Sunday, 31 January 2016

Done, almost done, and getting close

Thanks to all for your kind comments and words of advice after my last post.  I eat yoghurt almost every day but ensured I did so every day while I was on the antibiotics.  I am thrilled to be finished the course of antibiotics.  I had very few side-effects except for the most god-awful taste in my mouth and throat.  I don't know why, but if I hadn't know better I would have said the pills broke open before I swallowed them.  The only thing that got rid of the taste was eating or brushing my teeth...and those were merely temporary fixes. I've started my 90 day course of Previcid.  Hopefully that isn't the pill that was causing the bad taste.

******

The contractor was here today to do a little more work.  I was the cause of the delay as I purchased a vanity top and toilet that wasn't in stock, so it put him behind a day or so.  He'll be back later this week to hang a mirror and finish the painting.
These two photos were taken a few days.  Flooring was in, baseboards were replaced, and the vanity was built.  I had no idea when I bought it that M hates putting together furniture from a box.  He did a great job and didn't complain..much.

Saku also approved of his work.
This was after the custom shelving unit he built was put in and pre-painting.  The width of the shelves are about 9 inches, with a depth of 12 inches. Definitely room to keep extra shampoo/conditioner, towels and maybe even a decorative item or two. It is my son's bathroom so I suspect he won't tolerate much.

I didn't take any other photos today.  M installed the vanity top and sink and did some painting on Friday.  I learned a couple of new things as well.  First the wall on the right side of the vanity is not straight.  M had to cut into the wall and slide part of the counter top into the wall so it wasn't off-kilter.  (He's since siliconed the edge and it looks fine.

The other thing I learned is that when you purchase a toilet, it likely doesn't come with a toilet seat.  Who knew?  Not me!

The next couple of photos were taken today.  M installed the new light fixture, sealed the shower, put the hardware on the vanity, and filled the hole where the original light fixture was located.


I thought I had ordered a white vanity top, but this is more of a taupe color.  I don't mind it and if the next owner does, he/she can change it out.

It's not a close up, but the top looks square despite the fact a corner of it is actually in the wall.

M installed the toilet seat for me as well.  Good thing, as it isn't the same as the old ones I'm used to, he said it was a bit of a pain as it isn't as easy as dropping in the bolts and tightening.  I'm sure I would have gotten frustrated and given up.

Here is the finished, well almost finished, shower area. The reason I say almost finished is, before he left today, M asked if I would be okay with him putting a thin MDF border around the edge of the built in shelves.  He felt it would make it look more finished. He definitely takes pride in his work.

I did not doing any of the painting as I learned in this renovation that M is also a far better painter than I am.  I think if I decide to re-paint the house before I sell I'll be contracting him to do it!

He'll be back later this week to add the edging, finish the painting, and hang the mirror.  I splurged a little (less than I thought because I got the family and friend's discount) on the mirror after seeing the work his sister does with mosaic tile.

M had suggested I check out her Facebook page and see samples of the work she does. The one that caught my eye is in the picture below (I snagged it from her Facebook page, edited and cropped it). Isn't it beautiful?

 She is using the old square mirror that was there previously  She'll cut it down and add the glass tile.  I'm having her do it in gray and white.  I'm pretty certain it will be a piece I won't be leaving behind when I eventually move.

Olga had asked on the last post, whether I was planning to sell and move.  Not immediately but most certainly in about 2 1/2 years.  The plan is to sell a few months before I plan to retire, rent temporarily while I finish the last few months at the office and then make the move to Vancouver Island.  I would not be able to afford living here on my projected pension, especially since by then my son will be out on his own (he knows, I've told him so), and the house is far too big for one person.

I've owned the house nearly 6 years now and had set a goal of doing some work every year to update or improve on the house so that it would retain its value.  I'm nearing the end of that list and will leave some projects for the new owner. Who knows, they might not like anything I've done and re-do it all anyway.

*****

Now for the getting close.  In less than 3 weeks I'll be boarding the Norwegian Escape in Miami for a seven day Eastern Caribbean cruise.  I actually booked the cruise before we left on our cruise last spring, and I'm so happy I did with the way the Canadian dollar has fallen.  I'd also booked my hotel and flights earlier in the fall.  I'm not sure if I had to pay the current exchange rate if I would be going.

The Norwegian cruise line offers studio rooms for solo passengers.  The studios are small at about 100 square feet with a 48" inch bed, shower, tub, sink and closet.  (If I've told you all this before, just ignore me)  The studios are also on the interior so there is no balcony or natural light.  Since I use the room for sleeping, bathing and changing clothes, it really doesn't matter to me.

