Saturday, July 31, 2010

A very busy Saturday

We went for an epic walk starting in what will be our new neighbourhood this afternoon. There are a lot of trails and forests near the house and we wanted to explore them. We found out that the river is only about a fifteen or twenty minute walk away on the Walter Bean trail. The trail is quite lovely, as are the views of the river. There are other trails and parks near that area that we're very interested in exploring; it turns out that there are more parks there than we thought. Those parks are just one more reason why the house is so right for us. We definitely chose the right house.

We had to wait until this afternoon to go on our walk because we spent the entire morning at the lab getting bloodwork done. We have our annual physical appointments on Thursday morning and our doctor wanted us to get the bloodwork done before the appointment this time. Unfortunately, with all the house stuff to do this past week, we weren't able to get the bloodwork done.

So instead we got to go to the only lab open on the Saturday of the long weekend along with many, many, many other people. We spent two hungry, uncomfortable, caffeine-less hours there this morning waiting to do the tests along with a lot of other hungry, grumpy people. We all listened to the child play with his Elmo cell phone and we all heard his attempts to imitate the words the phone was saying. There was some poetic justice in this, though, because the man sitting beside this child had been talking loudly on his cell phone earlier. He heard the child's cell phone more clearly than anyone else. :)

Friday, July 30, 2010

The mortgage application is in

We saw the financial advisor today and everything looks to be in order. She'd asked us to bring certain documentation but of course it wasn't enough. We - really, me - had to email her some additional information this afternoon. My income tax assessments don't include my long-term insurance payments which are a substantial part of my income, so I had to provide proof that I'm actually receiving that income.

Now that we've sent all the right information and she's filled in the forms, she's going to make sure that we can actually get a mortgage. She said that we would almost certainly be approved for a mortgage, assuming that no one has stolen our identity or anything like that. She'll let us know on Tuesday (most likely) whether we'll be approved for the mortgage we want.

She also that she could get us a mortgage with a decent rate right now but she figures that she can get us an even better rate closer to our closing date. I don't mind not having the actual mortgage before we waive the financing condition as long as we know we can get a mortgage. As long as the mortgage is in place by the time we close, I'm happy.

Because we'll almost certainly be approved for the mortgage, we could go ahead and waive the financing condition on our offer right now and call the house "sold" (to us). However, we don't want to do that until we know that we're actually qualified to get a mortgage, even if the mortgage itself doesn't happen until closer to closing. We want to be sure that we have everything in place and that we don't need to worry about anything before we go ahead and say that the offer conditions have been met.

So hopefully we'll be celebrating with some yummy ice cream on Tuesday night. We're not going to stress about it over the weekend, though. We bought ourselves some interior design software so that we can start figuring out how we might want to decorate our house. We haven't got a clue as to what colour ot style we might want and we do love playing around with software :) We'll most likely also pick up some interior design magazines to get some design ideas.

This weekend we plan to explore the area around our soon-to-be neighbourhood. There are lots of parks and walking trails in that area and we'd like to get to know it before we move there. This is so exciting :)

Thursday, July 29, 2010

The home inspection is done!

The house inspection went really well and no major dealbreaking issues were found. The inspector had one of those thermographic camera thingies which was really cool. It even showed where the dog had had an accident in the dining room :) There are little things in the basement, which is no surprise because they did the basement themselves.

The major issue in the basement is that there is a double layer of vapour barrier behind several walls which can cause condensation. There are also a couple of cracks in the outer wall beside the windows but so far there isn't evidence of moisture there. At some point, we'll want to fix that but to do that, we'll need to take the drywall out. They can fill them from the outside but that's twice the size.

The cold room also has some mold in it, mainly because the door doesn't create a proper seal there. We'll need to get a steel door (like an outside door) and that should stop the formation of mold there. Of course we'll need to clean off the mold that's there as well.

Other than that there are a couple of smaller issues here and there, but they're really no big deal. The house is in great shape and the owners have taken good care of it. They're the original owners and have put a ton of work into the house and yard. I hope that they don't come back and look at what we've done to the place because it definitely won't be the same :)

So that's the inspection done and passed! The next step is to meet with the financial advisor. That's tomorrow :)

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Tomorrow is inspection day!

I actually got a really good night's sleep last night - finally! I think I was exhausted from the emotional ups and downs over the last week.

Tomorrow at 8:30am - a time that I'm rarely awake - we're doing the home inspection. We don't expect anything really bad to show up but it's important to do the inspection anyway so that we know about any issues that might need attention. There might be little things wrong here and there because no house is perfect and we know what those things are, we can fix them over time.

The current owner will be there right at the start so that we can go over which garden items she'll be taking with her when she moves. There are storks and lights and buddhas and all sorts of figurines and whatnot there. We don't really want any of them because they're not exactly our taste but if they're still there when we take possession, that's fine. We just don't want to take possession and be surprised to discover that everything's gone.

