Thursday, December 7, 2023

The Wait is Over

The bad new is that the pain is back: the good news is that it won't be back for long.

At the beginning of July, I experienced sharp pains on the right side of my abdomen. A few days later, on the eve of my first-ever art show, I learned that I had appendicitis and needed surgery. Stat.

One of the ultrasound images, from July 5, that confirmed I had appendicitis.

Only, that surgery never happened because, after a CT scan at the hospital, we learned that I also had a massive infection that surrounded my appendix. To remove the appendix, the surgeon would also have to remove about half of my colon.

No thanks.

Instead, I was given strong antibiotics and had to wait it out. You can read more about it here.

While the antibiotics took care of both the infection and the appendicitis, the surgeon told me that there could be as high as a 30-percent chance that the appendicitis could return. I told her that I wanted the odds to be lowered to zero, and to simply remove the useless appendage.

She agreed but said that I was overdue for a colonoscopy, and she wanted to do that first, to make sure there were no other complications, as there had been to prevent her from performing the appendectomy. A couple of months later, her examination showed no abnormalities.

So, she put me on a waiting list for surgery, saying that it could take a few months, unless my condition changed. I stressed that I needed the surgery early enough so that it wouldn't interfere with my travel plans, in late January (it's hard to believe that Costa Rica is only six weeks away!).

Last week, I received a call from the surgeon's office that a cancellation had come up, and I was asked if I would be able to come in on December 8.

Tomorrow's the date.

It's funny: over the past few days, I've felt a dull ache near my appendix. The feeling is similar to how I felt at the beginning of July, just before the ache became acute. Is it all in my head or is tomorrow's surgery perfect timing?

I don't care. After tomorrow, the pain will be gone and my fears of a second appendix attack will be put behind me.

Wish me luck.

Wednesday, December 6, 2023

Say Their Names

It's been 34 years.

Geneviève Bergeron 

Hélène Colgan

Nathalie Croteau

Barbara Daigneault

Anne-Marie Edward

Maud Haviernick

Maryse Laganière 

Maryse Leclair 

Anne-Marie Lemay 

Sonia Pelletier 

Michèle Richard 

Annie St-Arneault 

Annie Turcotte 

Barbara Klucznik-Widajewicz

All of them killed for simply being women. We shall remember them but we must also put a stop to violence against women. We must call out men who are abusive, who want to do harm.

That's not being a man: it's a cowardly act.

Violence against women hurts us all. On the day that we remember these 14 innocent victims at L’École Polytechnique, in Montreal, we must also think of all women who have been the target of a misogynist and say "no more!"

Say their names.

Tuesday, December 5, 2023


It always takes longer than expected.

To be fair, any time we've undertaken a home-renovation project that is more than just applying a fresh coat of paint, we're doing that thing for the first time. And laying hardwood flooring is a first for us.

I suppose the prep work isn't new. DW and I did the demolition work on our kitchen and family room, when we tore up the vinyl flooring and the carpet. This time, it was on a more massive scale.

We figured that we would start with the hallway, since that was where we had planned to start setting down the wood. We were then going to work on the upstairs spare room/study because it was the smallest room and no one was sleeping in it.

Ripping up the carpet was easy and didn't take long, and in less than an hour both rooms were stripped of their flooring. What took more time was removing the edging that held down the carpet and all of the staples that held the foam underpadding.

We also had to ensure that the existing wood screws were secure and not sticking up, and we had to further secure the subfloor with more screws. That took a lot of time and was hard on my back and knees.

The most challenging part was to remove the old nosing at the top of the stairs and along the ledge at the base of our bannister. DW, who had lots of time during the past couple of weeks, took to watching lots of DIY videos and conversing with our friend who is an expert on laying hardwood, and who also loaned us all of his tools for the job.

DW learned how to cut around the balusters with a table saw and spent the first morning of our reno on practicing with rejected pieces of flooring. She did that while I removed the old nosing and prepped the floors.

When it came time to cut the new nosing, the only help I gave to DW was to hold the nosing when the long ends were starting to droop off the sides of the table saw. It's very slow going to make sure she didn't cut outside of the lines.

