Friday, March 30, 2012

Plants. White-trash Plants.

Last night I noticed Wife’s cactus was left outside. This normally wouldn’t be a problem, but we’ve just dropped down 20 degrees to sub-zero temperatures again.  I noticed again this morning (as i was walking to work) that it was still outside.

Then again, we could just replace dying plants with the neighbours that spend their evenings and weekends sitting on our front stoop drinking king-cans of Molson Canadian and chain-smoking. Yup, I live in one of those neighbourhoods.
Actually, I quite like it – they’re friendly and not pretentions (so far). I just hope they don’t get offended when they’re not invited to our housewarming party…

Thursday, March 29, 2012

Sick? Perhaps...

Called in sick at work today.  Made a significant dent in the unpacking.  Now I'm watching The Walking Dead and restringing Wife's guitar.

A good day off.

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Car-free, Care-free

Last month, my father offered to lend me one of his cars. It would greatly help our move. And it really did. We managed to move everything that would fit into the car, leaving only the big items to be moved with the rental van last Saturday.

However, I was VERY glad to return it to him last night. In the 4 weeks that I had the car, I remembered why I’m grateful to NOT own one. I got two parking tickets in the last month. The first for parking for an hour in a spot adjascent to the Visitor Parking allocations at the townhouse. The other, particularly infuriating one, was at our apartment building. We took an underground space for the month, to have somewhere to keep the car. Unfortunately access to the garage includes a 6-inch step up and a 6-inch step down, both for no apparent reason and only about 5 feet apart. This makes it a real pain in the ass to roll a dolley loaded with bins. Thus, I parked in the above-ground lot for 15 minutes while I rushed up to the 19th floor, stacked 6 bins on the dolley, and took the elevator back down. In that time, I got another $30 ticket. Bastards. I received a ticket because of the bad design of my building!
The car (only a year old btw) also got sideswiped in the townhouse parking lot one evening. I didn’t see it happen, just saw the damage when I returned to the car. Whoever hit it did it slowly. There are only a couple of small dents in the rear quarterpanel, but lots of paint has been scraped away. This means that they bumped the car, but kept grinding against it. If it had been quick ‘n’ dirty, there would have been a bigger dent. I spoke to my dad, and he wanted me to wait until I dropped off the car before repairing it. I have a feeling that he’s not going to let me pay for the damage, and I have mixed feelings on that. On the one side, I’m flat broke and have an uncomfortable amount of debt right now. The move has cost more than twice what I’d planned, and Andy’s $850 veterinary bill was a painful shock. So I really can’t afford to pay for the damage. However, I am an adult and the car was my responsibility. So part of me wants to cover the repair bill, just to stand up to what I owe. We’ll see how that one goes... my father also has a lot more money than I.

Last night I took the car home. I somehow missed rush-hour traffic, completing what is normally a 90-minute drive (at the best of times) in 65 minutes (leaving my mid-town apartment at 5pm). I then spent 90 minutes chatting with the family for the first time since my mother’s funeral. They seem to be doing well, although seeing my mum’s framed photo over the fireplace put a lump in my throat.
Then my brother gave me a ride to the nearest GO Train station, which got me to the subway, which got me a block from home. I left their house at 7:30pm, and walked through my front door at 10pm on the dot. Makes a decent argument for owning a car, doesn’t it?

Dinner and straight to bed, up this morning, and back to work. A day in the life. Or is it a month?

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

St. Dickeybird, AKA Gollum

Last night I went back to the old apartment to give it a quick cleaning before handing it over to the superintendent.
As soon as I arrived, I changed into my grubby clothes and grabbed the broom. I had left the windows open, and balls of fur, dust, and litter swirled around. As soon as I touched the broom, the fire alarm sounded. I picked up my coat and bag, and walked down 19 flights of stairs. When I got to the ground floor, I was told that it was a false alarm. I headed back up in the elevator (I thought those were automatically shut off during an alarm, apparently not) and started cleaning.

