shavastak: (Nudibranch)
A bunch of life-update-worthy things have happened recently, so it's time for an update.

1) I saw my gynecologist on the 13th, at last. She doesn't think my problems are endometriosis. "Not a classical presentation" were the words she used, which means maybe, but probably not. As of the 17th I'm off birth control for a month and then bloodwork either 3 days after my period starts, or after 6 weeks, whichever comes first. In the meantime, my GI symptoms have (at least temporarily) subsided, so I'm back to exercising in the mornings.

2) Our real estate company in Knoxville let us know our tenants will be moving out at the end of May, and our real estate agent said it's a good time to sell. She sent us listings for houses in our area and we think we should be able to get 55-60k for the house, leaving us with US$20-25k, net. Very sweet.

3) We went to the bank on Wednesday.
a) We opened tax-free savings accounts (that is, the interest isn't taxed) for both me and Chris, and Chris begins contributing to his in two weeks.
b) We did a lot of talking about what to do with the money from the sale of the Knoxville house. I think we're probably going to put it into an investment account with the hope of getting ~5% per year on it until we are ready to buy and build. There's still the possibility of doing that in the US, and using that money to pay for the taxes on my loan forgiveness in 2023/2028, or of bringing it over the border when the Canadian dollar is weak (extra value!) and putting it into our tax-free savings accounts.
c) We got a lot of information about mortgages in Canada:
i) You can't get a mortgage for just land, at least not through RBC.
ii) We can totally have Erin on the mortgage and that should make it possible to get approved for a fair bit. (Two of my technicians are working on buying right now, and I get the impression they've been approved for something in the 600ks.)
iii) Mortgages for building work differently than normal ones. You get approved for a certain amount and then they dole it out in chunks called 'draws.' These, presumably, come out when it comes time to pay the contractors for their work. 10% of each draw gets held aside in case you decide not to pay the contractors. You get all that back after 3 months, assuming the contractors haven't needed to draw on that 10%, to do what you like with.

4) Chris bought a bike recently, and he and I will be biking together on occasion as he builds his biking strength up and I start training in more earnest.

Last Rites

Mar. 25th, 2013 05:37 pm
shavastak: (Nudibranch)
This way through the gates, my friend.
I can see you are in pain.
I can't make you fly again.
You've sung the sunrise for the last time.
Sing the sunset now, at peace.
This way through the gates.


This way through the gates, my friend.
I can feel the pain you're in.
Torn fur, blood draining,
You've gamboled in fields for the last time.
Relax under my hand now, and rest.
This way through the gates.


This way through the gates, my friend.
Your suffering is clear.
Old bones, tired eyes,
You've comforted others for the last time.
Let me comfort you now, loyal friend.
This way through the gates.


This way through the gates, my friend.
No greater peace have I to give
Than this syringe. I wish
I could make you whole again,
But time, and life, and death
March on, inexorable, for us all.
So I will smooth your path.
I will take my place in this circle.
With a gentle touch,
And my tears for your ending,
I'll usher you through the gates.


-Erin Van Hiel
shavastak: (Nudibranch)
Pictures from my trip to the San Diego Zoo today, that is.

Lots of Pics! )
shavastak: (Nudibranch)
Today we were discussing bringing food tomorrow for a food day / end of the world party. I told everyone that I'd be bringing something (candy) because it was Yule. I got asked if I was pagan.

So, the answer is, not really. I'm more philosophical than anything else, I said. I like the pagan holidays because of their medieval-fantasy imagery and link with the natural cycles. And, they give me something to celebrate. It's nice to have a way to mark your progress through the year, and to have excuses to do things like see family, take time off of work, eat awesome food, and dress up in costumes.

The real truth is, I subscribe to the belief that every moment is holy. No moment is any more or less important than any other moment, at least from the point of view of the universe as a whole. So, celebrate the moments that are important to you, whatever those are.
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I have a roof over my head. I have sufficient monetary funds to pay all my bills, replace broken things, and occasionally buy a little extra stuff. I have clothes to cover me and keep me warm. I have a car to get me places, and it has a working heater.