One thing we do know about the house (and we might ask about this tomorrow, if it feels right) is that the current owner has had problems with vandals spraying graffiti on one side of the house. We don't know whether the owner is being targeted or what but there are no other signs of vandalism or graffiti on the street so we're not really worried about it. We'd be more worried if there were rocks being thrown through the windows or at cars or something. We will want to be sure in the inspection that there's been no damage done on that wall. 

Now, there's no light on that side of the house and that part of the side yard isn't fenced because the gate to the backyard is further back. those two things make it way too easy for hooligans to misbehave so we'll need to make some changes when we take possession. First thing we'll do will be to put up a motion-sensor light there. After that, we'll move the gate to the backyard or plant some bushes or something so that it's less easy to get to that wall. We'll also probably put in an alarm system.

So here's hoping that the house passes the inspection :) We'll get a full email report within a day or so but hopefully we'll know the highlights (and lowlights) right after the inspection.

Friday morning, we see the financial advisor about applying for the mortgage. Hopefully that application process won't be too difficult or take too long, because we've only got until next Thursday to get this stuff all in place and Monday is a holiday. I won't be completely relaxed about the house until all this stuff is done and we know for sure that the house is really going to be ours.

This is so exciting!

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

House and horror movies

Neither of us slept very well last night because we were so excited about the house so we're both very tired. And still excited :) We initialed the final version of the offer with the closing date of October 15 (not the 10th, as I originally thought) and put in our deposit today, so we're on our way.

We've also arranged for the home inspection to happen on Thursday morning at 8:30am. We're going with a company that several of Ian's colleagues recommended. It turns out that they also offer a thermographic imaging service to find leaks and water in finished basements for hardly any extra money, so we're going to do that in addition to the regular inspection.

In non-house news, I was looking up horror movie festivals online and the Toronto After Dark festival will be August 13-20. They'll be playing 17 movies over that time and a big part of me wants to go. I'm not sure that I want to commute to Waterloo every night (although I do have oncology appointments that week, so I'd have to come back) and I don't want to impose on my inlaws for that whole time, either. I'll have to think about it. Spending a lot of money on a movie vacation may not be a smart idea since we're buying a house.

Monday, July 26, 2010

We bought a house!!!!

We just got a call from the realtor that the offer on a house was accepted! I'm so excited - we just bought a house!!!!

Ok, we bought the house conditional on financing and the home inspection but those won't be a problem, we don't think. We have to go in to our realtor's office tomorrow to initial a change in closing date and to give our deposit. We have until August 5 to get our financing in place and to get the home inspection done and the closing date (the date we take possession) is October 10 or maybe the 15, I don't remember, but I'll know tomorrow. Either way, as long as nothing surprising happens in the home inspection, we'll be in our house before the winter - which is great, because it has a garage!

We ended up competing with another offer so we paid a little bit more than asking but I'm ok with that. It really is a gorgeous house. It's 1700sq ft with two bedrooms on the main floor and two in the finished basement. There are three bathrooms. Here are some pics of it:

Front of house
Front hallway
Dining room
Kitchen/basement stairs/living room
Living room
Master bedroom (walk-in closet visible in hall;
master ensuite is across from that door)
Second main floor bedroom
Basement rec room with entertainment area
Patio and backyard
Fruit trees - the closest one is a pear tree!
Back of the house
So what do you think? The yard is way more than we thought we'd have, but it's gorgeous with the patio, waterfall, and fruit trees, and there's a greenhouse there, too. There are birdfeeders currently in the backyard that I think the former owners will take so we'll need to put some of those back. There's no walk-out basement but the basement ceilings are high, there are two more bedrooms in the basement, and the windows are big.

The place doesn't have the tubs we'd want (the tubs are the acrylic surround-type), and the kitchen might need an island, but those are things we can change.

This house is on the other side of town from our current location and it's near the river and some other parks. The little doggie we're going to get is going to love this place :)

Sunday, July 25, 2010

If it's Sunday, we must be looking at houses

We looked at two houses today that are way, way, way above our budget - so far over that there's no way that we could afford them. We wanted to see whether the reason we hadn't found the right house was because our price point was too low.

Both houses were nice enough but definitely not right for us. The layout just wasn't right because the master bedroom was right off of the great room. We want separation of the living and sleeping areas so that people can't see right into the master bedroom. both houses has some upscale amenities with pot lights, lovely wood bathroom vanities and kitchen cupboards, and coffered ceilings. Gorgeous amenities don't make up for the wrong layout, however.

I'm still finding myself very upset and rejected by my sister. I don't know if I'm focusing on this because with all the emotional stuff going on I'm choosing to focus on this or if I'm just so upset because it's family and I don't fully understand why this situation has escalated to this point. She's said that I am deliberately trying to hurt her, like I've done before.

I'm not trying to hurt her and I don't understand what's happened or what I've been doing wrong all this time... I'd apologized and she'd said she accepted my apology for anything I'd done before so I don't understand what she means. I can't ask her because she's made it clear that she wants nothing to do with me. None of this makes any sense to me.

I wish this situation weren't happening. I think I need to let this go... either she'll contact me or she won't. I just need to deal with my own feelings and come to my own peace and let everything else happen as it's going to happen. This may take a while.

