If You Didn’t Put Up, Shut Up

For the past four months, Canadians have either been anticipating or been actively engaged in a federal election.

Unlike our America Cousins, we don’t draw these things out. We like to campaign quick, vote in October and get back to important things like hockey.

This election was frustrating. Unlike your Grade 7 Social Studies class on government, there were few defined and costed platforms that really landed with voters. No need to talk about hearing what Canadians want and certainly no creative ideas coming from “leaders”. However, there were plentiful jabs, slanderous comments and stomach churning commercials “endorsed” by full grown adults even though the content was beyond immature.

One good thing about the day after the election is you get to see how many people showed up to vote.

This year it was only 66% of us.

This makes me think of people around the world who walk for days if not weeks just for the opportunity to vote in their election. People die to fight for the right to vote. Women in this country protested and died for the right to vote IN THIS COUNTRY.

And almost half of us didn’t. Even. Bother.

Shame on you if you didn’t. Kudos if you did.

It’s tiring listening to people rant about politics and not taking action when the opportunity presents itself. It’s even more frustrating because we are so critical of the U.S. political reality; the non stop election cycle; the immature name calling and lies.

I think Canadians can do better. Until we demand better, we can expect no better from our “leaders”. With a minority government we have roughly 18 to 24 months until we get back on this merry-go-round.

So let’s do better. All of us.

Shame On Us

The adult outrage against Greta Thunberg prompts this column. I dedicate it to her.

Her recent “How Dare You” speech at the UN National Assembly didn’t just get applause, but ridicule. How DARE this 16-year-old GIRL speak in such a manner? Within days social media was poisoned with memes of her outraged visage overlaid with mocking words pointing out her age, gender, her Aspergers or her appearance.

Shame on us.

I was fortunate enough to grow up in an environment where caring for flora and fauna was something to be proud of. When I had a home of my own, I wanted pets and to care for plants. We recycled, composted and had a barn pail for food scraps that went to our family farm for barn cats. We had less garbage with two small children than families on our street with only two people in them. I still have a laundry line. On days when it’s not conducive to hang wash outside, I have drying racks I my laundry room. I have switched to environmentally responsive dish soap and laundry soap. I have reduced my single use plastics to the point that I have carried numerous purchases from the grocery store to my vehicle because I left my reusable bag in the back seat.

Don’t get me wrong. I’m not perfect. I’ve made choices that didn’t put the environment first. I’m trying more and more every day. I think that’s what we all need to do – try harder.

Instead, grown adults are hurling insults at a child. Pointing the finger at Millennials. THEY are the ones who want new cell phones. THEY are the ones who are mass consumers. THEY should not be lecturing their elders about environmentalism because the older generation consumed milk out of glass bottles and diapered their babies in flannel nappies. Ok, I’ll concede that point…. But the kind of change needed isn’t limited to how we consume dairy products. It’s decades of abuse and neglect of resources that could only tolerate so much. Decades of cars with little if any emissions regulations. Decades of big businesses not being regulated for physical and air borne pollutants. Bucks before polar bears, right?

The semantics of “global warming” vs “climate change” makes me want to stab myself in the face. ToMAEto TomAto. Talk about fiddling while Rome is burning.

I did share a meme that listed a number of suggestions that people could try that would make a difference. Everything from laundry and shopping to reducing how much garbage we generate. Within hours I had a reply to this post.

“Some of these suggestions aren’t practical. JS (just saying)”

Really?!?

Fortunately I took a sober second thought and instead of ripping this “friend” a new one, I replied the common sense that was implied by the post.

“These are suggestions that we can draw from – even one or two can make a difference.”

DID I REALLY HAVE TO SAY THAT?

Yes. Yes I did.

Shame on US.

I get it. If you live in an apartment, you likely don’t have access to a laundry line. But you could pop up a drying rack. Just work with me here, ok?

Just try.

Not on the Side of a Milk Carton…Yet.

I could spend the next couple of paragraphs listing off reasons why I haven’t written but it’s old and stale, so I’m going to say thank you for coming back and reading this. You have the patience of Job. Gold star for you.

