Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Seeing The Way Clear

Most people hate going to the dentist. I, personally, would much rather do that than go for my annual eye exam.  I had to do that this week, and it seems I see better than I did last year...... or perhaps I made better guesses. 

I don't think I have a lot of confidence in this procedure to determine how good or bad my eyesight is. After all, it's all based on what I say.  I find I'm often having to guess at what I'm seeing, so the results are based on not how well I see, but how good I'm guessing.  If I am guessing wrongly, then the results may be accurate, as the doctor would then know I cannot see as well as I should be able to.  But if I'm making a lot of accurate guesses, then I'm sure that can screw up the final results of the test. The doctor will, of course then think I can see better than I can.  No matter what I do, I always feel like I came out of there a failure.

I have cataracts and I like to read.  I can read this screen without glasses, but if I'm reading a book, I tend to wear drugstore glasses....magnifiers the optometrist calls them.  I had thought of getting prescription glasses several years ago, but when I first found out I had cataracts I decided to wait until they were taken care of first.  That, apparently can take a long time since not all caracts grow quickly.  Then, last year, I found I was suddenly closing one eye to read.  Not on purpose mind you, but apparently my brain is trying to make things easier for me now and magnifiers just aren't helping anymore.

I went into my eye exam last year, all prepared to come out with a legitimate prescription for reading glasses.  The optometrist informed me that she could  no longer bring me back to 20/20 and that we would deal with the cataracts first. I was told I could no longer see well enough to drive, and she was sending me off to see the surgeon.  I don't drive anyway, but it's a good thing as the surgeon decided the cataracts were not bad enough to deal with at that time.  I would have gone this entire year without being able to drive.  Mind you, I have an astigmatism and would need distance glasses to drive anyway, so perhaps that's what she meant.

When I went for my eye exam this year, I was told that I could have come back in for the prescription for the glasses anytime.  Huh?  It seems I misunderstood something here, and actually could have had the glasses last year after all.  Maybe I should worry that I'm losing something other than my eyesight.

Now, when faced with a wall of frames, I get very frustrated. There are far too many choices and I have no idea how to pick out something that will be both functional and becoming.  Any advise would be greatly appreciated.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Active Weekend

Once upon a time I always had my camera with me. These days I never seem to have it, but I had better change my ways as I know you would all love to see pictures of the weekend I just had.

The local United Church was holding a fund raiser they call Divine Diva Days. They rented tables to people who wanted to sell of some of the still decent clothing, handbags, shoes and jewelry they no longer wanted. In another part of the church they held a fashion show and tea with delectable goodies. The clothing for the fashion show came from a local store called Doree’s Habit and somehow I got to be one of the models even though I’m not a member of that church.

I got to choose the outfits I was comfortable wearing and really enjoyed the experience. There was a professional photographer who took group shots of all the models outside, in various locations, and then he was up front during the show catching us there too. The fashion show was Friday night. It didn’t last very long as we each only had two outfits to wear. Both of mine came with a hat. One was so big I stuffed a plastic bag into the crown to make it fit better. I may go down to the shop sometime this week and pick up the smaller one though. It was cute and would go with several things I own. I also discovered that I’d really like to own a nice wide belt. I’ve never worn one before, but I really liked the effect.

After the fashion show I was treated to the tea at no charge. There were lots of really nice desserts available, and I chose a piece of triple layer cake, and later a butter tart square. I was prepared to weigh more the next morning, but some sort of magic happened as I actually went down an additional pound, putting me at a weight I have not seen since I first became a Weight Watchers Life Time Member many years ago. I even had to get another hole made in my belt.

Saturday we went to the 1000 Islands Wine and Food Festival with another couple. I’ve never been to one of these before but it was an interesting experience too. You had to pay $8 to get in the door and they gave you a plastic tray with a handle at one end and a slot for a wine glass to fit nicely into at the other. They also gave you a nice heavy wine glass. You got to keep the wine glass when you went home, but you had to turn the tray back in.