Saturday, July 24, 2010

Things related to houses

We went to a housewarming party held by one of Ian's colleagues. It was potluck so we brought our usual Black Bean Hummus (yummy) which everyone enjoyed. We make it with roasted garlic instead of fresh garlic which gives it a smoother, richer flavour.

We got to talk to different people who were or are looking for houses; it's good to know that we're not alone in our thinking. We actually saw a great house yesterday; the layout was fabulous and we could definitely see ourselves living there.

Unfortunately, when we opened the door to the cold room under the porch, hot air came out. We found a flashlight and saw that the ceiling of this cold room was covered in black mould. Outside under the porch the ground sloped towards the house, not away, which is why moisture was getting into the cold room. In fact, all around the house the ground was sloping the wrong way. We saw at least six frogs nestled up in hollows near the foundation which doesn't seem good.

So we said no to that house, too. We probably could have dealt with the grading outside (although there was a problem under the back deck, too, where the ground sloped towards the house) but we didn't want to deal with the black mould in the cold room. We didn't want to knowingly take on this problem.

All of the events over the last couple of days have left me exhausted and given me woogles. My back keeps doing funny things and I'm finding myself rocking back and forth, whining. I guess I'm emotionally overstimulated and need to relax. I've had a hot, relaxing bath and I'm hoping to sleep a whole lot better tonight than I did last night.

Friday, July 23, 2010

So sad

I am so hurt and so sad.

My youngest sister de-friended me on facebook and has stopped following my blog. I hurt her by questioning whether she had Asperger's. I tried to do that in the most loving, caring, supportive way possible - talking about what I understood and wanting to understand more - because I did have questions. I didn't want to lie and say that I had no questions because I believe in being honest in a gentle way. I did the wrong thing and I hurt her and in response she's cut me out of her life and told me that I was a vindictive, angry, unsupportive relative, and that one by one, I pushed people away.

I'm sad and hurt and I can't stop crying. She's clearly angry and hurt and I didn't mean to cause that. I really didn't. I'm so sorry.

Do I push people away? Am I that mean and vindictive? Have I been fooling myself all this time when I thought I was a good person? I know I can be direct and I can step on toes without meaning to but I don't go out and try and hurt people.

I love my sister and the rest of my family so much and it hurts when we fight... but something like this has never happened before. I don't know how to make this better.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

The bumps on my shoulders

When we first found the bumps on my shoulders, I thought that they looked like warts. I was quite upset because the internet said that if they were warts, they were probably caused by Human Papillomavirus (HPV). I had an HPV infection many years ago that took a very long time to go away - in fact, it didn't completely go away until after I finished chemo the first time - and I didn't want to have to deal with it again. But then I got the sarcoidosis diagnosis and figured that the bumps were probably sarcoidosis.

My family doctor took one look at those bumps and said that they're verruca plana, or flat warts. I looked this up online and these flat warts are a type of HPV. Sigh. At least it isn't any of the cancer-causing types, and because these look different than what I dealt with before, it's almost certainly not the same type as before. Apparently there are a kabillion types of HPV - who knew?

In some ways, I'm not surprised that I've got these warts. Between the sarcoidosis - a systemic inflammatory disease involving immune cells - and the cancer, I'm immuno-compromised, making me a magnet for an opportunistic virus like HPV.

Even so, it's embarrassing to have these warts. I'm lucky that it's on my shoulders and not my hands, face, or legs, where this type usually shows up. Also, they're hard to see; they look like the first picture ("multiple skin colored, barely-raised lesions typical of flat warts") on this page so it's not like people notice them. But I know they're there and I'm self-conscious about them. I also feel kind of unclean and gross or dirty.

These warts are highly contagious (not as contagious as genital warts, at least) so no one, not even me, should be touching them. And of course I need to be sure to use my own towels and washcloths or sponges or whatever. There's no real treatment for these things because most of the time, they go away within a couple of years. As well, none of the treatments are 100% effective or prevent them from coming back. Really, the best treatment would be to make me not immuno-compromised and I don't know how that's possible.

I'm thinking I should set up a betting pool to see which opportunistic illness will strike me next, but I don't know what other illnesses might show up. Any ideas?

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

A fun day out

Today was a fantastic day! A friend and I headed to Stratford to wander around the shops there and on the way we stopped in Shakespeare to look at antique furniture. We walked around for a few hours, out in the warm sun (and yes, I got burned), looking at different things and chatting. It was so relaxing and fun. We even bought stuff: my friend bought a small table at one of the antique shops and we both bought some books in Stratford.

While in Shakespeare we also ran into someone who sells on etsy (she makes masks) so we chatted for a bit about some of the issues affecting etsy. It turns out that we're both quite passionate about the problems there. Etsy has a lot of sellers who buy stuff from wholesalers and sell them as handmade - these are resellers, and they run rampant on etsy. Etsy claims to want to get rid of them but they've done nothing to do that - instead, they've coached some of the worst offenders so that it's less obvious that those people are resellers. Etsy doesn't walk the talk, as it were.

