Friday, April 13, 2018

The Thing About Cats........

Cats just seem to find us.  I thought about all the cats that have been in my life, and I could only come up with four that were purposely acquired.  And two of those, I'm just guessing about, since it is far too many years ago.  The other 10 or 12 just sort of showed up.

Since I've been blogging, we had Meredith's cat here, Smudge, and then after my mum had her stroke and was not able to return home again, we took in her cat Nelson.  When Meredith bought her own place, Smudge went with her and lived to the ripe old age of 19.  

Nelson had some health issues, including a probably cancerous tumour in his mouth.  That was operated on, although did return to a degree, and other health issues developed.  Last summer we decided it was best to send Nelson to the Happy Hunting Ground. 
So then we were without a cat.  I thought that would be fine, because we were more dog people than cat people.  But it just seemed a bit weird, something was missing in the house.

In the meantime, about six months after the passing of Smudge, Meredith had decided that she would like to get two cats, that would be company for each other.  She really was only supposed to have one cat where she lived, but who was to know...

A friend she worked with knew of someone who was looking to rehome their two cats, because their toddler was making the cat's lives miserable.  Meredith saw a picture of them curled up together.  She went to visit them, and fell in love, and brought them home.

The cats were stressed of course, and then it seemed like they weren't getting along with each other.  Meredith tried everything.  Introducing them slowly, one in a pen, one out loose, calming pheromones, cat nip.  It would seem like it was going well, and then they would have a fight.  And since it takes two cats to have a fight, there was the worry that someone might complain.  She came to the conclusion that in their previous home they had a common enemy, the obnoxious toddler, and now that common enemy was no longer an issue.....Who knows.  So when Meredith wasn't home she had to keep Bella locked in the bedroom.

It was sort of working out, but it wasn't really much of a life for Bella, so I offered for her to bring Bella here and we would see how it went.  So one time when we were away and Meredith was chicken sitting, she brought Bella over and left her locked in the bedroom here during the day.  Bella is still Meredith's cat, but she lives with us.  She adapted quickly, and although she wasn't used to dogs or being outside, she adapted quickly to that too.

When Meredith acquired Bella and Toast, Bella was BIG!  Overweight, and she didn't lose any of it at Meredith's.  She would flop down on the floor and expose her big fat belly and I'd call her Big Bella, a beached whale, Portabella, etc.  She was 14+ pounds.  She slowly, very slowly, started to lose a bit of weight here, but still had a long way to go.

Last Fall I switched her over to a raw diet, and between that and going outside quite regularly, she lost about 3 lbs and now is a decent weight.

She is an adventurous cat, and when she first arrived we 'lost' her several times in the house.  She will drink out of the toilet if the lid is left up.  Here she has jumped from the toilet seat to the window sill.

This time we lost her, and then found her in our closet.

She is an easy going cat. Didn't bat at any tree ornaments, and was totally fine wearing her Jester collar.  What she does go crazy over is any light reflection on the floor or wall.  She loves chasing a laser pointer.

She has got quite adventurous and will join us outside quite some distance from the house.

She is mostly an inside cat, always in at night, and almost always in when we aren't home.

The other day she joined me and the dogs in the hayfield.  I was the throwing balls for the dogs.  Sometimes she would chase the ball, it was hilarious. 
I wonder if I got one she could pick up, whether she would bring it back.

Wednesday, April 4, 2018

Easter in Edmonton

David and Melissa moved to Edmonton last year,  David at the beginning of May, and then Melissa joined him in the middle of June.  Since June we've seen them several times, but we have not actually seen them in Edmonton.  

A while back the decision was made to try get out there for Easter.  Originally we were going to drive (it's about a 12 hour trip), and then as it got closer we changed our minds and decided to fly.  Of course being the Easter weekend, all the cheap flight options were snapped up quickly, but we did the best we could.  The flight out was not direct and was stopping at Calgary.  Bummer, but it would be supper time so we figured we could get something to eat to pass the time until the flight for Edmonton left.

