Sunday, March 31, 2013

A little of this, a little of that

Last weekend we flew to Montreal for my first time there; Kent's been several times but always on work trips. We flew in Friday and out again Sunday afternoon. I especially liked that English isn't the dominant language because that helped reinforce that Canada is indeed a foreign country.

Here's a picture from our hotel room:



And this picture is also from our hotel room looking down and slightly to the right. I was amused to see what appears to be pampas grass randomly growing on the roof.



It was predictably cold -- it's 3 degrees further north than Boston and Boston is never warm in March. It was also windy, which neither of us expected. We got to see a fabric store (we wisely refrained from adding to the fabric stashes we each have), a long string of bridal gown stores oddly placed near a bunch of really low end retail stores (no joke, close to a dozen), the Biodome, a friend of Kent's plus Old Montreal.

The most exciting moment came when Kent tried to check himself in at the airport on our way back to the States, only to realize he'd left his passport in the hotel safe. I had not stored mine in the safe so mine was with me. But all's well that ends well and we got home just fine.

We noticed that in general, people in Montreal wear very colorful shoes. They may be in head to toe black otherwise, but the shoes are colorful. And then we found a store that carried those colorful shoes. We each got a pair of shoes, a brand neither of us had ever heard of before called Bloom. They are carried by exactly one store in all of North America and that's a good thing. If the store were closer, I'd have a lot more shoes.

Here are the ones I got:


And in completely unrelated news, we realized that the Feliway collars, while helpful in calming the kitties down, also caused hair loss around their necks. You can see the loss most clearly on Chloe and Eddie but they all three have these kinds of balding spots. So the collars are off and we are relying on lots of petting and soothing to keep them calmer.


Wednesday, March 27, 2013

A silly annoyance

We have microwaves at work. It's nice to be able to heat up my lunch or a cup of water without going downstairs to the cafeteria.

But what's up with people leaving time on the microwave? They'll hit the Stop button early for whatever reason and just leave random amounts of time on the microwave. Drives me crazy! Why not go ahead and hit the Stop button again? Then it's at zero and ready for the next person. It's not like we're saving anything by leaving seconds on the clock, and it's rarely in an amount that's truly useful. Nope, just random seconds, usually between 7 and 19.

WHY?

This bugs me far more than the over/under debate on toilet paper.

For the record, I don't care which way the toilet paper goes. Mine's all stored in canisters so the cats don't destroy it. 

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

You know you want an update

Here’s the latest update from our previous living situation in Boston. First, you might want to refer to the diagram in this post (in it, I described the neighbors and showed where they lived relative to each other).

OK now that you recall the players, here’s the rest of the update.
  • The Super Nices broke up. We suspect it was the ongoing strain between them and the Hatefuls (I sometimes called them the Nasties) because they really did seem like a solid couple with a good relationship. But I guess being near the crazies took a toll on them.
  • The previous owners of #6 sold in 2011. That shook things up only very slightly in the condo association. One of the new owners became a trustee along with Kent and an owner from #1.
  • The new owners of our place, Mike & Molly, seem to be nice and normal people. Mike’s become a trustee also.
  • Our neighbors in #1 sold their place last week. So now the remaining owner from #5 has become a trustee too.
Did you notice that the Hateful/Nasties and the Ferals still have no power in the condo association? That pleases me to no end.

On a creepier note, it was clear that both of the Ferals had looked at my Facebook profile. I found that disturbing, so for the first time ever I used the blocking feature on Facebook. Now they can’t even look at my picture.

I’m pretty sure with the most recent update to the condo (the owners of #1 selling) that our updates are over. And I’m fine with that. We don’t live there any more.

Sunday, March 17, 2013

I need a magic wand

I’ve got a little deja vu going on and it’s not very pleasant.

A family member has been suffering from some pretty bad gastric issues for almost three months. After waiting and waiting to see an allergist—seriously, the wait was nearly three months—the diagnosis is no food allergies but maybe a food absorption issue. So now a gastrointestinal specialist is in the picture. Whatever is wrong is almost certain to require pretty big changes in that family’s eating plans. That’s the way with chronic and/or auto immune diseases.

The current situation strongly reminds me of when my older boy was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes, and all those emotions I felt then have just come roaring back.*

I remember the sense of loss knowing that my son’s life was completely and irrevocably changed because his pancreas crapped out on him. I knew he would need to test his blood multiple times daily for the rest of his life, that he could never just sit down and binge on something tasty just for the hell of it, not without repercussions that could include dying, that he would be in more danger than most if he chose to get drunk, and that because of his disease, certain careers were never ever going to be an option for him.

I did not know how to be a mother to someone with a chronic disease. I feared that I might accidently kill my child because I wasn’t paying enough attention to his well-being. I felt tremendous guilt because he’d clearly had the disease and attendant symptoms for several months before his blood sugar levels climbed enough that he was no longer able to keep food down or even talk all that rationally. I struggled with learning how to cook for someone with diabetes, how to track all those food exchanges and count calories, fat, sugar and protein, how to test my son’s blood and give him an insulin shot. Mostly I remember how much I did not want to do any of that. I wanted him to be healthy, normal and disease free.