In addition NCL also provides a separate lounge where solo travellers can meet.  There are 89 studios on board the Escape so I'm certain there will be lots of opportunities to go for a meal or go on an excursion with others.  Most of the time I'm quite happy to be on my own but I appreciate company, especially at meal time.  I've been following and posting a couple of threads on Cruise Critic and met a woman who will be on the same cruise, along with four other solos.  We've agreed to keep an eye out for one another at the lounge.

Speaking of excursions, I have booked an excursion at our first port, St. Thomas.  I've been to the island before and while there is lots more to do and see, I've chosen to take a catamaran cruise from St. Thomas to St. John.  We'll be stopping at a beach with an opportunity to snorkel.  I've never done it so I'll probably just hang out in the water or on the beach.

I've not booked anything for the other two ports, Tortola and Nassau, Bahamas. I've read a lot of reviews and it seems Tortola is a new-ish port and a walk-about sounds like a good choice.  Nassau will be busy, as it is a popular port for cruise ships so I may decide to simply visit the pier and then spend the rest of the day on board the ship.  I could take a trip out to Atlantis but it's pricey and the reviews aren't all that positive .

I'm looking forward to getting away from it all, if only briefly.  Although we've been getting a lot of sun the last few days, I crave the lush green foliage and blue seas.  Add in the soft ocean breeze, the heat of the sun, and a cold lemonade in my hand and I'm in heaven.

******

Have a great week everyone!

Sunday, 24 January 2016

More rambling

More on the medical front, I had a call from the surgeon's office and got an appointment to see him on Friday morning.  Then my doctor's office called and asked me to come in for a follow-up on Friday.  One appointment was scheduled for 9:40 a.m., the second for 12:40 p.m.

I waited 35 minutes for the surgeon to see me.  I think I was in his office for approximately 2-3 minutes including the introduction.  He checked the lump, said it was a cyst, and told me to see his receptionist to schedule me for surgery.  I spent more time with her, both checking in and arranging the surgery appointment, than I did with the doctor.  The surgery is scheduled for March 1.

At my follow-up appointment, I waited 50 minutes for the appointment.  I heard the receptionist telling those coming in, it was about a 20 minute wait.  I felt like jumping up an saying, bullshit...but I didn't.  Anyway, he rapidly through my results, blood results were good, urinalysis was good, my cholesterol levels are fine....and then he dropped the bad news.

He has diagnosed me with something called H. pylori.  He informed me he was prescribing three medicines, which I would take for 7 days, then one of the drugs for some time after that.  I asked him how I got this and he said from food.  Well, that was helpful.

I took my prescriptions to the nearby pharmacy where I had another wait of 30 minutes.  The pharmacist was terrific.  She spent about 10 minutes with me, explaining the purpose of the drugs, the potential side effects, and how I might have contracted it.  She told me it isn't rare, a lot of people have this but don't have symptoms.  She explained that it can be picked up from unwashed foods or improperly cleaned utensils.  The medication I am on are two antibiotics and Previcid; the former are to meant to kill the bacteria while the latter will reduce acid in the stomach.  One thing she strongly advised, was that I take the full course of the drug combination for the full seven days, though it is expected that I will have an upset stomach and possibly diarrhea as a result.  (Oh goody, I can hardly wait).  I'll be on the Previcid for 90 days after that,

I've completed two doses today and so far, so good.  The tummy has been a bit grumbly but otherwise I'm good.  Perhaps I'll get fortunate and I avoid the side affects.  Wish me luck.

******
The other news around is that I'm in the midst of another renovation.  Last spring, I had my former co-worker, now a contractor, insulate and drywall the remaining section of the basement.  This area now houses my exercise equipment...which has been gathering dust since then as well.  I digress.

While he was at it, I had him move a wall in the basement bathroom to make room for a shower.  The previous owner had purchased the kit, but it was in the basement not installed when I purchased the house.  Within a few weeks I learned the reason, there simply wasn't room.  The project was pushed to the back burner, as there other more pressing projects I wanted done and as we have two bathrooms with showers on the main floor we managed without it.

I'd just paid off the spring renovation when M called looking to see if I wanted to do the bathroom.  I guess December was a bit slow so he was looking for work.  He did up a quote, which I agreed to, and he started work last Monday.   These are the photos I took at the end of the first day of work. (I never think to take the before pictures ahead of time)

The old wall ended where the painted drywall currently ends...I definitely needed more room.  The dark spot on the floor is where the floor was dug up to move the original drain.