We were leaving from our local Abbotsford airport, less than 20 minutes from home.  We got to the airport and got in the security lineup, which was going no where as security wasn't open yet. Huh?  Eventually someone came along and asked all those going to Edmonton to come back down to the check in counter.  It seems there was a maintenance issue in Calgary.  The plane we were supposed to board was going to be late leaving Calgary, which meant that by the time it got to Abbotsford and took us back to Calgary, we would miss our connection to Edmonton.  So they switched us to a direct, but later flight to Edmonton.  Instead of landing there at 9:30, now we were going to land at midnight.  Not so great for David and Melissa, who are early risers.  But, it's not like we had a choice.  We were given food vouchers, so we stayed at the airport for something to eat, and then headed back home for a couple of hours.  I let Meredith know that she didn't need to come over yet.  The extra time was enough to make a batch of muffins, take the dogs for their evening walk, and get the chickens all shut in. 

 Larry had been having severe back issues.  Compressed disc or something, move wrong and he'd scream in pain and just about collapse to the ground.  He'd been to the chiropractor the previous two days, and was getting around carefully, with the help of a cane.  Basically though, he wasn't doing much of anything else.  I guess if you want to look on the bright side, we got to use the priority boarding!  Anyway, we made it to Edmonton without him having too much of an issue. 

 Now Easter and Spring go together in my mind, but Edmonton is still in the grips of winter.  They have had snow on the ground every day but one since the start of November. It was bitterly cold there that night, something like -25 with the wind chill.  A fellow directed us to the pickup area and said there was a heated waiting room to wait in.  I had already texted David to say we had landed, and then let him know we were waiting.  I didn't get a reply, which was a bit concerning.  I tried a few times, and then phoned him, and then phoned and texted Melissa, and no answer from either of them.  We took turns heading out into the cold to check the line ups of waiting vehicles to see if we could see our ride.  Larry would walk one way and come back in to warm up, and  then I'd go the other.  Other passengers came and went.  We waited and waited, and tried to make contact with them. I eventually looked up the name of the place they lived and got a number for the landlord upstairs.  The phone didn't get picked up there either, so I left a message, but didn't expect to hear back since it was getting close to 1am.  Buy this time my mind is looking at other options.  Were they on their way to the airport and were in a serious accident?  I looked up hospitals, but lots of them, where to start?  We waited some more.  Finally I looked up police stations.  There was one right at the airport.  I called there, but it was airport security.  I explained our predicament and said I was trying to find out if there had been any serious traffic accidents.  The lady seemed quite concerned, and gave me another number to call, which I did.  I was put on hold, and it was then that I got a call from David, I think it was about 1:20 or so, and we had been waiting since midnight.  Sorry, sorry, he had fallen asleep, he was on his way.  

 It's probably just as well it took him 20 -25 minutes to get there, it gave us chance to recover (I shed a few tears of relief).  It was just such a damn helpless feeling of not knowing what to do.  Larry had to get off his feet, and tried out the chairs.  We had joked (in a worried way) about spending the night there.  Things always seem sooo much worse in the middle of the night.

Anyway, all was good, David was a bit sheepish,  we were just so relieved.....
The next morning Melissa said that she had woken up and wondered why all the lights were still on and woke David up to ask him if he had picked up his parents...... She said he just about had a panic attack. 
 I don't hold a grudge but reserve the right to milk the story for all it's worth!  

The next morning it was still bitterly cold early on.  We went to the barn where Melissa boards her two horses, and there are trails to walk the dogs there.  Even the dogs had coats. 

A man and his dog.  Warming up a bit now.

Fritz and Elmo.  They have stalls in a heated barn for the night.

In the afternoon, we drove to see the house that David is buying, he hopes.  He was actually to get possession the Tuesday before we arrived.  We had planned on helping with some things that needed doing.  On Monday he got word that the deal was on hold because the seller lived abroad and because  CRA held back part of the money from the sale, he didn't have enough money to pay off the mortgage.  What a pain in the patootie.... So now they are just waiting, waiting, waiting, (like us at the airport, ha!) to see if the seller can get the money sorted out so the deal can be completed.  We went to a few second hand building supply type places I told him about, although Melissa was the only one that bought something.