There were demonstrations by celebrity chefs such as Pam Collacott of the Trilliam Cooking School, The Brockberry’s Chef Seth O’Hara and Merrickville’s Thomas Riding. If you sat for the demonstration, you got served a portion of whatever food had been prepared. You also got some wine that had been paired to go well with that food. They were cleaver in that they didn’t run the demonstrations back to back, so people didn’t just sit in those seats all day. We got up to explore the rest of the tables.

Various food establishments and wine makers had booths all around the edges of the arena and mostly at one end. You bought tickets, 10 for $5, and traded a number of tickets for anything you wanted to sample. Most places were happy with 2 tickets. For some little things they just wanted one ticket, while more elaborate things like cheese cake or shrimp in a bowl with flavoured rice was more like 4 or 5 tickets. There were a large number of wines to sample also.....which is why they gave you the glass. Many of them were from Prince Edward County but there was one from Oxford Mills, and another from Kanata, that definitely got my attention. They make summer wines, with fruits. The Oxford Mills vendor didn’t manage to get his licence in time for this show, due to the postal strike (I believe) but he said he would be open in August and we could come and sample all 8 varieties then. That’s the Blue Gypsy Wines. I got a good serving of a Strawberry and Watermelon wine from Colio Estate Wines from Kanata.. It was so nice I hope to be able to locate and purchase a bottle of that as soon as possible. I may want to try the blackberry one too.
Not everyone wanted a ticket in exchange for their samples. There was a place with several varieties of cheese where I tried one that had salsa in it. Now, that will definitely make a nice addition to my cheese platters in the future. I might just have to think up an excuse to have company now!

The other end of the hall was filled with art work. I think there were about 23 artists represented there. Some of it gave me confidence, and some of it gave me something to aim for. I had a nice chat with a couple of the artists, and came home with a few art cards to remember them by.

Between the wine glasses, the art cards, a copy of Zoomer Magazine and all the wonderful goodies, I think I got very good value for my money and had a very enjoyable afternoon.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Kingston Kicks

Every year I look forward to my favourite martial arts event, Kingston Kicks. It is held at the Ambassador Hotel, and put on by Renshi Ted Theelen and his wife Carol.  On Saturday there are always lots of seminars for all ranks and age groups that include karate, jiu jitsu, aikido, tai chi, weapons, self defense and an assortment of other things.  This year I even heard how much some people really enjoyed the sport massage class. 

My hubby generally teaches at these events and I wander from room to room watching the students from our club as they take part.  This year there were even a couple of wives there, so I wasn't as alone as I might usually be. Not that I'm ever actually alone, since this is like a giant reunion when I get to see people I may not see any other time of year.  An old friend even drove in from outside of Kingston to spend some time with us and we had a nice visit. 

In the evening there is always a great party, at no extra charge.  Even the kids can come to the party if they want.  Usually they are just there for the early part of the evening, as they are already worn out from all the exercise they got throughout the day.  It's amazing how well little kids can dance these days, and it's always fun to watch them.  This year the party theme was Hoe Down, and people showed up in their jeans and plaid shirts and cowboy hats.  I didn't expect to enjoy it as much as usual.  I'm not that much into country music, and I was a bit disappointed that I wasn't getting to wear the dress I bought especially for this occasion.  But surprisingly I had as great a time as I usually do. 

Sunday it's Tournament time.  There were demonstration teams, and sports jui jitsu competitions as well as the usual kata and kumite (sparring) competitions.  The categories were small enough that everything ran smoothly, and there were lots of smiling faces.  Just one of our students took part in the tournament this year, and though it was his first ever competition, he proudly took home a bronze metal. 

 I'm sure plans are already in the works for next year, and I'm already looking forward to going back for more good times.

Friday, June 3, 2011

I'm Not in Hot Water Today

So, I told you my hot water tank sprung a leak. I had put away a bit of money and enjoyed seeing the savings account grow, but since I did that a week ago, I have had to spend almost 4 times as much on things that are not part of my budget planning. 

Yesterday there were lots of calls made to help us determine whether we would replace the 60 gallon electric hot water heater with another one, or to drop down to a 40 gallon tank.  And should we stick with electric or switch to a gas one now that we have gas lines coming to the house for the new furnace?  We'll soon be on a limited income (that's a silly term really) and the price of electricity is supposed to sky rocket.  It already costs 10% more than what we actually pay each month, since we're all getting help at the moment, in the form of the Ontario Clean Energy Benefit. The promised 45% increase in electrical costs over the next 5 years is enough to make us cringe.

