A Real "Youch" at the Dentist

This is the story of a very expensive accident that happened to me when I was thirteen. I had worked by butt off (okay, maybe it's still there) for a year to save enough money to buy a bike. You see, we lived out in the country in the middle of nowhere and I couldn't get anywhere without a ride from Mum or Dad, which, with them both working, was often hard to come by.

Finally I had enough saved to go to Canadian Tire and get my beloved bike. I was so thrilled with it I asked my Mum if I could ride it home - no small feat as it was about ten miles, a lot of it uphill, but I insisted. Seeing how excited I was, my dear mother agreed to follow me in the car. When I turned off Streetsville Road onto Derry West Road, there is a long downhill before I had to turn onto the Fifth Line. I was booting it down this hill at breakneck speed (literally). My mother later said her speedometer read 40 MPH (yes, miles). Suddenly I completely lost control and all I vaguely remember was grabbing at the handlebars. To my mother's considerable horror following me, I launched over the handlebars and slid on my face for about forty feet on the pavement. Youch!

Three weeks later I discovered, in addition to all my other wonderful lacerations - big-time "road rash" I had chipped my front tooth. Over the years I have had everything from a Maryland Bridge" (temporary - I had it for fifteen years), to a tooth fused to gold post in my mouth (I broke it - something they said was impossible) and the dentist has re-glued my "temporary" in umpteen times over the past ten years or so. I've lost track of the cost to date, but it has to be about three grand at least. In June of this year I was eating a Timmies bagel, of all things, when I heard and felt a horrible crack. What was left of my tooth was buried in the bagel. Naturally this sort of thing never happens at a good time. I was meeting my then girlfriend's parents for brunch that Sunday, and I had no front tooth! I called my dentist and he agreed to come in on a Sunday morning, and even brought staff in to do a temporary tooth.

So this is where the story gets a little confusing. While I was there they took an impression for a bridge. Although Dr. Powell and I had discussed this many times over the years I said I would do it right after I won the lottery. Yet another "temporary", after more than forty years, was fine with me.

Anyway, last week they called, telling me that my bridge had been sitting there since June and they wanted me to come in to get it done. I had no recollection of even ordering one, but it was kind of too late and seeing as how I haven't been able to chew with the temporary, because I didn't trust that I wouldn't just break it again, I made the appointment for Friday. Sidebar to the story is that their accounting person phoned later in the week, threatening to put me in collection for the bridge she thought I had for months. I called her to advise that it was in their office, not my mouth. She had a laugh.

So off I go on Friday to get my bridge - the one I should have had about forty years ago. It goes in fine and the doc admires his work and tells me what a great smile I have. I get up to the front and they inform me that I owe them TWO THOUSAND, ONE HUNDRED AND NINETY DOLLARS!!!!! You could have blown me over with a feather. I was stunned and believe it or not for me, utterly speechless. They had never told me how much this was going to cost, or, believe me, I'd still have a temporary tooth, probably for the rest of my life. I said I didn't have a spare TWO GRAND kicking around, so they agreed to take payments, like that is much better? For a sec there I thought of having them take it back out.

Talk about a painful visit to the dentist! Yikes!

I came home with my brand new smile and started trying to figure out which walls I can live without on the reno. lol.

Yet another sidebar to the story is that just over two years after the accident, during which I was completely blank about the accident, I finally remembered exactly what happened. They had forgotten to tighten the nut that holds the handlebars on. Racing down that hill, the vibration had suddenly made it let go and I had these completely useless handlebars. In my panic I had grabbed at them and, naturally, found the front brake, which I squeezed tight, launching me over the handlebars. The statute of limitations back then to sue someone was two years, or I would have been a very rich man, who could have afforded to pay for all this.


The Heat is On

Back in the days when I had a boat and a life, this heat wave would have been so awesome, but when you're busting your buns on a reno, it ain't no fun at all! Temps in the mid thirties and even hotter in the house are just brutal to work in. We are glistening with sweat and covered in dirt - not a pretty site.

Read more


Ain't camping fun?

Now I remember why I don’t "camp". We were going up to Ashton Creek for Lorenzo’s Cafe’s 10th anniversary Music Fest, and wanted to camp Friday and Saturday nights. I needed to get up there early Friday night to reserve good "first-come, first-served" camping sites for the ski club. After twelve hours in the sun at the festival I also thought driving home was the last thing I wanted to do. So there was the plan. Crystal was getting off early so we could get up to the campground as early as possible.