I've actually let all of my listings expire on etsy. Part of the reason for that is that I want my photographs to be different but I don't know what I want to do about that. The other part of the reason is that I really don't have any confidence in etsy. They used to be all about handmade and connecting makers with buyers. That's gone. I believe that etsy doesn't really want to get rid of the resellers; after all, those resellers are making a lot of sales and putting a lot of money into etsy's pockets.

Etsy has more problems than just this reseller problem: they created a bunch of SEO problems, causing a huge drop in sales for many sellers; they have terrible communication problems with sellers; and basic seller functionality that's been requested for years - like coupon codes, say - hasn't been implemented.

I no longer promote etsy as a place to sell handmade wares. If you do buy on etsy, try to be sure that you're buying a real handmade or vintage item. Designer bags, for example, aren't being handmade just for etsy :)

I might still end up selling there as they have the advantage of being the best known of the handmade venues. I've been thinking of going to Artfire, which is smaller but has more seller tools and is becoming better known. We'll see. I keep hoping that etsy will get better.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

My eyes are still working

I saw my optometrist today. I'd been feeling frustrated with her and her office because I always felt like I was waiting there. Then I realized that I wasn't allocating enough time for the appointments: a regular appointment would be 45 minutes and if my pupils were being dilated as well, I'd be there an extra half hour at least.

Today I was happy that I'd kept this optometrist because when I told her about my sarcoidosis, she knew exactly what the disease was, how it appears in the eye, how it's treated in the eye, and the side effects of those treatments. She's the first health professional I've run into so far who's known what this is all about.

Fortunately, there's nothing going on with my eyes at present and we have a good baseline for the future. I have more things I'm supposed to watch for, but I can't really remember all of it. Pain, flashing lights, curtain of blackness, sudden light hypersensitivity, swelling... there are more, I'm sure. I figure if I have a sudden change in my vision that I should see my optometrist and if she's not available I should go to the ER.

Having two systemic illnesses sure is complicated.

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Not a completely lazy Sunday

We went to an open house today; only one, since there aren't many houses that come even close to being right for us. The house we looked at was an older bungalow with a formal living and dining room. It had a lovely yard and a nice kitchen but we prefer a more open layout, probably with a great room, for our living space. We also felt that the basement didn't get enough light. If I'm going to have a sewing room in the basement, I want as much natural light as possible there. It makes it feel less like living in a dungeon.

We also did some grocery shopping. Apparently Loblaw's workers in Ontario have voted to strike and we wanted to get as much stuff from their chain as possible. I sympathize with the workers this time because the company is asking for a 25% cut in wages and benefits. That's huge. I think the two parties are going to or are in mediation but if those talks go nowhere, the strike could happen.

We bought lots of produce and meat and stuff that I can use to cook dinner. I have actually been cooking dinner from scratch as much as possible, and it's been turning out quite yummy. I cooked dinner most nights a few years ago and if I didn't know what to make, I'd start by sauteing an onion. So I've been using that approach and adding vegetables, spices, a meat, and a starch and ending up with dinner.

I was even learning how to use the barbeque so that I could do some yummy roasted vegetables there, although the propane ran out before I could finish cooking. When we get a house, we're getting a natural gas barbeque in addition to a gas stove. I'll need to learn how to use those appliances because I've never used either before but it shouldn't be as daunting as it would be otherwise since I'll already know how to cook some things.

Saturday, July 17, 2010

An interesting movie

I saw the strangest and most interesting movie yesterday on TCM. It was Freaks, a movie directed by Tod Browning and released in 1932. It's a fairly typical story of a man about to receive an inheritance who falls for and marries a woman out to kill him. The twist is that the man is a little person, the woman a trapeze artist, and the story takes place amongst the sideshow characters of the circus. These sideshow people have a variety of physical deformations; hence the title name.

The movie did not do well when it opened because of the presence of the sideshow people and was banned in Britain for 30 years.

I didn't want to admit that there is something unsettling about seeing some of the people in the movie... like the guy without arms or legs who lights a cigarette with his mouth, or the "pinheads" - people with microencephaly - cavorting about. It was both disturbing and compelling at the same time and so I highly recommend it.

There's a DVD out there and I think I'd like to own it. It has information about the life in the sideshow at that time. It also has three separate endings for the movie, which I'd like to see. I wish there was the "lost footage" - apparently over 30 minutes were cut after the movie was initially screened in the hopes that people would like the movie more. They didn't then... but they do now. It's a cult classic. You can also see it on Youtube, if you want.

I was thinking about the movie and sideshows and how I'd probably be offended by them, had I lived in that era. Much the same way that I'm offended by lots of reality televisions these days, like Kate plus 8 or Little People, Big World or whatever. But then it occurred to me that back in the day, there were few ways for people with physical disfigurements to make a living, so the sideshow provided that for them. And then it occurred to me that reality television is not so different than a sideshow... it's like the updated version. We all get to see the "freaks"; we only have to change the channel.

Friday, July 16, 2010

And yet another friend gone

Another friend of mine died today. I first met her online and then again in Westport. She wasn't feeling well then; her treatment was taking a toll on her. She was so gentle and caring and laid-back. I loved her voice; it was so smooth.

