Saturday, December 13, 2014

The Book of Mormon

We saw The Book of Mormon this week. When it won all those Tony awards I knew I wanted to see it so when I heard that it was coming here, I was very excited. Our seats were close to the front but off to the side which isn't perfect, but allows us (Ian) to have more leg room.

I wasn't sure what to expect from the show. I knew it was a musical, and I knew it was funny, and that it was created by the creators of South Park. I figured that it would probably skewer Mormon religions - what with the title being the Book of Mormon and all - but it didn't, really. It did poke fun at the religion but not that much. I expected some inappropriate humour and it was also present but it wasn't as widespread as I thought it would be.

In many ways, the subject was fairly serious: two new Elders are sent to complete their two-year missions in Uganda. There, they arrive in a village where all the women are either circumcised or are going to be, almost everyone has AIDS, and people are oppressed by a very nasty general. One Elder undergoes culture shock while the other, who is an awkward, incorrigible liar, tries to bring the villagers hope (and tried to convert them, of course) by telling them his version of the Book of Mormon.

One thing I liked about the humour in the show was that it was generally very gentle and subtle and it wasn't mean. Even when they were making fun of Mormons, they weren't saying that the people or the religion was bad; they were just pointing out some inconsistencies but they weren't doing it in a negative way. I actually learned a thing or two about the history of Mormonism from this musical. Who'd have thought?

The actors were very good and I was quite impressed with their performance. The only quibble I had was that the sound levels for two of the performers was off just a bit and we couldn't hear them singing as well as we could the others. Aside from that, everything was smooth and well-executed.

Unlike at other shows we've attended recently, a physical program was given out. Aside from the venue and production company ads, there was only a single advertiser in the program: the Mormon church. I guess that makes sense.

I definitely recommend this show for adults only - this is not suitable for kids as there is quite a bit of swearing and some sexual situations. The Book of Mormon is funny, over-the-top sometimes, and there was a joke that was repeated once too often for my taste, but underneath all that it felt very serious, honest, and real. If this show is coming to your city, try to see it.

Monday, November 24, 2014

Gozer's birthday and my optometrist

Time flies! Two Three years ago today Gozer joined our family. She's settled in so well that it's as if she's been here forever; I can't imagine life without her, now.

Update: Gozer came to us in 2011, not 2012, so we've had her for three years - time really does fly!

 We're celebrating by giving her an extra cookie and by giving her a replacement moo cow squeakie toy. Moo cow is a plush toy with a small round squeaker in it - the kind that's in most dog toys. Normally Gozer doesn't get plush toys because she eviscerates them but she loves them so much (probably because she can eviscerate them) but for her "birthday" we made an exception. I gave her moo cow this morning and she bit through the squeaker within one minute, after which she started gnawing on the plush legs and head. This is a toy that won't last long.

 I also saw an optometrist today. I'd been seeing my old optometrist for years and years but she's located in Uptown Waterloo, which is about a 20 or 25 minute drive away, and she's always, always, always running late. The last time I was there I waited for 40 minutes before I was told that she would be running even later; I rescheduled the appointment and walked out. Then I went looking for a new optometrist who was closer to home.

 My new optometrist is located at River St and Victoria Rd, about a 5-10 minute drive, a 45 minute walk, or a 15-min bus ride (including walking time to and from the bus). When I showed up this morning, they were running early due to a cancellation. The people were all very friendly and helpful. I loved the optometrist. Her eye prescription is just a little bit worse than mine at about -10 so she understands the particular challenges of having really bad eyes. She said that she will always dilate my eyes when I see her, which is fine with me.

We talked about laser surgery to correct my eyesight and she said that it's possible for people with our prescription (depending on the thickness of our corneas), but she wouldn't recommend it for me because of my cancer and the treatment. My eyes are already dry and the surgery can make them drier which in turn could impede healing. I don't need to add that kind of burden to my immune system, so no eye surgery for me. She did give me some sample contacts to see if I like the way they feel. It would be nice to be able to wear contacts for parties or Halloween or anytime I wear makeup. When she checked my vision, she saw that my left eye's prescription has improved ever-so-slightly.

It turns out that when they did the puff test to measure the pressure in each eye, the pressure was a bit high which is new for me. The optometrist then used one the new-to-me machines (she has more advanced equipment than my old optometrist) to take a picture of my optic nerves and to measure the thickness of my retinas, and it showed that there were some areas on my retinas that were thicker than the statistical norm. She isn't saying that I have glaucoma right now but she's concerned that I might be developing it. Therefore she's asked me to do a vision field test next week. If the results indicate some problems, she'll see me at least every six months; otherwise, it'll be once per year. My old optometrist used to do a puff test (although I haven't had one done in quite a while) but didn't have one of these scanning machines so I'm really happy that I've switched.

