Water Pressure

The M household made an exciting household renovation this week.

We got a new shower head.

I know, we aren’t exciting at all.

Since we’ve moved in here (almost 3 years ago), I have noticed that there has been a small leak where our shower head connects to the pipe.  I also thought our water pressure sucked.

Thursday, when Patrick got home cold and wet from picking up our car from Canadian Tire in the rain/snow craziness that cancelled school for him (he only worked 2 days this week, lucky bugger), he decided to shower to get warm.  He tried to move the head and the hole got epically bigger.  Like non-usable bigger.

So, Patrick did what any good man would do, he Googled how to fix it and when he realized we didn’t have the appropriate plumbing tape, he tried electrical tape (it was stormy out).  Jeter helped.  They both got wet.

Thus, when Patrick picked me up from work that night, he informed me that we needed to make another trip to Canadian Tire.  I was concerned for the car.  But, no, it was because he wanted to replace the shower head (I’m pretty sure our building people would do it, but that would mean waiting a good day or two).

So, in the beginnings of storm of the week number 3 or 4 (depending on when you start counting), we trekked to Canadian Tire (which we have started calling CT for short because it came up in a few texting conversations this week). We selected a shower head (you would not believe the selection).

We came home and installed it.  Jeter supervised.  I got a bit wet, but only because I’m the fool who wanted to check out every setting while standing on the edge of the bathtub while Patrick kept worrying that I was going to fall.

The next morning, I had the best shower at home I’ve had since we’ve moved in.  Seriously.  I didn’t even fully realize what we were missing.  (Poor Jeter is down a leak to sneak water from, though).  It made the morning so much better (despite the heaps of snow and ice outside).

Then, today, I get a text from Patrick while I’m at the gym informing me of how awesome our shower is.  I know.  So freaking awesome.

So, that is our big excitement.  We have water pressure we didn’t even know we had!

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The Joy of Renting

Gratitude.

We had some horrendous wind and rain, which led to some sleep deprivation in the M household last night.

Why gratitude, you ask?  I’ll tell you…

When your barbecue cover somehow flies off into oblivion (despite it being bungee corded to both the deck and the BBQ), but your husband notices and rescues the barbecue of the balcony before it projectiles off as well.

When a chunk of your living room ceiling (that has never leaked before) caves in sometime in the wee hours of the morning, but does not hit your TV, other electronics or wedding photos. Also, that your husband is awake to clean up said chunk and the water that fell with it, put down buckets and call the rental office (who are coming today to survey the damage and do some repairs because apparently we aren’t the only ones who had that happen last night).

Image from strifeinc.com

When the window you swore was leaking last year during one storm, but then the maintenance person came and looked at it and said it was fine and it never seemed to cause a problem again (until now) starts dripping like a sieve, but you have enough towels to sop it up and the landlord is conveniently already coming in the morning to tend to our other leak.

When you realize that all of this went down in one night and probably won’t again until the next storm where the wind and rain blow just right.  At least you hope so.  Preferably, you hope it never happens again.

When you realize a 330 in the morning all of these things happened and you slept through them because your husband is a superhero night-hawk.

Image from sprudge.com.

When, at 330 in the morning, you and your husband can laugh about the fact, that we have never had problems with our apartment except for a broken drawer until RIGHT NOW.

When, at 330 in the morning, you and your husband realize that although we need to clean up the mess and protect the place from further damage, we are not responsible to fix it because that, my friends, is the beauty of renting.  And with that, we high-fived our prolonged schooling and general lack of funds to own a house with its added responsibility.

Image from giphy.com.

When you see that it is kind of funny that I need to go drop off my signed lease sometime this week.

When you realize you have a home with heat that is mostly dry and things to protect and all of the things that many people don’t have.

Homecoming

We flew back home today.  Back to reality and back to routine and personal space.  I love being home-home.  It is wonderful to see family and friends and all that good stuff, but eventually you start to want your own space.  Especially in my childhood home, which is small, as it is, especially with both Patrick and I there with my parents.

So, despite being sad to leave family and friends, we departed this morning to head back to our home.  We had this interesting discussion about how home-home is still our main home and how we intend to get back there as soon as possible, but that being in our own space would be preferable.  The thing is that when we are in one place, we miss the other people.  I guess we will always end up missing someone.  Its just that we have our home life, but our life here is ours now.  We have our own space, friends, routine.  I like it that way.  Eventually when we have kids, it will change again, a bit, but it will still be ours.

