Friday, November 28, 2008

Another re-post from the past (July 2003)

I not so recently decided to remove some hardwood flooring just inside the front door, and I bought two 17-1/4" porcelain tiles to cover the width. Taking up the 80-year-old oak hardwood was not a problem; the problem was taking up only the area I wanted, and dealing with the sub-standard subfloor. I ended up taking up 14.5 feet of 3/8" thick hardwood and 1.5" wide, 1" thick spruce tongue-and-groove subfloor (plus a few random pieces that were used as filler).

Luckily I knew some phone numbers, and within a month I had hired someone to install the plywood subfloor who could start in the next 3 weeks. (If God had meant for me to do it myself, I would still be leaping from joist to joist, and the cats would all have broken legs.)

In the meantime, I had a houseguest who took great pleasure in the house-wide thumping sound she made when landing on the spare boards I'd laid below the bottom stair. I also bought another 3 cases of the porcelain tiles...I know how to install tile -- in theory. I have watched countless in-2-days-change-the-whole-house type decorating shows. I had all the requirements -- tiles (enough boxes of), adhesive (huge bucket of), tools (lots of). What I didn't know was how to cut the tile to fit the cold-air intake grate (intake grate, new one of; plywood installer: cut hole big enough for). I gave it a lot of thought over the next 6 weeks, now that I had a safe and relatively quiet plywood subfloor to walk on.

I know my limitations, and my tools are not among them -- that's why I got a guy to install the subfloor. I can't measure worth a damn. I found a moderated web site ( -- requires registration) that said I could cut the big porcelain tiles with equipment I already had -- a Skil (circular) saw and a dry-cut diamond saw blade (yes, I have one). I cut the tiles, spread the pre-mixed tile adhesive (you know, it's just like soft ice cream, except with the consistency of lard), and set the tiles. I didn't walk on them for 72 hours (even the professional plywood-subfloor installer had his limits, and levelling the floor in an 80-year-old house was among them).

I went to Home Depot and bought a box of grout in a matching colour (who knew there are formulae for calculating whether you need sanded (< or =" 1/4"> 3mm gap {what da f---}), and how many pounds of grout you need using tile size, gap between tiles, and square footage. I now calculate if I don't have enough grout in the house by the end of the job I will use gum.

I'm a tool girl -- I like to take as much time in the hardware store as I do in the clearance section of the clothing department or the drugstore "feminine products" aisle. I have at least 7 saws (cross-cut, coping, Japanese dovetail, miter, hack, jigsaw, circular saw with a variety of blades...), 3 kinds of hammers, a crowbar and a prybar, power drill (and a variety of screw driver bits), a router (used once briefly, but still), at least 10 screwdrivers (Phillips, Robertson, slot, and a bunch of Allen keys); a small socket wrench, a plumbing pipe cutter, gas torch for plumbing, adjustible wrench, pipe wrench; manual tile snapper and a zax (see Scrabble dictionary); box tool; 10" soil tamper; Yankee hand drill (it looked like fun), and, surprisingly, a taco press.

Now that I have enough of the grout (ready-to-mix) in a matching colour (Oyster Gray) and a grout float, and a sponge to smooth the grout with, and and a 5-gallon bucket to rinse the sponge in, and rags with which to wash off the grout haze, I will have the whole floor done by Thanksgiving (including sanding, priming, painting and re-installing the baseboard and some quarter-round trim). I will never walk on this floor, of course -- it's only for show. I'm used to it by now.

Karen in Toronto, who, if she had a husband, would get a lot more done in a lot less time (I'm kidding -- he'd pay for the workers)

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Nothing new, but this is pretty funny

I wrote this in October 2003 to an off-topic list of a listserv I used to frequent (note: my family was coming for Canadian Thanksgiving and the gas oven stopped working the week before).

Tuesday: Had to stay late at work. New housemate's 47th birthday. Shopped for 2 servings of cake for dinner, made grilled steak, rosemary new potatoes, fresh green beans (he's like a kid -- you have to bargain with him over eating his vegetables). Told him it's his turn to wash the dishes. He watches TV, talks on phone to family members, and surfs 'net for rest of evening. (He did dishes next night.)

Wednesday: Had to stay late at work. Called the stove guy about the broken oven. No, he no can get parrrt yet; need schematic. You got Interrrnet? You can look up schematic forrr me. You got fax machine? Starting to lose hope.

Thursday: Had to stay late at work. Family arriving Friday afternoon sometime, screech! Had stress-inducing performance review plus 4 other meetings today. Housemate has not made dinner. Called the small struggling local furniture guy about spare bed order. No answer. Housemate finally moves the rest of his boxes downstairs to basement. Forgets his laundry is in the dryer (again). Still don't know what time family is arriving, call Mom to find out. Find neighbour's straying cat on my front porch, knock on their door to hand him back, ask to borrow their oven on Saturday. Answer is Sure! One hurdle over. Housemate informs me his Friday night billet has fallen through; he can't figure out why he can't sleep in 2nd guest room on new spare bed. Interesting to watch him figure out sleeping assignments with counting fingers; has forgotten that owner of house also needs place to sleep.

