Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Patching things up

That picture is of my "watching TV" quilt. (It's not actually crooked, I just took a poor picture of it.) I don't remember whether my grandmother made it, or whether my mom made it. Regardless, I've had it for a long time.

Most of the squares you see are made of a pretty sturdy material. However, one set of squares (the squares just inside the dark pink circle) are a thin cotton. Over time, they have ripped away from the darker pink squares, leaving small holes all around the quilt. Today I sewed them up.

While I was doing that, I noticed that there were some stains on the quilt, so I washed it as well. It's now clean and ready for me to use again.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

And I haven't even invited anyone over

Today I cleaned off my coffee table. It tends to accumulate - well, stuff. Papers, magazines, wii remotes, DVD cases. I clean it off every so often - usually the day before I have people over. The "before" picture is above. The "after" picture is below. Some things are still there, but it's a lot neater than it was.

Monday, September 28, 2009

Playing with paint

I started a rant a bout politics, but let's skip that, shall we? (If we end up with another election, I'll rant then.)

Back to my anti-procrastination project.

When I moved in, the kitchen was old and poorly designed. It was impossible to have more than one person in the kitchen at a time.

I had the kitchen renovated in 2004. At that time, the counter became black with red/orange flecks, and the curtains were orange.

I have a flower pot that I keep my extra utensils in (wooden spoons, pancake flippers, whisks, etc.). It was white with blue stripes, as such:

(The orange oven mitt matches the curtains.)

Anyway, I've always had the idea that I could repaint this flower pot to fit in better with the rest of the kitchen. Today, I actually did it. I started with three coats of primer.

Next, I painted 2 coats of white paint:
I then picked the colours for the outside:
I was able to walk them into the kitchen and make sure they worked with the rest of the kitchen.

Finally, I applied these colours to the outside of the flower pot. Here is the final project:

Sunday, September 27, 2009

An odd assortment of stuff

The last few days I have done relatively quick projects. Today, however, I decided to do something a bit more elaborate.

Basically, I moved all of the furniture in my bedroom and vacuumed behind it. While I was doing that, I also went through some of the papers sitting around. I found more books than strictly necessary. (When I get a job, I will have to buy a bookshelf for the bedroom.)

Other things I found while cleaning:
- the cell phone charger that goes with the cell phone I had 10 years ago
- many, many buttons that came with clothing I bought
- many boarding passes (now disposed of)
- receipts and plastic bags from clothing stores
- letters from my mom and dad in 1993 (I assume my sister's cough is better by now.)
- the index to my Rome map (which would have been useful when I was in Rome this year)
- a picture of me kissing the blarney stone
- an Egyptian newspaper
- the transfer from Heathrow to the hotel when I was in London - not my last trip enroute to Botswana, the time before that

Sadly, I didn't get the whole room done - I didn't touch the closet. That is a task for another day, since most of what is on my closet floor is clothing that needs to be given away. Cleaning the closet floors will have to wait until I get rid of it.

Saturday, September 26, 2009

Tidying up

Today was relatively busy. I had a baby shower to go to this afternoon, so I had to get my errands done in the morning.

My right ankle and thigh are still messed up from yesterday. I finally switched out of sandals into real shoes today, but can't find the arch supports I usually wear in my fall shoes. I wanted to use them, since I figured they would be helpful in getting my foot to recover. However, no luck so far. (I'm pretty sure I brought them to Europe with me back in June, but I have no idea where they went after that.)

Anyway, while I as looking for them, I took the opportunity to tidy up a few things that have been out of place for too long.

A few weeks ago, my regular shampoo was not playing nicely with my hair, so I took my travel kit apart to use that shampoo. It was still sitting on the floor, so I replaced the shampoo and put it away.

I tidied the shoe rack in the front hall closet.

I also tidied some of my dresser - it's usually quite neat, but still needed some clean up.

Friday, September 25, 2009

Not a fan

I've talked about boxing before (many times), but tonight I'm going to tell you about my least favourite part - skipping.

I have zero skipping ability. I'm a lot better than I used to be, but it definitely does not come easily for me.

In my current level, most of our skipping is backwards. I'm just as bad at skipping backwards as I am at skipping forwards, so that's fine.

This week, our skipping rounds consisted of the following (all backwards):
- high knees sprint (10 seconds)
- alternating kick outs* (10 seconds)
- crossed feet ** (10 seconds)
- cross overs (10 seconds)
and then repeat until the 30 second bell, at which time it was 15 seconds on one foot and 15 seconds on the other foot.

Somehow, I managed to injure (pull?) a muscle in my right thigh. That made my skipping look more like: skip on left leg, lifting right knee, skip on right leg, try not to fall over, trip, start over.