I have a good dog and a good cat and three good rats. I have inexpensive or free animal food, and relatively inexpensive animal medicine.

I have a brilliant, creative, and literate mind and a reasonably healthy and strong body. My eyes work, my ears work, and my fingers work. I have goals, and I have accomplishments. My resume is solid and will only get better. I've already taken the NAVLE, and I'm fairly certain I passed it. My future is bright.

I have an incredible husband who loves me. I have amazing friends. I have wonderful teachers and classmates. I have a fantastic family.

I live in a country in which I am free to express my opinions, worship as I choose, read what I want, and browse any part of the internet that interests me.

I live on one of the most beautiful planets in the universe, and I share it with living things that never cease to amaze and fascinate me.

I live in a vast empty universe dotted with miracles of burning gas and coalesced carbon, the thorough contemplation of which never fails to leave me awestruck.

And I have bacon.
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Friday August 3rd was the last day of my Community Practice rotation. That rotation simulated real life situations well enough that I am really beginning to feel like I might be a vet soon. Ish. I saw healthy animals for vaccines, I saw sick animals that I diagnosed with problems, I saw sick animals that I failed to diagnose (more workup is needed), and I saw sick animals that ended up dying. The whole gamut, really.

I'm learning that my instincts are usually pretty good, that I'm definitely on the right track career-wise, and that I have avoided talking about money for way too long. I need to woman up and do it.

I'm also learning that big organizations do new things poorly. Today I start a brand new rotation, Small Animal Emergency. It's new not just for me, but for UT; it started (in its current form) on July 2nd, so it's barely a month old. And, it's not yet fully organized. For one thing, it has no clinician. My understanding is that UT has been planning to add this rotation for some time, but they only started interviewing for a criticalist in May, or maybe even June. Way to plan ahead, people! So this brand new rotation is currently being organized by the emergency tech. I'm sure she's qualified and knowledgeable, but we don't have an orientation and the email she sent out doesn't have quite enough information for me to do what I need to do. I also didn't know there would be no orientation until I showed up at 7:45 this morning and asked one of the interns.

At least there seems to be a schedule. I work 6 pm to 2 am Monday through Saturday of this week, and I cover through 3 am-ish Sunday morning. I'm okay with this.

Let's hope for a steady, reasonable caseload this week. I want to learn stuff!
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Interesting question for me, given that I recently (just about a year ago) legally changed my name. I deliberately chose every part of my new name, which was a mixture of old and new. My first name is new, something I created for myself because my old first name never fit me. I kept my original middle name for several reasons - in honor of my parents, who chose it, and in honor of my French godmother, whom I love and miss very much. I turned my original last name, which I am very attached to, into a middle name, and my husband took it too. Then I took his last name, because I love him and I wanted to honor him and his family name.

We deliberated about what to do with our last names for a long time. I didn't want to completely lose my last name, and I didn't want him to completely lose his, and I refused to hyphenate, but we couldn't find a way to combine them that worked for us, so this was the solution we came up with. The last hurdle was me deciding that I would be okay with being called by his last name once I graduate from vet school - I'd gotten used to thinking of myself as Dr. W and had to ask myself if I was okay with being Dr. G instead. I was.
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After leaving the house in the capable hands of a friend of ours, we starting driving towards Tampa at about 8:30 pm on the 21st of December. I did most of the driving down there, including the last 30 minutes, even though I felt like I was falling asleep then. We met the other members of our party for breakfast at their hotel, and then headed towards the dock.

