One of the pitfalls of having very good hearing (as I do) is the process of getting familiar with a house’s noises.
In my last house, after almost 20 years, I knew exactly what “normal” sounded like for each individual appliance, sink and toilet as well as for the furnace, the air conditioner and the hot water tank.
I knew that dramatic drops or increases in temperature outside would make the house pop as the building materials contracted or expanded. I was also familiar with the specific creaking noises that tree branches outside would make in heavy winds.
Each sound had a distinct fingerprint, and after 20 years, whenever the house made noise, I could usually pick out the cause and not worry about it.
But in having my radar on like a bat and the ability to filter out common “normal” noises, it goes without saying that noises that weren’t so common and didn’t match the usual patterns, could sometimes make me jump higher than I would when watching most horror flicks.
I wouldn’t chalk up that reaction to perhaps being a little over-caffeinated or being a nervous person by nature. I think it stems from a pride of ownership in my home and any noises that aren’t considered “normal” should be investigated right away to ensure they aren’t a sign or a more serious problem.
When that happened, Ivy the Wonder Cat and I would turn into Scooby and Shaggy (respectively), slowly walking through the house, flashlight in hand, waiting for the noise to happen again to be able to figure out where it is coming from, what it is, how to stop it and if a professional noise-eradicator needed to be called. Continue reading
When my partner first suggested moving to the country, I cannot say I was hugely conflicted by the question.
There were indeed a number of factors to consider and this move would be a pretty big change for this city boy. But the part that required no thought whatsoever was the prospect of having almost no neighbours… and almost no neighbour noise. That part sounded like heaven to me.
I could write a book about my dealings with noisy neighbours, having experienced the good, the bad and the ugly over the last 30 years.
When we pick a place to live, there is always a package deal of pros and cons to consider before signing on the dotted line. No matter how perfect a place may seem, there will be irritants for which patience and some degree of compromise will be needed on both parts.
And just like anything in life, nothing is really certain nor permanent. Great neighbours, as well as the lousy ones, come and go.
As much as I enjoyed my last house for 19 years, it wasn’t without its moments of blaring stereos, roaring cars, screaming kids, disobedient dogs, industrial vehicles and 3:00 a.m. parties, but that’s life in the city when you have neighbours. Part of that package deal was ideal proximity to transit, shopping and an abundance of cultural events.
It didn’t matter if “quiet enjoyment of premises” was supposed to be a reassuring clause in each of my apartment leases or in the big book of condo rules, but someone’s urge to make noise always seemed greater than my craving for the calm to recover from the roar of city life. Continue reading
Filed under 50+, home, Humour
It seems like just yesterday, I had a stomach made of steel. When I was in my late teens and early 20s, I had a pretty fast metabolism and could eat anything and everything, any day, any time.
Where I used to be able to pack away large quantities of food and still remain technically underweight, today, a handful of potato chips is enough to have me retaining water like a sponge.
But the tide can turn from time to time. For me, all it takes is the return to a regular exercise regimen, like the one I have successfully incorporated into my routine last year.
When that happens, not only does my metabolic rate go up, but it’s like revisiting my teens and 20s all over again as I seem to be hungry… ALL THE TIME!
While logically, it should just be a case of finding an extra snack or two to tide me over until the next meal, it’s a little more complicated than that.
As much as you would think I could take advantage of the situation to indulge myself in the goodies I only consume in moderation (since I’m not technically underweight anymore), in reality, I don’t crave them when I work out regularly. The empty calories leave me hungry and wanting something else soon thereafter.
I tend to crave healthier snacks that sustain me better. If I don’t, I get so hungry that my arrival home is like a scene from “Animal Planet”, as I demolish leftover roast chicken like a lion devouring its prey. Continue reading
I am not certain which is worse: driving in freezing rain, driving in poor visibility conditions, or driving with a cat that does not like car rides.
Regular readers will know that I adore my cat, Ivy, and despite a few feline eccentricities, she is an absolute angel. But nothing turns her into the devil’s child faster than taking her out for a car ride.
From what I understand, cats aren’t fans of change to begin with. Then, to place them in a crate, going to places unknown, can be a scary prospect for certain cats.
The first time I took her to the vet, she didn’t just cry, she meowed in repeated shrieks at the top of her lungs. It was horrible. Thankfully, the vet is just 5 minutes away, but that was the longest 5 minutes of my life.
I often wonder what must be running through her mind through her persistent meows.
But what is it that elicits this strong reaction? Is it the sound of the engine? Is it the tires against the pavement? Is it the motion? Is it the displacement from her cozy routine? Is it a little bit of everything? Continue reading
Filed under Cats, How to, Travel
For writers, staying focused can be challenging at the best of times. Sometimes it is hard to tell whether life is the thing that happens between writing sessions or vice versa, but generally everyone has a lot going on. As a result, it is no surprise that life can sometimes distract us and keep us from what we love to do most, so we must persevere.
However, despite an extensive arsenal of techniques to stay focused in putting pen to paper or to keep the computer keys clicking, there are some things that can completely derail my ability to write.
Here they are, the Top 10 things that can short circuit my writing process:
10 – The sound of a vacuum cleaners
At the office in particular, it can sometimes be like a living game of Pac-man as I try to hide from the housekeeping staff running the vacuum cleaner (invariably, at that precise time, I always seem to have an urgent request that requires just the right words at the right time to get the tasking right), yet the vacuum people always seem to find me. I hide in another cubicle, they find me again, and so on.
9 – The sound of leaf blowers
While I am most grateful for the fact that my condo has a lawn maintenance crew, I don’t know how I defy the odds in that whatever day of the week I might choose to take a day off work, it always seems to be the lawn maintenance day that week. I seem to be able to write while they are mowing the lawns but the overpowering wall of sound by leaf blowers is like kryptonite to me.
8 – Hunger
When my stomach growls louder than a leaf blower, words will not flow. Period. Continue reading
One of my all-time favourite songs is from Depeche Mode, “Enjoy the Silence”. A quick Google search seems to reveal two predominant schools of thought as to its true meaning. Some think it has a relationship connotation while some think it is about heroin addiction. Either way, the take away for me has often been just the title itself.
At the moment I am writing this, I have the windows open, a gentle breeze is billowing through the curtains, I can hear a choir of birds singing while only the occasional car drives by. It is one of those magical moments of serenity when no one has their lawn mower running, the neighbourhood kids seem to have vanished temporarily, the neighbours’ dog has not barked yet, no one’s air conditioning has clicked on yet and no one is doing home renovations. Everything is still and calm. I have some gentle baroque music playing, but the volume is so low, it is just punctuating the moment with a little rhythm to set the pace for my writing while providing the perfect background music for the concerto of birds.
I look at my to-do list and Continue reading