across each other on one of these same sites. Oh well. Good luck fishing, buddy. It's a murky pond out there, filled with sharks, bottom feeders, a bunch of hapless guppies and the occasional fantastic sailfish.

I met with one of those guppies this morning. We had messaged back and forth yesterday a number of times, and although I didn't get a good 'feel' of what he's like (some people just aren't good at typing and computer stuff) and his one photo was in winter and kind of far away to really see what he looked like, I agreed to meet him at a local eatery for a 10:00 breakfast.

There were a few people milling about in front when I was walking up, with only one just standing there. Already I knew this probably wouldn't go anywhere. Change the socks to grey (and push them down to scrunched at the ankles), the shoes to beat up runners and the shirt to a light blue checked button down, but he was dressed pretty much like this.


With a very large round belly. Now I am not slim. But at least I dress to camouflage my size when I can. And seeing as how you probably want to make a good first impression, dressing nicely is high on the list of things I do for a meet and greet. Casual but nice.

But whatever. We introduced ourselves and went inside. Chit chatted over a mediocre meal ( tasteless but huge 'wild' blueberry pancakes and partially burned, partially undercooked bacon [I asked for extra crispy... not extra carbon]) and as the hour went on, the conversation petered out. He wanted to spend the rest of the day with me, but no... I have a family thing tonight and another tomorrow, and I have to concoct some rocky road (gluten free) to take for the bbq tomorrow. Plus I have some shopping to do and no, you can't drive me wherever I need to go!!! GAH!!!

I get it. He's lonely. Don't think for an instant that I'm not. But I can deal with it. I spent more time alone over the past 7 years than with someone. You get used to it. This guy is bordering on desperate! No, not bordering. He's there.

Well, I am not. The hunt goes on, halfheartedly, but it goes on. Anyone got a brother or a friend who's available? With some fashion sense...

Friday, 27 June 2014

Wring me out

...like a wet rag.

I pulled all the carpet and underlay out of the living room, hall and front (computer) room over the past few days (namely Wednesday and Friday ~ I got called in to work on Thursday). Pried up yards of tack strips from along the wall edges. And yanked out hundreds (and this is no exaggeration) of staples that had been used to hold the underlay in place. Someone had an itchy trigger finger, let me tell you.

All in temps in the mid to upper 20s (Celsius, of course ~ this is Canadia, after all) with humidity in the range of 70%. Needless to say, that means it felt like about 38C. Which is about 100F. Which is bloody hot!!!! Especially if you are doing physical labour. It's lovely if you're lounging by the pool with a tasty umbrella'd drink in one hand, though. Unfortunately, I don't have a pool.

After doing all that, I loaded the detritus into my little truck and off to the dump I went. Cost me a $20 tipping fee, but hey, at least I don't have that slightly smelly and stained wall to wall carpet in the house anymore. (Found a few corners with old stains... some little creature peeing in the corners way back when? I know it's not my cats ~ they are religious about using their litter box and always have been.)

What I do have is several rooms with really old crappy worn and ugly fake wood looking 8x8 tiles that are chipped and cracked. Same as what was in the bedroom when I redid it. Given that there's probably asbestos in the tiles, it is staying put.

Monday is my surgery day. Carpal tunnel release on my left hand. Had the right done in 2005, so I know what to expect. I'm just glad I was able to get the carpet out and all that taken care of. Once my hand is healed, I will work on installing all the laminate flooring that is sitting in my basement, just waiting to be allowed upstairs!

Sunday, 22 June 2014

Just call me Ms McGuyver

Went to do a load of laundry tonight. Water running, putting clothes and detergent in. I had a few things to spray with Shout so the tub filled completely before I was done. I went to close the lid to let it run the cycle...

And nothing happened!!!

The words that came out of my mouth were "aw fuck!"

Sunday evening. Nothing is open. I have a washer full to the brim with warm water (rapidly cooling), suds and clothes. Groping around, I discovered a piece of plastic wobbling just under the edge of the opening.

What's a girl to do?

Well, google the repair, of course! Discovered a faulty lid switch was the culprit. I found some youtube videos showing how to get at the lid switch, swap it out and put things back together again.

Since I had a piece of it in my hand, I wanted to see if it could be put back together again.

So I followed the video's instructions (it wasn't difficult at all) (yes, I unplugged the electrical first), took the control panel off, unclipped the lid switch cables and pulled the body of the machine off. I could get at the switch easily and discovered the adhesive that holds the upper and lower switch housing had failed. Hence the piece that fell out. The housing was gaping open.

