Friday, December 10, 2010

Christmas Contractor or A DIY For Folks Like Me

Because my family are coming for the holidays, I figured now would be a good time to get my old bath tub and those eye-sore-hideous surround tiles torn out and replaced. Brilliant, eh? Yes, I know. So I called a contractor. So the contractor came, took a look, and said he’d call back with an estimate. So he called back a few minutes ago and said the job would cost between $6,500 and $8,000.

$8,000? Geez, I’m not talking about building the Taj Mahal or rerouting the Hover Dam here, just replacing the old bath tub and surround. Hello?

After the shock wore off, I called Tub and Tile Magic. You know, the folks who resurface instead of replace tubs and surrounds, which is a green idea (Bonus!) and is also eight times cheaper than the dreaming contractor. Big fat thumbs up. :)

*slight pause for ooos, eees and ahhs*

Ah, but all of this has me thinking...

Take a hard look around your own home. Go ahead, I’ll wait.

Are thoughts of updating (at a price that won’t make your better half pass out) dancing in your head? And more, are you as desperate for inspiration and some good DIY words of advice as I am? Then I invite you to take a gander at the latest addition to my ‘Must Read’ list: Thrifty D├ęcor Chick.

Now there’s a woman who's handy, loaded with inspiration, and explains things in a way I get. And I need all of that... since, you know, I’m about as handy, as full of inspiration and as mechanically inclined as a camp toaster.

Sunday, October 24, 2010

In Memoriam - Edna Stewart Mitchell



It was one year ago today—one year since I lost my support, advisor, comrade in trouble, sounding board, confidence builder, luck, best friend and confidante—my mom, Edna Stewart Mitchell.

Loved with a love beyond all telling.
Missed with a grief beyond all tears.




Her favorite poem:

"Trees"

I think that I shall never see
A poem lovely as a tree.

A tree whose hungry mouth is prest
Against the earth's sweet flowing breast;

A tree that looks at God all day,
And lifts her leafy arms to pray;

A tree that may in summer wear
A nest of robins in her hair;

Upon whose bosom snow has lain;
Who intimately lives with rain.

Poems are made by fools like me,
But only God can make a tree.

—Alfred Joyce Kilmer

To Hell With Your "Winter Wonderland." It's Gonna Be Fricken Cold Outside!

or
Tis the season to talk... horse blankets!



Everyone has an opinion—don't they? Even about horse blankets. There's the price, of course. And don’t forget durability, looks, layers, comfort, waterproof, if the damn thing will stay on...

I live in central Alberta, baby, and it can get mighty cold here—cold enough to feel guilty over even the thought of one of our many silent minus forty degree nights, me having the audacity to roast chestnuts on an open fire while my horse has Jack Frost nipping at his nose (and neck and chest and back and sides and butt...). Since moving to Florida was out of the question, I got online and researched blankets to death until I found one I felt would keep my horse relatively happy and me relatively guilt free.

Enter the "Weatherbeeta Orican Freestyle Detach-a-Neck Heavy Turnout"
(This is not an advertisement. This is just me saying what I've found.) It might be a bit pricey, but so are vet calls and antibiotics when your horse comes down with pneumonia.



Super strong 1200 denier triple weave, waterproof and breathable outer layer. Features the Freestyle gusset, shoulder dart and full wrap tail flap, Freestyle detach-a-neck, quick clip front closure, and wither relief pad. Warm 360g of polyfill with a hygienic and strong 210D Oxford lining and stainless steel surcingle fittings.







Sure. Whatever. Sounded good enough to try it out last year (sans the neck attachment though; I mean, it's great to have it in case it's needed, but it's just one more thing my boy can get himself hung up with) on my then twenty-seven-year-old gelding who's housed outside 24/7 in a huge wooden-fenced paddock with a large shelter, lots of quality food and plenty of non-frozen water. And I gotta tell you, I'm glad I did. The blanket honestly worked better than I'd hoped. My gelding was warm and dry all winter with no rub marks or tender spots of any kind, anywhere, and the blanket came through without a mark on it.

Would I buy it again? You bet. In a heartbeat. In fact, I am gonna buy it again because I'm in the process of purchasing a second gelding who’ll need one as well. You know. So I can roast chestnuts over an open fire. Guilt free.