 I spent some time afterwards looking at their eyeglass frames. The people didn't really leave me to do that on my own, I think because some frames were tucked away and I wouldn't know where they were. I didn't buy anything this time but I'll keep looking. My glasses aren't going anywhere so it makes sense to me to have the prettiest, most flattering glasses possible.

Tuesday, November 04, 2014

The end of neighbour problems... for now

I've been wrapped up in my own self and life for the last few weeks and I've barely noticed the world passing me by. As I mentioned before, we'd had work done on our property - which looks great, I'm just waiting to get pictures for you - and as I expected, we ran into problems with the neighbour when we got to the driveway.

The situation was worse because Ian was away and I had to deal with this neighbour myself and this is something I suck at. I'm not good at dealing with conflict, and I'm especially not good at dealing with someone who is being aggressive: I have a tendency to match aggression with aggression, especially when I'm feeling threatened or upset. At one point I was ready to move and investigated all the properties available in this area.

The neighbour stopped all work for an entire morning demanding that we do this and that and blustering about. He lied about where the property line was located and he lied about having had a permit to change the drainage on his driveway. He told me that he has a right to drive over the part of the driveway in the city easement area - the part that would have a sidewalk and boulevard, if we had them - because it's not owned by us. I still don't know if this is true but based on his other lies, I have my doubts. During this conversation he threatened to park on that part of our driveway (I checked and that is definitely illegal; he's not allowed to park on the boulevard area and he's not allowed to block access to our driveway). He also threatened to come onto our property and rip out the work we'd had done if he didn't like the drainage (I checked and that's also definitely illegal). He ended by telling me that we're enemies now.

I'm so grateful for the foreman, who was the one person would could talk to our neighbour. Seriously. He could even tell our neighbour that he was being an asshole and that if a neighbour was wasting his guy's time the way he was wasting theirs, he'd freak out. I gave them a big tip - or what I thought was a big tip - just for that. Nevermind that I also loved the work they did.

So far, the neighbour has left us alone. I had a chat with one of the other people on the street and apparently they're not happy with him (and vice versa, of course), either. They had their basement converted to an apartment and asked him for a quote. However, he gave them just a final figure with no breakdown of what different parts would cost, and although they asked him to break it down, he didn't. So they went with a different company and our neighbour freaked out. It's gratifying to know that I'm not alone in having problems with this neighbour.

One does have to wonder, though, why someone who makes their living as a contractor (as our neighbour does) would waste so much of another contractor's time. That doesn't seem to me to be a good way to conduct one's business... but what do I know? I'm a woman, and he doesn't deal with women.

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Oncology appointment

I saw my oncologist today for my regular checkup. Everything is great. My CA 15-3 tumour markers, which had risen slightly the last two times, dropped back down to 36.

My scans were clear as well; there are no new lesions and everything looks the same as the scans I've had over the last few years. In fact, I'm doing so well that we're going to stop the denosumab, which is used to build up my bones. My oncologist figures that I don't need it since the cancer only affected the one bone and that bone is healing.

 We're also talking about removing my port-a-cath. I've had it in for 6 or 7 years and I'm now only actually using it to have bloodwork drawn every three months. My veins are bad but I think they can sustain bloodwork every three months if I were to have the port removed. So we'll see; I don't need to make a decision right now but it's something to think about.

Thursday, October 09, 2014

Neighbour problems (again)

We've hired a company to replace our window wells, fix the path on the side of the house, and make our driveway narrower. They started work this week and have finished putting in the stone window wells. We're quite pleased with the work our contractors have done; it's nice, they're tidy, and they put away their work neatly at the end of each day. They're personable but not chatty and prefer that I leave them alone and if there are problems to talk to the project manager.

Unfortunately, things are not going smoothly with our neighbour - the one we've had problems with before. We figured he'd be upset because he wasn't doing the work for us and we were right.

He's already stopped by earlier this week to tell our contractors that they were doing their job wrong and we were crafting an email to ask him not to approach our contractors directly. Today he flipped. Our contractors were cutting the capstones for the window wells and it was really windy so the dust was blowing into our neighbour's yard. He came over and spoke to (yelled at?) about how the dust was blowing by his office windows and they had to stop it. Apparently they offered to cut the stones somewhere else but that wasn't acceptable to him.