Friday: Vacuum, wash dishes, strip and remake available beds in morning, start load of laundry. Got off work 1 hour early. Shop for lots of booze and hot cooked dinner (oven still busted) and dessert for 6; buy prime rib roast for Thanksgiving ($60.00 CA!! but just the right amount of leftovers). Race home: message from Mom's cell that they'll be there in 1.3 hrs. Walk over to bed store: there it is! On sidewalk!! Owner informs me that several people have made offers on it. I insist he tape SOLD sign on it if he's going to leave it there until I can come back with car to pick it up (no parking on that side of street until after 6 pm).

5:45 pm Friday: Family arrives, and stand out on street like cows in pasture at milking time. I stand on porch and call Coop coop coop! They stagger over under volumes of luggage (they're staying 2 nights). Open wine and beer immediately. I drink most of it. Thankfully, housemate is excellent raconteur (philosophy degree, law practice, sports fan, photography -- covers everything and everyone). Older feeble brother claims new bed in 2nd guest room; I get the foldout couch, housemate gets sleeping bag on dining room floor. He doesn't snore but my cat does.

Saturday am: first (and only) bathroom conflict: housemate is brushing teeth... I need to go... Mom makes pancakes and I make coffee and boysenberry sauce. Younger brother offers to clear table and wash dishes for first time in 45 years (he's had a talking-to). Housemate has invitation to attend NHL season opener -- Leafs and Habs (result Habs 4-0, he'll be ecstatic) and bed for night. Hilarious recounting to family of his confusion over sleeping arrangements; lots of advice from mother on housekeeping and men.

Saturday afternoon: successful shopping at large mall, then run back and forth to neighbours' oven with roast and apple pie. Successful dinner; younger brother washes dishes again!

Saturday evening, still quiet, mild and pleasant: Brothers and sister-in-law and me smoking and conversing on front porch. Raccoon walks across street towards sidewalk leading to my backyard. Recall neighbour's spank-attack on grape-stealing raccoon. Wine-heated, I chase raccoon to wooden utility pole, up which he climbs rapidly, just low enough for me to leap up and smack him hard on the butt with my hand. Brothers and sister-in-law howling from front porch. I return in triumph. Angry, frightened raccoon on utility pole hisses at us for some time.

Sunday am: brothers still talking about raccoon attack. Breakfast, ablutions, make road lunch of prime rib sandwiches, dishes, packing. I get family to tour house to pick up forgotten articles and strip beds. Kisses and thanks goodbye all round. Start first of 6 loads of laundry and catch up on e-mail. Day off tomorrow!

Tell me why I do this again?

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Diabetes with Heart

Not the greatest or worst news this week. I am not eligible for the hot-flash study because my blood sugars are too high, which is BAD. But I still have a chance to join St. Michael's Hospital's diabetes support team, so that's GOOD.

Once of the study coordinators called to let me know this, and faxed my results to me and also sent them to my family doctor---also GOOD. Besides the bad blood sugar it seems I have an abnormal heart rhythm as detected by the EKG, so that's BAD.

I have an appointment next week to talk to my GP about those StM results (GOOD); by then I also hope to have an appointment with a new endocrinologist at St. Mike's (this hospital, by the way, is the downtown emergency centre where our gunshot victims are often taken first).

I went to an executive lunch (it's just an opportunity for brown-nosers to eat lunch and listen to a senior vice president, so I enjoyed it). I had to leave a couple of minutes early because I chair a meeting every week with the managers. So our Chief Technology Officer (CTO) shows up for the first time, and even though he had accepted the meeting invitation (GOOD) I neglected to inform him that the location had changed (BAD). It went OK. I keep these meetings as short as possible, by the way, and the CTO liked that and thinks he'll attend more of these meetings (GOOD).

Wednesday my boss called us into his office and told us he is leaving for another job (BAD). Our director will be managing us until a new person is hired (GOOD). But the boss, who hired me on contract three years ago (GOOD) and promoted my full-time hiring a year later (GOOD) is probably the kindest and gentlest boss I've ever had in nearly 20 years (except maybe for one other) so he'll be hard to replace (BAD).

Anyways, here's a picture of Handsome Stranger on top of the fridge.

Saturday, November 1, 2008

Diabetes team!

I was screened this week to see if I was eligible to participate in a study on reducing menopausal hot flashes using a modified antidepressant (Effexor). The study coordinator told me I was probably not eligible because I don't have blood sugar control. At all. My last A1C early this year was 12.2%, more than double the optimal percentage to indicate good control, entirely because I don't control what I eat, get little exercise, don't eat regularly or eat too much at a time, skip/forget meds, and fall asleep before taking my nightly insulin.

Exams over about 2 hours: interview on hot flash experiences, meds & supplements (dosages/amounts), diet, exercise, my own medical history and family history (diabetes, heart disease); full physical including reflexes, internal pelvic (gyn), height/weight, Pap smear, breast exam, blood pressure; electrocardiogram including 4 more blood pressure and pulse readings; blood extraction, and probably some other stuff I can't recall. The only thing missing was an xray, but I can't think what it would have been for unless they wanted to see if my brain was even there.

So, even if I am not eligible for the study, I have the opportunity to become a member of the team for getting diabetes management at the hospital, with a first appointment either later this year or early next year with "the best" diabetes doctors (endocrinology) in the city and maybe the province. Liz, the study coordinator, is a diabetes nutritionist among other things, and due to her concern is getting me referrals and appointments with the staff. She forgot to save my EKG results (I have an atypical low voltage thing) so I had to go back early Wednesday morning to have another one (it took 15 minutes from in to out again), and forgot my wallet at home. She was kind enough to lend me enough money for the day. I love her already!