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Heartbroken



Of all the things my gorgeous eleven-year-old golden retriever Bramble (aka Bram; aka Bob; aka my little man; aka my boy; aka my shadow and constant companion) has had to deal with in the last nine months (thyroid problems, Cushing’s and then Addison’s disease with no middle ground ever found, weakness in the hind legs, and the most recent being a urinary tract infection), that he could possibly have cancer didn't even occur to me. Until this past Wednesday, that is. And that’s exactly what might take him in the next twenty-four hours.

Why would I blog at a time like this?--you ask. Because I need to do something besides lose my marbles… at least until 4:30 am when they’ll redo the lactate test, the first having come back as 8.8 where normal is 2 or under. If the redo comes back lower than that first, then that means it’s dropping and the prognosis will go up. Conversely, if the lactate test comes back the same or higher, the prognosis will of course be hopeless.

God.

Going back a little. Bram was referred to Calgary’s state-of-the-art C.A.R.E. Center (CARE meaning Calgary Animal Referral and Emergency) by our vet who, because of Bram’s longish list of woes and little improvement, wanted to rule out neurological problems. So off we went on Wednesday and again on Thursday, as the tests were so numerous. And that was when they found a mass

(A MASS)

on his lung, along with a few other things - the urinary tract infection and quibbles about his current medication dosages. With that, a CT Scan was tentatively scheduled for this coming Tuesday.

Then, today, Bram crashed.

It started out innocently enough, so much so that we truly believed it was due to the dosage changes of his medications (add a thyroid pill; lower the Prednisone by one; give antibiotics for the urinary tract infection). First, he lost interest in food shortly after 1 pm. Later, he started breathing slightly harder than normal and wanted out and in without doing anything. At 8:30 pm came the vomiting and discomfort and looking at his stomach. At that, I immediately called CARE and then my own vet, and it was on both their recommendation that I gave Bram one Gravol, then one teaspoon of Pepto-Bismol, then a Prednisone tab. After an hour (okay, so it was less) of no discernible improvement, I called and transported him to Animal Emergency. For my sanity’s sake and as a written record to keep it straight in my mind, here’s the rundown:

Chest X-Ray - confirmed the mass, no fluid in lungs, etc.
BP - normal (Addison’s crisis would show as low)
Heart Rate - on the higher end (Addison’s crisis would show as low)
Temperature - increasing (could be from the infection)
Blood work - electrolytes good
- white blood cell count slightly above normal (could be from the infection)
I-Stat Test - slightly lower but not critical
Lactate - 8.8 (normal is 2 or less) **Potential cause for high number could be cancer or, according to what I read, systemic sepsis**
Bram is currently on nasal oxygen fed via a small tube (which he’s pulling out as quickly as they’re putting it in) and IV fluids.
It’s also possible that the mass is causing systemic effects.

The time is now 4:32 am. That’s how long it’s taken me to write this, now badly my mind is working, how numb I am.

4:32 am… and the call just came. His lactate test is now 6.7. Not that it means he’s out of the woods. Not even close. But at least it dropped.

So, was this crash due to cancer, systemic sepsis, both, or something else entirely? That’s unknown at this point. The only certainties are they’ll keep redoing the test every few hours and I’ll keep doing the only thing I can: hope.


Update: With the white bloodcell count good the vet said it isn't to do with the UTI. It also hasn't to do with his Addison's. That only leaves one thing, and if taken off IV he'll only crash again.

He's too sweet, too special, too kind natured and has too much of a wonderful spirit—the perfect guy; family—to put him through any pain just so I won't have to say goodbye. So I guess the decision is made.

Ah my little man, my sweetie, my heart, my love, my beautiful boy—the best boy in town. No one who ever met you had so much as one bad word to say. I was truly, sincerely blessed to have had you in my life. Meet me at the bridge.


Bramble (Bram)
Sept 29/1998 - Aug 22/2010


Not a mean bone in his body; not one bad memory left behind.
That says so much.
We'll meet again, my beautiful, beautiful boy.

Saturday, August 21, 2010

Monday, May 10, 2010

The Great Gopher War




They’re cute. They’re furry. They’re dangerous.

It’s gopher season here, again. Time to get out whatever nontoxic whatsit that’ll make the ankle breaking hole makers move on (to heaven or the next field, whichever comes first).