The plan started Thursday with running around getting the things I didn’t have as an seasoned camper. One find was what I thought was going to be very cool – an inverter to run power equipment. It was on sale at CTC at half-price. What a deal! I do like my coffee in the morning, so I was debating over whether to spend the bucks on a coffee machine just for camping. Now I could run my radio, charge my cell anything that needed power. Way cool!

I was up at 5:30 Friday to start packing everything. Man, you need a whole lot of stuff to camp! So much to remember. The truck was full. I planned to food shop last thing on the way to get Crystal, and had what I thought was plenty of time. Little did I know the whole world would be at Extra Foods when I shopped. I have never seen it so busy. Every cash was open – a rarity at Extra Foods, and there were lineups at every till, so now I was running late, but I thought I would still make it on time to get Crystal. Not a chance. The thousand or so people sitting parked on Highway 97 had other ideas for me. I just crawled for miles towards the dreaded bridge. I finally got to Crystal’s after three, so we started off late.

We had to make a stop on the way in Vernon because I still hadn’t managed to find a table, and I knew there weren’t any at the campground. We did manage to pick up a nifty little fold-up table that turned out to be one of the only things that worked.

Weeks ago I had spoken with the guy running the camping and had arranged to give him a list of who all was camping from the ski club, and I had collected from everyone at the previous week meeting to make sure they showed or were at least paid for. After we arrived and picked a nice spot on the river, the other guy running the campground decided the list thing was no good and he wanted everyone to pay as they came in. Duh! So the arguments started. Eventually he came around and allowed me to pay for each person as they showed up, but it was a lot of running around, when I was trying to set-up camp. The worst was a guy with an RV, for whom I had confirmed the camp had power and water, but when we got there, the power line had fried weeks ago, and the only water was for the whole campground. I finally managed to find him a spot at another campground, but he went the wrong way and ended up back in Enderby. He came back to ask for a refund of his camping money and ticket money, as he was giving up and going home. Guys who don’t get "turn right" should not be allowed to drive an RV.

My original plan had been to get there, get camp set-up, relax and have a drink, and start supper. With working my face off with the reno, all I wanted was some relaxing down time. And after going flat out for two days, I needed a break.

The first disaster was the tent. I had bought it a month or so ago, on sale at CTC for half price. When we opened it up it turned out to have been used, and was covered with what looked like tree sap. Not a pleasant surprise. I had also bought a stove with a grill burner, which I thought was so neat to do steaks, bacon and so on. After Brian got it set up and a burner going, Crystal started the potatoes, and I was going to do the steak of the grill. No such luck. The damn grill wouldn’t light no way, no how, and the instructions, like all those written in Chinese, made no sense. So we had to set the potatoes aside and fry the steak in the pan on the only burner we had. Very frustrating. With all the running around for the club, and the camping confusion, and the equipment failures I was NOT having a good time. Then everyone left to go to Lorenzo’s, so we were on our own. I lit a fire just to try to get rid of the mosquitoes, certainly not for the heat, and it worked a bit. My frustration level was pretty high after two days of this, then Crystal didn’t like the noise from people partying, and asked me if anyone was going home tomorrow? That was kind of the "last straw" for me, so I suggested she find a "guy" at the Festival to take her home. What I should have said, even with the frustration, was "someone", NOT "guy", ’cause that upset her and she went to bed. So I was left sipping my beer, all alone, sitting in the dark, pissed off, and couldn’t even go to bed because I had to watch the fire I just lit. When I finally managed to crawl into the truck, the mosquitoes never quit buzzing me, so I hardly slept. Not a great first night.

I was hoping beyond hope that even with the mosquitoes I would at least manage to doze on and off for a bit, but no luck. I was wide awake at 6:00 as usual, but at least I would look forward to my coffee. I had got the coffee maker all ready the night before and just not turned the inverter on. When I flipped it on, the coffee maker immediately went off. New day. More frustration. My neighbor came over and first offered the coffee he had ready, which was great, then informed me my wonderful inverter was only 300 watts and my coffee make needed more than that, but he had 1000 watt unit we could hook to my battery. Great, I thought! The coffee maker was too much even for his invertor, so there would be no pot of coffee ready for everyone. In frustration I packed the coffee maker up in the box, forgetting that it was full of fresh, unbrewed coffee, which promptly spilled all over the box. Breakfast went a little better, as I managed to get the griddle lit and made the bacon. And the swim in the river was awesome. It was already getting hot and that cool water felt great!