For my anti-procrastination task today, I decided to cover the fans that I use in summer with plastic bags and put them downstairs out of the way. (That way the fan blade doesn't get full of dust, so you don't have to take the fan apart and clean it before turning it on next year.)

The only down side to this plan was the part where I had to come back upstairs afterwards. It turns out that muscle that I hurt is important when climbing stairs.

However, I prevailed and the fans are safely away for the winter.

* alternating kick outs - skip on your left foot, with your right foot by your side. Skip on your left foot again, kicking your right foot out in front of you, then repeat on your right foot.

** crossed feet - skip with your feet side by side , then skip with one foot in front of the other, go back to side by side, then put the other foot in front.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Good thing it's garbage day tomorrow

Today my anti-procrastination project was to start organizing the storage room.

I broke down some boxes for recycling. (What are the chances that I will need the box for my hair dryer? Zero? So why do I still have it?)

I also got rid of some garbage (Hmm, these pieces allow me to attach my solar lights to the deck ... but I don't have a deck, and I'm never planning to build one, and if I did build one, I would probably still want the solar lights at the front of the house ... why am I keeping them again?).

It's far from completed - you will be hearing much more about this project - but it's a start.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Wait, the decade is almost over?

Sydney mentioned yesterday that today is 100 days from the end of the year (and decade). (Does that scare anyone else?)

Anyway, she has decided to do something creative every day until the end of the year.

I have decided to join in - with a twist. I am not going to do something creative. Instead, I'm going to do something I have been (or normally would) procrastinate about.

Today, I spent some time shredding some of the papers that needed to be disposed of.

This has been on my to-do list for ages, but (as I discovered today) my shredder has been unplugged for 7 weeks, so obviously it hasn't been happening.

Let's hope no more than 50% of my updates are about shredding.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009


Well, after several consecutive posts last week, I somehow managed to take a break for 6 days. The sad part is that I can't even tell you what I've been doing. Yes, it's that memorable.

Let's see what I remember.
  • Fall has definitely arrived. The days are nice and sunny during the day but colder at night. In fact, today my feet are so cold I'm considering wearing socks. (I probably will play the wii for a while instead. That should warm my feet up.)
  • I went to use my cordless drill on the weekend, and it doesn't work. I have no idea why it decided to break while not actually in use. (Yes, the batteries are charged.) I tried my usual battery-powered appliance fix (i.e. take the battery out for a day or so, then put it back & try again), but that did not do it. That fix is effective over 50% of the time, but sadly, this was not one of those times.
  • Sparks starts tonight. You would think I have been ready last week but no, I got organized this afternoon.
  • If I have 100 things to do, I will get 99 done. If I have 1 thing to do, it's going to be a while (and, in fact, it may never get done). This is not a good trait when job hunting.
  • Remember how last November I had a headlight continually go out? It turned out the socket had melted, and had to be replaced. Today I discovered that the other headlight had the same problem. I got that fixed this morning. Could these random electrical problems be in some way related to the fact that my radio/CD player won't play CDs if it's too wet outside?
  • I dragged Wanda out apple picking last Wednesday. On Friday, I made an apple/peach pie to use up some peaches that were getting old. It turned out well. On the weekend Wanda and I made 4 apple pies to freeze. I still have a lot of apples left.
  • I'm having lunch tomorrow with a former co-worker who was laid off a few weeks after me. I'm hoping I will be motivated to go work on my Java course in the morning before I meet her.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

En Garde!

One of the new things I wanted to do last year was to try fencing. Actually, I've wanted to try it for a long time.

One of the local clubs opens up the first class of the session to anyone who is interested. I had intended to try it last year, but it didn't work out for a bunch of reasons. Today, I finally tried a fencing class.

I'm glad I tried it, but I don't think I'll be signing up for the full class.

We started by running around the room ... a lot. We probably ran around the room 10 or 15 times.

Unfortunately, I'm not a runner. In fact, running a lot makes me cough. Repeatedly. For hours.

That means that I was coughing through the whole class.

After we finished running, we started learning the footwork. The first step (feet in an extended L-shape, stepping forward and back) was similar to boxing footwork, so I didn't find that too hard. (This would have been easier on Monday, when my foot was naturally turned out.) After that, we learned the lunge - extend your arm, then step into a lunge position with your forward foot.

We repeated both of those steps a lot of times, then it was time to put on the fencing jacket, glove, and mask and grab our foils.

There were two styles of fencing jackets - some zipped in the back, some zipped on the side of the front. The one I grabbed zipped in the back. I put the jacket on, then found a helmet that fit. After that, I got a glove and tucked the sleeve of the jacket into the glove. The last step was to get a fencing foil.

