Archive for February, 2011

It was a busy weekend at our house.  First off, we had a furnace guy come in on Saturday to give us a quote on replacing our aged oil furnace with a gas one.  It would be a very smart move to make the replacement now, but a little more costly than our budget will allow, so we’re probably going to hold off until the early fall.  The motivation for getting the quote now is the Home Energy Efficiency Program that ends on March 31st where a homeowner can get rebates for making their home more energy efficient.

We had our official home energy audit on Sunday and we qualify for a whole mess of rebates, some of which we have time to work on before our final audit at the end of the month.  Even our expansive basement reno will qualify, which should pay for most of it (the insulation and walls at least).

I also managed to somehow pick up yet ANOTHER cold, so I’m feeling more than a little under the weather.  I’ll probably have to wear a mask while I go to town with a can of insulating foam tonight on all the little gaps our auditor found.  Still, playing with that stuff is fun.

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“Life moves pretty fast.  If you don’t stop and look around once in a while, you could miss it”.  Those words were spoken by one of the pre-eminent philosophers of the mid-1980s, Mr. Ferris Bueller, as he began his infamous ‘day off’.

Not a bad mantra, and it served me well this morning.  Rather than plugging my headphones into my head and rocking out during my morning commute, I opted to listen to the sounds of the TTC and I was not disappointed.  Between Yonge and Eglinton, my entire car was serenaded with Justin Bieber’s hit “Baby” being sung loudly and off-key by a gentleman wearing headphones.  I would guess he was in his mid-50s and had a pretty awesome beard, and he was REALLY enjoying the song.

Sometimes, when stuff like this happens on public transit, people either laugh or look around uncomfortably and move away, but this morning, people seemed to enjoy this harmless little distraction from their morning routine.  I was actually surprised when he finished the song that no one clapped.

I can’t say for certain if he was oblivious to the rest of us, didn’t care if we heard or perhaps has some issues of his own that would keep him from adhering to established social norms, but I enjoyed that a lot more than when I get stuck beside a guy listening to Jungle or Trance turned up to 11 (who can handle that stuff that early in the morning anway?) or being forced to take part in one half of an extremely personal cellphone call.

I can’t speak for everyone, but something tells me that more than a few of us enjoyed our free concert this morning, and maybe some day I’ll work up the nerve to give my own impromptu mid-commute performance.  Maybe Johnny Cash’s “Folsom Prison Blues” (for the train reference) or Petula Clark’s “Downtown”.  I’m also open to requests.

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I vaguely remember rolling over in the middle of the night to sleep on my side and feeling a slight pinch in my shoulder, right where it meets my neck.  It was very slight so I didn’t think anything of it.  Then, when my alarm went off this morning, there it was, the thing that would ruin my entire day.

It feels like I have daggers jabbed into my left shoulder all the way from the shoulder’s edge right up to my ear and every little movement brings a shooting pain through the whole area.  If I sit just right and barely move my upper arm while I type, I can keep it from getting too annoying, but it’s there and it will be all day.

While I was standing at my bus stop trying to figure out the best way to wear my shoulder bag, I realized how much I take being young(ish) and healthy for granted, but that feeling quickly passed with another spasm of pain.  It’s amazing how easily our bodies snap us back into thinking of nothing but ourselves.

So I plan on toughing through it today and then cozying up with a hot water bottle as soon as I get home.  I might even try to get some TLC out of Danielle, but I’m pretty sure that a little shoulder pain will garner only the mildest sympathy from a 4.5 month pregnant woman.

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I’d be lying if I claimed the weather was perfect for Winterlude.  Sure, it was cold and there was still plenty of snow around, but after a week of warm temperatures, the canal was fully or partially closed for most of the weekend, and the ice sculptures were in pretty rough shape, so our options for activities were more than a little hampered.  Still, we managed to hit the canal yesterday for a skate from downtown to the Bank Street bridge and back, with a stop for Beavertails (our second tail of the weekend).

However, we did have a great time and saw both friends and family.  It’s also a lot easier to relax in a hotel than it is at home, so we got some much needed rest and relaxation.

For me, a highlight of the trip was stopping off on the way home yesterday for a quick visit with my nearly 93 year-old grandmother who lives in a retirement home near Ottawa.  She’s as feisty and active as ever and healthy as an ox, so you probably would never guess her age if you met her.

While we were at her place, I volunteered to go to the grocery store to pick her up a few things.  Who knew that all the grocery stores in her small town would be shuttered for the Family Day holiday?  I guess I take for granted that you can still get anything you want in a big city regardless of the day, so hopefully she can get her ginger root through other methods today.

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Once upon a time, a man was heading to work on the subway.  It felt like a normal day, aside from the fact that it was raining in February, but the man had high hopes for his day and was quietly enjoying a game of Risk on his iPhone when a commotion on the subway captured his attention.  It seems that an older man with a cane had gotten on the subway car and, apparently without looking, had sat down in the nearest seat, presumably to be seated before the train jerked and started moving again.  That seat was occupied by a child, who was hidden underneath its mother’s jacket.