She was famous, too, sort of; she was interviewed on CBS as part of virtually walking for cancer. You can see her interview here.

She was doing so well just a few months ago, and then everything just seemed to fall apart. Her liver started failing and she couldn't have chemo and finally, hospice was called in. She lived in Westport on the beach and chose to stay at home, where she could see and smell the beach. We and others sent flowers because she loved the smell.

Last night she died with her husband and doggy by her side. I can't imagine a more peaceful passing; I just wish it didn't have to happen... and least not for a long time. I'm going to miss her. She was a beautiful, warm, and funny person and this world is not the same without her. Rest in peace, Amy.

And a big fuck you, cancer. Stop killing my friends.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

People change

I have a new home-care nurse. I receive Pamidronate through my port and since there aren't enough beds and chairs for me to hang around the chemo suite waiting for it to finish infusing, it gets disconnected by the home-care nurse.

Now that I'll be receiving Pamidronate every eight weeks instead of every four, the home-care nurse needs to flush my port in between Pamidronate infusions as the port must be accessed every four to six weeks. Either way, I see my home-care nurse about every four weeks or so. I've had the same home-care nurse for nearly a year now, I think, and we've developed quite a good relationship. In fact, we'd scheduled my port flush for this week instead of next, when it should have been scheduled for next week, because she's on vacation next week.

So imagine my surprise when I opened the door this afternoon and it wasn't my regular nurse! I was a little sad, because I liked my former nurse and I enjoyed talking to her. Of course I know that this is a job for her and changing areas is part of the job. And the new nurse was able to access my port with no pain on the first try - a rarity, because my port can move around, making it hard to access - so she's clearly got the skillz. And she's very nice so we'll develop a good relationship, I'm sure.

I still felt a little hurt and maybe a little rejected, even though I'm well aware that the change is nothing personal. I suspect I'm actually reacting to something else: a friend is moving to another city sent out address and phone number updates to other mutual friends but I thought I didn't get it. It turns out that it was in my spam folder, but until I knew that I definitely felt and still feel hurt and rejected by this person. I had thought that she didn't want me as a part of her life and I didn't understand what had happened or why things had gone the way they I thought did.

I know that friends come and go but because so many of my friends die because they have mets, every one of my friends is precious to me even if I don't see them often. I thought I'd lost a friend for no reason I could figure out - and that perceived loss was as hard on me as when a friend dies. Finding out that I hadn't lost her as a friend has made me very, very grateful to still have her friendship. This experience was a bit of a wake-up call for me, telling me that I can't take my friends for granted. If they're as precious to me as I think they are, I need to treat them that way.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

A bit of this, a bit of that

This walking thing is getting easier. I was out for an hour and a half today, walking through the neighbourhood next to ours. There are some houses for sale there and I've been trying to get a feel for the neighbourhood. One house actually went up for sale there last night; it's a little bit over our price range but not so far out that we couldn't bring it into what we're prepared to spend. I walked by the house today and decided that I didn't love it.

At least there are still houses going up for sale. There was another bungalow that we had planned to look at but when Ian reviewed the listing he discovered that it had electric baseboard heating. We want forced air heating, please, and we don't want to pay to convert from one to the other.

I checked out, a link that my sister sent me, and discovered this amazing pair of shoes:
$155 000 Eternal Borgezie Diamond Stiletto
They're made almost entirely out of gold and diamonds. Seriously. How decadent is that? I like them but I'd prefer something with a heel strap. Also, I'd be concerned about the strength of the stiletto heel, if they're using gold there. Gold is a very soft metal and I don't know if it would be strong enough to take the force of the heel striking the ground. Still, these are a gorgeous pair of shoes and would be beautiful when worn out dancing what with the diamonds around the footbed.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Shoes and clothes

We watched the first three episodes of Mad Men season 3 tonight. Sadly, these episodes are not in HD, but I'm happy to watch them anyways. We had seen the first two episodes but neither of us really remember them so we watched them anyways.

I do love that show. Oh yes, I do. I fine it quite compelling, as I may have already mentioned :)

In my internet travels today, I found the best shoes ever! They're oxfords or wingtips for women, they're black, and they're covered in baby sequins!!!
Kat by Sam Edelman
I can see wearing these shoes, well, everywhere. I know that they're not right for every single occasion, but they would work with pants at a formal event. I prefer to wear dresses to formal events but if I ever wore pants it would be with these shoes.

I did actually find a more practical pair of oxfords/wingtips. They're gorgeous!
Winger by Jeffery Campbell
I actually have a similar pair that I bought about ten or fifteen years ago. I need to get them re-soled because I've worn the sole down. They're a touch big for me because they're a boy's size five which is a women's seven and my feet are smaller than that. This pair looks like it might actually work as a replacement for the old shoes, if I can find them somewhere to try them on.

Monday, July 12, 2010

Mad Men

I'm definitely a Mad Men fan. There's so much to love about this show. Each episode's fashions and fabrics are a feast for the eyes but I also love it because it portrays real people living on the cusp of a fundamentally changing world. ... it's almost worth watching each one twice: once for the clothes and the second time for the story. 