Then he rang the doorbell and told me the same thing about the dust and his office. I told him that it was windy and the dust couldn't be helped. He said that he builds a little house thingy and cuts in there and that I had better stop the dust blowing into his yard. OR ELSE.

I told him that just as it was unacceptable for me to talk to his guys, it's unacceptable for him to talk to my guys and to please come to me instead of them. Then I told him that he should know that we are having work done on the driveway on the property line and that the weeping tile may need to be adjusted. He said that they had better not mess things up OR ELSE. "Or else what?" I asked, and his answer was: "You'll see". That freaked me out.

After all that he asked why we didn't talk to him about the driveway. All I could say was, "Really? Really? After everything that's happened, why would we do that?"

I admit that I didn't respond well to him and I know I made things worse between our houses. When I'm confronted with anger I respond in kind, which makes me exactly the wrong person to deal with him. I do feel compassion for him because I know he wants the work and I think he was hurt that we didn't give him the opportunity to bid on the work we're having done. That compassion doesn't change the fact that I'm also worried that he'll do something. I don't know what, but something... maybe sabotage the work we're having done?

I'm especially worried about what's going to happen once the contractors get to the driveway. There's a Rogers cable going to the neighbour's house that's under our driveway somewhere and there's a very good chance that the the contractors will cut that cable... making our neighbour's internet go out. He has an office at home and needs that internet and if it's cut then he will be very, very, very angry. We don't think Rogers does locates because we've been told that they prefer that the cable just be cut and they'll repair it but I'll check and see.

I thought about calling the police about the ("don't mess things up OR ELSE" with a "you'll see" explanation of the or else part) because I felt threatened but then I thought that he'd be even angrier if I did that. My metalsmithing instructor said that I should call the police just so that if something happens, there's a record of it.

I don't know. I want nothing to happen, but in that last kerfuffle he told Ian that he has to be aggressive and that he can't show weakness in the construction industry... and that kind of thinking doesn't really lend itself to leaving things alone.

I hate neighbour disputes. I wish I'd handled things like this better. And I wish we had a different neighbour.

Sunday, September 28, 2014

How does our garden grow?

It grows weedy and overgrown, for the most part. But it's our yard, and I know you all want to see it.

Finally, I've got the yard pictures done. I'm not sure that they're in completely the right order but they're all annotated, I think. So here you go - there's a lot of them so they're after the jump.

Monday, September 22, 2014


I'm still working on the yard/garden post but I was at a conference this weekend and didn't do any work on it. I figured you'd want to know about the conference so I'm updating you on that right now.

This conference was held by the Metastatic Breast Cancer Network, which is a volunteer-led organization dedicated to people with metastatic breast cancer. This year's conference was held in Chapel Hill, NC so I was there for the weekend.

The conference runs for two days and although I'd planned to go to both days, I didn't make it. I had rented a car and locked my keys in the trunk of the car. I called the rental car company and they sent someone out to unlock the car but it turns out that they still make cars that have no internal trunk release and we couldn't get the trunk open. By the time we figured all that out, the conference was over so I ended up going to the airport early. It was a very long, very boring day.

Fortunately, Saturday's sessions were interesting. There was a talk on molecular genetics that I really enjoyed. It wasn't very detailed but it gave a good overview of the current science and research trends.

The most unforgettable session was the one on pain and sexuality. I expected this to be a session about how to adapt sexuality to the pain but it wasn't that at all. It turns out the speaker is a leading researcher in the area and so the talk was more of how she got the knowledge she did. In all that meandering, I learned a few things:

  • When men have sexual problems, it's often considered to be a physical problem but when women do, it's often considered psychological.
  • Before addressing sexual pain, the cause of the pain - nerves, skin, or muscle - must be determined.
  • Neuropathy can occur in the genital area in the same way as it does in the hands and feet because the nerves are the same size. THIS BLEW MY MIND.
  • Any treatment that can affect the mouth can affect the genitals in the same way because the tissues are structured the same way and are both mucous membranes (she had pictures to emphasize this point). 
  • If the area isn't used, the muscles can atrophy and cause pain, just like they would anywhere else.
  • Dilators don't help all that much; a better solution is apparently a modified Hodge pessary kept in at night.
  • If the skin has a rash or is very delicate use Crisco shortening(!!) to protect it. Crisco can also be used with the pessary and in place of Replens. It works because it doesn't contain harsh chemicals and it doesn't come off easily.
The session ended up being quite funny and informative. I'm happy that I went just for that because it really was informative.