Wednesday, May 31, 2017

Kitchen project - before and after

Plenty of people have lots of money and can buy anything their heart desires. Other have to make do with less and have to get creative when they want something. If you fall into the latter category, I’ll let you in on a little secret.

A while ago I wanted to change the kitchen countertop. I had a look at this item in home improvement stores and was in for a surprise. A granite countertop cost between $700 and $1,200 for the size that I needed, plus $100 to cut the shape of the sink in the countertop, plus $100 to have the granite slab delivered to my home.

This was ‘a little’ out of my budget. So, I went looking for an alternative.

The home improvement store also had faux granite countertops, made from chipboard and topped with some kind of plastic. I looked at a few slabs but found them still rather expensive. Between $200 and $300 to fit my kitchen.
And then, quite by accident, I came across vinyl. This vinyl gets smoothed over any existing countertop and gives a kitchen a whole new look. As for the cost $20 (two rolls of $10 each).

And the beauty is, if I want to change the look of my kitchen in a few years, the vinyl is easy to remove and replace with another design.

 I didn’t stop there though. I also installed a faux window in my kitchen.

I had first seen a virtual window at the Princess Margaret Hospital. With its LED light and the sound of birdsongs, it was so lifelike that I immediately went looking for a window of my own.

Unfortunately, such a window was not in my budget. The price of a small window was in the region of $6,000 and the bigger size was priced about $10,000. Ouch.

Never mind though, I am creative, so I went looking for an alternative. Before long I found a window that I liked, it wasn’t as nice as the virtual light box I had seen in the hospital, but it would have to do. Price … $23.

When the window arrived, it was put in the kitchen, and while nice, it was lacking something. The background was wrong. So, the background was changed from paint to bricks (wallpaper, not real bricks). 

So, for all of you who don’t have pots of money … with a little creativity, you can get what you want.

Dealing with anxiety

My blog updates have been on hold for a while. I was in the middle of a freelance writing project and other than writing for that project there was no time to do anything else. In fact, I had to call on a friend in Australia to help me out to make my deadline. (Many thanks to LH).

It was a good thing that the work was finished because yesterday I had to attend an anxiety class. The class ran for 8 weeks and today was our second gathering.

It didn’t go too well for me. In fact, I got kicked out of the class.

A bit of background first.

A few months ago, I woke up in the middle of the night with palpitations. My heart was pounding; I couldn’t breathe and I was shaking like a leaf. Not trembling, but violently shaking. It took over half an hour but finally, I was able to go back to sleep.

When I mentioned this to my doctor a few weeks later, she believed I should attend an anxiety class, also known as ’Face your Fears’.

Initially, I thought that we (the attendees) would be confronted with spiders (as lots of people fear spiders) but that was not the case. The fear we would be dealing with were fears that influence our lives.

I had high hopes, but already from the first session, I had my doubts if this class would be beneficial for me. One person feared going outside, another feared inadequacy, another yet feared performance issues.

So yesterday was our second session and the instructor gave as an example a woman who had been robbed and as a result didn’t dare to go outside anymore. She asked the group for our reaction.

Most of the people sympathized and felt sorry for her. I didn’t. For a while, I managed to keep my mouth shut, but when the instructor asked me directly what I thought, I gave her my opinion with no holding back.

I told her that sympathizing with the woman and pitying her didn’t help. What she needed was some tough love. She was robbed … she wasn’t beaten, she wasn’t raped, she wasn’t murdered.

As an example I told the group that I had been robbed too (at an ATM machine), my house was burgled a year later (they stole everything they could carry), and I had witnessed the aftermath of a bomb explosion. That was far worse than being robbed. So, she was lifted of twenty or forty dollars, big deal, she should just get over it.

Well, that did it. I got kicked out. At break time the instructor told me that this group wasn’t for me. I can’t say that I disagreed. I thought the group a bunch of whiners.

When a woman said that she felt perfectly fine until she became a mother and now fears that she’s going to make mistakes, I had the urge to roll my eyes. I wanted to tell her … "You’re gonna make mistakes. I did, my friends did, everybody does."

Another complained that his friends bring him down. That sometimes he feels good about himself, but then someone will say something and he will feel inadequate. More baloney. If someone was to say something hurtful to me I would respond with … "Who are you to judge me? Are you perfect, no? … well neither am I."

A third one felt too stressed at work and is now on long-term disability. There’s a simple solution for that … take away his disability money and he’ll be back at work in no time. So, he felt stressed, who doesn’t at times? But we go home, we get a good night sleep and the next day we show up at work again.

I was stressed at my writing job too. I had so much work that I knew I wouldn’t be able to cope. So, I contacted LH in Australia with the faint hope that she would agree to help. I feared the worst but hoped for the best. And guess what … she agreed.

I dare say that my Australian friend and I are similar creatures. We both faced difficult situations in the past, but we dealt with them and it turned us into strong women. 

Instead of attending an anxiety class, we could lead a class and you’d better believe that we could teach those whiners a thing or two.  

Monday, May 8, 2017

Fighting for space - finches update

Those who have been following my blog for a while know that a couple of finches made a nest on my 11th-floor balcony. At the time I wrote that I wondered about the intelligence of birds since I have four cats.

A few days later I called those finches feathered engineers because the way they constructed the nest was nothing short of amazing. Every day they flew to and from with building materials and using just their beak they build a pine cone shaped nest.

Today I feel slightly different about them. Yes, the nest the finches built is remarkable, but if you ask me, those birds should have taken proper measurements.

As long as it was just eggs, the nest seemed big enough, but now that the birds have hatched it seems a little crowded. See for yourself …

Did you see the little guy on top? He’s about to fall out. That’s why I said that the finches should have taken proper measurements. Surely Mrs. Bird must have known that this nest would be too small for six little birds.

Another thing I wonder about is how these little birds can breathe. It’s all good and well for those on top, but the nest is cone shaped, which means that one of those birds is in the tip of the nest. How does he breathe with five of his siblings piled on top of him?

On the other hand, the one on the bottom is probably nice and warm, while those on top must be shivering. As you could see, the little birds have hardly any feathers, so they must be cold.

I wonder how this is all going to end. I hope none of them fall out because I would hate to see that.

Saturday, May 6, 2017

They've hatched - finches update

On April 4th I reported that a couple of finches had chosen my 11th-floor balcony to build a nest. Since then I have posted regular updates on the building of the nest and the number of eggs. First, there was one, then two, and eventually six.

Yesterday we heard a distinct squeaking. It wasn’t the familiar twittering of Mr. or Mrs. Bird, it was none melodic and much softer.
We suspected that the young ones had hatched, but going out on the balcony to take a look was out of the question. Mama was sitting on her nest and we didn’t want to frighten her.
This morning though mama took a break, or went in search for food, as she left the nest and took off. We took the opportunity to snap a picture. Aren’t they cute? Six little fuzzballs.