My party consisted of:

Me, 6' 250 lb half-orc paladin of the goddess of animals; NG.
Sue, 5'2" 200 lb dwarf barbarian/shaman; CG.
Chris, 6' 230 lb human rogue with bardic knowledge feat; CG.
Paul (my father), 6'2" 215 lb human wizard; NG.
Marge (my father's wife), 5'10" 160 lb elven diplomat; CG.
Julie (my sister), 5' 1/4" 200 lb gnomish sorcerer; LG.
Pete (Marge's son), 6'6" half-elven cleric; NG.
Kate (Pete's girlfriend), 5'9" elven cleric; LG.

More seriously, my dad is a teacher, Marge is a real estate agent, my sister shows apartments and used to be a chef, and Pete and Kate are both doctors.

The whole start of the trip was very stressful for me. I had found out shortly before we left that someone was going to get charged $11.50 per day per person in gratuity charges, just for being on the ship. That seems fair (that covers all food servers and room cleaners, and they clean the room like three times a day) but I was afraid we couldn't afford it. Getting on the ship was also stressful because there were no signs, and the guard who was theoretically directing us to where we needed to go yelled at me rather than being helpful. It didn't help that I hadn't had any sleep.

We got on the ship around 1 pm, and I sat up on one of the upper decks and talked to Dad while Chris got me sustenance - I was in desperate need of protein and vitamins, because the road food had been primarily carbs and caffeine. I watched the sunset from Dad & Marge's room and then joined everybody in the Destiny dining room for dinner.

The food was excellent, for the most part. Occasional breaks in quality didn't ruin the experience by any means. The food was also highly vegetarian-friendly, and I had vegetarian dishes three nights out of four, even though I'm not vegetarian. The only meal I was really disappointed with was the breakfast we had Sunday morning in the sit-down restaurant; the pancakes were meh, the syrup was fake maple, and the turkey bacon was undercooked and unpleasant. But, the breakfast buffet was still open so I went up there and had a real breakfast.

The first night was set to be our Solstice celebration, so Sue and I went walking on the upper decks to see the stars and do a little ritual. I dabbed ritual oil on our hands and then we held hands; I just stood there, soaking in the feeling. It helped, I think.

The first full day was a day at sea, and I spent the day doing trivia and wandering around on my own, exploring. I got a temporary tattoo of a spikey dragon on my shoulder, in orange, red, and brown. The afternoon of the 23rd was set for celebrating Dad & Marge's anniversary, so we got a cake and met up on the back of the ship to watch the sunset. After that, we went to a show in the ship's lounge; it was 'southern' themed and we got to watch the performers dance to a bunch of familiar country songs, including Rocky Top, which is sort of like Knoxville's theme song. (I drove 11 hours and got on a ship to hear Rocky Top, yes I did.) The best part of it was the violin-player who did a very good version of Devil Went Down to Georgia. Dinner was 'elegant' that night, so we dressed up, and got some nice pictures taken which I'll scan and post some day. We did karaoke that night, and I sang Billy Joel's Longest Time to applause that had real enthusiasm in it.

The second day, we had docked in Cozumel, and I went snorkeling in the morning. It was nice, like floating over an enormous aquarium. I had lunch with Sue, napped, tried out the casino with Sue, then hit the water slide and the hot tubs. The third day we were back at sea, and Sue had a tour around the ship in the morning so she and I got up for an early breakfast. After she left, I went to play cards with my family in Dad's suite, and we ordered lunch and exchanged presents. I got two t-shirts. Then Chris and I went and enjoyed the waterslide and the hot tub together.

Departure day required us to get up pretty early because we needed to be out of our room by 8 am and ready to go by about 8:30. Getting out was stressful again, but we managed it somehow, and started driving home at about 10:30 am. We got home at 1 am this morning.

All in all it was a positive experience for me. I was able to relax, for the most part, although I wouldn't say I had fun. Chris and Sue did, though, and that was what I was really hoping for.
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Saturday was quite a day, so this post is long, but Club Fet, which was its own two-day experience squished into 6 hours, will be its own, possibly even longer, post.