I and indeed my entire family have fallen into the rut of the runaway reality. You know, where the weekdays run into the weekend and the weekend rolls right into the next week, and rinse and repeat…

I’d love to wow you with stories of summer adventures, alas, the two weeks I have with The Big Guy were spent with he finishing the landscaping – the second stage of the home reno – and me watching him. My role was head cheerleader, food provider and to keep track of his fluid intake to ensure he didn’t dehydrate. Of course it was the hottest stretch of weather when he worked on the project.

At the end of the day, it is gorgeous and we are delighted. We’ve also made a pact that we won’t do any more home improvement for at least a year. There is a basement bathroom to finish, and we still have painted plywood in our bedroom – but we know that won’t hit the top 5 list any time soon.

If you could see me right now, you’d see that I am holding up my right hand. I am vowing to write more frequently. In fact – today is Thursday and I’m going to have at least one post within the next seven days.

Promise. 😀

I’m Slipping…or Not.

Truthfully, I thought I was losing my ever-lovin’ mind.

It’s bad enough that I have glasses that help me when my eyes are tired, but to lose a pair? Come one. I’m 47, not 87.

With the chaos settling around the house, there have been a couple of things that have gone “missing” temporarily, then found, as we all learn where things are going to be stored. I’ve even had a couple of good purge days where I was able to be merciless and toss or repurpose items that were not living up to their full potential.

But the glasses were gone. I couldn’t tell how long they had been gone. I just knew that any time I wanted to drive at night, I really felt like I would do better if I was wearing them.

Finally over the weekend, I got serious about locating the glasses. Fortunately I had my prescription sunglasses, but the other pair were GONE. I looked in places that I thought they might be. I looked in places that I knew they wouldn’t be. It’s like I had them and then, suddenly, I didn’t.

Both The Big Guy and Second Born Son were aware that I was looking for these glasses. SBS immediately indicated he had no idea where they were, but if he found them, he’d let me know. TBG, however, was far more invested.

As anyone knows, when you are looking for something, have someone making “helpful” suggestions is, in fact, far from an aid in the objective. TBG asked if I checked my purse. I had. He asked if I looked in the Jeep. I had. He asked if I looked in any of the new handy drawers in the kitchen. Of course I had – that was the first round of searching. He tried his “Dad Voice” on me, lecturing me about keeping track of my things. I reminded him that I already had a father and TBG need to slow his roll. I added the eyebrow for emphasis. I’m pretty sure my eyebrow trumps his Dad voice.

It wasn’t until Sunday that all was revealed. Heading out the door to grab some groceries, I happened to look up to the very top shelf of the front door closet and there they were; on the highest point on the highest shelf, in an area that I cannot reach without a stool to stand on. Remember, I am not short. I immediately knew what happened.

This shelf is a favorite of TBG’s for when he wants to quickly clear the hall the table of any items that he deems to be clutter, junk or simply don’t belong to him. I grabbed the nearest chair, hiked up to grab my glasses, and set out to find the father of my children.

I found him, unsurprisingly, cuddling Roman in the garage. Apparently I had interrupted a nail clipping session. Whatever. I held out the glasses for him to see. He was genuinely happy to see I had found them. Then asked the obvious question.

“Where did you find them?”

As I relayed the location of the glasses case, I could see the penny drop. He didn’t initially recall putting them there, and even tried to suggest that perhaps I had put them there, but couldn’t row that boat because he KNOWS I hate things being put up there. I would NEVER put my glasses there. He doubled down and tried to suggest that I should just be happy that I found them.

I suggested that he needs to stop “helping” me.

Because it’s causing me my sanity.

My Own Little Soap Opera

How does one explain one’s absence for half a year?

By being honest.

It’s been overwhelming.

<PAUSE> Yes, it’s early in the post for a “PAUSE”, but you need to know this is going to be long one, so take this moment to put on your seatbelt. Maybe a drink. And snacks. <PLAY>

Home reno. Work challenges. Physical challenges. Suffice it to say it all hit the fan at the beginning of August. Yes, I posted a lovely, if not sentimental entry on the 21st, but that, my friends, was Sarah cruising down the River Nile, De-nile if you will.

I do tend to be a “Glass half-full” kinda gal. I’ll power through a lot under the guise of ‘you can chose to be positive as easily as you choose to be negative.’ My theory was tested on August 3.