So I put the piece back in, held it together and yes it clicked just like it should. So I got a strip of double sided velcro, wrapped it snugly around the housing (making sure it didn't interfere with the switch itself) and then put the whole machine back together.

Voila!! I am back in business and my clothes are merrily sloshing away.

Friday, 20 June 2014

Feeling blue...

And not just because it's been two weeks since Maart decided to be a single man again. It has seemed a much longer time than that, but I'm sure that has to do with actually being on holidays right now, and not going anywhere, or having anyone to do anything with. I did pick up a couple of shifts at work (did days today and will work an evening tomorrow) so that fills some of the time.

No, this blueness is the new look I've painted on my blog. I decided to stick the cat banner into Photoshop to play with it a bit more and once I was pleased with that, I had to do something about the background.

Those scattered flower petals did not go with the neon eyed kitties at all. So I played around with that too and finally found one in blogger that I think compliments the banner.

What do you think?

Wednesday, 18 June 2014

Under the knife

In 12 days, I will be having surgery on my left hand.



I have carpal tunnel syndrome (CTS ~ which is compression of the median nerve that runs into the hand by the transverse carpal ligament that is chronically inflamed), a result of all the repetitive things I do in my job as a Dialysis Nurse. The tubing used in a dialysis treatment has many little thumb clamps that we open and close numerous times during set-up of the machine, during the patient's treatment, and while returning their blood when treatment is done.

(See all those red and blue bits? Most of those are clamps.)

I've been doing this for 15 1/2 years. Unknown number of patients and treatments. Hundreds, easily. You can see how many clamps there are on one set. (That whole mess up there is one set.)

I had this same surgery on my right (dominant) hand in 2005. At that time, nerve conduction studies showed my left hand to have mild CTS. Although I've done the stretches and worn the splint at night on my left hand, the condition progressed to the point where numbness, tingling, loss of strength and shooting nerve pain became unbearable earlier this year. (Thank the gods it is not continuous.)

If you don't stop doing what caused it in the first place, it ain't gonna go away!

While I saw the surgeon in late January, and could have had the surgery in February, I elected to wait until vacation planning had been done in March before setting a surgery date. I figured if I could wait... I would really like to have the summer off! I never get summer holidays because I just don't have enough seniority at work, despite having worked there for 11 years.

Well, this year, I managed to get the last two weeks of June for holidays, so I am off work right now. And the OR date is June 30th, which is when I should be returning to work, so from that date on, I will be off for eight (8!) weeks to allow things to heal and to do some physio. If I just had some kind of an office job that didn't require much use of that hand, I could go back in a couple of weeks. Given that I will be going right back to doing what caused this in the first place, I need that time to rehab properly.

So a little scheming on my part has resulted in me having summer 'holidays', if you can call it that! I won't be doing any projects around the house. I won't be riding my bike. Thankfully I had the foresight to buy one of these for cutting the grass:



It weighs all of 10 lbs, has two batteries (which is enough for me to complete front and back ~ my yard is quite small), and the trimmer pops out of the mower deck lickety split to trim around trees and curbs and such. I can handle it with one hand. I've practiced!

So in the time between now and the surgery, I am attempting to get the rest of the wall to wall carpet pulled out and the laminate flooring installed. I may be able to enlist the help of my nephew, who has said he'd be happy to help me with things as he's not working right now. He's my most favourite oldest nephew who just turned 40. (40!! I have a hard time wrapping my head around that, but I was just 16 when he was born.) He is a sweetheart and I love him dearly.

So when all is said and done, my hand will become more normally functional again... and... I will have matching scars!


Friday, 13 June 2014

Changing it up

Since horses no longer factor into my life in any way other than past memories, I decided to change my blog banner to more accurately reflect the creatures that share my life.

With minor enhancements.

More in line with my future aspirations to be a crazy cat lady.

Saturday, 7 June 2014

What's that on my forehead?

Is it a big 'L' for Loser?

Or 'Friend Only'?

Seems to me that either I am doing something wrong, or the men I date find something wrong with me that causes them all to say 'you're a great woman but I don't want to date you anymore; I hope we can still be friends.'

Things with Maart had, I thought, been going really well. We hadn't had any real disagreements on anything. We're both pretty easy going. We enjoyed each other's company and spent quite a bit of time together. Having the same weekends off (when working in health care, as we both do, that can be a huge issue) meant we spent each of those weekends off together at either his place or mine.

We went on a couple of vacations together and had a great time. He helped me around my house and I helped him around his. We cooked for each other. He was always affectionate and demonstrative. We held hands whenever we walked somewhere. He treated me well. I met his family and he met mine. Same thing with close friends.