We arrived home in the soggy snow (a surprise in and of itself, given we left a only soggy home just hours before) only to discover that our charming landlord (whom I appreciate) was still playing construction worker in our apartment.  I’m talking tools and plastic in our kitchen, paint on the walls, a completely rearranged “office” and Patrick’s closet.  Nice additions.  However, we hardly had a place to put down our suitcases.  We decided to go out for groceries and supper and return.  When we came back, he had gathered his stuff up, but left behind a thick coat of dust.  Cue my asthma.  So, I am now camped out at Starbucks writing this and waiting for my wonderful spouse to clean up some of the film/air out the place, so I can breathe again.  Nice.  Thank goodness for him.

I hate asthma.  It’s a foolish disease.  It, however, gives me better empathy for any patient with shortness of breath, especially those in whom it can only be managed with palliative sedation or constant dosing of opioids and oxygen.  Breathing is something we take for granted.  When you have to work hard to breathe to the point your muscles hurt, your head spins and you want to just go to sleep, you become more grateful for when you can breathe.  You become more conscientious.  I spent a portion of my life with uncontrolled asthma.  I would gasp after walking up stairs, playing my sax or talking, but I just started to think it was normal.  People today still live like that because for their particular disease, that is control, or maybe they can’t afford the controller medications.  Sometimes people point out that I am still sick. That it is chronic.  But really, compared to people I take care of in the hospital every day; I am the picture of health.  I have controlled asthma.  When we get periodic lectures on COPD, I remember to continue with my medications when I feel well.  When I feel poorly, I remember it could be worse.

I also hate renovations.  More now than before.  I just wanted to go home and relax, unpack and go to bed early.  Now, I would just like to be home.   Again, I am grateful he wants to make the apartment better.  But, ugh.  We are NEVER building our own home because of all this hassle and the hassles I learned about when building residential hospice.  This makes me not really want to renovate ever, however we agreed renovations on our own terms would be better.  Right now, we can’t pick the paint colors or timing or even what rooms to do.  It just kind of happens.  At least when you do it of your own accord, there is some sort of choice.

Tomorrow, I start pathology.  Not sure what to think about that.  No patients, just specimens.  And smelling like formaldehyde.  For two weeks.  But, I think this will help me be a better and more well-rounded physician… To know what happens behind the scenes.

Sorry for the rant.  I again wanted to talk about wedding… One of these days!  I am grateful for puffers and health and a house to live in and a spouse to protect me from poor air quality.  I am excited to learn new things.  I am happy to be home and with Patrick for a full three weeks!

Plumbing with the landlord.

So, the renovations continue at our lovely home.  Yesterday, I was home early from work (because ambulatory clinics are AWESOME) and I get a knock at the door.  This is the conversation that ensues:

Landlord (herin LL): Hey there.  I think I am going to move your washer today to the other side of the laundry room.

Me:  Okay (while thinking he has told me this every day for the past week).

LL: I will probably have to shut off the water, so if you need to shower or somethin’ do it now.

Me: Okay (thinking it is 3 in the afternoon, why would I randomly decide to shower at this instant).

He leaves and the hammering and pounding that seems to enter through our walls continued for a period.  Then I hear another knock.  Which takes me about a minute to decide it is indeed a knock, as there are so many other thunking noises occurring.

Me:  Hi, here to shut of the water?

LL: Possibly. Depends on what I find in here.

He tinkers with our hot water heater

LL: I am going to have to come in.

Me: Uh, sure, come on in (panic… house is not that clean).

LL from our spare room/office:  I’m not sure which of these levers turns off the water, can you run the tap?

I start running the tap.  I hear grunts.

LL: Well, I guess I have to shut off the water to the rest of the house.  Oops.  Wife’s not gonna like this.

He disappears back into the laundry room for about 10 minutes.  He knocks again.

LL: I need your help with these here pipes.  You can tell Patrick you did some of the plumbing.

We laugh and banter while I hold pipes hand he attaches various things to them to hold pipes together.  While he does this, I notice he has chunks of wood all caught in his giant Santa-like beard.  This must be what Santa would look like in his workshop.  Nice.

He leaves again.  Returns to turn on the water and has me run the taps.

LL: So, the plan is while you guys are gone I am going to (approaching Patrick’s closet) take out the ceiling to get the old pipes out here.

He opens the closet door.  Patrick’s “heap” comes sailing out.  Two books and a bible land at his feet.

LL:  Wow, you don’t have him trained yet, hey?  Should send him back to his parents and only take him when he doesn’t have all this stuff like this here.  Do ya think you can get him to maybe put his clothes and stuff in boxes over Christmas?  So I can do that stuff.  Don’t want to get the black pipe crud or anything all over his stuff.  Or step on it.

So, I’m a bit embarrassed.

LL:  I’ll take down this wall here, make it more of a door.  then make the closet smaller.  Give you a bigger spare room.