Maybe it was here that my visa card fell out of my phone case, but somewhere it went missing between buying gas on the way home from the airport on Friday, and a bit later Saturday afternoon.  I put the card on hold until we got back home, but couldn't find it anywhere so had to cancel it. 

On Easter Sunday we drove into downtown Edmonton and were walking around the Legislature Buildings  when we realized that there were tours going on, so went into the warmth and checked it all out.

Waiting for the tour to start.

Up the grand staircase we went

We went up a LOT of stairs

"I want to be a peaceful, happy, normal human being, pursuing my unimpeded way through life, never having to stop to explain, defend, or apologize for my sex.... I am tired of belonging to the sex that is called the Sex. And it is because the finding of the Privy Council that we are “persons” once and for all, will do so much to merge us into the human family, that we are filled with gratitude and joy."  Nellie McLung

 We didn't get to to up to the very top.  Looked like a little tropical oasis up there.

Apparently the Minnesota State Capitol was the inspiration for the Alberta Legislature Building

Sunday and Monday were a bit warmer than Saturday, although well below freezing.  Find a sunny spot out of the wind, and it was pretty nice.  The sun shone every day, so no complaints there.
Our flight back Tuesday morning was uneventful.
Larry's back did well.  He did three long walks in the uneven snow, and didn't even use the cane. He probably would have taken it the first day, but forgot it.
He was back at the Chiropractor's on Tuesday and she was pleased with how his back was doing.  That's good, there's lots of work to be done ;-)

Saturday, March 17, 2018

Greenhouse Makeover

Well since I've been home I've been trying to keep the momentum rolling on the project thing.  You know, if I can do projects at my sister's, I'd better get some projects done at home.  It's a bit depressing at home though, because the project list is just endless.   

My green house, which is 12' long and about 8' wide, has seen better days.  I think it's about 25 years old.  When we built it we bought the actual greenhouse corrugated fibreglass to cover it.  Since the long walls faced north and south, we saved a bit of money by making the north wall out of wood and painting it white.  Eventually the fibreglass got so weather beaten, especially the south facing roof, that even when it was pressure washed it was not letting in enough light.  The tomato plants were a bit tall and spindly.  I'd have to pressure wash the whole roof and the south wall every year, and that was a job and a half.  Last year I didn't even use the greenhouse.

Since my tomato growing and selling was so successful last year with my gazebo frame greenhouse, I figured it was rather silly not to take advantage of a greenhouse I already had, albeit a greenhouse that needed updating.  

Last Saturday we went to three garage sales.  The last one was massive, an estate sale and a house whose basement was jam packed with junk.  Too overwhelming for me poking around in all that unpriced stuff, but I did find a roll of really heavy plastic that I was able to get for $5.

The next day we went out and removed all the south roof and wall.

I didn't think to take a photo before we started, but that is the wall piece in front and the roof at the back. You can get a sense of how non translucent it is now.

I'll spare you all the details (oh it's hard not to bore you with those!)  I rolled the piece up on a pole and got it up near the ridge while I stood up through the open roof and fastened it at the top and nailed the ridge cap back down.  Then unfurled the beast and it went not too badly.  Some lath screwed over the plastic at the rafters and over the edges to hold it all in place.  I've made it so that in the summer I can roll up the wall.  The plastic is already fasted around a pole at the bottom, and I just  have to undo the screws in the lath where the wall plastic bends round onto the end walls and roll the pole up.  Fasteners to keep the roll up still need to be done, but I've got that sorted out in my head.  Now I think the plastic is actually a heavy vapour barrier, so not sure it is the right thing for letting the correct rays of sun through, but it's got to be better than before because it is so bright and light in the green house now.  

The north facing roof was REALLY dirty.  There is a maple tree high above, so lots of drips from the leaves.

A lot cleaner looking now!