His birthday was May 17th and the evening before, we both got a little tippled. Walking hand in hand around his neighbourhood late in the evening, we chit chatted and laughed and he told me who lives where (he's lived almost his whole life in this one little town) and tidbits of background on the area. When we were going to sleep, my alcohol addled brain told him I loved him. Which I do. But up to this point, I'd not said anything because past experience has made me rather skittish about revealing that. I'd never held back showing him how I felt, but had never told him before. If he said anything back, I don't know what it was, because I was asleep pretty much as my head hit the pillow. He had always been openly affectionate with me, although he'd never said he loved me either.

Last night, he came over for the evening before heading to work, bringing Chinese for supper. At one point, he turned to me and said "I'm sorry." Before anything else came out, my heart had already stopped. He told me he didn't love me, that it was mostly him and a little bit me ("You're an awesome woman but also sometimes you're frickin' annoying. But then I'm sure I am too.") and that he didn't want to be boyfriend-girlfriend anymore but hoped we could still be friends. That he wanted to be open to date someone else if that opportunity came up. And no, he didn't have anyone else on the side. That he didn't want to let himself fall in love again because he'd done that twice (first: his wife, who came home one day and told him she didn't want to come home anymore (their kids were 11 and 12 at the time); second: a five year relationship with a woman he met at work who apparently became a nightmare when she hit menopause and had horrible mood swings and general nastiness towards him and his kids) and it had hurt too much when things went tits up both times. He's not a cold hearted kind of guy at all. In fact, one of the things that attracted me was his generosity and warmth. Okay, so that's two things. There were lots more as well.

Well, I am sure you can imagine the tears. The heartbreak.  The "why didn't I see this coming?" thoughts. But in thinking about it after he left, I could see that there were subtle signs. Since his birthday, although he never rebuffed my sitting close to him, or holding his hand, or moving in for a hug or a kiss, he wasn't initiating any of that anymore. The sex never suffered... go figure.

So I am living in Singlesville again. All I can say is, fuck the online dating thing again. I am so not going there. I spent the six years prior to meeting Maart going through all that crap, over and over ad nauseum, and I just don't have the stomach for it again.

Maybe I'll just become a crazy cat lady. I think I need a few more cats to fit the description properly, though...

Monday, 19 May 2014

Blah blah blah

Spring has been slow in coming to Central Canadia. The winter was long and brutal and spring has been pretty chilly so far. Temps have been ranging from close to normal to 10 degrees below norm. Not really conducive to plant life. My tulips are only up about 4" and the trees and shrubs are just starting to grow tiny green leaves.

I moved one ton of river stone last weekend. My patio covers almost half of my tiny yard and goes from fence to fence width-wise. The horrible outdoor carpet that covered the whole thing is now gone, cut away in manageable sections. To get some moisture into the soil around the house (and hopefully stop the foundation from cracking any further and ruining my patch job from last year), I pulled out two rows of patio blocks along the west fence, put down a layer of landscape cloth, and covered that with several inches of river stone. Half a yard weighs approximately one ton! Thankfully the guy who loaded it into my little truck did so slowly, and I took my time driving home. I then shovelled it into a wheelbarrow and hauled it into the yard, spreading it along an area about 3 1/2 feet wide by 15 feet long. Took me about 3 hours. I slept really well that night!! And fortunately I was not too horribly stiff and sore the following day.

I've been having lots of aches and pains that seem much more than what should be normal for someone of my age, so a trip to the doctor was in order. All this has been building over a number of years and has gotten out of hand. I was grilled about family history for diseases like MS, lupus, rhematoid arthritis and the like. None of that in any relatives but a volley of blood tests done just in case. Everything came back negative so I don't have any horrible autoimmune disease. I have been diagnosed with fibromyalgia and have started on a medication to deal with the ongoing pain. It's a bit of a rocky start, as one of the initial side effects is mild nausea, but with time that should disappear. All I really want is to not hurt so much all the time so if this works, I will be jubilant!

Maart and I have been together for one year now and we've settled into our relationship well. We get along so easily, very much enjoying each other's company. It was his birthday on Saturday and we had family and friends over. He wanted an ice cream cake from Dairy Queen but I decided to make one instead. Banana split. Layer of chocolate cookies crumbs for the crust, then sliced bananas, chocolate ice cream, chocolate sauce, strawberry ice cream, strawberry sauce, vanilla ice cream. Topped with swirls of whipped cream, each bearing a cherry, and the centre of the cake top covered in crushed pineapple and chopped pecans. It was a huge hit!! Maart has been wonderful to me so all the years of slogging through the online dating cesspools has been very much worth it to find him.