If you love the fashions of Mad Men like I do, I recommend that you check out the Mad Style blog post series by Tom & Lorenzo (TLo) of Project Rungay. In this series, they describe each female character's style and show how the clothes they wear in each scene emphasizes different emotions, ideas, or contrasts in that scene. The major characters are examined in multi-part posts and minor characters receive a briefer look. This series is entertaining and eye-opening, showing how much thought has gone into the series to convey the intended message.

I'm really looking forward to the Mad Men season 4 premiere on July 25. And because we didn't have time to watch season 3 when it was first shown, I'm thrilled that this season is available on Rogers on Demand at least until July 25. We are going to have our work cut out for us, what with making sure that we get all the way through season 3 in less than two weeks along with all the other summer shows that we've been watching. Those summer shows include Persons Unknown, Lie to Me, Work of Art, and The Good Guys (yeah, I know, that last show is kind of silly, but it's funny, too). So much tv, so little time...

Sunday, July 11, 2010

Movie night

We recorded No Country for Old Men off of the tv a little while ago and we were finally able to watch it tonight. In this movie, a hunter in Texas, 1980, comes across the aftermath of a drug deal gone wrong and takes the $2M from the deal, starting a huge manhunt of two different groups of bad guys for him. Caught in between is the local sheriff whose way of life is changing.

It's a very good movie. It's a very dark movie, full of greed and shootings and blood and psychopaths, but a very good movie. Just about everyone is morally shady in one way or another - whether it's the cop who lets the truck driver go without giving him a ticket or the guy who takes the money in the first place or the psychotic killer. There's lots of dark humour in this movie - things that might not normally be all that funny are hilarious in this movie because their role is comic relief.

The story is compelling. It doesn't end the way you might think it should or would end or the way that you might want it to end. Still, the ending is believable, probably because it's more like real life where things don't always work out the way we think they will. The story also feels real because the characters are well-developed, making them feel like they're real people acting in a believable way.

There is a lot of realistic shooting, death, blood, and gore in this movie and if you don't like movies that show that type or level of violence, this really isn't the movie for you. There is a very good movie with a lot of depth to it behind all that violence if you can see past all that. This is an interesting, compelling movie that makes you think. We highly recommend it if you haven't already seen it.

Saturday, July 10, 2010

Love this weather!

The heat really has broken, at least for now. It was a gorgeous, gorgeous day out there. It wasn't too hot and there was a bit of a breeze that just felt nice. Ian and I went for a long - almost epic - walk to enjoy the wonderful weather.

Ian bought a pair of those Reebok EasyTone shoes for our walks. He can walk so much faster than me that he doesn't get much of a workout on our walks so he figured that the shoes might compensate for the slower walk. His calves were definitely a bit sore afterwards so it's possible that the shoes actually do work. They don't appear to cause him any harm, at least.

I'd love to have a pair of those shoes, if they really did work. I'm worried that walking in them would hurt my lower back; apparently they're like walking on sand, sort of, and the last time I did uneven walking I ended up with a very sore lower back. I could barely even move for almost two days that time and I have no desire to repeat that experience. And I guess I'm heavy enough that I get quite a bit of benefit from any walking that I do.

On an unrelated topic, I've been watching the spots on my shoulders. I don't remember whether I mentioned them before or not: they're little skin-coloured bumps that pretty much cover my shoulders. They're very hard for me to see unless the light is perfect. When I can see them, they have a matte look (as opposed to my shinier skin), have irregular borders, vary in size up to about 1/4" in diameter, and appear to vary in colour a bit from very light to a light brown.

We're fairly sure that these spots are sarcoidosis. There's a very small chance that they could be breast cancer, which can spread to the skin, but skin mets tend to look more like raised nodules and these are hardly raised at all. I guess they could be caused by some third disease but I'm refusing to consider that right now. I have enough systemic illnesses, you know?

No matter what's causing them, the problem is that these things are spreading up to my neck, down my back, and down my arm, all mostly on the right side. I've been putting the corticosteroid cream on them but it doesn't appear to be making a difference.

I need to see my family doctor about these, I guess, to get a referral to someone who can help me deal with them. I don't want to go back to that doctor who did the skin biopsy that confirmed sarcoidosis in my elbow scar because when I asked him about the thing on my leg, he said it was varicose veins and wouldn't entertain the idea that it was also sarcoidosis. Well, the corticosteroid cream made that thing almost completely disappear so it certainly wasn't varicose veins, now, was it? I don't want to go back to him. In an ideal world, I'd see someone who specializes in sarcoidosis on the skin.

I have a hard time seeing these things on my shoulders so I'd like to take Ian, who can almost always see them, to see my family doctor. However, Ian's been so busy at work that he might not be able to easily take the time away. It's not like this would be a critical or emergency appointment, after all. So we'll see. Going without Ian does have its advantages - mainly that I can do some leisurely shopping at several places, if I want, after the appointment. That's always a plus :)

Friday, July 09, 2010

The heat seems to have broken

The heat has finally broken, a bit - we had rain come through last night and it cooled things down considerably. It's still going to be warm for the weekend and next week but it won't be as crazy-hot as it was this week.