The end of that story, of course, is that he wasn’t disease-free and barring some amazing breakthroughs in medicine, he never will be. That may be the case for our family member.

I’ve walked where his mother is walking now, and I wouldn’t wish this on her in a million years. I wish now (as I wished when my boy was diagnosed) that I could have the disease instead. I know that’s not possible, but I wish it still with all my heart.

* Please don’t think I’m saying that it’s harder to be the family member of someone with a chronic disease. I don’t think that at all. Clearly, having the disease is harder.

Saturday, March 16, 2013

A warm Friday evening

Yesterday's high was 81F, so Kent opened the windows and patio door. I'm not sure who enjoyed the weather more, us or the cats.


Surveying the back yard (and the little dog next door)

On alert for a bird or squirrel

I think they were watching the little dog

He was entranced by the blowing leaves

Thursday, March 14, 2013

My desk tonight





What's on  your desk?

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

How do you store your knives?

Years and years ago, I was at my aunt and uncle's house with my children and noticed that my aunt and uncle stored their cutting knives on a magnetic strip attached to the wall, under a kitchen cabinet. I thought that was a very clever way to store knives; I've always detested just tossing them into a drawer where they rattle around and bang against each other, getting duller and duller. I equally detest those nasty butcher block holders because they take up so much room on the counter. Plus I'm not convinced they are particularly good for knives either since the knives generally rest with their sharp sides against the wood. So once I got home, I bought my own magnetic strip and have used one to store my knives ever since.

Unfortunately, our house, while practically perfect in every way, won't accommodate the magnetic strip for knife storage. You see, we have tiles on the back splash where you'd normally install the magnetic strip. Kent is pretty sure if we tried to install the screws used to hold the magnetic strip, the tiles would crack.

So I had to find another way to store knives, one that didn't involve a butcher block or a drawer. Here's the solution:



It's a block of wood with a big magnet inside, and then there are two pieces of acrylic (I think) on the outside of the two big sides of the block. I wish this were smaller but the footprint is not as bad as a butcher block. Plus the sharp parts of the knives don't touch anything.

Saturday, March 9, 2013

I'm a believer

Remember those collars I mentioned that we got for the cats? The Feliway collars that have a calming pheromone on them, right up by the cats' faces? I wrote that I was skeptical about how effective they would be, since we'd used the spray to no effect.

Well, I can tell now that they did work because the cats are getting tense again. The collars are good for about four weeks and it's been close that now. Before you tell me I'm experiencing confirmation bias, let me tell you I don't want the collars to be so effective because (a) I can smell them and (b) they aren't cheap.

But both boy kitties are back to being very skittish and jumpy, and Eddie's starting to bully Chloe again. So I ordered another three of them from Amazon (I love Amazon), and the new collars will be here Tuesday.

I feel a little bit like a drug pusher. A purple, smelly drug.

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Safety dance

Yesterday I had to be at work quite early so I left home shortly after 6 AM. It was still dark, and as I drove down Mission Road, I saw a runner in the right lane on my side of the street running against traffic. He wasn't on the sidewalk because we still have a lot of snow from the two storms we got last week. I thought he was taking a risk but at least he had on reflective gear plus a small blinking light attached to his hat.

A couple of blocks later, I saw three women and a dog, stretched clear across the right lane of traffic, walking against traffic with no reflective gear. They took up the entire right lane and weren't weren't even wearing light colors. I muttered mean things about their reasoning powers and continued on.

Then I realized someone in a Hyundai was tailgating me. Keep in mind it's just after 6, there's no traffic so there's no need to tailgate. Just go around. But he didn't, he kept tailgating me for about a half mile until we got to an intersection with a traffic light. He pulled into the left turn lane, which was controlled by a light of its own. But his light didn't turn green. He hadn't gotten there quite fast enough to trip the sensor (although given the early hour, it would have switched in a few seconds). No matter -- he just turned left anyway.

Sunday, March 3, 2013

Work it

This weekend, we painted the second bedroom (two coats) and the dining room (only needed one coat, hurrah!). We liked the paint the previous owner had used but unfortunately, while she left us her paint, the second bedroom color was missing and the dining room color had entirely congealed.

So we went with one of our favorites, Navajo Sand by Glidden. We like that it's a bright neutral that shifts in color just a bit depending on what kind of light you get in the room. And take my word for it, it's not a boring renter's beige at all.

We also got the dining room curtains shortened to the correct length. These are our curtains (yes from Ikea, I swear we are a poster family for Ikea), and the directions for hemming the curtains pretty much tell you to just cut them off, no hemming, to the correct length. You can't iron the fabric because it will melt, so normal hemming is challenging. I did hem them for the apartment we rented but couldn't do that again. While they were too long for their current location, they weren't long enough for me to turn up a proper hem. Kent cut them to size with our big rotary cutter mat. I was too nervous to do it myself, I tend to get jagged lines with the rotary cutter but Kent's mastered it.

Here's the room after the painting and shortening. We have another picture to hang off to the left (off camera) above the sewing cabinet. We also need to hang the five black framed mirrors we have and they'll go to the right, off camera.

Photo bomb by Chloe
Next weekend, we'll tackle the entry and long hall.