The Big Guy and I were heading out to pick up his aunt and uncle for ice cream in the Jeep. It was a lovely Friday evening. Our lactose laden dessert enjoyment was interrupted by a phone call from Second Born Son.

“I don’t want to ruin your visit with Aunt & Uncle,” he said, “and I don’t want you to panic (WHAT THA HELL?) but we have a ton of water coming into the basement right now.” he said.

Me – versed in the art of poker face, and trying desperately hard to not ask a million questions, calmly, and with a smile on my face, asked a couple of short, quick questions as I glided out of ear-shot of the family. I asked him to hold the fort and we’d be there ASAP.

“Oh, by the way, there’s no food here and I forgot to pick up something from work, so can you grab me a pizza for dinner,” he asked before resuming the bailing that was going on in our basement.

Yes, son. I can get you pizza. For the record “there’s no food here” means there’s nothing he WANTS to eat. I was not about to quibble. He was literally bailing out the basement.

With the serenity of Princess Grace, I drove the group back to the Aunt & Uncle’s house, then advised we couldn’t come in for the offered cup of coffee, because we had to get SBS’ pizza. As we rolled out of their line of sight, I updated TBG on the antics at the house. I then ordered pizza. It was ready as we rolled into town and we were back in our house within 10 minutes. It’s a 20 minute drive….but I digress.

We walked into the basement which looked like this…

2018-08-03 20.24.04What you see here is the carpet in our finished basement. It is saturated. On the left its the tarp on the massive storage hutch that is 10 feet long. It houses all of our photo albums, toys such as lego and board games. We don’t know it yet, but it’s saturated and will be tossed.

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This is but a sample of the buckets SBS had scattered throughout the room to catch the water that is coming though our finished ceiling. You can see how wet the carpet is – it’s only been 30 minutes.

2018-08-03 20.24.19This is one of two antique lights TBG has over his antique pool table. You can see the pool table in the lower half of the photo. He put the table cover, a quilt and industrial Saran Wrap on it to protect it. I teased him mercilessly about OCD. At this point, not only did I apologize for the razzing I put him through, but I also thanked him for doing so.

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Having run out of buckets, SBS thought quickly and started using coolers. More drips are coming through the ceiling.

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Here you can see the temporary wall that was put up to keep the finished basement from being overly impacted by the construction in the basement. BWAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA

You can see the water marks coming through the ceiling tiles. Directly above the tiles is a trough that was cut in the floor upstairs. This was to allow trades to access wires, pipes from the kitchen that was being ripped apart, rather than taking down the basement ceiling. Cuz, you know, we didn’t want to take on another project.

BWAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA

Dude. You laugh or you cry.

What happened was that around 6 p.m. there was a microburst – strong winds along with  a lot of rain. Because our windows had not arrived yet (due four days later) the opening for the large windows at the south of the house allowed a boat load of water into the house via the main floor. The wind drove the water 20 feet into the house, which is where the trough was cut, which allowed the water to “rain” into the finished basement.

Good times.

2018-08-03 20.22.14Here you can see the trough in the foreground. This is roughly half way into our original dining room. The water goes another 7 feet past this mark.

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This is our three-sided gas fireplace. You can see the water inside the fireplace. For those who don’t know, there is not supposed to be water inside a gas fireplace. See, learned something new today!

Within days the insurance company sent round a restoration crew to assess the damage. Their testing determined that the entire basement was compromised by water and would have to be gutted and rebuilt. All of our belongings that were displaced from the main floor were stored in the basement. Mostly in cardboard boxes.

BWAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAH…you get the idea.

We just got ourselves another major project kids!

The restoration company was then tasked with removing the wood paneling, carpet and insulation. We had already removed the belongings and pulled out anything that had to be junked. They needed to come back a second time because they didn’t think the cork lining in the ceiling need to come down.

BWAHAHAHA.

There is so much more to the dealings we had with this company, but the one take away I will share with you is this…

This is my front foyer. In my front foyer, which is dark forest green, there is now a large white crack. I can span it with my forefinger and my thumb. This is the result of a hammer hitting the backside of the PLASTER wall – the basement as it were. This is damage done by the “wrecking crew” who removed the cork ceiling on the second trip.