We split into pairs, and practiced hitting each other with the foils (so that we'd know it doesn't hurt). Next we practiced stepping forward and hitting our partner. The last step was to lunge forward and hit our partner. We repeated each of these many times. (Too many in a row, in my opinion - I would have preferred we do 10 of 1, then 10 of another. It was very repetitive.)

After we were done with that, we learned a couple of blocks and practiced them with our partner.

The last part of the class involved sparring with our partners. That was definitely the best part of the class.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Another "what's wrong with me" update

Today I had my appointment with the neuro-opthamologist about my eye twitch.

I wasn't super impressed with him. He seemed to have come up with two theories before I got there.

The first theory was that my glasses were the wrong prescription. He checked, and that wasn't the case.

His second theory was basically that I was just tired ... for 3 months, including 2 weeks of vacation, and with my eye twitching up to 40 times a day.

That's the one he ended up going with.

They also tried twice to check me for glaucoma. I find that test almost impossible at the best of time, and they seemed like they were in a hurry, and thus they were unsuccessful.

Like I said, I wasn't super impressed - he seemed to have his options figured out before he talked with me, and he wasn't too interested in hearing what I had to say.

However, my eye stopped twitching a week after I got laid off, so I wasn't too inclined to make a big deal about it.

I have a few theories as to what it could have been:
- something physical in my work environment - a chemical, or something related to the fact that the roof leaked, and the water would drip down through the insulation in the ceiling and land near my desk (and at a bunch of other places)
- something related to the vitamin levels that were low at my checkup in May (which perhaps took a while to build back up to the correct levels)
- I got my new (small) laptop in April. Maybe it took a while for my eyes to adjust.

I hope the doctor is wrong, since I don't recall being particularly tired between April and July.

I guess we'll see if it comes back. If it does, I'm going to a different doctor.

Monday, September 14, 2009

At least I hurt myself in interesting ways

I didn't go to the gym today.

When I got up on Saturday, my foot was a little ... off. It didn't really hurt, but it just seemed like something wasn't exactly the way it was supposed to be.

Saturday was the annual community corn roast, and I had volunteered to help out. I showed up at 11 to help set up. I helped out for about 1.5 hours, then headed off to the grocery store.

Once I got the groceries home, I had a couple of hours to kill, then I headed off to work in the kitchen at the corn roast at 4. The concession area stayed open until 10, which meant I was on my feet pretty much constantly for the 6 hours I was there.

My feet (and legs) were sore when I left, but in a tired way, not in an injured way.

When I got up Sunday morning, I was fine, except that my right foot wasn't going in the same direction as the rest of me. As I walked, it was turned out at about 45 degrees.

Again, it didn't hurt, it was just ... really odd.

When I wear proper shoes, my foot is aligned properly and all is well, so I suspect it will fix itself in a few days. I probably did something to it at boxing, and compounded it by standing on it for 8 hours the next day.

Still, it seemed best to skip the gym.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

So ... apparently summer is over?

Somehow fall always manages to surprise me.

I'm not really sure why. I suspect the non-summery weather we've had the last two years has something to do with it - this year summer didn't think about starting until August, and last year it didn't arrive at all - but it happened even before that, so that's not the whole story.

I tend to be pretty busy during the school year, and much less busy during the summer. I like the activities I do, but I also apparently really enjoy having more flexibility during the summer. (I could do less during the year, but if I don't have a good reason to leave the house in February, I won't.)

And let's face it, there are really two things I do during the rest of the year that I don't do in the summer - Sparks and boxing. That's, at most, 4 hours out of my week.

That doesn't mean that I didn't regret a bit that boxing started last week or that Sparks registration was tonight.

I enjoy them both, and I know that in a couple of weeks I'll be back into my regular schedule. Right now, though, I wish it were still summer.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Remember this?

Well, I never did go to the doctor about my toe. I kept it taped for 4 weeks, then took the tape off. It still hurt, so the tape went back on for another week. It's fine now.

I had my consultation today for the mass on my thyroid. This involved going to the Riverside Hospital. I've been here for almost 15 years, and I've only been inside one of the hospital locations (and that was probably 1996).

Anyway, my appointment was a 3. I got there about 30 minutes early, since I wasn't sure how long it would take to get there and find the right place. I settled in for a long wait, but it actually was only a couple of minutes before the nurse called me in to get blood pressure, height, etc. After that, it was back to the waiting room for another couple of minutes before the doctor called me in.

The mass is partially fluid, so the biopsy will be in the radiology department so that they can do an ultrasound to make sure they're hitting the solid part. He's cautiously optimistic that it's nothing to worry about (but, of course, it will take the biopsy to really determine what's going on).

Saturday, September 5, 2009

Get in the ring

I've talked about Choosy Beggars before. The thing about that site is that it's entertaining, but it also makes me believe that I can make whatever they are talking about. That happened this week. As a result, I was inspired to make onion rings.