Then, he proceeded to walk through the house explaining his new big plans for the apartment and renovations and such.  How he will then make the living room another bedroom after we leave and add open up the part of the basement that is currently theirs for a living room.  Then, they will charge more for rent, but the house could hold three maybe four people.  Asked me for how to get more med students here.  Asked us about our cable… We don’t have cable.  Internet.  Etcetera.  Eventually he made his way out announcing that this was a great break.

Gone for about an hour, then a knock at the door.  By this point I am annoyed with all the knocking.

Me: Hi.

LL:  So, I’ve got the washer all moved over.

Me: Great!  Thanks!  Can I do laundry?

LL: Well, actually not yet.  Do you happen to have your washer’s office user manual?

Me:  I am pretty sure it was in the laundry room on the shelf that you took down to move the washer.

LL with a puzzled look: Oh, I see.  Hmmm… I might have thrown it away actually.

Me:  Seriously?

LL:  Could you check if you have it?

I go and find the manual to our stove, fridge, TV, printer, the instructions on how to assemble our coffee table, and several manuals on putting up blinds.  No washer.

Me:  I couldn’t find it.

LL head in a giant garbage bag: Found it.  Whoops, thought it was our old one (on our side of the room?).

He leaves, satisfied.  Five minutes later, another knock.

LL: Do you happen to have a little tool to adjust the legs of the washer?

Me:  Um, not that I’m aware of?

LL: When you installed it?  I don’t have anything that seems to fit those things properly.  Everything is too long.

Me:  Sears came to install it.  I was at work.  I’m pretty sure Patrick didn’t stick around to observe.

LL:  Oh.  Well then… I bet my buddy down the street has one.   I’ll be back.

Ugh… back?  I leave in two days and need to do laundry.  I resume my book. No further knocks.

Then, this morning, I get up to attempt laundry.  He is outside building something.

Me:  Hey! Is it safe to do laundry today?

LL: Of course it is!  You never need to ask.  Its your washer.

Me: Okay, just checking.  Given all the adventure yesterday, I thought I should make sure.

LL:  I leveled the washer, it is level.  Unless you move the level… then its not.  Actually it was kind of odd.

Me:  Okay, thanks.  I guess we will see what will happen on the spin cycle.

LL:  Sure will!  No worries, I’m sure it will be fine.  I’m going to move my washer over today.

Me: Cool.

I put my laundry in.  Leave.  I come back to put that load in the dryer and the next load in the washer.

LL: Worked fine.  No shaking off its platform or anything.

Me: Great!  How is your stuff going?

LL: Good.  Just have to move a few pipes.

I am currently at the dryer.  I walk across to load the washer when I hear a snap and am sprayed full force in the side of the head with warm water.  As is the hamper of (thankfully) dirty laundry and the wall. He proceeds to stare blankly at the pipe.

LL:  Wow, that had more pressure than I expected.  Did I get ya?

Me:  A bit.

I am dripping.

LL:  Oh my, sorry about that.  You okay.  Good thing the water hadn’t run in a bit or it might have scalded you.  Real sorry about that!

Me:  No worries, I was about to go shower anyway.

I promise we did utter more words than these short sentences.  Mostly ramblings about the weather, him not being able to get rid of his wife, so he can work in peace, questions about when we leave for Christmas.  The usual.  Not significant to this adventure.

As far as I know, the laundry room is now in one piece… ish.

Life is definitely not boring in this place.  I would much rather live with this adventure than a lot of others.  Many people have bigger troubles than someone trying to fix stuff.  Plus, it is entertaining, for the most part.

Open for renovations

The short doors to our lovely home.

For the last three years, our apartment has been perpetually under construction.  When we moved in, the house (in which we reside in the basement) was two colors, white on the front, yellow on the sides.  Our door painted burgundy.  Our door is only 5’5” high.  I can stand in it and just miss the edge of my head.  Our laundry room is accessed through another “short door outside.  We had hot water heat with old school furnaces.  But, we could afford the rent as two unemployed newlyweds, one of which just finished a degree and the other in year two of four in medicine.  The neighborhood gets more shady as you go up the hill, but our neighbors are great, the landlords are friendly “out around da bay” folks.  We are a 5min drive from both hospitals, our church and two malls.