NOW we have a front entrance that needs to be fixed. And painted. I need things to stop sliding downhill. TBG, SBS and I are basically living in our laundry room, which doubles as a kitchen, pantry and office. We are starting to strongly dislike each other. It’s nothing personal, it’s what is expected to happen when you cram people into too small a space for too long a time. SBS, never a morning person – yes, he’s my son, resents the tradesmen who are usually up and working in his house before he’s up and conscious in the morning.

Eventually, we start seeing progress.

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There were other little hiccups, like when the tint we agreed to for the gross orange brick didn’t turn out the way we hoped on the first try…

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See the dark brown brick? Yeah. that’s NOT the color we picked.

We did get it corrected, eventually.

Then we got the appliances delivered. And the range was damaged. It’s now the end of September. We are working with insurance to address the basement, and it becomes clear that if we want to get this basement done the way we would like to be, we need to take out the gaudy fireplace.

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It took an entire day to get it out and cleaned out. An entire day with three guys working on it. First Born Son regretting coming home that weekend, I can tell ya!

Trying to be a cooperative person, I tell the tradesmen that the basement project will not be started right away, but will need to be done before Christmas. This is to give us the finished space we need to access Christmas decorations and to have another area for guests to move into, and use the pool table (which was not – miracle of miracles – damaged) as we are entertaining both families on two different occasions this year.

I clean. And everything gets dirty moments later. I clean again. TBG and I installed the floor that runs from the existing living room all the way into the new kitchen and dining room. Naturally we do this on the hottest weekend of the summer.

My kitchen is put off a week at a time. I finally reach my limit and tell the cabinet maker, that I need SOMETHING to look finished. I need to see SOME progress. PLEASE FOR THE LOVE OF DOOR HANDLES CAN WE FINISH SOMETHING???

He takes pity upon me and gets the installation set. It is a revelation. Slowly, things start getting better. We are able to move out of the laundry room. The workers aren’t coming every day any more so SBS is much happier. I have a dishwashers, so I’M much happier. TBG keeps paying bills.

Then, one magical day in November, it was done. The fireplace was activated and the range hood was installed. These were the final aspects of the upstairs project. We won’t take about the basement because even though there’s flooring and painted drywall, there’s so much more to do down there.

But upstairs is a dream….

I’m a little obsessed with the dining room table – a great find by TBG. It’s 14 ft long and 54 inches wide. It’s AMAZING. The light is a collection of bulbs distributed by a ladder that came from TBG’s farm. We learned over the holidays that is is more than 150 years old and was made by the same person who built the family’s barn. Such a treasure!

Now, as I sit in the living room, looking at the dining room, having made two relatively stress-free Christmas meals in the enlarged kitchen, I can say that it was worth it. The ground broke the first week of June and we were able to use all aspects of the kitchen by the end of November. Some things were more challenging than we expected, but we have been positive. You know you are doing well when the contractors tell you you are patient people! lol

It’s a thrill to be in this space. To see a dream realized. To enjoy the home the way you imagined it could be.

Thank you all for your patience. Here’s to 2019 – it will have to work hard to compare to 2018!

XXV

I’m sitting on the couch watching the rain pour down outside, with Say Yes To The Dress Canada in the background, when I can hear it over the whine of power tools.

Twenty-five years ago, I was in my wedding dress, taking photos with my bridesmaids in the sunshine and preparing to get married.

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It couldn’t be more different from today.

I’m on vacation this week. The Big Guy is at work. He’s going to take off Wednesday, Thursday and Friday. This has raised some eyebrows. At first, I was disappointed, but I look at it this way; like my wedding day, my 25th wedding anniversary is one. day. In the 9,131 days we’ve been married, there have been many amazing days. Some of them were better than our wedding day. I’m not hinging my happiness of more than 9,000 days on the contents of one.

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Which leads me back to my wedding day, and the young women on Say Yes To The Dress Canada. So much energy, emotion, drama, MONEY for one day. You hear it in what they are saying and how they act. The dress has to be PERFECT. The day has to be PERFECT. Everyone has to love the PERFECT bride.