So far I’ve tried such things as nailing two decoy owls to the fence (I have a neat story on that; remind me to tell you about it in a little bit), spraying perfume in the hole (namely Oscar de la Renta… which didn’t work for long… but now we have the best smelling gophers on the planet, bar none), cramming their holes with very large rocks (which seems to be the only thing working at the moment), and a whole host of other attempts, some with varying degrees of temporary success, and others which didn’t phase the little bastards one iota.

Now before you go all PETA on me, just remember that I’m an animal lover to the extreme. But when push comes to shove (or rather, gopher’s rights vs. the health of my beloved equines), it’s a no-brainer—Gopher City needs to move by almost any means necessary. In other words, it’s war. Ah, but with other animals around that I want to keep healthy, namely dogs, cats and horses, poison is out of the question. So is hiring the gun toting and possibly inbred neighbor and his two gun toting and possibly inbred sons down the road who, in their kill-spree-delirium, might mistake a horse for said gopher, in which case I’d be the one shooting, would most likely get arrested for attempted murder, and would still be at square one with the gophers.

Dilemmas.

Now, if a few hawks would just move in. Or perhaps some gopher snakes. I have a massive phobia of snakes, but I’ll tell ya I’d welcome them over the gophers, anytime. At least snakes leave when the pickins are few. Gophers, on the other hand, are rarely without pickins, eating roots, trees, grass, plants and, heck, even things you wouldn’t normally suspect—yep they’re not only dangerous to equines, they’re dangerous to each other!

Speaking of which, a friend of mine was terribly late getting to work one day. When asked why, he said all the cars were backed up at the overpass because of a very sweet and sad sight. According to him, a gopher had earlier run out in front of a car and was killed. That wasn’t the sad part. What was, was that its brave little wife/husband/friend/son/daughter gopher attempted a rescue mission by running out, grabbing said dead gopher, and dragging it inch by inch back to safety.

Aww, isn’t that just too sweet?

Well no, not really.

What my friend didn’t know was that gophers are cannibals, the rescue merely grocery shopping. Not that that has any bearing on equines. But the knowledge of it definitely eases my guilt of wanting rid of them.

Gophers: It’s on.

Thursday, May 06, 2010

Two Minute Horse Videos From “The Horse dot com”

Have you been wishing for two minute video explanations of everything from western bit fitting, to checking a digital pulse, to helpful tips and tricks? Yes? Well then I have a present for you. Check out:

http://www.thehorse.com/Videos.aspx?tab=howto

Aww, t'weren't nothin'. *grin*

Saturday, March 06, 2010

Plain Jane vs. The Utopia of Kitchen Utopia



Be honest here. How many of you have walked into a Home Depot and were dazzled by their display of kitchens? Yeah, I know - me too. Especially when compared to my Plain Jane, who, although solid, is as old as my home and about as dazzling as a mouse in a wheat field—no crown molding, no rope trim, no raised or recessed doors, no kick plates, no fancy this or cool that or anyone coming into my kitchen and saying anything even remotely close to a compliment… in passing or otherwise… other than that my kitchen is newly painted and as clean as a pre-surgery operating room. So it’s no wonder I stood openmouthed when facing what I can only be describe as Kitchen Utopia, dramatic music playing in my head and all. Before I knew it, I went crazy via booking an appointment with one of their designers, choosing a kitchen (“The one up front, please… the first one… the one with every goody/feature/amenity known to womankind… the Utopia of Kitchen Utopia… that fawn-glazed jobby with 15% off if I order after February 28th”) and paying $100 to have my old Plain Jane “professionally” measured.

Should I mention here that I’m not exactly a culinary genius? Not that that mattered, I reasoned at the time. With the Utopia of Kitchen Utopia in my home I’d definitely look like one.