The construction began shortly thereafter.  It seems my landlord is famed (at least to his wife) for coming up with various projects.  They have another house “around da bay” that he has been working on forever.  This one is his other project.  Apparently he “was going to side the house” for the past few years.  The projects occur whenever he happens to be in town (an equally sporadic occurrence) and consisted of him siding the entire house, putting in new windows in their half, building a new set of front and back stairs for their part of the house… Our apartment projects until recently were when we were away for holidays.  One Christmas cocking windows, another, replacing broken tiles.  The summer before last, new windows, this past summer, putting in electric heat.  The whole electric heat affair is something that caused us to rearrange furniture and everything.  I still haven’t recovered.  This year, while on my one week of vacation between third and fourth year, he cut a hole… A HOLE… in the office/spare room and installed a new window, but then decided to move some old pipes and the room is still not back to normal.  Apparently he wants to replace some of a wall in there next.  My textbooks are covered in a thick layer of sawdust.  Last year, he re-floored most of their house… including on my post-call days.  He is planning on taking down walls and making the apartment bigger and connecting the laundry room and such… Perhaps even a full size door.   He has already started preliminary work… Jackhammers and the works.  He asked if he could take down our living room wall sometime in April (right around my licensing exams). We politely decline.  We are moving come the end of May anyway.  Sometimes we get volunteered to help.  On my vacation, I was peacefully knitting and watching Gilmore Girls when I got recruited to help build a wall.  My favorite is when Patrick helped hold some pipes that he wanted to cut.  Sparks started flying and the landlord started cursing.  It appeared there were some wires in one of them… yes, wires.  We then had said wires hanging down in our bathroom for the next few days until he got the appropriate stuff to attach them to the wall.

Wal-Mart special... Fully constructed. I forgot it looked this good.

We appreciate that he is trying to improve the house.  It would just be nice to not live in a perpetual construction zone, complete with noise and personal space disruptions.  I have to say, I am thankful for our affordable housing, pleasant neighbors, friendly faces and the improvements to our lodging over the years.  It has confirmed that I will likely buy a house that needs little work and will live in it as is until it is excessively outdated just to avoid the chaos and noise and mess that comes with renovations.  I am so anti-change and renovations at times that our dresser, that we built ourselves upon moving in cannot be changed out until we move.  Sounds normal, right?  The thing is, it was a Wal-Mart bargain build-it-yourself contraption… It didn’t stand up well to my volume of clothing and such.  The drawers have all fallen in on top of each other.  I go to bed at night and have to move Patrick’s underwear drawer from the bed.  Yes… his entire drawer because he has to take it out to get to his shirts.  We have fixed it countless times, but now its beyond the point of no return…The drawers go back in, then one by one fall down on each other within a few days.  Building a new one would disrupt not only our budget, but our time.  We move in a few months.  I will wait.

Renovations in our lives can be just as noisy and messy.  We are creatures of habit and when those habits become engrained, it is difficult to break them and more difficult to create new ones.  Making space for new family members, dealing with the death of a loved one, trying to develop healthy habits and break bad ones… they all resonate into aspects of our lives we don’t anticipate.  Eventually, things get cleaned up and look shiny and new… or at least different.

People deal with really big life changes and come out on the other side almost unscathed, and yet changed.  Today, in clinic (procedure free – day 3!), I saw someone who had been in remission three times and was in clinic to be reassessed for surgical resection of his third liver metastasis in the last 2 years.  He told me of his lifestyle changes that came from his cancer experience, how he learned to value his time more and how he changed his diet and exercise.  He also talked about how it changed his family.  How he reconciled with his son after his first diagnosis and that though strained, they have developed a relationship.  He told me of how they had to rearrange their entire schedule for his current chemo regimen.  While saying all this, he smiled and said, despite all of the difficult times, he has grown into a better person.  This is not always typical, but such a diagnosis does remodel lives in one way or another.  Unfortunately, he had multiple metastases in his liver measuring over 3cm each and too little remaining liver, so chemotherapy is his only option at this time.

Some people don’t change in the way we expect; the smoker who doesn’t quit despite lung cancer diagnosis, the criminal who steals the day after she gets out of prison, my habit of putting too much spice in my spaghetti sauce despite Patrick getting heartburn each time.   Some of the change may not be visible, maybe the change wasn’t in the way we hope, but has made a step in some direction that has yet to declare itself.  Maybe it is a conscious choice not to “renovate.”  With each opportunity to “renovate” a seed is planted, the idea revisited.  But, change is scary.  Necessary.  But scary.

In our household, we have tried to make renovations for God.  We have been striving to do nightly devotions both alone and as a couple.  At first it was a struggle, mainly for me to maintain consciousness, but now it is happening.  A little remodel can go a long way.  More recently, Patrick has become the director of our church’s “Wonder Ministry” for 3 and 4 year olds.  I find myself supporting him in this role.  It is messy at times… paper jams and crumpled photocopies.  The frustration of contacting volunteers.  This ministry is out of my comfort zone… I’m more of adult or baby person, but he is built for this.  It is taking extra time and energy, but overall, it is just another remodel we are going through for him accepting a new role and me being supportive.  God is preparing us for a big move in less than a year.  I think He is working through these little remodels to prepare us for bigger changes to come!

Well… That was a cheesy ending.  I will try to minimize those in the future.