Allow me to go on a tangent for a moment… Late 2010, after only a few months of marriage, Wife and I had been discussing people losing their wedding rings. Apparently it happens. I said that this ‘accident’ would be tremendously insulting. A wedding ring is sacred, and shouldn’t be LOST. I would be furious if that happened. So of course a couple of days later Wife lost her wedding ring at work. It probably slipped off when she soaped her hands, or possibly slipped into the dirty dishwater at the bar she works in. You can imagine that she was terrified when she phoned, in tears, to tell me that her ring was gone, had somehow disappeared that afternoon, and that everyone in the bar was searching for it.
The ring was never found, Wife was really upset, and after a few weeks of searching we bought her a replacement.

As I swept the bedroom floor last night, I slipped the broom under the heater. Out popped three hairy, dusty, balled-up socks that had been inadvertently pushed under the heater. Also, a shiny piece of metal bounced along the hardwood floor. I picked it up, admired the white-gold band, and confirmed that it matched the one on my finger. It also fit perfectly on my pinky finger, which is where I held Wife’s ring when the wedding photographer took pics of it. She had somehow lost it at home, and THOUGHT she’d worn it to work that morning long ago…
After cleaning, I stopped by her work for dinner. I walked in, ordered a pint, sat down, and asked her to take off her wedding ring. She looked at me confused, but complied. I snatched it back, and dropped the found ring on her finger. She looked confused, thinking I’d put my ring on her finger. Then she realized that there were three rings between us. She was happy. I was happy. We are NOT keeping the replacement ring “just in case.” If she loses this one again, there will be trouble. The replacement came from my mother-in-law, so I think we’re going to give it back to her. I don’t want a backup ring, that’s just not okay.

So cleaning up before leaving paid off nicely. And the two pints of Mill St lager at dinner were quite tasty too…

Monday, March 26, 2012

Weekend Update - move done

Wow, what a weekend!
Saturday we moved into our new house. Wife was away playing a couple of shows Friday night and Saturday afternoon, so I took care of the details myself. Intentionally. I’m sure this saved a day of fighting.

We had friends coming to help move the furniture, and everything small enough to fit into a car was already moved. So it would be a fairly quick relocation. Everyone showed up around 12:30, and we filled the moving van twice. The first trip also had the 2 cats with us. Lou moaned loudly the entire 10-minute drive. I don’t remember him stopping for air, just one loud waaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaa. However, they were quite happy when we shut them in Wife’s studio while we unloaded. The second trip was unloaded by around 3:30, and the friends dove into the beer and rye that were ready for drinking.

One friend and I returned the cargo van to the company, nearly getting into a fistfight with a jerk at the gas station. Thankfully he backed off, and neither of us had to spend the evening in either the hospital or jail (and either/both were likely at the time). We returned to the new house at around 4pm, broke open the beer and expensive Cohiba Esplendidos cigars that were given to me. I had been waiting for a long time to smoke one of those, but couldn’t find an occasion to burn a $75 cigar. So that afternoon, 4 of us each smoked one. Absolutely delicious…
After a handful of drinks each, we went to the pub for dinner. And more booze. Most of us have blurry recollections of going home after about 8 hours of imbibing…

Yesterday we spent most of the day unpacking, and got through most of it before heading out to see The Hunger Games. Wife loved it, I hated it. Then it was home to bed.

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Falling Down

On February 13, I returned from 2 weeks in the Caribbean.
Four days later, my mother passed away. I spent the next 10 days dealing with family and funeral preparations.
The day after the funeral, I was back in Toronto. Preparing for a musical obligation that I’d made 6 months prior. True, the performances were a lot of fun. But the preparation took every spare hour and drained me of all my energy.
The day after the performances, and for some of the preceeding week, I was back to 12-16 hours per day packing, moving, and working in between. Yesterday I left the house at 7:15am, and came home at 11pm in time to make dinner and pass out exhausted. And this will go on until at least Sunday.

Looking back, I haven’t had more than 2 hours for myself since I was in the Virgin Islands. I think I’ve hit the wall, but can’t stop yet. The palms of my hands tingle, and I’ve lost some of the feeling in them. I’m eating Advil for breakfast daily. I feel like shit. Shit.