The middle of June I have two weeks' vacation. No plans to go anywhere, but I do want to lay the rest of the laminate flooring that is sitting in my basement. Then there will be no more wall to wall carpeting, which I despise. Lila won't know what to do, as she scratches on it incessantly. I guess a few more scratching pads will have to be purchased. Then June 30th I will be having surgery on my left hand for carpal tunnel syndrome. My right was done in 2005. I totally planned this as I will now have almost all of the summer off! I saw the surgeon in February and picked my vacation times in March. So once I knew when I had vacation, I booked the surgery date. No point being off work in the middle of winter in this part of the universe! Maart has vacation the first two weeks of August so we have been discussing if we should go somewhere during that time. I will be off work 6 - 8 weeks. I think I will work on my tan.

Sunday, 16 March 2014

Has Spring sprung yet?

I cleared some of the snow off the roof of my house on Thursday. Probably about 2 elephants' worth of snow. It was a good 2+ feet thick in places and you just know that weighs a ton or two.

I have a thing called a roof rake. And for those who don't live up here in the Great White North, you probably have no idea what I am talking about. But after months of snow accumulation, the warming of spring makes all that snow become even heavier. And the ice build up underneath, along the edges of the roof just above the eavestroughs, can lead to ice dams that back ice up under the shingles, which leads to damage to the wood sheathing and water leakage inside the house.

So some of us clean the snow off before that happens. Or, like my neighbour just to the west (with the metal roof), the sun will warm things up and all that ice and snow will avalanche off, taking eavestroughs, downspouts, soffit and fascia with it. I watched it happen on Thursday as I worked on my roof. They will have lots of repairs to do when the snow is gone.

A roof rake is a 8" x 24" piece of slightly curved plastic attached at a right angle to an extendable aluminum handle. It reaches out to 16.5 feet when fully extended, which gets right to the peak of my bungalow's roof. Not all that controllable at that length, but I made due.

The biggest issue I had was the snow in the yard was halfway up my thighs. And not in a good way. (Never mind, boys!) So I could basically only stand in one spot while I dragged the rake down repeatedly, pulling snow off. That meant a lot of twisting and turning of the upper body while my legs were stuck in the snow. Which of course meant that the next day, my back was very unhappy.

It also meant when I lost my balance and fell backwards, it was really difficult to get back up because my bum just kept sinking into the snow! Having bad knees is very inconvenient at times like that, let me tell you.

It was nice and mild that day... we hit a high of +3C. The sun was out and the birds were chirping everywhere. So after work, I went out and started slogging away. After about 2 hours, I had done the front and back sections. Because I have a hip roof, there are four sides. The east side is where I park so I left that one alone, and I just couldn't get at the west side because my neighbour (they of the avalanche) had put up a snow fence to block drifting into their parking area out back.

And of course, when I cleared the back, a good portion of it fell in front of the back door (which is the one I use all the time ~ the front has been buried all winter) and along the walkway. So I had to clear that away so I could get back in the house! That, I swear, was one of those elephants.

We've had more snow and more cold this winter than in recent memory. In Winnipeg, the frost line is down to 9' underground in areas, and there are over 1100 homes with frozen water lines. The city is frantically trying to thaw them but it all takes time.

Next year, I will start on the roof clearing much earlier and do it as the stuff builds up so spring clearing is less arduous.

But Spring really is on the way. The first Canada Goose was spotted the other day, and if they are on the way back from down South, you just know warmer weather is on its way too!


Sunday, 26 January 2014

Enough of that, already!

I can finally say it's done!! Well, almost. Just a coat of paint to be put on the baseboards and door frame but the bedroom project is pretty much complete.

I am happy with the result. The room is small, and my options were limited, but I quite like the "walk-in closet with a bed" feel that it now has. ;-)

I had help from Maart on numerous stages, but he didn't try to take over at any time. He let me call the shots but stepped in if I asked for help or had questions. He's done lots of renos in his little apartment block, including building complete suites (but does not do the plumbing or electrical as he's not qualified), so his knowledge (and sometimes muscle) was invaluable when I wasn't sure about something. He's a sweetheart!

But for the most part, I did it myself. I took my time, because of work getting in the way, Christmas and a horrible head cold, and just getting too sore and achy from all the physical work. (I'm getting old, you know...)

So today, I am still sore and achy but very pleased that it's all done! Except for that paint... but that is a minor issue and one that I will remedy later in the week. So here is a pictorial of the project.