They turned out well. Admittedly, I got distracted eating the rings off the first pan, so the second pan got a bit - well, let's say extra crispy. I also substituted various ingredients, but that's typical for me - I rarely make a recipe exactly as written - possibly because I never look at the recipe before going grocery shpping. Still, they were a success.

Thursday, September 3, 2009

From Raphael to Carracci

Back in June, Wanda and I went to see Chicago at the NAC. On the back of the program was an add for a special exhibition at the National Gallery - From Raphael to Carracci, The Art of Papal Rome. The first time I went to the Vatican Museums, I was walking through the Raphael rooms, and I had to walk across the room to figure out whether the thing I was looking at was a painting or a sculpture. It's amazing to me how some of Raphael's work looks three-dimensional. Anyway, I decided I wanted to go to the exhibition.

It closes on Monday. Keep in mind that I've been unemployed for the last month, and thus have had lots of time to go. However, today I went to see a special exhibiton at the National Gallery.

I enjoyed it. There were more preliminary sketches than I would have liked, but generally it was quite enjoyable. We got the audio guides, which were useful, but (as is typical in audio guides) had more standing-around-and-waiting-for-the-commentary-to-start music than I would have liked.

In other news, apparetnly the National Gallery charges $6 to see the permanetnt collection now. It used to be free - but it's been at least 5 years since I've been there.

Wednesday, September 2, 2009


I started today with a runny nose and cough. This isn't unusual for me in the mornings, but it was more severe than usual. I was having trouble lying down (when I did, I started coughing like crazy), so I sat up in bed to read.

For the record, this was around 6:15. Around 6:45, there was a "pop" and the bedside lamp went out. Replacing bulbs didn't improve anything, so I guess I need a new lamp. I can't complain - I've probably had this one for 12 years or so - but that meant I got out of bed before 7, which hadn't really been part of my plan for the day.

I had breakfast, then updated my resume for my meeting tomorrow. After that, I headed to the gym. When I got back, I had lunch, then spent a lazy afternoon reading a book. (Devil Bones by Kathy Reichs, if anyone is curious.)

Eventually, I decided it was time to work on the to-do list, so I washed the windows. (Well, technically I skipped the outside of one window - it's behind bushes and it's hard to get a ladder in there.

After that, it was time for something I had been procrastinating on - I started making Plum Knaddle (i.e. plum dumplings). This was a traditional food in my mom's family. The origins of the food are hazy (as are the origins of my mom's ancestors - they come from "the old country"). However, years ago I brought this to work and one of my co-workers who was raised in Eastern Europe recognized it.

6 potatoes
1 egg
1/4 pound butter
pinch of salt
plums (12 - 20)

Peel the potatoes, then boil. When they are soft, mash them and measure how much you have. Add an equal amount of flour, the egg, and the salt. Knead well. Roll out dough on a floured board to a thickness of 1/4 inch. Cut into 4 inch squares and place a plum in the centre of each. Bring the corners together and press until you have a watertight dumpling.

To cook:
Drop a few at a time into boiling, salted water and cook 15 minutes. Make sure they don't sink to the bottom.

Drain the dumplings as they are done.

To eat, cut open and sprinkle with sugar and melted butter

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Nothing new here

I've now hit the point where I just want to get a job.

Of course, that's not realistic - I need to keep applying for jobs, plus I've got a bunch of doctor's appointments in September, and thus it's probably better if I start a new job after that.

I don't want to be realistic, though, I want to be employed. I'm sick of not knowing. (If I knew now that I'd have a job October 1, I'd be fine. If I knew it would be November 1, that would be fine. Sitting around is not good for me.)

A lot of former co-workers have gone the consulting route, but I'd prefer not to go that way for a few reasons. I'd miss things like health insurance and vacation. Yes, you can pay for those yourself and factor that in to your consulting rate, but that doesn't seem to be how it's working for people. Also, that seems to be putting yourself into perpetual job-hunt mode, and since I do not enjoy job hunting, that's probably not a good idea.

I'm working through my ... apathy? Boredom? Sick of job hunting-ness? I went to a salary negotiation workshop yesterday, and a behavioural interviewing workshop today. They were both very good. (My test interview told me I talk to fast and trip over my words - my observation, not anyone else's - but this is not new. Also, I say "um" a lot, and close my eyes when I'm thinking.)

I have an appointment on Thursday to talk with one of the consultants about my resume. I'm also planning to spend some time on Thursday working on the java course I started last week.

This frustration is also kind of foolish, because it's not like I've applied for hundred of jobs. Right now, the tally stands at 7. And I've only been out of work for a month, so it's not like it has been ages. I just wish something were happening.

I know that eventually things will come together. I also know that once things start happening, you can get a job very quickly. And I know that I'm good at what I do. I'm just impatient.