The previous door more or less self destructed several years ago.  We had this small screen door and decided it was easier to install it instead of making a new door.  The door was a bit narrower, but we just put plastic over the extra space.  One funny thing.  There was a wheelbarrow of compost in the greenhouse.  We didn't think to take it out before we put the new door in.  The wheelbarrow was too wide to fit through the new door! Thankfully once emptied in there and turned on it's side we were able to get it through the door.  Our favourite green plastic wheelbarrows fit through just fine!
The flat fibreglass on the ends isn't too bad once it gets cleaned up.

Now I just need to get busy and get some seeds started!

In other news the four footed furry family is doing well.  Luna and Jake go every 6 - 8 weeks for chiropractic adjustment.  Luna was running funny last Sunday and had a real hitch in her trot.  Her pelvis was badly twisted but that got sorted out, with Luna feeling some discomfort during the process, but she was much happier after it was done.  I could tell she felt better as she was carrying her tail at a much more jaunty angle.  We stopped at the dyke on the way home and had a nice walk.  We've been walking here for many years, and some where I have a photo of this same old piece of tree, taken 20 years ago.

The swimming hole changed quite a bit over the winter, now it has a nice sandy beach!

Old dogs like to snooze in the Spring sunshine.  Sweet Jake will be 14 this summer.  

And Spring is really here! 
It will be official shortly, but we have had some lovely warm sunny days.  I've worn capris on two of those days.  Sun hats and sunscreen are becoming required accessories again!

Tuesday, March 13, 2018

Ontario Trip

When we were in Ontario last Thanksgiving for my nephew's wedding, my sister mentioned that she was thinking that she'd like to put laminate in all the upstairs bedrooms.  Her house was built in 1900.   It's a house full of character, and has been added on to, maybe more than once.  Upstairs were some ancient blue tiles, not in bad condition for the most part, but just 'old' and not a particularly attractive old.  I mentioned that I could do that, after all we have put flooring in every room in this house.  The first generation of engineered floating floors, laminate of various types, glue, click, ceramic tile and vinyl wood look tiles.  So we decided that I would come back in the early spring to do the floors.

The day after I arrived we went looking at flooring.  She had nothing particular in mind, but I had said that I had to like what I was putting down.  When she pointed at the generic golden oak, I said no ;-)  The one we picked was in the clearance section, and both being thrifters at heart, well who are we to say no to a good deal.  Now I must say when we looked at this flooring, the pieces out of the box that we saw where all darker boards, and we didn't realize that there were so many light pieces.  We were okay with it though.  

The flooring was supposed to sit for a couple of days to adjust to the climate in the place it was going to be put down. The most time consuming part was figuring out how/where I was going to start in each room.  I can be a bit of a perfectionist sometimes, anyway, I figured out how I wanted it to be at the doorway and got it lined up straight. Thankfully the rooms were generally square and straight.  This room was the worst though, as it had an electrical receptacle in the floor, and like all the other rooms, had a radiator.  Each radiator had two pipes coming up through the floor, and then the radiator had four oval legs that angled to the floor. Every one of those had to have boards cut around them with room for expansion of the flooring. It was like creating a jigsaw puzzle, and sometimes boards had to be cut multiple times to get the cutout to fit just right. One we got past the radiator it was clear sailing for the most part.  Sometimes I cut the wrong end off the board, but by the end of the job I managed to use all those boards somewhere.  They say to allow for 10-15% wastage, but I figured we were about 1%.

Old, possibly asbestos containing blue tile (quick, lets get that stuff covered up!), with foam over it and then the laminate, with a spacer board to maintain that space around the edge.

One room down.  
There was quarter round moulding along the baseboard.  That was taken off to put the floor down, and then will be added back to cover the expansion gap. I was literally dreaming about my job, as this was where I slept ;-)

Second bedroom.
We did not take any of the furniture out.  There was also a dresser with a huge mirror and a big chair.  Everything was pushed to one side of the room and once we got the floor down up to the furniture, we moved it over to the completed side, and continued on.