I had great plans for going for a walk today since it was so nice out but then I got tired. I've been finding myself exhausted this whole week, probably due to the heat. I end up sleeping in the afternoon but the sleep isn't restful; it's full of very vivid dreams. Some of those dreams are the kind where I think I wake up into reality but I'm really just waking up in another dream.

I think I'll assume that the dreams and lack of rest are caused by the heat. We have the air conditioner at night and I think I'm sleeping just fine then. Hopefully with the break in the heat I won't be so exhausted next week.

Thursday, July 08, 2010

Yummy dessert this evening

I got to have a very yummy dessert with a friend that I haven't seen in ages. It took a while for me to remember that I hadn't seen her in quite some time but once I did remember of course I had to contact her as soon as possible.

She's one of the people I really admire because she's always been so good at handling things. She's also taught me that having cancer - even stage iv cancer or the equivalent - doesn't mean that life is over, and that asking "but what if the cancer comes back" or "what if I'm in treatment" shouldn't necessarily determine the choices a person with stage iv cancer can make. Do the things you want to do whether you've got stage iv cancer or not.

In case you think my friend is super-human, she's not... she is special, yes, but she's as human as any of us with regular problems and a regular life. I hope to see more of her over the summer. Going on a long vacation isn't really an option while we're looking for a house so I'll be around.

Game night

Ian's work held a game night tonight for the first time in ages. We both went - in fact, Ian is still there playing games but I was getting tired and figured I was done thinking.

We played two games: Container and Battlestar Galactica. I've played Container before: it's a game where players set up a mini-economy around the production, warehouse, and shipping of different coloured containers. It's interesting because all the usual problems with economies - inflation, recession, credit problems, and so on - can happen.

This game doesn't take long to learn, either, so it's a good game to try out if you're not used to complicated board games. The only problem with the game is that two of the container colours are almost indistinguishable so if you buy this game, you might want to paint one of them a different colour. I love this game and highly recommend it.

Battlestar Galactica is another animal entirely. It's a game based on the tv series, where humans try to get the ship to safety and hidden - later revealed - Cylons try and stop them. This game has tons of differently-shaped pieces and different cards and different roles and different ship attributes - and everything has different abilities. This is not a simple game to learn: the instruction book is quite a few pages and you have to refer to it frequently throughout the game.

This is a game for the most advanced players who are willing to put in the time to learn it. There's a lot to read and understand and the interaction of certain things also needs to be understood. There is a reward for all that work, however: once you figure out how to play this game with all of its roles and actions and modifiers, it's a lot of fun to play. Before the Cylons are revealed, there's mystery and intrigue and afterwards, there's a lot of battling and choosing sides. This game is worth the commitment if you're into board games and especially if you're a BSG fan.

Tuesday, July 06, 2010

The never-ending heat

It's still hot. We had some rain last night and that sort of cleared the air but it's still hot and humid. I actually did go for a small walk yesterday while carrying a full liter of water and drank most of the water while I was out. The walk would normally take me about 45 minutes but I was actually out for over an hour. I wound up with some wicked blisters on my feet, too, that are still quite sore.

So I stayed home all day. Being in the heat makes me very tired and I ended up having a nap in the afternoon. I was ok with that after yesterday's events.

I think we're supposed to get a break from the high heat in the next few days. I hope so.

Monday, July 05, 2010

Another friend gone

I'm so sad. One of the women on our mets board died today at 39. She was diagnosed with bone mets to the sternum a year after I was and her cancer just progressed so quickly... honestly, I thought she'd have more time but her liver couldn't take any more treatment. I hate cancer.

She and I didn't always get along. We were friends for a while: I let her stay for free in my hotel room when I went to another friend's funeral last year. At one point, though, she and others said some nasty things on Facebook about another person I know and I wasn't comfortable seeing that kind of talk. She was strong-willed and I knew that asking her to stop saying those things would have little effect, so after careful thought I de-friended her. I knew she was hurt and I tried to explain that I wasn't mad at her and that I still cared for her even though I wasn't comfortable with her behaviour. I don't think she saw things that way.

This feels almost like unfinished business, like I should have done something different or more... and I'll never have that chance. not that I didn't try at all; I sent her messages, trying to make things up with her but she didn't respond. All I could do was reach out and let her react the way she wanted to - I can't force anyone else to do what I want.

Of course I've known other people who've died with whom I didn't get along, but none that I knew so well. I'd like to think that this situation won't happen again; that I won't hurt people again, or that people I care about won't die while we're not getting along... but I think I know better. I'm not perfect, and I hurt people without meaning to, and sometimes people just don't want to be around me.

Even if my friend had lived longer, I don't know if things would have changed between us. I wish we could have been friends at the end. I hope she knew that I was sorry we'd fought and that I cared about her very much.

RIP, LisaC. I hope that you're comfortable and at peace now. I'll miss you.