To our main character, who was just heading to work, the child was not obvious at first and so he, like everyone else on the car, was confused why the woman was verbally assaulting what appeared to be a kind, grandfatherly gentleman.  She was screaming her head off about this “s0-and-so” (edited for content) trying to crush her child.  The man was apologizing profusely and trying to move away, but the woman just kept yelling at him.

Finally, a fellow rider piped up and told her to get a grip.  Her kid was confused, but unhurt.  Based on the look on its face, it wasn’t shocked about mom loosing it on a stranger (maybe it was a regular occurrence in their household).  The mediator pointed out that it looked like someone had just put their jacket on a seat on a packed subway car and that even he was tempted to sit down to teach that person a lesson (something I’ve done).  She eventually calmed down and a few people further down the car called to the older gentleman offering up seats.  It was all over in a matter of minutes.

There are two morals to this story:

  1. given the opportunity, humans have a great capacity for rage
  2. you can see a lot of weird little vignettes in otherwise placid situations.

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Given how cold it’s been for the last month, many Torontonians are getting grumpy and it’s apparent everywhere you go.  Add to that the seemingly endless string of transit delays and all the glum, uninspiring news stories (Egypt being the exception) and this town could use a little pick-me-up.

I guess that’s why Family Day was added to the mid-February calendar, so all of us could have a little something to look forward to, and so that we wouldn’t resort to strangling one another as winter dragged on through March.

Even if having a long weekend in the middle of a deep-freeze isn’t enough for you, I can reassure you a little bit.  Exactly one month today is my birthday, and every year on my birthday the weather shifts just a little bit.  You might not recall it as the day doesn’t quite stand out in the calendar the same way for you as it does for me, but the Ides of March is generally that first warm day where you can leave your jacket at home and go for a stroll in the melting snow.  Sure, there may be the odd cold snap or light snow after that, but it marks the beginning of the end and that means spring is just around the corner.

So cheer up fellow city dwellers.  Patio weather is not far off.

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To be honest, I’d completely forgotten today was Valentine’s Day until Danielle mentioned it this morning.  I didn’t forget because I’m a big jerk or I hate romance, but more because we decided that we’d celebrate on our mini vacation in Ottawa next weekend.

Which leads to an observation on how Valentine’s Day is celebrated…

When you’re single, V Day is something you despise for serving to remind you that you haven’t found your soulmate yet.  When you’re in a new, fresh romance, it’s a day to pull out all the stops to show your significant other that you cherish them and that you really don’t want to go back to being single on Valentine’s Day.  When you’ve been in a relationship for a while, it’s a day that you understand, but neither of you really want to fork over the money for an expensive dinner, so you exchange small tokens of affection and plan something romantic for a night when restaurants don’t gouge dollar bills from your romantically-enlarged heart.

If that sounds a little callous and not-so romantic, you probably fall into the middle category.  Give it a few years and you’ll get it.  For me, love is an every day thing, where I spend the evening making a mediocre Shepherd’s Pie from scratch for my sweetheart (sorry about that, Danielle) or I spend 10 minutes scratching her itchy back on the subway.

That being said, I’ll probably pay just a little more attention tonight when she tells me about her day, and I might give her an unexpected foot rub (well, unexpected if she doesn’t read this) or a well-deserved shoulder rub.  I certainly won’t make her eat reheated mediocre Shepherd’s Pie.

On a more schmaltzy note, this is our fifth Valentine’s Day together and I can safely say that I’m still crazy in love with Danielle; maybe more so than ever before.  As our little family slowly grows ever bigger, first with Mojo and now with a tiny baby on the way, our relationship grows every day into something new and bigger than it was before.  In those 5 years, we’ve gone from two people in love to a couple building a life, and if that’s not romance, I don’t know what is.

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I have to admit, even as a self-professed lover of all things winter, this recent cold snap has left my ears stinging and my toes numb.  So, when I saw that we were getting a bit of a warm-up this weekend, I found myself celebrating a little bit.  That was until I looked outside and saw the mountains of snow that have piled up in the past few weeks.  All of that beautiful, scenic white stuff is just mere hours away from turning into rivers of dark water and slush that will clog up storm sewers and freeze up on my driveway.

I’m not even going to start thinking about how sloppy the dog parks will be, and how sloppy that means Mojo will get when he plays with his little friends.  I guess that’s just the price we pay for a little mid-February thaw.

So long as the Rideau Canal stays in great shape for the Family Day weekend, I’ll put up with just about any sloppy mess.  I have my heart firmly set on a nice skate with periodic stops for hot chocolate and Beavertails.  I actually don’t care if I even get the hot chocolate.  If you’ve ever had a Beavertail, you’ll know why.

So that’s what I’ll be thinking about while I’m running electrical in our basement this weekend.  I’m sure I’ll get outside at least once to soak up the near-zero temperatures, but I’ll leave all the outdoors fun (and the soakings that will come with it) to others; namely Danielle and Mojo.

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