Third bedroom. 
That perfectionist in me wanted to the boards to continue from the bedroom to the hallway, all lined up.  I worked hard to make them that way, and was very disappointed when I got most of the hallway/landing done, to see that the boards had shifted slightly.  I do have to redo the last board at the top of the stairs, so when I go back in the Fall I'm going to see if I can make a bit of an adjustment and try to line them up slightly better.  I wanted to use wood transition pieces in the doorway, but we couldn't find what I was picturing in the time that was left, so ended up using one of the original brass ones, and purchased two new brass ones for the other two door ways.

It was just dumb luck that the flooring coordinated so well with the vinyl on the bathroom floor.  All the flooring ran from east/west.  Is that good Feng shui?lol

And looking at those photos I can see where I got similar boards too close to each other.  Funny how I didn't notice it at the time, because I was conscious of that, or tried to be.

Maple sugar season had started in Ontario.  Did you know that there are many other trees that you can tap besides the sugar maple?  I joined a Facebook group that taps here on the west coast, where our season is over, but I've come to the realization that it is not actually something I will ever do, even though we have quite a few tappable trees on our property.

Cathy and her lovely dogs, May and Harlow.  May is a retired guide dog that Cathy adopted, and Harlow is a brood bitch, who has so far produced 20 cute potential guide or assistance dogs.  

Harlow likes to walk the curb.  I think she is a frustrated agility dog ;-)

This is Leroy, a cat who really thinks he is a dog. He lays with the two dogs, cleans their ears, is a real character...until he bites you.  Everyone eventually experiences the bite, because don't we all think that we are the one that the cat 'really' likes?

I had arrived in Ontario Thursday afternoon.  We couldn't start the flooring until Sunday due to acclimation process.  Family came over after lunch so work stopped.  Monday we worked hard and got the first AND second bedroom finished.  My legs were really tired from all the up and down from the floor.  Cathy was the best assistant, trying, she said, to be like a dental assistant and have the next tool I needed ready and waiting.  I had a bad habit of loosing the pencil!  We took Tuesday off, I needed it, and went into Ottawa in the afternoon for some thrifting.  Successful thrifting it was, although I was limited by what I could wear and add to my carryon.

Wednesday was crunch day, and we got the third bedroom and most of the landing done.  Figuring out how to deal with where the floor met the top stair was a tough one.  The landing had even more layers of flooring than the bedrooms, and it seemed to slope up at the stair.  I started trying to remove the slope but didn't like the look of what I was getting into. Asbestos?? I made my own solution which was a bit rough looking, hence no picture, but when I go back I have a plan to fix it.  Thursday morning was spent with some finishing bits, like the transition pieces, and a few other little jobs on my list.  In fact I was finishing off some moulding around a window ten minutes before we had to head to the airport! Just time for a quick shower and off we went.

I was going through security at the airport and got pulled aside for a body scan.  So you stand there with arms and legs spread while the wand is waved all over you .  It was beeping constantly as I so happened to have a shirt on with metal snaps down the front and on the cuffs, had a belt buckle, glasses on my head, zippers on my boots, etc.  Belt was undone, boots were fully checked out. Hands were swabbed and then I guess I 'passed' as I was sent to pick up my coat and luggage that had been through the scanner.  There I was told they were going to search my coat pockets.  Did I have any sharp items in my pockets?  Of course the mind is whirling, but I said I didn't think so.  I was frantically thinking what might be in treats most likely, plastic poop bags maybe, garbage...hopefully nothing too embarrassing.  So she pulls out a jigsaw blade.  Oops! I had had it in my pocket from the time we went to the hardware store to get some new blades for the jigsaw.  She measured it and said it was too long (haha, like I wanted to take it with me!) and I said please can you just chuck it!   Anyway, I was glad when they finally let me on the plane ;-)

On the way home we were flying into the sunset for a long time.  Interesting to the see the sunset from above.  The bottom of the clouds were pink!

It was a fun trip and I've already run projects by my sister for my Fall visit.  We had a great time together and lots of laughs!