Friday first )
Saturday, for real this time )
shavastak: (Default)
The drain is clear!

It turns out that the drain in the basement does actually head out toward the back yard, and had gotten clogged up with dirt and grass and such. After three failed attempts in a row to find a third estimate for the sump pump install, Chris rented a snake. When he found it couldn't enter the drain pipe, because of size issues, he got frustrated and went outside to see what he could see. There was a damp patch, and he started digging, and almost immediately a bunch of water gushed out. He went back inside, and the drain was empty of water.

We dug a careful hole around the drainpipe's exit, and sometime this week we intend to cover it with big pieces of gravel, in an attempt to help keep it clear. So yay. All we need now is a cover for the inside part of the drain and we should be good to go on the other fixes we want to do to the basement. The next major project is replacing the outside doors that are insufficient. The side door is fine, but the front door is marginal and the basement door is nigh unsafe. So that's next.
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Part Twelve: Insulation At Last

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Part Eleven: General Update.

The old house has been cleaned and the carpets professionally steamed. They looked good, last I saw them. Our addresses have been changed with the post office. Extra storage is slowly appearing throughout the house; we have a number of wire shelving thingies that can be attached to walls via screws, and I've been slowly finding them and putting them up everywhere.

We think all our movies have been found, and almost all the books. Clothing and linens seem to be in order, and we've set aside a large number of things for give-away. Sue's girlfriend took some of them, and the rest will go to Goodwill the next time we make a recycling run. I do like the way Knoxville's recycling centers tend to have Goodwill trailers at them as well, it makes it really easy to make donations.

I put up curtain rods over the two windows in Sue's room, which are currently draped by a white sheet and a black sheet respectively. Later this week we intend to go to a Walmart-type store and buy four cheap sheets in the wine range of colors, to use as curtains in her room. (Or curtains, if they turn out to be cheaper.) I think a nice deep reddish color will pick up the reddish wood in the room and nicely offset the green paint, once we paint the walls.

We have a few more pieces of shelving to put up, and a coat rack for the foyer (which can't go up until the insulation is out of the way), and a rack for cleaning tools. We'll be putting a rack up for the grilling tools soon too.

Last, and most important, we had a plumber come out and give us an estimate for work on the drain. He gave us two options. First, we can hook a pump up to the AC that will pump the AC's condensate and the humidifier's efflux outside, and that should take care of most of our water issues, but it won't have any effect if rain gets in. The second option is to dig out a hole at the drain area and put in a sump pump that will pump water outside. That's a more attractive option for all kinds of reasons - it takes into account all the water that might enter the basement, and it can be easily worked into the decor plan for that area of the basement. However, it's a bit more than twice the price. So we're debating. We definitely want plan #2, if we can afford it, but that is the real question.

Does anyone have experience with this, or can at least give us an idea of whether the prices are reasonable? They seem reasonable to me but I'm working off gut instinct, not actual experience of any kind. The first option was quoted at $528, and the second at $1285. Opinions welcome!
shavastak: (Default)
I'm listening to a radio show whereon John Fugelsang is interviewing Judy Gold, and she talks about how she wanted to create a family sitcom about her family - that is, two women and their kids. The lesbian thing was a barrier for entry into the industry; John joked that the producers wanted her to date a hot guy in the second season, as if the lesbian thing was just a phase. Judy responded with a joke about how the show should have been called "Just a Phase".

That phrase set off a memory that I wanted to relate. This is the kind of thing psychologists, especially those that work with kids, need to hear...or probably, needed to hear back in 1995 when this incident occurred. (My more recent experiences with the counseling system in this country have been much more positive.)

I got very pissed off about something at the end of my first year of college, and the administration had me talk to a counselor at the school. I remember telling her about being in love with one of my friends, and she said something along the lines of "Well don't you think that might just be a temporary thing you're going through?" She didn't actually use the words 'just a phrase,' but they hung in the air, blinking in blue and pink neon.

