About Me

Life is learning. Life is change. Life is good. Life doesn't have to cost a lot. I want to make my life greener, healthier, and thriftier. And I want to enjoy doing it!

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

If It Weren't For Bad Luck ...

I'd have no luck at all, as the old saying goes.

After eight long, dreary weeks of coughing and exhaustion, I was finally able to start really working on my new room again ... for two days.  On the third morning, I tripped over the suddenly-underfoot cat and smashed my elbow into a door frame.  Ice didn't help, heat didn't help, OTC painkillers didn't help, and after a while I could feel/hear bits of bone grating and realized I'd actually broken something, so Tuesday morning last week I gave in and went to Emergency.  At 6:00 a.m., figuring I'd have plenty of time to get the elbow seen to and still make my 9:30 a.m. workshop at the career centre.

Not so much.

I told the triage nurse at 6:00 a.m. that I'd broken my elbow.  So without anything to eat or drink or dull the pain  -  "Oh, no, nothing by mouth, in case it might need surgery"  -  the doctor sent me for x-rays, after writing up an order for an IV with one of the pain meds I had just told him I'm severely allergic to. And for the next twelve hours he could not be found, and apparently it's against some unwritten rule for another doctor to change the first doctor's written meds orders.  So while I sat there in tears from the pain, the doctor vanished.  Six hours later, he called the nurses' desk to say they should send me for an ultrasound.  He did not, apparently, feel any need to change the pain meds order he'd written, even though if they had given me the stuff it could have killed me ... Four hours after that, they finally actually sent me to Ultrasound, where they stuck a lot of huge needles into the joint and found no fluid or infection.  Finally, they decided to do a CT scan and then I was taken back to Emergency  -  still unfed, perishing of thirst, and in unbelievable pain  -  where the doctor wandered through, was surprised to see me still there, and sent the orthopedic surgeon to look at the CT scan and tell me that Guess what?  I've broken my elbow!  At that point, I'm afraid I may have sounded a little caustic when I replied that I knew that, I'd said so when I came in twelve hours ago.

So here I am in a fibreglass cast  -  at least it's not twenty pounds of plaster!  -  and enormously frustrated by how little I can do and how long it takes to do it.  I see the orthopedic surgeon again on April 12th, at which time he will decide if the elbow is healing fine on its own or whether it will need surgery.

But ... this coming weekend will include two moves and a family birthday.  And the following weekend a good friend friend arrives from far away for a two-week visit.  And though I'm not expected to help with the moves, I do need to come up with a decent birthday gift for J and get the new guest room ready for S's arrival.

Big Guy got called back to work this week.  Much rejoicing, but also a large upswing in my frustration level, since he will no longer be helping me with anything in the house and expects me to cook every night since I'm not working.  Even something as simple as a one-pot casserole takes forever one-handed, and I can't even pick up the heavy cast-iron pots and frypans ... well, if he's not happy with whatever meals I can manage, he can just cook his own supper!  Honestly, I'm not looking for sympathy, but a little understanding of how difficult things are for me right now wouldn't hurt my feelings.

* * * * * *

On the up side  -  I'm happy to report a week (well, nine days, actually) with zero food wasted and, except for the prescription painkillers that Blue Cross paid most of, zero money spent by me.  How's that for frugal?

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Getting Back On Track

Ever notice how the longer you're away from your regular routine, the harder it is to get back into it?  That's what's happening to me now ...

I spent almost four weeks coughing to the point where I could only sleep, at most, an hour at a time.  Now, even though the cough has eased off considerably, I'm finding it really difficult to get to sleep.  Consequently, once I do finally fall asleep  -  usually somewhere between 3:00 and 4:00 in the morning  -  I have a tendency to either sleep until noon, or wake up early and then have a long nap in the afternoon.  I need to get back on track in keeping (more or less) "office hours" ... I also need to re-book all the workshops I missed, and get the job search up and running again.