Except for the sound system going out for several hours, the festival was what we expected. Great music, late but great. The Salmon Armenians, who I built the website for, were good, except Lody didn’t mention the ski club, as I had asked, but they did mention the site. I also got to talk to Sabrina Weeks, their lead singer and she liked the site. A bright spot. Although it was purdy damned hot we did manage to get a few grass dances in. We even had our picture taken by one of the local newspapers. Dancing in the dark with stones and sticks is quite the experience. We did go down to the actual dance floor once but it was very hot. I danced Crystal into the misters unexpectedly, which the crowd enjoyed.

We had broken camp before going to the festival, to be ready to leave as soon as it was over, which of course was very late. I didn’t get home until after two, pretty exhausted, only to discover that the last flush of the toilet before I left had not gone anywhere and the toilet was backed up yet again. I just had it snaked last week. And, yes, I just HAD to go, so welcome home. Then I remembered I had paid for two nights camping, and didn’t get a refund, and I left my new mister at the festival.

Today has barely started and it’s already not great. Going to be really hot and I have a backed up toilet to add to the heat in the house. I’ve called the emergency number early this morning, but no call yet. Luckily the campground has washrooms, or I wouild really be in trouble. I was at least looking forward to getting out and doing something with Crystal, but she has old friends coming in from Calgary "sometime today", so even that’s a bust.

Hope you are having a much better weekend.


Just another day in Paradise

Well, today started like every other day, almost. Doin my mornin biz, then flushed, and my only toilet overflowed! What a great start to my day. Just about the only thing that worked and it quit on me. Couldn’t believe it when I phoned Mr. Rooter and they asked if I as was a "member", which would apparently get me service today. As a non-member they could come out Friday at the earliest. I asked if she didn’t follow that my only toilet was out, and asked what I do until Friday? No response. After several calls to other plumbers – all of which were "too busy" to help, I called Wieners and the fellow said "we’ll be right out". That’s what I wanted to hear. At least some people have a clue about what customer service still is.

Moved all of the older appliances out to the front and put a big "FREE" sign on. Hopefully they’ll get taken away and save me the grief. Got my new stove, well new used stove, and dishwasher. I now have three lovely Whirlpool appliances in my kitchen. When we went to take out the old stove we discovered what has to be the very dumbest renovation thing I have ever seen. Mike Holmes would have a fit at this one. In their infinite wisdom they decided to switch the stove with the counter cupboard, which is fine, except that when we pulled out the stove to unplug it, the cord ran into the cupboard unit beside it. No problem, I thought, there must be a cut-out in the back of the cupboard with the drawers to unplug it. We pulled the drawers out, but, guess what? No plug. The lame-brained idiots had installed the cupboard over the plug!!! How stupid can you get? I guess they figured the stove would last a very long time, eh?

Got my fancy new, sturdy, front steps built. I can now use my front door – finally. Just need to add some railings and some trim.

Worked ’til 9:00 and I’m bushed. Tomorrow will be a better day.


Reno - July 6th

Now that I have my internet back up I’m going to try to record my trials and tribs on the reno a little better. Yesterday the plumbers were scheduled to be here at 7:00, so naturally they showed up at 9:00. The plan was for them to put the bathroom in the suite back together, but this got sidetracked big time. While they went to get the materials they needed Chris and I were to rip off the board and get the room ready. I asked Chris to pull up the loose vinyl and when he did all the back was wet and covered with the dreaded black mold. As usual, one thing led to another and we ended up cutting out the floor to get rid of all the mold. Needless to say no new fixtures were going in today.

Scotty planned to cut off the existing water lines so we could remove all the existing plumbing, so he asked where the shut-off was. Thus began the massive search for my main shutoff valve. They were crawling all under the trailer trying to trace the water line. Assuming it was outside near the main electrical feed I started weed-wacking and cutting limbs to remove the overgrown trees. When we cleared out all the crap we discovered the shut-off valve, which they shut-off and went back to the original plan to cap the lines. Chris and I were still clearing out all the crap and I noticed the water was trickling out, which should not have been happening with the main shut-off. It turned out that the idiot had run an irrigation line off the main BEFORE the shut-off valve, and it was leaking. Duh! I called Laura, the park manager and she said she had to give twenty-four hour’s notice to shut the park water off, so that was out of the question. We had no choice but to break off the irrigation line and try to cap it. The second they broke the line we had a gusher. Watching Scotty’s helper, Tyler, try to cap a blasting water line was funny if it wasn’t so tragic. Then it turned out he had the wrong size fitting, so he had to try to stem the flow while Scotty hunted for the right fitting, which he finally did. Quite the adventure!