I was ecstatic. I was elated. I was losing my mind daydreaming about the Utopia of Kitchen Utopia being picked up and dropped into Plain Jane’s spot. Think of the family gatherings. Think of the Christmases. Think of the crazy neighbors next door who’d see the Utopia coming and talk in fits of jealousy. Think of…

I researched, and then reality set in. There had been problems, and it wasn’t necessarily all Home Depot’s fault (though the majority of it certainly is theirs), I found out, but also the folks Home Depot contracted to install their kitchens who also were—the folks who put in the lowest bid. That, and Thomasville itself. Apparently, many a woman before me had been dazzled at first glimpse of Kitchen Utopia as well as the Thomasville name, and too many of those, even two years later and counting, were still trying to get problems fixed. Needless to say, suddenly the Utopia of Kitchen Utopia wasn’t looking so Utopia. So when Home Depot’s designer called me to finalize and order, I canceled. Besides, what did the Utopia of Kitchen Utopia have that mine didn’t have?--besides looking like a Rolls Royce compared to a K-Car, that is. Trim? I can have that put on. Kick plates? I can have those put on, too. Crown molding? Ditto on the putting on. Fawn glaze and corbels and little feet, and, and, and? Put ’em on, baby. O.K., so Plain Jane will never be Utopia. But she could still (in my mind, at least) look pretty spiffy, and for a fraction of the cost and headache to boot!

Home Depot: Had you taken better care of your customers (as you so vehemently advertise), you would have had my business. Instead, Plain Jane will be getting a makeover in the Spring.

Plain Jane DIY Makeover List:
* Rope accent crown molding above cabinets
* Under cabinet molding
* Either half round rope column legs or split rope molding and split spindle caps (depends on size and availability) on either side of the sink cabinet, with large half round rope column legs (or grape motif corbels) on corners of the island.
* Framing and corner round cut rope molding, for cabinet doors, drawers, and front and sides of the island.
* Kick plate
* Very small square attached to the end of the last cabinet, with rope column legs (or some kind of legs), to station my computer.
* New cabinet hardware (I’m thinking dark and no pulls, just knobs.)
* Repaint the cabinets antique white and try (shudders) my hand at glazing - chocolate, of course.
* Under cabinet lighting

Column legs and corner round and split rope and split spindle caps… Whoosh! Now don't I sound like I know what I’m talking about. Sadly, I don't; I had to look them up.

For the Non DIY part of the DIY:
* Hood. A fancy one. Think Tuscan even, although I’m talking about a much smaller version here. Since I’ve always wanted one of these lovelies, that is one item I refuse to let some idiot with a chainsaw, hammer and a mouthful of nails take a whack at making. Nope, this baby will be manufactured and installed the right way: professionally.
* Backsplash. Now before you start in on me, you know as well as I do that those HTV home shows make everything look disgustingly fast and simple, even though we all know they aren’t. At least they aren’t to a new DIYer like myself. Heck, I recaulked around the washroom countertop the other day, did a great job imo, and was out-of-my-mind overjoyed about it for hours, so what does that tell you? (It should tell you that I don‘t know what I‘m doing.) So nope, the backsplash will be another job left to the professionals.
* And while the professionals are at the backsplash, I’m going to ask them if they can also tackle the flooring, too. Tile is tile, and most, if not all, backsplash installers also install flooring (that’s one thing I did learn from watching all those home shows; thanks Mike Holmes and Bryan Baeumler!)
* Countertops. Naturally.

Too much? Yeah, probably. But hey, if you’re going to go for it, do it as big as you can.

Note: When I said “professional/professionals/professionally,” I didn’t mean the ‘lowball bid boys’ from the big box stores. I mean the real, accredited, BBB rated, guaranteed, insured, ‘know what the hell they’re doing, don’t pass the buck for over two years, and will provide references’ types. Luckily, I learned all of that from others mistakes, not my own.

Note Two: “I do know Thomasville (furniture) does not make the Home Depot sold cabinets. It's a shame. People go there thinking they're getting "furniture" style cabinetry and what they get is far from it.”

“From what I hear, Home Depot bought the Thomasville NAME, then went to Mills Pride (who makes ultra cheapies) and had them produce a cheap line and stick the Thomasville name on it. I despise the box stores for that kind of stuff.”

—both quotes were borrowed from ContractorTalk.com (http://www.contractortalk.com/f74/kraftmaid-cabinetry-62955)

Note Three: Everyone wants the Taj Mahal for $1, especially in today’s economy. I get that, I understand that, and, heck, I’m one of them. The thing is, I'm also a realist who has an outdated kitchen and would like to have it upgraded the right way with the right products and without spending more than my life’s worth to do it. That, and on the TV design show ‘Dear Genevieve’ (that woman is a goddess) the other day, the kitchen cabinets she called “rental style and unsalvageable” looked exactly like my own. How embarrassing.