First we were told that most people use a 40 gallon tank these days, since nobody washes clothes in hot water anymore.  But when I asked if it might cost more to reheat the water in the tank when a higher percentage of the total volume was being replaced with cold every time we turned the tap on, they thought I had a point and suggested a 60 gallon one, with a timer on it. Well, I don't need the timer as I don't use hot water during the day anyway, and the tank has double insulation. My hot water never got cold during the 5 days we were without power during the big Ice Storm of '98, so I know that insulation works wonders.  I can always flip the switch on the electrical panel if I feel the need to stop it from working for any period of time.  From watching my hourly electrical use on I know that the only time water heating shows up on the charts is when we take a bath.  As for the idea that a gas one might be more efficient, we were informed that the efficiency for a gas hot water heater only lasts for the first 5 years. After that, it drops down rather considerably.  So, we ended up ordering the 60 gallon electric hot water tank to replace our old one.

The plumbers showed up this morning and installed it. Then they came up and told me there was a problem.  It seems that the thing they installed may look like a hot water heater, but it turned out to be nothing but a holding tank. It has no elements in it, and no thermostat.  They didn't notice this since it came in a box that declared it to be a  hot water heater, and it's standard for them to do the plumbing first and the electrical later. Only when they went to do the electrical work did they discover the problem. So they had to call their supplier, who is an hour away, and have one delivered here  In the meantime they had to take my old tank back to the shop as they couldn't carry both it and the holding tank at the same time in their truck.  While back at the office they checked the paperwork, and sure enough, it was purchased as a hot water heater, and was somehow put in the wrong package for shipment. 

They let me know that this job had been taken off the clock as soon as they had finished the first installation.  The supplier would be billed for the extra time.  That's fine, but my life was on hold for the entire morning while this mess got straightened out. I had to laugh and tell them my whole week had been like this (well, my hubby's anyway, since most of the problems were really his). 

And now the cold water in the tank is heating up at the highest electrical rates of the day.   That wouldn't have happened if the proper tank had been installed the first time.  Though really, there isn't a whole lot of difference between the highest rates and the middle rates.....until they start to accumulate. 

Tonight we'll have hot water.  I'm sure somebody will happily test it out.

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

The Universe is Out to Get Me!

When I was young I was a pessimist. I operated under the theory that I’d never be disappointed if I always expected the worst. I could only get some pleasant surprises instead. I may have to go back to that way of thinking as I’m finding that the universe always seems to hear me when I have a positive experience and start thinking happy thoughts. It throws a monkey wrench into the works and screws everything up just to teach me a lesson.

For instance, when I was learning to cross country ski, every time I thought I was getting the hang of it, I’d instantly land on my backside. It’s like I was being told not to get overconfident. When I was learning tai chi and really started to get serious about it, I fell on a flight of stairs and tore all the soft tissue in my foot. If I find $20 in a pocket, suddenly I need something that requires that I spend that $20.

I should know better by now!

Friday I decided there was some extra money in my chequing account that I wouldn’t be needing in the near future so I moved it to my bonus account. That activated the universe pretty quickly.  The powers that be came out to grab that loot. 

By that evening my hubby had somehow broken a tooth. It needed emergency care, which, of course, costs more. He got it pulled out on Saturday. And our vehicle suddenly needed a wheel bearing. By Monday, somehow my hubby had another tooth that a piece broke off, so he has to go back to the dentist again. If they can’t fix this one, it will also mean a trip to the denturist, as his partial plate attaches to this particular tooth. And as if what I had put away wasn’t already spent by all this, when I went down to the basement just before supper tonight, I found water on the floor. The hot water tank is leaking. Lovely. One day I’m happy to have a bit of extra money, and within a few days, it’s not only all gone, but I’m now in the hole. What’s next? Enough already!

Yep, I’m going back to being a pessimist again. Expect the worst and if it doesn’t happen, I’ll be in a lot better shape than I am now. At least that would be a pleasant surprise!