You would think a small room wouldn't be such a horrid dark colour...

The original closet was ripped out and closed off. It was the size of a bread box.

Once the carpet was yanked out, the vile tile floor was exposed. And since it might contain asbestos, given the age of the house, it was left as is.

Other than being levelled out as best possible. There were a few wrinkles that had to be pared down, though.

That pukey green was replaced with a nice pale "goat cheese" good quality latex and the trim changed to pure white semigloss.

I think I mentioned this before, but the ceiling was removed of its texture and the cheap white ceiling fan replaced with this rather stylish number.

The underlay is new stuff that is folded accordion-style in a box and fits together with dovetail edges. Foam on the back for sound insulation and cushioning, and plasticized foil on top for moisture resistance and a nice thermal break. Lila seemed to like it.


Then started the laying of the laminate. While I would have loved to put real wood in, I can't afford it. So I bought some nice 12mm thick laminate. Installation was a snap!
I spent two nights sleeping on the couch while doing this, so my back was quite happy when it was done. Plus I no longer had to put up with Lila headbutting my nose at 3 a.m. looking for attention. She has no idea how rude that is... *sigh*

Of course, to do the flooring installation properly, I invested in a nice compound miter saw. Makes short work of baseboards and door trim too!

Lila: "Does this floor make me look fat?"
Nice new scroll work grille for the cold air return vent.

Lila inspecting the installation of the heat vent grille.

Daylight view of the floor.
"Sacramento Pine"


The two towers of wire basket drawers are from Ikea. There is a clothes rail up top and a pants rack lower down for all my uniforms. The other part is a Rubbermaid closet organizer.


Because the walls are not plumb, I used white paintable caulking to hide the gaps. Once it has properly cured, I will paint the baseboards with semigloss white latex paint, and if required, touch up with the wall colour as well. I put in 5" baseboards. Seemed to fit the house better than narrower ones.


And here is the finished room. Lila has been in and out, rather excited about the whole thing. Pips delegated inspection duties to her this project.

Next on the list is to pull down the ceiling in the basement. I want to get a quote on having the whole house rewired and a new and larger electrical panel put in. A number of the outlets in the house are not grounded. I have an electrician (the son of the MoS) who charges a nominal hourly rate (last time he did some work it was $35/hr). But I want to see what's what so we can get an accurate idea of the current situation. Once that is done (pulling the ceiling down, that is), the former bedroom closet will be changed into a kitchen pantry. And the storage space will be a welcome addition to another small space in my small house.

Monday, 13 January 2014

The Twelfth

It's an odd word, isn't it? Twelfth? The "lfth" is rather awkward falling off the tongue... I think it rather trips up and flounders a bit.

But the 12th of January is a day of mixed emotions for me.

A dear friend with whom I work celebrates her birthday on that day, as does my lovely Auntie Peggy.

Peggy turned 81 this year, and she threw herself a bit of a party. Why not? No point in surprises, and because the whole extended family tends to just carry on and forget these occasions, she phoned everyone up, saying she was making a big pot of vegetarian chili, with a pot of meat stewed up that could be added in for those so inclined to be carnivorous, and had a birthday cake ready to go as well.

So it became a family gathering with people coming and going, Happy Birthday being sung numerous times as it was also around the time of my cousin Sandie's 64th birthday, and my stepcousin Joyce's 48th. So the large (store bought) slab cake was festooned with numbers and names and little Jude got to blow all the candles out, assisting the birthday girls as each took their turn. He's 3 and a half. That half is important, you know, especially when you are three.

But it is also, this twelfth day of January, the anniversary of my mother's death. She passed away in 2003, just 2 1/2 months after my paternal grandmother (who was 95 and sharp as a tack to the end). My mum was a smoker and an alcoholic. She loved her scotch and her Camels. So her end was a long drawn out affair with addiction and emphysema... a very nasty way to go, judging from the length of time I watched her huff and puff, lose weight and become increasingly anxious. Being hypoxic and always slightly tippled isn't such a good mix.

So I was very happy to spend the afternoon and part of the evening visiting with family, rather than wandering around the house with Mum on my mind. Although I was glad her suffering was ended when she died, I still miss her very much. But I guess that is pretty much the case for anyone you love who has been afflicted with a debilitating illness.


Wednesday, 1 January 2014

My wish for you...


Warmest wishes for the best to all of you from me. May your lives be the best they can be, richest in love and health, comfortable in home and wealth, warm and cozy and all you would like them to be.

Happy New Year, everyone!