The old vanity and mirror definitely needed to be replaced.  The mirror is losing its shine as the surface is peeling off.

The new vanity is much the same as I had to get the same size because of the plumbing but is similar in color to my kitchen cupboards and will definitely be cleaner than this old one.

I'm also replacing the toilet as it is pretty badly scaled up.


 By the end of the week, the shower is completely installed and working fine.  M ran the water for 20 minutes the other day to ensure it was probably sealed.  The space beside the shower will house a custom built shelving unit which M planned to build this weekend in his garage,

Unfortunately the basement wall isn't straight so there it is about 9 inches at the top and a 8 3/4 inches at the bottom.  Once installed he'll use some corner round or something similar to fill the gap.  The unit will only be 12 inches deep but will provide some space for towels, shampoo, and other bathroom items.

My son is calling this the midget shower.  At 6 feet tall he can stand in it but there is barely an inch to spare. As a result, he'll likely continue to use the upstairs shower so it will stay nice and clean.  I'm hopeful the next buyers will be short like me and not notice the height!
M's been repairing and patching the drywall as well.  There was huge hole in the wall behind the mirror.  Someone had moved the electrical box and done a very poor job of it.

The last thing he finished on Friday was the new flooring.  I opted for vinyl plank flooring.  It's easy to clean, and if there is a problem, it is easy to remove and replace.

I went shopping on Wednesday and picked out the vanity, the counter top, a new toilet and the taps.  I was able to get the everything on sale except the taps and splurged a bit on those.Unfortunately the counter top and toilet weren't in stock and had to be ordered.  The clerk assured me they'll be in by Thursday afternoon.

On Thursday I picked up the paint and the new light fixture.  By Tuesday, I expect M will be done with the last of the drywall sanding and I'll paint the bathroom that evening.  He's assured me the rest of the work will be complete by Thursday evening, (or more likely Friday morning would be my guess).  He has another job starting the following Monday so I know he wants to get this done too.  It will be nice to have the bathroom back in operation.

This is pretty much the last of the projects planned while we live here.  Before I sell I will need to replace the carpets in the main bedroom and the basement, or at least allow the buyer a credit.  There are several places where the cats have made a mess of them, by using them as scratching pads or where I haven't been able to fully remove the stains.  Add in the regular wear and tear and it's all looking a bit worn and tired.

******
That pretty much catches up on the recent happenings around here.  It's been a particularly busy week and I'm grateful for a couple of days off to just relax.  I'll probably curl up on the couch with the cats and watch a bit of curling and football.  The housework can wait until the drywall dust settles.

Have a great easy Sunday!

Saturday, 23 January 2016

Random Saturday

It's been a couple of weeks since I've posted, and while I've tried to stop by other blogs I've done a pretty crappy job of that too.  It's been a blend of procrastination, a lack of anything to blog about, and still feeling a little blah.  So, please forgive me if my posting and comments are infrequent.  I still enjoy reading what's happening in your lives!

*****
When I met with the EAP counselor a few weeks ago, she had asked me to have a physical completed by the doctor to rule out any physical reasons for my depression.  I had my appointment last Monday.  Before I go any further I have to say I don't really like my doctor.  He's always in a rush, speaks very quickly so I find him hard to understand, and is never good at answering my questions.  

He started with a list of symptoms, asking me if I'd ever fainted, no, if I was experiencing vomiting or diarrhea, uh...no, if I had any joint pain, not at this moment, and on and on.  He checked my blood pressure, heart rate, breathing, ears, eyes, and reflexes in record time then left the room to allow me to get into the oh so lovely and fashionable paper gown with the modesty sheet.  No giggling was heard before or after.

He returned with his aide (a young woman who I guessed was about 14...she was 19).  From that point on, it was a little surreal, as he and she carried on a conversation about applying for a passport.  All of this went on while the examination was going on and even after I was allowed to sit up.  Since I'd recently renewed my passport, I mentioned that the paper work could be completed on line, and suggested that she attend the office on a weekday morning, not Friday, as it was very busy that day.

As he was about to leave the office, I reminded him that I had found a small lump in my upper right arm and wanted him to take a look at it.  He reached out, felt the lump for a second, and said "it has to come out.  I'll refer you for surgery".  Then he sat down at the computer in the examination room, and immediately sent a referral to the surgeons office.  He also gave me a referral to the lab for various tests.