Sunday, July 04, 2010

It's really hot, hot, hot

Happy Fourth of July to all my American friends! I hope that you and everyone else are finding ways to enjoy the weekend and beat the heat.

It's crazy hot here and is supposed to get even hotter this week. Today got up to over 30C (86F) and it's supposed to be 34C (93F) by Tuesday with lows around 20C (68F) this week. Add in our regular humidity and smog and we have hot, sticky, humid, hard-to-breathe, feels like over 40C (105F) weather. We're also supposed to get clear skies until the weekend and  a UV index of 10 tomorrow so we'll get lots and lots of sun beaming down on us, too.

We really hoped to be in a house by now. Not just so that we could stop looking for a house but also so that we could have air-conditioning. We have a portable unit in our bedroom so at least we'll be able to sleep but it's very uncomfortable to just sit around in the un-air-conditioned house.

Speaking of sitting around, that's pretty much all we did today :) We were able to watch Legion, which we'd rented yesterday and which took over 4 1/2 hours to download. It's an ok but not great movie. It's an interesting premise: in an out-of-the-way truck stop, an unborn child and a rogue angel try to save humanity against God's attempt to destroy everyone (as in the Old Testament).

There's something missing in this movie, even though dialogue is ok, the acting is fine, and the special effects are good. Thinking back, the story is probably what's lacking here. The characters, their actions, and the situation have been seen before in other movies and there was nothing really special or interesting about the people here. The rogue angel was an interesting idea but somehow it just fell flat. In many ways, what should have been a compelling, interesting, gripping movie was just... boring. There are moments approaching greatness in the movie but those moments are few and far between.

This movie is worth watching if you can watch it for free and tend to like movies that you can watch while also doing something like a crossword or something.

Saturday, July 03, 2010

Our internet

The Playstation Video Store just launched in Canada. We were really excited about this because you can rent or buy downloaded movies and tv shows and watch them. Even better, they have a huge selection of movies there in tons of genres!

We've been wanting to watch Legion even though it got bad reviews. it was one of the movies in the list, so we picked it, paid for it, and started downloading it. The download started over an hour ago and we're only 37% into a 4.8G download. We're not having any problems using the laptop and nothing seems to be slower than usual.... so we figure that Bell Canada, our internet service provider, is limiting the amount of traffic they'll accept from the Store.

We pay a ridiculous amount of money for full internet and it drives me nuts that they limit the internet traffic in this way. I'd be allowed to download from torrents if I wanted because they don't limit those but I can't download from a legitimate place? WTF?

Sadly, we have very little choice when it comes to internet. We have Bell (also our phone provider) or Rogers, the cable provider. In many ways, Rogers is worse than Bell. Rogers splits the signal amongst neighbours and so each person gets less bandwidth. Rogers also goes down more often and for longer periods of time... Bell tends to be up and running almost always but it's hard to think that their reliability makes up for limiting traffic. I wish we had another reliable option that didn't limit traffic.

Friday, July 02, 2010


 We went to the Canada Day fireworks last night and didn't get home until very late, which is why there was no blog post yesterday. The fireworks were pretty good, although it wasn't like they told a story or anything. Then again, you don't expect a fancy story or anything from a local fireworks night, right?

The evening started with yummy dinner and ice cream followed by board games until it was time for the fireworks. We played Quarto, Gobblet, Skybridge, and Taluva. The first three games are published by Gigamic, a game company that makes sturdy, well-designed puzzle/strategy games which are very simple to learn but can be quite complex to play. These three games are made with wooden puzzle pieces and a simple board - it's amazing what games you can play with such simple pieces.

I enjoyed both two-player games - Quarto and Gobblet - the most and strongly recommend them to everyone. In Quarto, you decide which of the 16 pieces your opponent will place on the 4x4 board. Each pieces is a combination of the four attribute pairs: tall/short, round/square, solid/hollow, light/dark. The goal is to make a straight line of four pieces that share one of those attributes - all are tall, or all are solid.

In Gobblet, each player has three sets of four nesting pieces and can move one piece onto or around the 4x4 board. A piece can either go on a blank square or can "gobble" a smaller piece on a non-blank square. Whichever piece the player touches must be the one moved.

I liked Skybridge but I couldn't figure out a strategy. In this game, each player has a set of coloured blocks which are used to build towers on the 3x3 board. Each player has a bridge that can be used to link two towers together and crowns that are used to "claim" a tower for scoring.

Taluva was more complicated because it involved building landscapes up and out and building huts, temples, and towers. I couldn't really figure out when to do what move, although I'm sure that I'd get it in a second game. Both Skybridge and Taluva work better with more people playing and aren't as suited for two people. I think they'd both be fun another time.

Last night was kind of a celebration for us, I guess, because today, July 2, 2010, is Ian's and my 10th anniversary. Yep, we've been together for 10 years now. What a long time! We've kind of grown up together :) I'm hoping for many, many more years of unmarried bliss. We're celebrating our anniversary by watching tv recordings from the week. Sitting on our butts in front of the tv (ours or someone else's to watch a movie) is one our favourite activities on a Friday night.