Now that we have the moldy floor out we have to let it dry, then cut new flooring for when they come back. The interesting sidebar to the bathroom saga is that there was just a little crack in the original tub. The rest of the bathroom wasn’t too bad, and I considered fixing the crack, if only because this was to be my bathroom during the rest of the renos, and I’m trying to live in the suite, so I didn’t really want to start destroying anything in this area. That one little crack turned out to be a blessing because leaving this mold would have been tragic. I was very concerned about the musty smell when you came in, but I thought it was just because the unit was old and had all the wet ceiling and insulation, but this bathroom turned out to be the cause of most of the smell. It already smells much better in here now that the black death is gone.

Stay tuned.


The big move

First,I have not had internet for over a week. Second, I have just moved. Third, I have taken on the renovation of my life. Not a whole lot of spare time for sure.

I had no sooner moved to my new place after selling Mum’s place than our friendly neighborhood by-law officer showed up at my door and asked me if I had just moved in. When I replied, "yes", he promptly told me I was moving out again. When asked why the blanky blanky he told me I was in a single family neighborhood and the suite was illegal, so I was out of there. My landlady was so miffed she sold the place, closing at the end of June. I had to be out by the end of May, but I was working my buns off on a renovation and had no time to look for a place. In desperation I called the by-law boy and begged to let me stay until the end of June, which he agreed to.

Still in a bit of panic I started looking and found a sort of alright place in Kelowna for the 15th and gave her a deposit. It wasn’t great, but passable. I said I would come back Monday with the balance. On Monday I was on my way to the bank to get the money, when for some unknown reason I checked my email. There was one from my Real Estate agent that they wanted me to look at, mostly because it had an assumable mortgage – unheard of for manufactured homes. Well, after a whole lot of negotiation I ended up taking over the mortgage, and life as I knew it changed forever. The listing said "it’s as rough as they come" and that turned out to be an understatement, but it had huge potential – great corner lot, steps from the beach, four bedrooms, European kitchen, but it was sort of in an abandoned state of disrepair. Roof has been leaking for God knows how long. Three-foot high weeds where a lawn should be. A lot of goofy, badly done renos attempted, but most of it was clean-up, which I knew I could do. It was listed at $47k, but I ended up taking over the mortgage of $28k, so there’s some room to make money.

Been a lot of very long, HOT, frustrating days tearing out all the bad. I have an open-air bathroom (no walls), wires hanging everywhere, no ceiling or insulation (great in this cooking hot weather) and a gazillion things to do everywhere. Friends who’ve seen it are kind enough to not tell me I’m nuts and they nod and agree I’ll fix it up to be "just great". Hopefully we’re all right. Today I was scraping off the old torch-on patching on the roof and got some big tarps to cover it up "just in case it rained". Talk about good timing. We had a torrential storm tonight with some of the heaviest rain I’ve seen here. I would have had a new indoor swimming pool without the tarps. Phew!

Not much else to report. Obviously been consumed with working on the place. Crystal also has allergies and the pollen is driving her nuts, so we can’t do much outside. Managed a bike ride, roller-blade and we went to the Canada Day celebrations, which nearly killed her. I’m organizing a camping trip to a Blues Music Festival in Ashton Creek on July 22nd, which should be fun. Crystal and I are hoping to spend some time in Vancouver soon, so we can bike and blade Stanley Park and go to Granville Island Market. Wouldn’t want to live in Van, but nice to visit. I am also hopelessly behind on building a website for one of my fav groups – The Salmon Armenians, but the guy that hired me is very understanding. I’m supposed to have it ready for their website launch gig in Ashton Creek. Won’t be going to Merritt this year, with day pass prices of $90. Yikes. Last time I went for a day it was $45.

Going to post reno pics as I go, to see all the changes.


The day my family was dead to me

Even though I blogged about it before, it is impossible to really describe just how hard it was to get Mum into a care facility. Not a day went by that I wasn't on the phone, harassing anyone who had anything to do with getting her into a facility where she needed to be. At one point, after she had been on "emergency" status for quite a while, which basically means they are waiting for someone to die, sad as that is, I managed to get through to the actual guy in charge of assigning spots. After a lengthy conversation about Mum, he finally said to me that he had three hundred and fifty people on the "emergency" list and far too few facilities to put them in. He asked me what I would do in his situation? I understood his dilemma.

Read more


New month - more work

Well, a new month and just more work. Starting to see some progress now that we've started actually building things and not just demolishing everything. The plumber was here and I'm so close to actually having a bathroom! Yippee! The old "open concept" blue bathroom will soon be history. The first coat of mud is on and the new sub floor is down.