******
On Tuesday, I planned to go to the lab first thing in the morning, as they open at 7 a.m.  I thought if I was there 10-15 minutes early I'd be one of the first in the lab.  Great idea, but it didn't happen.  

That morning, my car wouldn't start.  I had noticed it was difficult to start the day before, but had thought it was due to the fact it was very cold -27C with windchills near -37C.  Although I had plugged the car in at my parking spot, the electricity is only turned on for 15 minutes every hour.  

After calling the garage to ensure they could get me in, I called CAA for a boost.  They have this voice recognition service so when you call you tell this computer what service you are looking for and it is supposed to dispatch the call.  Except, I've always received a call back from a live operator so why they don't let me speak to a real person in the first place, I have no idea.  Anyway, when the operator called, she asked me what I thought the problem was and I told her it was a dead battery.  It turns out CAA has a service where they'll actually bring a battery out with them, so that if it is indeed simply a dead battery and not an alternator or starter issue, they'll exchange it right there..  I don't know what a battery and install would have cost at the garage but it sounded like a good idea to me.  The young man was at the house within a half hour, and less than 15 minutes later I had a brand new battery in the car and was heading to work.  I drive a 2007 Toyota Corolla and the battery that was replaced was the original.  Apparently, that it lasted so long is pretty impressive.  

******
At work, things are changing again.  My old boss, K has finally decided to retire - his official last day in the office is January 29.  He's been with the department for 32 years, and based on conversations I've been part of or have overheard, he won't be missed.  I'm not planning to attend his farewell, because it's at a pool hall and bar, and frankly I just don't care enough to go.  

My friend K is also retiring.  Her last day in the office was just before Christmas, and she'll officially retire on February 17.  She has been going out to lunch with various friends and co-workers over time and does not want a formal farewell.  I like her idea, as she gets to spend time with those she actually likes and plans to keep in touch with.  We went out for lunch between Christmas and New Year's and then again on Wednesday.  I'm thrilled she's starting to settle into her retirement....she told me she thinks of our workplace as simply a building with people in it.  

Speaking of retirement, I spent some time between Christmas and New Year's doing some calculations.  First I calculated what my pension after taxes would be in April 2019 (it's a defined benefit plan) and estimated what my living costs will be as compared to now.  I eliminated those costs that I won't incur when I'm not working, estimated what my mortgage would be (as I'll be downsizing), utilities, insurance, groceries, clothing, added in some extra money for medical costs....just in case, vehicle maintenance, etc. and I'm certain I will be able to manage.

Then I did a little more math.  If I leave my employment three months early, I'll take a 1% penalty  that after taxes works out to be $50 a month.  Hmmm.....that got me to thinking....so I did more math and calculated leaving at the end of October, and at the end of August of 2018.  The latter date would result in a reduction of nearly $150 a month, and that to me, is too much.  However I will have 7-9 weeks of holiday saved up and/or earned by that point so if I took my vacation from that point on, I could retire at the end of October, which would result in a $100 reduction each month.  Or if I arrange to retire at the end of January, and have the 8-9 weeks of vacation, I can leave at the beginning of December 2018.  

I'm sure that all sounds rather confusing, but basically what it means is that at the end of August 2018, I will be what we call a PM02...piss me off and I'm out of here in 2 weeks.  Do you know how good that makes me feel?  It's pretty freaking amazing!  I'm prepared to forgo $50 a month, and even possible $100...if it means I can be out of there sooner.  While I've left the marble jar as it is, the thought of leaving without having lost all my marbles is a good one.

******
There's lot more to share, but it's getting late on Saturday evening, and I'm tired.  I'll set this up to post tomorrow morning and perhaps I'll get to rest of it later in the day.

Have a great weekend everyone!  

Wednesday, 6 January 2016

Clearing out and letting go

I can’t say I’m unhappy to see the end of 2015, especially the last month or so.  I’m still feeling out of sorts but have an appointment for my physical scheduled on January 18.   I’ll talk to the doctor about my discussion with the EAP counsellor as well.   

At home, I decided that perhaps some de-cluttering would help me feel better about my physical space.  (I can’t do anything at work; we’re stuck here in the basement dungeon with its low ceilings, horrible lighting and dry air until at least the end of March).  After Christmas and over the New Year’s weekend I spent a lot of time going through almost every space of the house considering whether to keep, donate or toss the various items.