The switch to Daylight Saving time this past weekend didn't help much, either; my body keeps insisting it's an hour earlier than it really is.  It always takes me at least four days to make the mental and physical adjustment; oddly, though, it doesn't take any time at all to adjust to putting the clocks back in the fall.  Of course, then I can just roll over and sleep for another hour  -  and as a person who's chronically short on sleep anyway, that doesn't hurt a bit!

I'm happy to report zero food wasted this past week!  There was one sad-looking forgotten apple in the back of the veggie drawer, but the guinea pigs leaped on it and it was gone in about three minutes, so not really wasted at all.

The work on my new room  -  shifting, weeding, organizing  -  is still going quite slowly.  Even though I'm not coughing much any more, I still get tired awfully fast.  I can work steadily for about half an hour, and then I have to stop and rest; if I don't, pretty soon I have to stop to cough for ten minutes.  Baby steps.  It will be finished before the end of the month.  Most of the furniture is in, the computer gets moved tomorrow, and the last bookcase goes in next week.  After that, it's down to organizing, and making the curtains.  And I already have two big bags of donations ready to go the next time we're headed that way.

It snowed this morning!  I was, naturally, utterly disgusted.  But by early afternoon it had stopped and pretty much all melted, so we were able to do the Costco run for the things that are (according to my price book) better value for the money at Costco than anywhere else in our area: milk, coffee, peanut butter, mayonnaise, and toilet paper.  Big Guy pouted a little when I said "No" to a $20 beef roast, until I reminded him that he had insisted we should eat out of the freezer instead of buying more meat until at least one of us is back to work.  Frugal win for me!

Big Guy spent yesterday pruning the huge old evergreens along the west side of the house.  Now we have a lot more daylight in the yard, and more light in the house.  He was worried that the sunshine might make the yard and the house too warm in the summer, so I reminded him that in the summer the sun follows a different path in the sky and we'd still have plenty of shade.

I was checking some of my old posts earlier today, and ran across something that may have appeared to be a big contradiction, so I'd like to clarify the house-heating situation at present.
When there is no tenant downstairs, we heat with the wood stove, since we only need to keep the main floor heated.  When there is a tenant, we use the furnace, since there is only electric baseboard heat in the bedroom of the suite.  And since we'd like to have the suite occupied all the time  -  after all, that's why it's there  -  we invested in the new furnace.  I'm happy to report that since its installation our gas bill has dropped by almost 35 %.  Combine that with the almost 45 % savings on the annual water and sewer bill since we had the (free) meter installed, and the huge drop in the gas bill we saw when we had the tankless on-demand water heater put in, and you can see why I'm not as unhappy about the cost of home ownership as I used to be!  Now, if we could only agree on what style of double-glazed window to put in the living room ...

I've given P the go-ahead to plant whatever she likes in the raised bed along the west side of the yard, and she has all kinds of alien-looking flowers and ornamental grasses planned.  Considering how little of what we've planted there in the past actually came into the house (as opposed to being eaten by the local wildlife), it's not really a loss for us.  My plan for this spring is to hang planters all along the chain-link fencing, with chicken-wire cages to keep the squirrels out of my herbs.  Fresh vegetables will be dirt cheap all summer at the farmers' markets, so I can buy and freeze enough to last a long time without going over budget.  Now, here's hoping the sun will shine the whole time our fruit trees are blooming!

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Feeling Better, Sort Of ...

Wow.  I don't remember ever being sick for this long ... it's been three weeks so far, and I'm still coughing, though not nearly so incessantly or painfully as last week or the week before.  The doctor thinks I probably have/had pertussis (also known as whooping cough).  Oddly enough, though the cough was a killer and left me raspy-throated, achy-ribbed, and utterly exhausted, I had no other symptoms.  No fever, no rash, no green goop, no digestive upsets ... just the damn cough.  Said cough, I'm told, could take another week or two to finally disappear.  I'm finally starting to feel more like myself, though, and getting a lot of my energy back at last.  Which is nice after weeks of being too tired to pick up the remote and change the channel!