Note Four: RED DEER HOME SHOW - MARCH 5, 6, 7 - WESTERNER PARK
Ooo, eee, ahh. Check out what I found there: Virtual Stone Solutions (http://www.virtualstonesolutions.ca/index.htm)
If you’ve tried this Granicrete product or know someone who has, I’d sure love to hear from you. (Please do not respond if you are a distributor, have taken the class in, or are in any way affiliated with Granicrete. I'd like to hear from consumers only.)

Also, check out your local Habitat For Humanity ReStore (http://habitat.ca/findarestorep1380.php). There, you’ll find huge discounts off both the new and used and support your community at the same time!

Saturday, February 13, 2010

The Daily Giggle

Are you in desperate need of a grin and/or giggle today? Then check out:

T-Shirt War!



You're welcome. :)

Sunday, January 17, 2010

TAPS - Ghost Hunters - Honest or The Shell Game?


I like a good chill as well as the next woman, so it should come as no surprise that one of my favorite shows on TV is Ghost Hunters. You know what they do. Each week TAPS (The Atlantic Paranormal Society) team members Steve Gonsalves, Dave Tango, Chris Williams and Ami Bruni, along with co-founders Jason Hawes and Grant Wilson, investigate "haunted" places and try to either debunk claims of the paranormal, or capture evidence of it.

Too cool, isn’t it? And even better, supposedly it’s all on the up-and-up...

... or is it?

Lately, their own viewing audience has done a little debunking of their own, trying to debunk the debunkers via dangling tantalizing evidence on youtube of what they’ve deemed as questionable content—ie: among others, the ol’ ‘fishing-line-running-from-the-coat-collar-to-the-pocket-and-giving-it-a-tug-to-make-it-look-like-a-ghost-grabbed-you’ routine. And maybe they’re right. Of course, I say this after watching repeated (ad nauseam) shots of Grant's oddly moving collar from every conceivable angle and speed, along with the usual assortment of directional arrows and highlight circles in every color of the rainbow. Heck, two women went so far as to demonstrate how it could be done without anyone—including a video camera close-up—being the wiser (and did a very good job of it, I must add).

Makes you think, donnit? And as a viewer, once you start thinking, you start questioning. Once you start questioning (especially questioning the credibility of a supposedly honest show), then you stop believing everything they show. Once you stop believing, you eventually stop watching and move on to something less a waste of your time... like, say, making wire jewelry, perhaps. Or, heck, writing! But is that what happened here? Truthfully, how would I know. But I will say this: writing is akin to a perceived true and honest TV show. Once the reader or viewer catches the author/story/TV show in a lie, they’ll drop it like a rancid bagel. Why? Because the trust is gone, and with it, credibility.

Take, for instance, my dad. He loved carnivals as a kid, couldn’t wait for them to come to town. So when one did, he was one of the first in the gate... and straight to “The Shell Game.” You know, the one where the carnie has three overturned shells side-by-side on a table, drops a pea and covers it with one of the shells, slides the shells around (all the while talking your ear off), then asks you to pick which shell the pea is hiding under. Simple, you’d think. Honest, too, you‘d think. So my dad watched for a while and then moved to the front of the line. When it was my his turn, the pea dropped, the shells slid around sufficiently, dad said to the carnie, "The pea is still between your fingers!” and the angry voice of the carnie answered, “Get this kid off the grounds.” Of course, everyone walked away, and that was the last seen of The Shell Game in Springhill, Nova Scotia.

I can’t help wondering how much of Ghost Hunters is honest and how much is The Shell Game. Whatever the answer, here‘s a word of advice for TAPS members: stick with honesty. Your viewers are not stupid. They also are not forgiving.

PS: Since it's very hard to know the real from the fake (if TAPS has had anything real, that is), I'm officially done with TAPS. Even one instance of falsehood in the paranormal arena—an area already steeped in controversy and skepticism—casts falsehood on the lot. Folks don't tune in to such shows to hear snake oil salesmen. What they want, what they're looking for, is proof and the truth.
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