Next week I will sleep. Hopefully.

Oh, and have I mentioned? While I’m working this hard, my finances are spiraling out of control. I’m debating on giving up on sailing to get a part-time job. All that work for minimum wage (likely for pt) is something I don’t know if I can bring myself to do.

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Hectic Week

It’s been a hectic few days.
First off, the St. Paddy’s Day shows were awesome. I forgot how much fun it was to play live. And we made a decent bit of cash to boot!

Sunday Wife and I were up early to pack. I took apart my recording studio, packed up my instruments, and moved them all to the new house.
Monday night we packed and moved.
Yesterday I took the day off work, and we moved more crap. Wife’s sister was there to help, and we really benefitted from that. We moved 7 carloads of stuff. The kitchen has been moved (except for 2 glasses, 2 plates, 2 sets of cutlery, frozen French fries, and a frozen pizza). Most of our clothes have been moved, I have 4 days of attire assigned and sitting on a shelf.
We went out late last night to buy a vacuum cleaner, as we now have carpets. 9pm, Scarborough Wallmart. WOW. It was really skanky, and no particularly good deals. Ole reliable Canadian Tire, however, had exactly what we needed, in a clean, informed, screaming-child-free environment.

Today I hurt. I will eat a couple of Advils. I might have a couple more for a mid-afternoon snack. Then I’m packing and moving more stuff tonight.

Friday, March 16, 2012

Stagefright For The Weekend

This should be an interesting weekend.
Tomorrow I have a couple of St.Paddy’s Day shows with a new band. They’ve been around for a while, but this will be the first time I’ve played with them. The first time I’ve played live in almost 9 years, I think! Except for my wedding, that is… I whipped out a cool guitar/vocal version of Unchained Melody for my bride, and the nerves from the wedding countered the nerves from the stagefright and I was fine for both.

I’m starting to get the jitters for tomorrow’s show. I’m getting anxious, but to be honest I’m liking the nervousness.

Then Sunday I’m tearing down my studio, and packing up all my instruments, for the move to the new house. I’m going to miss them for the next month or so. And then as soon as I get them set up, sailing season starts. So they’ll be neglected even longer... but that’s a whole other story.

Thursday, March 15, 2012

If You Go Out On The Ice Today, You're In For A Big Surprise...

Well, it SHOULDN'T be a surprise...

Last weekend, dozens of ice-fishermen had to be rescued off Lake Simcoe. The balmy weather (that we’ve had since NOVEMBER) has created unsafe conditions, and Search & Rescue teams had to pull them off an ice floe that separated.

WHAT IS WRONG WITH THESE PEOPLE???? This has been the warmest winter in recent history, and heading out onto the ice is certainly too dangerous. I find it offensive that my taxes are donated to such an important service, but then the service is used for people’s stupidity. And I hope that the SAR team that assisted didn’t have to “reprioritize” and ignore another task, in order to address these fools.

And I hope they’re all handed a bill for the costs. They don’t deserve what they got.

After writing this, it seems that for once the locals might be agreeing with me!

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Money and Time, they don't add up

Monday night was spent at the new house again. Painting, putting stuff together, fixing, cleaning… the list is endless.
Leaving at around 10pm, I noticed that there was a strange reflection on the car. Nope, not a reflection. Some jerk had sideswiped the car and just driven away. There are a lot of scratches (and a couple of small dents) around the passenger-side rear quarter panel. Nice. It’s not even my car! I can’t do anything for a couple of weeks, as we have absolutely no time, but at the end of the month I’ll have to look around for a fix that hopefully doesn’t cost an arm and a leg.

One of the cats is at the vet today to have a couple of teeth pulled. The vet says that the lesions on the teeth probably hurt her, but would have come on so gradually that she probably doesn’t notice. She’s always such a happy cat. Still, there’s another $500-700 gone.