I started by reading the book “the life-changing magic of tidying up” by Marie Konda which Olga had mentioned some time ago in her blog.  The author recommends that de-cluttering should occur by category rather than by room.  I was skeptical but thought I’d take a shot at it.  Heaven knows I need to do something!  First up was my clothing.  I brought everything out of my closet and armoire, and from the front hall closet.  This included shoes, bags and accessories.  By the time I was finished I had filled two and a half bags of items to donate to Community Living (Value Village) and tossed another full bag of items that were well beyond their usefulness.  I’m ashamed to say there were items that had never been worn!

While it may look a little chaotic still, it is quite organized. My work jackets are hung on the top left hanger with short sleeved jackets on the right, long sleeve on the right while work pants are hung on the bottom, light to dark from right to left.  Blouses and tops are hung on the right hand side with short sleeves on the far right, then long sleeved, and the finally a few light casual fleece jackets.  Shoes are below and belts and purses are hung on hangers or on the shelf above.    I rarely wear dresses or skirts, most frequently when on a cruise, so while they are in the closet they are relegated to the far right and can't be seen in this photo.

What I didn’t do in accordance with the authors suggestion was fold my other clothing items in the armoire on their sides.  I don’t have drawers so this wouldn’t be a practical solution for me.  However, by eliminating so many items from this storage I’ve found I don’t have to dig through things to find the item I want to wear. Fingers crossed it stays that way.

There were some interesting finds too as I completed this task, especially with my purses.  Over the years, I’ve stashed these in a large plastic tub that sits on a shelf in my closet.  That tub has been repurposed (more on that later), as I discovered that at least three of these items were virtually the same purse.  One was discarded as the interior material was badly torn, another was donated and the third is now being used every day….I still love it!  Inside these old purses I found a necklace, about $10 in change, three tubes of lip balm, and numerous pens.

Next up on the list of recommended categories was books.  While I have a Kindle that I use when travelling, I still prefer the feel of a real book.  I read a lot and every year I donate many of the books to our office book sale.  I still have two large bookshelves in the basement, plus a space in my bedroom, (which holds the to-be-read books).  I gathered up a couple of boxes and went downstairs first clearing out one full bookcase.  These included books I’ve kept because they are a series but have no real intention of ever reading, and other books that I thought were good enough for a potential re-read but have never gotten there.  Those that are left are books I truly love, have read and often re-read many times.  I even found one book that I didn’t recall reading so it went upstairs with me to the bedroom.   I finished reading it last night (I had read it before) and it will end up in the donation box.  It was good, but not that good.

Paper was up next and this was one task that didn’t take very long.  I’ve always been fairly organized when it comes to bills and correspondence coming into the house.  I try to read everything as it comes in and then it either is recycled or placed in a tray for filing.  I pay most of my bills on line through internet banking and have significantly reduced the paper copies by going electronic.  I file about once every three months into a bin and at the end of the year I recycle much of this information.  I used to keep it for a year or so, but the amount of paper was ridiculous.  But I still can’t pat myself on the back too enthusiastically as there were a couple of surprises as I went through these items.  I located two gift cards I received in the past two years from my brother and his family for a local garden center.  These were tucked into a pen tray with some other papers (I don’t always do what I say I do).  I’m hopeful I’ll still be able to use these this spring.  The other surprise wasn’t as nice, as I discovered there is still a pile of items I have to deal with.  These are now sitting on my otherwise clear dining room table awaiting the end of my procrastination.

Next up was what the author refers to as komono and I simply call stuff.  This is a continuing work in progress, and I suspect will take some time to complete.  The last category that I have yet to come to are mementos.  These latter two categories are definitely the hardest because the first have value in their purpose or usefulness, while the second hold a value for sentimental reasons.  Assuming I get through this process I'll share more of my successes, surprises, and likely some failures as time goes on.

In the meantime, I'm thrilled with the progress I've made thus far.  The house is definitely tidier than it's been since we moved in 5 1/2 years ago.  I know where to find things (and where to put them away).  I felt a real sense of relief letting go.  I even found myself saying thank you to those items I decided to discard or donate for what they brought to my life.  That was a suggestion of the author I thought was totally off the wall but it felt good.

Now if I can just bring this same relief, release, into my personal life.  :)  One step at a time, one day at a time.

Have a great week everyone!

Friday, 1 January 2016

Happy New Year!


Happy New Year!

Wishing you all a year full of hope and joy, love and laughter, good health and prosperity.