We'll be moving the bathroom cabinet in soon and laying the vinyl, then (ta da) the toilet will be put in. The sink will have to wait for the counter-tops I've ordered, so this will be about ten days. Very impressed with the vanity cabinets I got through Home Hardware. They're from a company in Peterborough, Ontario called Masterbrands. About the only KD furniture I've ever put together in my life that actually was simple and went together exactly the way it should. They obviously wrote the instructions on this side of the pond, which is welcome change, and they had lots of pictures to show you what to do. Very smart. I'm looking at them for the kitchen cupboards now too.

The old green siding is starting to come off. I haven't finalized the plan for this area just yet, but something had to be done because the siding was damaged in this area - putting the BBQ too close and so on. The rest of the siding is in great shape and I may look at just painting it. We are painting the white stripe that goes all the way around the house a matching darker green colour. Looks good.

Going to take a bit of a break this weekend from the 12 hour work days. We're going to Vancouver for the weekend. Really looking forward to blading in Stanley Park, biking downtown and going to Granville Island, IMAX, Boon County and maybe Whiterock if we have time. We might get to the big fireworks finale if it's not too crazy downtown.


Poem - Tawni

Happy ‘n Sad

You ask how I am, well, happy ‘n sad
A strange mix of sorrow and glad
Happy for the time that we shared
Sad in a way that so much I cared.

Happy to have held you in my arms
To have had a glimpse of your charms.
Sad that you’re now not around
To bring me the joy I only just found.

Happy we had the chance to meet
And for you to sweep me off my feet.
Sad that our time was all so brief
And that without you there’s grief.

Happy to have shared the laughter
To know clearly it’s you I’m after.
Sad to accept you’ll never be mine
To share with me roses and wine.

Happy to know that I can still learn
For someone like you I can still yearn.
Sad that it’s just not to be
Those joyful thoughts of “you and me”.

Happy to have known a girl like you
To dream of all that we could do.
Sad that I’ll not find another
Who’s just like you – why bother?

Happy to be moved to quiver and shake
Oh, the crazy fool you did make.
Sad that it’s gone almost before it came
Never be together – oh, what a shame.

Happy that I can still see your face
In everywhere you were in my place.
Sad that you’re not still there
For me to show how much I care.

Happy when I think of your smile
Over broken glass, I’d walk a mile.
Sad to know it doesn’t much matter
Thoughts of you are just idle chatter.

Happy to have felt the touch of your lips
Like from a fine wine, sharing a few sips.
Sad that we cannot share a kiss
To cradle your face, that I do miss.

Happy I’m not as cold as I thought
A woman to love I have not sought.
Sad that the one that I found
Is so far away and never around.
Happy to dream she might care for me
In a different place and time it just might be
Sad that we won’t get a chance
To live, love laugh and dance.

Happy to know the feel of your touch
To come to life and sense so much
Sad it was only for a few days
And that you could affect me in so many ways.

Happy to hear the sound of your voice
To think that together was really a choice.
Sad that for you it’s just not right
And you’ll live you life out of my sight.

Happy when my thoughts are of you
To even consider we might be two
Sad when I know it’s not to be
There’s little hope for a “you and me”.

Happy when the phone rings – it’s you!
To share the laughter as only we do.
Sad that it will not go on forever.
Will I ever forget you? No never!

Happy your sunshine was mine for a while
To make me whole again and make me smile.
Sad that love lost is better than none
No matter what, your heart I’d not won.

Happy to know that for you I do write
Thoughts that come in the depths of the night
Sad that my dreams of you
Are no more than that, whatever I do.

Happy to think you’ll always make time
For me to share my thoughts in rhyme.
Sad to think you might want me to quit
That you make me stop will hurt quite a bit.
----------------------------------------------------
Happy that you are still in my life
Thinking I’d lost you would cut like a knife.
Sad that we never gave it a chance
To see if there could have been romance.

Happy that you sound like you’re doing so well.
But if you are truly happy I cannot tell.
You’re focused on a career that’s important to you
But sad that it’s costing you a love so true.

Happy that the strong girl is earning her dreams
That nothing will stand in the way, it seems.
Sad that the soft little girl who lives inside
Came out for such a brief time, but she tried.

Happy that she knows I’ll always care
Wherever life takes her, no matter where.
Sad that she is now so far away
And that forever she could not stay.

Happy in hoping our paths may again cross
Not to dance and laugh would be such a loss
Sad that her path may take her away forever
Not get to blade in Vancouver, maybe never?

Happy to believe it will happen some day
And that somehow we’ll find a way
Happy to think she’ll come back in my life
And I’ll forever dream of her being my, ah, friend.

Love,

Gary