She did a pretty good job.

That afternoon, we learned that the supporting beams, under the subfloor, run parallel to the hallway, which meant that the wood slats could not run in the same direction. While we could start laying the hardwood against the nosing, we'd have to go perpendicular, which meant that we needed to start at Kid 1's room.

We weren't ready for that.

We had already moved all of the furniture from the study into our bedroom. We needed to move Kid 1's furniture into the study and rip up her carpeting.

That would have to be day 2, which was Sunday.

Kid 1 has way more stuff in her room than was in the study, so we could only move so much of her furniture into that room. The rest had to be crammed into DW's and my room, which already held the contents of the study. Our ensuite bathroom is largely out of bounds, save the toilet and sink area, and we have clear access around our bed.

We couldn't fit Kid 1's bed or dresser anywhere, so we've decided to leave them in the room and we'll finish one half of the room, move the furniture onto the hardwood, and continue with the other half.

Sunday was a shorter day than Saturday because we started running out of steam and we didn't want to be exhausted going into Monday, especially when DW had a new job to start. (For me, Monday started with shovelling the driveway after our first full snowfall.)

We'll do what we can in the evenings, hopefully finishing Kid 1's room so that she doesn't have to sleep on the sofa for too long. If all goes well, from here on in, we hope to have all of the flooring completed by the end of next weekend, but there is one obstacle.

On Friday, I'm having surgery to finally take care of my appendix, which means no heavy lifting for a few weeks. Kid 1 and DW will tackle the majority of the work from that point, to completion.

I just get to watch.

Stay tuned.

Monday, December 4, 2023

Mute, Block, Hide, and Repeat

I like Threads. I joined the social-media tool the day after it launched and I've been able to re-connect with many people that I knew through Twitter but with whom I had lost touch after jumping that sinking ship.

My main social-media hangout continues to be Mastodon but the majority of my old acquaintances are on Threads.

And while I like to surf my timeline to see what those virtual friends are up to, I find that my Threads timeline is starting to get gummed up with posts from people that I don't know and with content that doesn't particularly interest me. Although, every once and a while, I see a post from a stranger who shares my interest, and I start following them.

But for the most part, and more frequently, I'm getting posts which amount to annoying spam.

The latest trend, on Threads, seems to be posts that simply say "Following you" or "Mentioned you," and are accompanied by a photo of a beautiful woman. Of course, the person is neither following me nor mentioned me in the post.

I admit that when I scroll through my timeline and see an image of a pretty woman, I'll slow down for a second or two before moving on. I'm hard-coded to look. I don't apologize. But I'm now wondering if the Threads algorithm monitors your scroll-through rate and places similar posts in your timeline.

After all, there are a lot of great photographers who post their work on Threads, and I stop for those posts, often liking the post or leaving a comment. I find that I see more photography posts in my timeline, and I'm happy if they keep those coming.

But I find the Following/Mentioned you posts an annoyance. So, I've started blocking those posts when they appear in my timeline. When I block them, the post doesn't go away, so I have to take the added measure of hiding the post.

I also mute people who post pictures of women with mundane messages, like, "What do you think of my outfit?" Again, there are so many of them and they detract from me being able to find the people I really want to follow.

The thing is, ever since I've started blocking, hiding, and muting, the number of these posts seems to have exploded. And I find that I spend more time culling the garbage posts than reading those that I want to see.

Does anybody else have this issue?

I'm hopeful that Threads comes up with a filter to cut these posts out, or, better yet, create a search and destroy tool that they use to keep these kind of posts from flooding the timeline.

I like Threads but this sort of thing is keeping me firmly grounded on Mastodon.

Friday, December 1, 2023

The Fastest Year

It's true that the older you get, the faster the years pass. For me, this is the fastest year ever.

It's hard for me to believe that Akumal Bay was almost 11 months ago. It seems that not too long ago, I was swimming with sea turtles and sting rays. And yet, spring is all but a blur to me.

We're starting the final month of 2023. How will it end, and what will 2024 bring?

If I blink, will it be gone?

I hope December brings you joy. Happy Friday!