I don't remember what I responded to that, honestly. I had been there opening up to this stranger, and at those words it was as if every door in my soul slammed shut. I'm surprised there wasn't a reverberation in the room. How dare this woman tell me that my love was false? How dare she belittle this feeling that had overwhelmed me and flipped my life upside down (in a good way)? If she had any psychological sense at all, she must have known by my expression that I was never going to tell her anything important ever again.
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Part Ten: Abortive Cleaning Attempt

Read more... )
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Part Eight: Moving Day

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Part Nine: The Slow March to Homeness

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Part Seven: Paint Spatters

Sue is sick. She spent the whole day at home, dozing. Unfortunately, this means she hasn't gotten any packing done. Chris has psychological issues with moving, especially with packing, and has been in mild panic mode all week. Earlier in the week I made him go to a doctor and get a prescription for some anti-anxiety meds. Anyway, this basically means that I was on my own today.

After grabbing breakfast for Sue and myself, I went to the new house. The cable guy came today, and the fridge was being delivered, so I painted the kitchen and the bathroom. My arms are spattered with green and blue latex paint. It was tiring, but not overwhelmingly so, and it's the kind of job that gives you a sense of accomplishment, because your progress is visually obvious. I would consider this a good day, for me. (For Chris and Sue, obviously not so good a day.)

Lessons for the day: Grate Stuff cans aren't really intended for multiple uses. The Stuff sticks in the dispensing straw, and doesn't come out nicely, and when the dispensing straw is partly clogged, the Stuff comes out around the plastic adapter and starts pushing the straw off. Chris bought a new can, and we plan to use its straw with both cans, by doing a whole bunch of Stuffing all at once.

Also, you know your house is poorly insulated when the temperature at the ceiling is 10 degrees higher than the temperature at head height. I can't wait for the insulation machine to be available again...


Right now, I'm relaxing in front of the computer, and when I feel a little more rested I'll pack a few things, take a shower to get the latex off me, and give Sue a massage. Chris is going to bed early.
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Part Six: The Treasure

Not much has gotten done on the house the last few days. Chris has been busy at work, resulting in tired at home. Sue is getting sick; we think it's a combination of heat and breathing in dust, some of which may very well have had unhealthiness in it. I've been exhausted, as previous posts have let on.

Yesterday, though, we all decided that the cable guy who is coming today would really appreciate it if we put the plastic down in the crawl space, so Chris and I went to the house last night to do that.

The first step involved getting into the crawl space and pulling out all the random junk that was in there. There was a lot of rotted wood, some wire, a huge piece of light-metal tubing (about 18 inches in diameter, but the metal was very thin), an elbow joint that went with it, a thick iron cuff from some other piping of some kind, an old pint paint can (with no paint in it), and an empty bottle of Century something whiskey. Some of that stuff might be useful for gardening.

There were also five old beer cans. Two of them were 40oz cans of Falstaff, which is a brand I've never heard of, and they both had old tear-drop-shaped pull-tab openings. Then there was a normal-sized can of Falstaff and two normal-sized cans of Schlitz, all of them clearly opened via can opener. I was like 'dude, these are old!' Sue looked it up for us from home, and said that they started putting pull-tabs on beer in the early 60s, so these cans might conceivably be as old as the house. (80 years). We're planning to clean them up and see if an antique store is interested in them.

Putting the plastic down went smoothly, and we even put up a little flap around the entranceway so that it would be covered but still accessible. I was very glad Chris was willing to get up into the crawl space, because while I don't mind closets or elevators, I have a problem with ceilings really close to my head, and crawling around in a 2'6" tall space (in some areas) is NOT a good thing for me.

Anyway, I'll post an update on the beer cans later, especially after I get a chance to take some pics of them.
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Part Four: Exhaustion and Frustration

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Part Five: Nope

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Part Three: Hornets, Drains, and Ceiling Fans
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