When I went to the Virgin Islands in February, it was on the promise that the next family vacation would be Manhattan in the fall. With these financial issues (and the move costing twice as much as expected so far), we’re getting deeper and deeper in debt. I’m hoping we can get to New York, because I’m going to need a break later this year. I’ve also been asked to crew a sailboat in a massive world-recognized race next winter in the Caribbean. I really really really really want to go, but that can only happen after NYC. Blessed with opportunities down the road, if I can get through the next few months without burying myself in debt.

Monday, March 12, 2012

What Happened to the Weekend?

The weekend flew by.

Thursday night, I only had a few drinks. However, I woke up Friday with the most debilitating hangover ever. I went to work for an hour or so before going home “with the flu.” I spent the day sleeping on the sofa before going out Friday night to play poker. I lost my $10 buy-in for the first game, but walked away with $70 when I won the second. I also had a great evening hanging out with friends. Not bad at all.

Saturday I got up and rushed to Home Depot to buy a few things for the new house. Then I spent the afternoon building stands for my amplifiers and guitars. In the new house, my recording studio will be the basement. Unfortunately, in the unlikely event of a sewer backup, it will enter through the basement floor. To minimize the damage, I bought a few 2x4s, and build sturdy stands that will keep everything at least 6” off the floor. Then I went to band rehearsal, where I wore down FOUR picks in 3 hours. To put it in perspective, in 25 years of playing I have never gone through more than 1 pick for about 20 hours’ rehearsal! That shows how hard and fast I’m strumming with this stuff.

Sunday was a special day for Kate at her church, so I went along for support. She did really well. We rushed out, had a quick sandwich, and got down to the new house for more painting and other home improvements. Then grocery shopping (the first in 6 weeks), dinner at about 9pm, and I dove into bed exhausted.

Today I’m back at work, where I can (relatively) relax.

Thursday, March 8, 2012


Last night I went out for a business meeting, hoping to improve my future employment. It involved a few pints of Stella Artois, nachos and chicken wings. And salacious gossip. The evening went well, that’s all I can say for now.
Tonight I’m out for a few drinks with my sailboat racing crew.
Tomorrow night is Poker Night at the sailing club.
Saturday morning I will wake up early to accept the delivery of moving bins, and to somehow rest my liver.

In case you haven't noticed, i have started drinking again, but in moderation.  To clarify, i drink less at one time.

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

No More TTC!

I got to the subway station early this morning. And it was a good thing too – I had to wait for 3 trains to pass before I could squeeze onto the 4th. And then, to add to the fun, we sat north of Bloor Station for around 10 minutes.

I’ll be very happy, come the end of the month, to NOT buy another TTC pass. They have a complicated and expensive system, but it is horribly mismanaged and don’t deserve the fare.
Thankfully, I will finally be back within walking distance of my office.

Monday, March 5, 2012

New House

Did I tell you that Wife and I are moving?
We’ve joined a Co-op, and will be getting a 3-storey townhouse downtown for less than we’re paying in rent for our 1-bedroom apartment! We took possession last week, and spent the entire weekend painting. We’re very excited, and for a few reasons. We’ve decided to get out of the Midtown Toronto sterility, and relocate to an “up-and-coming” neighbourhood. The new neighbourhood is an interesting mix of low-income and wealthy. As a friend wrote in a song about the area “lawyers and addicts, new age fanatics…”
Surprisingly, I’ve always liked the area (at least the district a 5-minute walk from our house) but never spent much time there. I was glad to get out yesterday for a lunch break, we wandered up to a restaurant while windowshopping and people-watching.

We also moved because we REALLY need more space. If Wife is quilting or working on a play, she needs space. So I get relocated to the bedroom. If I am working on music (or, less likely, work), she gets relocated to the bedroom. In the new place we will each have our own work studio, as well as a comfy living room that neither of us will invade with our artistic stuff.

This month will be a whirlwind of preparing, packing, and moving. And in the midst of this, I’m rehearsing for a band that’s got a few shows booked for St.Patrick’s day (email me for details, I’m trying to regain my anonymity) and Wife is busy with fundraisers for her theatre company.