Of course, the job search had to be put on "pause" along with everything else; there's no mileage in applying for a job you can't go to the interview for, is there?  "Yes, I'd love to come in for an interview.  How about three weeks from now?"  That, I figured, wouldn't make a very good first impression.  So the plan right now is to spend the rest of this week getting the new workroom in order, and gear up the job search again next Monday morning ... including rescheduling all the Resource Centre workshops I missed.

Big Guy, bless his heart, tried to take care of me.  He made chicken soup, brought me Benelyn (with codeine for the aching ribs), intercepted phone calls ... then again, he also did his usual You-are-a-plague-rat-and-I-will-feed-you-with-a-slingshot routine.

And ... he painted my new workroom.  Just got up one morning, grabbed a roller, and did it.  Over my protests that I would do it as soon as I could stand up long enough,  He claimed he only did it because my new desk is taking up too much room in his workshop, but we all know better.  And I love him too.

So ... the painting is done, the windows are sparkly clean inside and out, the curtain rod is back up.  We're still working on the floor; it really needs professional refinishing, but for the moment all we can do is try to get all the paint splatters and scuff marks (from J's furniture) cleaned away.  I'm hoping to get the desk in there some time tomorrow; after that I can start shifting everything from the current room.  And yes, I'll be sorting and tossing/donating as I go ... nothing is going into that room until I'm absolutely sure it will be used.  I refuse to move things in that I'll just end up taking back out!

Our downstairs tenant gave us notice for the end of March.  Whereupon daughter P and son-in-law N promptly asked if they could move in on April 1st!  The suite is pretty small for two people and a dog (and two cats), but the price is right as P is still looking for work (she was laid off last fall), and N likes the closeness of the Skytrain for his daily commute.  So they have given their notice to their current landlord, and the weekend of March 31st - April 1st is going to be interesting, to say the least.  Oh, and did I mention that March 31st is daughter J's birthday?  "Interesting" may turn out to be far too mild a word for it ...

On the frugal front, things are going well.  Instead of buying paint for the workroom, I used primer and paint we had left from painting the living room a couple of years ago.  It's a lovely soft, warm oatmeal colour, with a white ceiling to reflect more light.  For drapes, I'll be using some fabric Mom gave me; a sheer lightweight silk patterned with pastel flowers.  Not my first choice, but it will work well with the room and is mild and inoffensive.  And if we can't get all the paint off the floor, I'll check out Freecycle and the local thrift stores for a couple of nice light-coloured throw rugs or sisal mats.

Convincing Big Guy to cook in smaller quantities is going to be harder than I thought.  Good thing we have that big chest freezer  -  which he now says we should be eating out of instead of grocery shopping!  I've been saying it for months  -  but now that it's his idea, it's a good idea!  ::sigh ::  But it looks like he might be back to work soon, which means I'll probably have to take over the cooking.  Now, I hate cooking.  Frankly, I'd rather scrub toilets than cook.  But if I do the cooking, I can control how much gets cooked, which in turn means I can cut the food waste way down.  We ended up tossing a quart of homemade chicken soup last week, because he made a huge pot of it and then stalled on batching it up for the freezer, and I was too exhausted most days to eat more than a tiny bit.

I was enormously amused by something I got in the mail a while back.  Last year I joined BC Hydro's "Power Smart" project; a couple of weeks ago I got a little package from them in the mail.  I opened it up to find ... half a dozen wooden clothespins accompanied by an estimate of how much I might save by hanging laundry up instead of using the dryer!  I giggled madly as I tossed them into the basket with the hundred or so I already have  -  I guess they had no way to know I've been hanging all my laundry for years!

Anyway, back to the floor cleaning.  I've been taking pictures at each stage of the room conversion; I'll post them when the room is finished.  Can't wait!