<PAUSE> May I take moment to share my thoughts about the unending focus on the bride. Yup, she gets the fancier outfit, but she’s only one-half of the equation. If the groom doesn’t show up, this is nothing but a Prom For One. And yes, I’m basing this on a heterosexual relationship because that happens to be what I’m in – and what they seem to cater to on SYTTDC. <PLAY>

So let’s say the day is PERFECT. The weather cooperates, the guests arrive on time, the venue is stunning, none of the key players are a) inebriated b) quarrelling. The bride is stunning and the dresses, flowers, and elementary school bridal attendants are Instragram worthy. The service is the ideal ratio of reverent, emotional, traditional, modern and contains no less than three Facebook worthy posts. The food is scrumptious, the music is perfectly selected and the party never seems to end.

Until it ends.

And you wake up six months later with the person you vowed to love until the end of days. There are no more bridal showers with amazing and unnecessary items to replace the “old” household items that have served you perfectly well while you lived together. No more two-day bachelor/ette parties in remote locations. No more spotlight. Just life.

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The perfect couple, right? WRONG!

Because life is why you side up for, both in content and in term. Yes to the awesome days when you both are in a great mood. Yes to the days when you want to throw in the towel on life. Yes to an empty bank account and Yes to a surprise dinner out when one of you gets a raise. Yes to not talking for three days because you are so busy you don’t realize it’s  almost the weekend. Yes to your own form of shorthand when you talk, text, or need to relay info telekinetically in the middle of a disastrous family gathering.

TBG is the first guy I dated. I said yes the first time he asked me to marry him. There has not been anyone else I’d rather hand 25 years over to. I understand when he doesn’t communicate so well. He tolerates when I over-communicate. He is a perfectionist – I am not. We work. And we work well together. A quarter of a century and two kids later, I think we’ve proved that.

Happy 25th Anniversary Big Guy. Here’s to 25 more!

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The Big Guy’s first selfie. After all, his arms are longer than mine!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

There’s Compensation, and Then There’s Appreciation.

We have progress people! It’s been a busy month. The morning that the men and equipment rolled in to dig the hole was certainly an exciting one.

I couldn’t help but think it marked the beginning of a relationship; I got up early, made sure I was dressed and had a full face of makeup, not to mention an enormous smile when they came to the door.

Some of us, weren’t as enthusiastic.

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This is Second Born Son inside the house, while THIS…

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Was going on outside. While I was dancing around greeting every trade who stepped on the property, SBS was ready to pack his Chicken Little suitcase and head out for the duration of the reno. We have convinced him to stick around under the condition that he doesn’t have to talk to anyone in the mornings.

Things are progressing nicely. We’ve removed the kitchen cupboards and the flooring.

<PAUSE> Don’t you think we should have a moment of silence for the flooring?

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Me neither. <PLAY>

We gave relocated the kitchen to the laundry room and the upstairs fridge is now in the living room. What this lacks in aesthetic, more than makes up for in convenience. I’ve grabbed two fudgesicles since I started writing this post.

The Big Guy has become quite fond of the new dining arrangement. He feels the convenience of having a laundry room, office and kitchen all in one space is worth considering. I suggested that he can continue to have his meals in this room, but I will be moving into the new and improved kitchen when it is complete.

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I gotta say, it’s nice to stand in the middle of the room and plan entire meal without cumbersome cupboards getting in the way.

During our first meal at our new “dining room table”, we remarked at how agreeable and helpful all of the trades have been, especially our general contractor. This man is a Craftsman. His work site is clean every day. He is a top notch communicator – texting and calling on a regular basis so there are no surprises. He uses common sense, which, I think we can all agree, isn’t so common any more. He thinks outside of the box and comes up with some pretty great ideas, and doesn’t flinch at my nutty suggestions. I make impossible requests and he goes above and beyond.

In the weeks leading up to the project, I stock piled baking because I knew my kitchen would be out of commission for a while. Also, I wanted to have some snacks here for the crew. Last week, thanks to the heat, I switched it up from cookies and muffins to freezies, ice cubes and fudgesicles.

Our Craftsman expressed thanks, pointing out these gestures were not necessary. After all, we did sign a contract agreeing to pay for his services, he pointed out.

“Hey, there’s compensation, and then there’s appreciation,” I replied. He’s making our house into the home we have been waiting for, for a very long time.

I’m keeping in all the freezies he needs!